First, let me say that I have nothing against cats. I like them. At least six have “owned” me over the course of my life.

But my heart belongs to dogs—both real and fictional.

Carolyn J. Rose, author

Carolyn J. Rose, author

Right now I share my furniture and take long walks with two ten-pound hairballs, Bubba (a miniature Schnauzer/Yorkie mix) and Max (a purebred Maltese with issues). (Pictures on my website, www.deadlyduomysteries.com )

I share my office with a trio of fictional canines, Sebastian, Nelson, and Cheese Puff.

That puts me in good company. Dogs reside in far more than a third of all U.S. households. And a heck of a lot of writers have created canine companions—from Argos to Lassie to White Fang to Old Yeller to Winn-Dixie.

Many fictional dogs work hard, serving as symbols or sounding boards and providing pivot points for plot. Some are loyal companions, faithful and protective. Others supply comic relief, clues, or red herrings. Some are smart. Others are goofballs. Many help ratchet up tension.

Some writers hesitate to write kill off a dog (or cat or other creature) because they believe readers won’t forgive them for it. Others, however, create fictional canines that make the ultimate sacrifice.

Do well-drawn, memorable fictional dogs increase sales? Especially sales to dog lovers?

Probably.

Did I consider that before I created my fictional dogs?

Nope.

I created them for their value to plot and characterization.

Through a Yellow Wood by Carolyn J. Rose

Through a Yellow Wood by Carolyn J. Rose

My first fictional dog, Sebastian, makes a brief appearance at the beginning of A Place of Forgetting. He’s old, his muscles are limp and stringy, and his eyes are clouded, but protagonist Liz Roark loves him. To disrupt her life and force her to leave her hometown and get on with life, I sent them up a mountain on a perfect autumn day and let him die a peaceful death. Several readers wrote to tell me they loved Sebastian and were sad to see him go, but understood why I did that.

Nelson, the three-legged dog out for vengeance in Through a Yellow Wood, is the lone survivor of a serial killer’s attempt to hide his crimes. I thought long and hard before allowing that killer to shoot Nelson’s seven kennel mates (before the book begins). I finally took the leap in order to deepen and strengthen his character and will.

I created my third fictional dog, Cheese Puff, to get protagonist Barbara Reed out of the dumps and back into the world after a nasty divorce. He’s a shrimp of an orange mutt she finds in No Substitute for Murder, the first book in the Subbing isn’t for Sissies cozy mystery series. Barb’s neighbors find Cheese Puff endearing, but their pampering undermines her efforts to train him and encourages an excess of small-dog attitude.

Cheese Puff has been a hit with readers—especially those who have small dogs as companions. Several have suggested ideas for what might happen to him in future books. Thanks to some of those readers, he found love in No Substitute for Money and broadened his social and cultural life in No Substitute for Maturity. In the fourth book in the series—a book I hope to write this fall—Cheese Puff will be keeping a diary and tangling with Bigfoot.

It will be interesting to see what readers think about that.

The Dames of Dialogue and I would love to hear about your dogs—both real and fictional—and we’re looking forward to your comments.

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the popular Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity have sold 50,000 electronic copies), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries (Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, and soon-to-be-released The Devil’s Tombstone). Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and five novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton: The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor and Deception at Devil’s Harbor.

She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She’s now a substitute teacher in Vancouver, Washington, and her interests are reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking.  Website www.deadlyduomysteries.com

Meet the Characters.

via Meet the Characters.

Canning: Then and Now.

via Canning: Then and Now.

Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Alberta. What inspires you to write and who are your favorite characters? What is your writing schedule?

I am inspired to write because I love the development of creating and capturing characters and storylines that others can relate to. I am also genuinely inspired by everyday people, their lives and their stories. I wanted to create a platform to share stories that are real and relevant and to stir up people to move forward in life and pursue their dreams.

When did you decide you wanted to write?

During the winter of 1996 I decided I wanted to write a book, but I didn’t actually begin writing it until about five years later. In 1996 my oldest alberta lampkinssister, Agnes passed away, leaving her three year old daughter behind. I thought, my niece will never know her mother’s story – and I wanted to write about not only my sister’s life, but my father who passed and my aunt. Their lives mattered and I wanted to share their stories in a creative format.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

I like to write about very real issues, those that can or have affected everyone at one time or another. I am inspired by what I see happening to others and in many cases what I have experienced personally. In Teach Me How To Fly, I based Jocelyn’s character on parts of my own life and I patterned Angel’s character after a mixture of cases I worked as an Adult Services and Child Protective Service worker.

What made you decide to write a story like Teach Me How To Fly?

I decided to write about faith, friendship and forgiveness with ordinary people because, unfortunately, too many people hold on to things that happened to them in the past and allow those things to hinder them from being happy and moving forward in life. I realize that there are some really great people in this world, but many of those people are consumed with regrets, mistakes and hurt and are unable to see the best in life. The characters are a compilation of many people I know of, but there situations may not be identical to those of some of my characters.

In Teach Me How To Fly, you wrote about domestic violence, is that an issue you feel needs to be addressed in the black and other communities?

Yes, I do feel that domestic violence is not discussed as much as it should be. Especially, since so many women are experiencing it. I think it is very easy for any of us to overlook what is actually going on if we are not in that sort of situation ourselves. But what we really need to do is become more aware and figure out what we can do to help those who are victims.

Why did you choose to self-publish your first novel? What was that experience?

Well, I asked God to teach me how to fly and I set out to learn everything I could about the publishing business. Once I learned how to design a book cover, how to set up files for print and eBook publication and how to market my book, I decided to not only self publish my book, but start my own publishing company, A.L. Savvy Publications. I completed a book project titled, Messages to Our Children, where I enlisted twenty-two others along with myself to write encouraging messages and thoughts to our children. The purpose of that project was to come together as one to help uplift and encourage our children and all children to move towards success in life. I believe we must be the example for the young people following in our footsteps. It was an amazing project – everyday people coming together for a super great purpose. It was thrilled to self publish such a positive body of work. Self-publishing involved a lot of time and a lot of hard work, but it was very well worth it. I look forward to seeing where this venture takes me.

What authors do you admire?

There are, but to name a few, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Pearl Cleage, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Terry McMillan, Victoria Christopher Murray, Danielle Steel, Walter Mosley, etc.

Any favorite books?

As a young reader, I would say one of my favorite books was A Sidewalk Story by Sharon Bell Mathis – she told a great story of a young girl who tries to save her best friend’s things from getting wet after the family was evicted from their apartment – it was heart touching and I was able to relate to how much that girl cared about her friend. As an adult reader, I have to say, I Wish I Had a Red Dress by Pearl Cleage is one of my most favorites – in the story the main character is an advocate for young girls and tries to help the young ladies overcome everyday experiences in life. As an advocate for adults and children, I truly enjoyed the human service aspect of the story – it is a great read.

Teach_Me_How_To_Fly_PromotionDid one of them inspire you?

Most certainly, it was Langston Hughes – I believe he was far beyond his years; he was a dreamer and saw a better tomorrow. That is what life is about, seeing a better tomorrow.

Is writing your only passion?

Right now, it is one of my primary passions, but there are also other areas of interest I plan to pursue in the future. Like, building A.L. Savvy Publications and helping to discover amazing new writers.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to continue to work on mini book projects, such as Messages to Our Children and other collective works. I would like to see A.L. Savvy Publication as one of the foremost independent publishing companies in the industry. I’d also like to see my novel Teach Me How To Fly produced as a national stage play and as a movie.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Please write at least something every single day. Even if it is only a page or two in your journal or manuscript, make a habit of doing it daily. Also, follow your heart and write the book you would want to read.

What would you like readers to learn from your stories?

That their life is an amazing journey and that they are not alone in dealing with their particular circumstance in life and that obstacles can always be overcome. And that even when we are not able to overcome them completely, we can find a way to live with or deal with them and then move forward in our lives. If we have faith and begin making the right choices, we can still find peace and joy at the end of every road.

What upcoming projects are you working on?

I am working on publishing a book written by my husband, who is a Command Sergeant Major in the Army. He wrote a story about his experience as a leader in war. The book is titled, Suicide in the Mountains of Afghanistan. We are looking towards an October 2014 release date. Additionally, I am working on a book project titled, Mixed Bag: A Cultural Journey around the World – it will feature people of diverse cultures who are now living in America and a book project with teen and young adult expressions titled, Our Voices Matter: Through the Eyes of A Young Adult.

Where can people purchase your books? Do you have a website?

All of the books are and will be available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks. My web site address is http://alsavvypublications.com.

Alberta’s bio follows. Thanks for joining us today, Alberta!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alberta is a proud Army wife and has been married to her husband Command Sergeant Major Al Lampkins for over twenty-five years. She is the founder of A.L. Savvy Publications and has been working toward publication for over five years while working as an Adult Services and Child Protective Services Social Worker. In addition, she completed her Master of Arts Degree in Sociology from Fayetteville State University in 2012. Her graduate research project on HIV testing among African American women has been accepted for scholarly publication in the Journal of Research on Women and Gender, Texas State University. All roads have led Alberta to following her dream of writing and publishing her first novel.

Alberta is the Project Coordinator for the book Messages to Our Children and the author of her debut novel, Teach Me How to Fly. She is also the Project Coordinator of the book, Mixed Bag: A Cultural Journey Around the World, which will be released the fall of 2014 by A.L. Savvy Publications.

Alberta founded A.L. Savvy Publications, an independent publishing company, after realizing how much she enjoyed listening and reading stories about everyday people. She wanted to create a platform for others to share their stories in print.

Alberta is a native of Buffalo, New York, however, currently resides in Tennessee with her husband and their son.

Visit Alberta at: Facebook.com/A.L.SavvyPublications. Twitter.com/ALSavvyPub or on the web http://alsavvypublications.com.

 

 

For some writers—and I’m one of them—writing a synopsis seems more difficult than writing a book.

Author Carolyn J. Rose

Author Carolyn J. Rose

With a book, there’s plenty of “room to roam,” dozens of pages on which to flesh out characters and enlarge themes. There are opportunities to slow the action to provide sequels to follow tense scenes and add description to set the mood and foreshadow action to come.

But a synopsis must be pithy, a neat progression of plot points, thumbnail sketches, tight but evocative description. It must be a distillation of tone, theme, and character arc.

So when writing coach Elizabeth Lyon suggested I write two versions of the synopsis for An Uncertain Refuge, I came as close as I ever have to giving up on my writing dream and getting out that failed knitting project (Who knew a scarf would be so difficult?) from 1970.

To her credit, Elizabeth’s logic was sound. She felt the synopsis I’d labored over for two weeks (Fourteen days! Long days!) didn’t do justice to the emotional journey of the protagonist. She said my synopsis didn’t fully illuminate where Kate Dalton was when the novel began, the challenges she faced, the ways in which she grew, changed, and adjusted her attitudes, and where she was at the end.

Not wanting to break my perfect record of resisting good advice, I fought Elizabeth’s suggestions the way a feral cat fights a bath.

There came a point, however, when I realized I was expending more time and energy avoiding the project than I would if I just did it. So, after kicking over a wastebasket or two, punching out a family-sized bag of corn chips, and downing an adult beverage, I got right to work.

“Easy” is not a word I’d use to describe the process. Neither is “painless.”

“Time-consuming?” Sure. “Frustrating?” You bet. “Worthwhile?” Yes.

When I was finished, I presented both versions to Elizabeth. She reviewed them and gave me a lukewarm “Okay.” Then she dropped the bomb. “Now put them together into one synopsis.”

What?

An Uncertain Refuge by Carolyn J. Rose

An Uncertain Refuge by Carolyn J. Rose

Combining the two meant boiling down 10 pages into 5. That involved tough choices and hard decisions and (Gasp!) deep thought. I punched out a giant-sized sack of pita chips, kicked a footstool, and found a dozen reasons to delay or ditch the project entirely.

But then I got down to it and, after a solid week of work, had a polished product I could send out. Over the next two years, that synopsis went to hundreds of agents and editors. It raked in a few dozen requests to view the first chapters, but no one wanted to take a chance on it. Eventually I published the novel myself. (E-sales to date: 16,000+)

Given all of that frustration and time spent, was the synopsis exercise worthwhile?

Absolutely.

I developed more discipline and focus. I learned how to refine my thinking, strengthen description, and capsulate characterization.

Would I do it again?

I don’t know. But one joy of self-publishing is that I don’t have to.

 

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries, Hemlock Lake and Through a Yellow Wood. Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and five novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton: The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor and Deception at Devil’s Harbor.

She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Her interests are reading, gardening, and NOT cooking.  Website www.deadlyduomysteries.com

The Dames welcome author Dylan J. Morgan to the blog. Dylan, tell us about your latest book.

My newest release, coming out on August 1st, is called The Dead Lands, and is a post apocalyptic novel set in mankind’s distant future in a solar system that is not our own. It tells the story of two planets circling the same sun and both are in the habitable zone; but one planet has been ravaged by nuclear war a hundred years previous and its president (who had himself, family, and closest aides cryogenically frozen) wakes from that state and sends an SOS signal to its sister planet. Lane—the main protagonist in the novel—and a squadron of twenty other soldiers are dispatched to the planet to rescue the president and help rebuild his nation.dylanmorgan

Only, the soldiers find a lawless land, a barren wasteland, and they must fight their way into the city where the president’s signal came from. Once inside, they find out that the real horror on this desolate long-forgotten planet is what the nuclear devastation did to the city’s former population. Complete with military gunfights, a cast of both likeable and loathsome characters, a hint of romance, a ton of betrayal, and a hostile apocalyptic world, The Dead Lands is a novel that should appeal to everyone who likes post-apocalyptic fiction.

Sounds great!  I really love the post-apocalyptic genre. You’ve previously written horror stories, your collection Dominio della Morte and Blood War Trilogy of werewolf-vampire books having both been featured here before, so why have you shifted genre slightly to write a post apocalyptic novel?

Honestly, this didn’t start out to be a post apocalyptic novel, but that’s how it turned out. I was thinking horror when I started it, but the world I created to base this novel in was totally apocalyptic so that’s why I’m labeling the book as post apocalyptic. There are horror elements to the story, though: it’s no secret that the squadron encounters deformed mutations inside the city, survivors of the nuclear war that are intent on ripping the soldiers to pieces and devouring them. So the horror is there, and there’re elements of science fiction too. It’s a bit of a hybrid novel, containing many elements.

What was your inspiration for The Dead Lands?

Believe it or not it’s totally inspired by a first person shooter game. I’ve spent many hours playing the game Rage, by Bethesda Softworks, which is set on planet Earth after the asteroid Apophis hits and turns the world into a post apocalyptic wasteland. As with these types of shooter games you get given missions to complete, which often involves shooting people and blowing things up. It’s all good fun.

One mission in particular in the game is to trek into the Dead City to acquire a defibrillator from a hospital. The city is a destroyed wilderness inhabited by mutants that are hard to kill and come at you from all angles, and it’s by far the best mission in the game. It got me thinking that a story such as this, soldiers on a mission in a devastated city with monstrous abominations attacking them would make for a great novel, and the idea for The Dead Lands was born.

Would it be too inconvenient to ask for an excerpt of the book?

Sure, here you go:

Approaching the ladder, Lane released the safety on his Berserker and it hummed to life. The drain vibrated once more as whatever was ahead moved forward. Its breathing echoed again, not as a snort this time but a sniff—three in quick succession. The following grunt, rumbling down the drain like a fast-moving wave, told Lane the thing had detected their scent.

His fingers gripped a rung on the ladder, the PBU’s glove allowing him to detect the metal’s coldness and disfigured rust patches. He looked up the maintenance shaft. The night-vision lenses highlighted the entrance hatch’s outline at the surface. Relief edged into his emotions but mounting apprehension kept it in check.

Johan reached the ladder and grabbed a rung. “Lane, Braeden, Ludger, give cover fire if the need arises. I’ll get up there and see if I can open the hatch. Everyone else, prepare to follow.”

Johan pushed him aside, but Lane didn’t bother looking at how fast the lieutenant clambered up the ladder. Thrown off balance, Lane took a step away from the ladder, squad members filing in behind Johan’s departure, forcing him further from the drain’s wall. Before he knew it, Lane found himself opposite the ladder, furthest from the maintenance shaft. How the hell did that happen? A quick glance to his left told him Ludger stood guard nearest the steps, and that surprised him less than Johan’s eagerness to be the first out of the drainage system. The tunnel filled with the sound of movement: Johan’s harsh breathing as he scaled the ladder, the squadron’s shuffled movements as they prepared to ascend to the surface, and the rumbled growl of something huge approaching through the darkness.

He stared up the pipe, his gut twisting with fear as his visor detected movement and raised the yellow flag of a potential hostile.

The shaded hue of his infrared glares made the creature’s skin appear white. Bipedal, with a distended stomach and muscular arms, it stood at a bend in the pipe, head raised as it sniffed their scent on the air. Something hung limply from one of its hands—it resembled the upper torso of a torn body, one arm dangling to scrape along the drain’s curved base. The creature manipulated what looked like a leg bone with its other hand, as if using the limb to pry stubborn flesh from between its teeth.

Chilling stuff that’s exciting. Having browsed some of the early reviews this book has already received, there are a few expressing a wish for a sequel. Is there any chance of that happening?

Most probably. I didn’t actually finish the book with the intention of revisiting this world but lately a few images have been circling in my head, giving me possible scenes for a second book and already I’m excited about it. I usually do nothing to these ideas at first, and leave them to develop—if they hang around, grow, and take over my mind, then it’s time to exorcise them and get them out in the form of a novel.

If many more readers express an interest in a second installment from the Dead Lands universe then I’m almost certain they’ll be rewarded.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00014]The Dead Lands will be your third full-length novel release, can you tell us a little bit about your previous two novels?

My debut novel, Hosts, tells the story of an isolated skiing community in Canada, cut off by a violent snowstorm as a prehistoric form of deadly parasite is swarming through town, infecting the residents. It’s reminiscent of the old-school horror situations of people stranded under dire situations and unable to contact help while faced with an insurmountable danger. There’s a love story in there too, for anyone who likes that kind of thing. It’s currently my biggest selling book on Kindle, especially in the UK.

My second novel, released in January of this year, Flesh, is a cannibalistic, ancient Indian mythology supernatural thrill-ride set in Wisconsin. An ancient evil stalks out of the woods to feast on the population of Vacant and the town’s police force resort to desperate measure to keep the beast sated and its residents safe. Sheriff Andrew Keller is a drunk with a haunting past that comes back to derail him at the worst possible time, putting everyone in danger.

I believe you may just be the next Dean Koontz! I love these kinds of books. What other books do you have available?

I have a trilogy of novellas; The Blood War Trilogy, which is a series detailing a centuries-old supernatural war between vampires, werewolves, and a hybrid race of the two species combined. The books themselves are entitled Bloodlines, Monsters and Mortals, and The Last Stand, and are available on Kindle and other eBook platforms.

A standalone novella, October Rain, is the story of Steele, a bounty hunter on Mars during the end of mankind’s existence as the human race tries to find new worlds to inhabit as the sun turns in to a Red Giant.

I also have a collection of short stories available, Dominio della Morte, featuring 19 of my best short fiction. The cover of the book, designed by Kari Klawiter, recently won an award for best eBook cover in the horror section.

Congratulations! How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing seriously now for about ten years or so. I started off creating silly short stories at first, just to see if I could actually write anything decent and when I discovered that my stories weren’t completely awful I decided to try and get myself published. That was a long and rocky road but eventually I managed to get my first short story published in an anthology and that gave me such a kick that I decided to go for it and write more.

I wrote only short stories at the start, for the first few years, and got a few good acceptances for my work. But the more ideas that came, the more they began to grow, and before long I couldn’t hold them back any more and the novels needed to be written. I seldom write short fiction anymore, it’s usually all long works and novel-length fiction, but it’s still nice once in a while to go back and create something under 6,000 words—it’s a much bigger challenge.

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

Actually, I have a few different projects I’m tinkering with at the moment. I’m re-editing an apocalyptic novel with a difference that I wrote a few years ago; which will then go to proofreaders before I decide whether to actually go ahead and publish. I’ll be working on some short stories and flash fiction that I plan to give away free on my blog during the month of October in celebration of Halloween. And then there’ll be work on another novel, but I’m still unsure of which novel I will focus on first: I have a straight-out horror idea, plus two post apocalyptic ideas, one of which could be the sequel to The Dead Lands.

So there’ll plenty to come from me in the future, and together with my full-time job and family there’s a lot to keep me busy.

They all sound intriguing. Are you in a critique or writing group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?

No, I’m not in a critique or writing group but I wanted to add that it’s very important to get critiques of your work, and have proof readers go over your manuscript, before sending it to a publisher, or indeed before self publishing yourself. You might think it’s the best piece of fiction ever written but it really isn’t. It’ll take a lot of revisions to get it ready for publication, a lot of other readers pulling it to pieces before you should even get close to being satisfied with what you’ve produced. And the chances are when you do publish your story there’ll still be faults in it. Just get it as good as it can be, and do so with all the help you can get.

I certainly agree with that. How do you unwind?

Being a family man spending time with my two teenage daughters helps me relax—which actually sounds strange, thinking about it. We watch movies together, go hiking, and play video games. It’s a great way to bond with your children. Plus I do all those things on my own as a way to relax and unwind. I love music, so just chilling with a book while listening to songs, or finding new artists on YouTube is a relaxing way to spend an evening. I don’t watch much television, but do enjoy “Game of Thrones”, “Vikings”, and “The Walking Dead”, and watch them every week when they’re running.

I’m a huge fan of “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”. Can’t get enough of either one! Why do you write?

Because these tortured images and scenarios would plague my waking hours if I didn’t get them out of my head in the form of stories. I write because I want to; because I need to; because I have to.

Great answer. Thanks for joining us today, Dylan. For more information about Dylan: www.dylanjmorgan.com

“You will not believe what happened today! “ “Have a minute? I have this great story.”We are forever telling stories. Stories link us, they connect us to our own lives and to the lives of others. Story-telling is as natural as speaking and goes as far back as humankind.

Rita Plush, author

Rita Plush, author

And so we tell our stories. We describe and elaborate, at times adding color and interest to make a better story. We tell about what the cable guy said when he hooked us up to HBO—was he flirting? Or the delightfully outrageous outfit on the supermarket checkout girl with the eyebrow piercings and nose ring, when she rang up our free-range chicken parts and Eddy’s Caramel Delight ice cream.

 
And then there are our family stories, told and retold. Stories that go back generations become part of our oral history, like the one about our grandma who bribed the border guard in Austria with cigarettes hidden in the hem of her underskirts, so she could continue her passage to America. We pass down these stories to our children and grandchildren, so that they might know how it was with their ancestors, linking the generations one to the other.

 
Sometimes the spoken word becomes the written word, more structured, more ordered, but always there are our stories.
Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “If stories weren’t told or books weren’t written, we would live like the beasts, only for the day… the whole world, all human life, is one long story.”

 
“Alterations” are my stories, a collection written over a period of twenty years, some of them harking back more than fifty years, stories that had lived in me, the way stories do, as a bit of memory – a certain smell, the turn of a head, or the particular sound of a voice.

 
Decades later, they called to me, the memories of them morphing, changing, altering, the people becoming characters that were and were not them. And I kept writing. I dressed my characters, gave them habits and a particular way to speak, and put them down on the pages, wanting things they could not have, remembering things they wanted to forget. They mended and they sewed, they owned stores and boutiques, they jerry-made contraptions and carved dollhouse furniture. They dug in the dirt and planted tomatoes, and put together a jigsaw puzzle in a far off mountain cabin. Makers and fixers, they had the creative qualities derived from my parents and passed down to me.

 
But Alterations didn’t start out as a collection. It started with a story I began in 1994 about a quilted dime-store night table and a sleeping Mexican painted on a cupboard door, a story that was rejected ninety-three times before a literary journal picked it up. Other of my stories were met with same type of rejection. Was I discouraged then? Did I think that maybe I should try another line of work? Not me. I kept on plugging away, typing away, and sending away stories trying to get them into print.

 
What was I? Some kind of nut-case who liked nothing better than to open the mail and find a “try us again” form letter rejection? Did I have a burning need to drive up the stock of Staples and Hewlet Packard with my incessant purchase of inkjet cartridges and reams of multipurpose office paper? What made me want to write when no one wanted to read my writing?
Perhaps I was out to prove that The Little Engine That Could chugged away inside me—The Little Engine that Could Not stop writing. I write therefore I am?

 
I wonder if I was longing for a promise of closeness with imagined readers. Was I lonely and didn’t know it? Was some kind of intimacy lacking in my life? Could there have been something I couldn’t get from the people I knew in the flesh, that I had to invent characters who lived in worlds of my invention? Did I want to be the wizard who could make things happen to them—wonderful and terrible things that only I had the power to create?

 
Maybe it was some of, or all of the above. In any case, I kept on writing, writing and rewriting, and sending out my stories. Finally, “Love, Mona” that first story, was accepted, and over time, others as well, but I no more thought story collection, than I thought my name was Joyce Carol Oates.

 
A collection needs a connective link, stories that have something in common, a recurring theme or idea that ties them together. But I wrote my stories without a specific plot line in mind, the characters and the writing itself bringing the story to fruition. Little girls and adolescents, a teenager, a father, a son, grown women, a whole slew of characters, who to my mind had little to do with each other. Yet when I reread them all again, I saw that there was a link, and that link was family. Families of different types and mindsets, families that were broken and those that were healing, families my characters clung to, and those from which they ran. And it was to that enduring notion of family life, with all its messy complications, its intrigues and dramas, its loving and sometimes mysterious bonds, that I dedicated “Alterations,” in memory of my parents, Molly and Max Weingarten.
This post originally appeared on BestChickLit.

Alterations, stories by Rita Plush

Alterations, stories by Rita Plush

Rita Plush:  Many of the stories in this collection are told through the eyes of a child growing up with the rumble of the El along 86th Street, walking with her mother in her big-shouldered mouton coat, as she did her errands and talked with the shopkeepers. The walkup apartment house where she lived with her family, the damp steamy smell of the lobby where the metal taps on her shoes made a satisfying clicking sound as she ran up and down the marble steps. The seamstress in her apartment building, her friend’s father who seldom spoke, the people her parents knew, the relatives – her ear pressed to the wall, hearing talk that was not for her to hear – the people they spoke of in Yiddish so the child would not understand.
Beginning with Frances, the young child grieving for her mother in “Love, Mona,” these stories come full circle to Rusty in “Feminine Products,” pregnant but unmarried, desperate to make a family for her unborn child. I hope they keep you turning pages, both interested and entertained, as the characters become ‘altered’ by their circumstances and continue to make their way in life.
Alterations is available in ebook and trade paperback from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alterations-Rita-Plush/dp/1938758153/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
and from Barnes & Noble in ebook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alterations-rita-plush/1115410411?ean=2940016704166
Visit her website http://www.ritaplush.com for more information about Rita.

betty for pandora 3

Story Presented by Author Betty Dravis

It’s my pleasure to celebrate with my publisher Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House Publishing. I can’t believe I’ve been with CHP since 2011 with three of my e-books, Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons, 1106 Grand Boulevard and The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley. Time does, indeed, fly.

Since Wendy has contributed and been featured in Dames of Dialogue many times, our readers are familiar with her and we all look forward to hearing from her.

Wendy Dingwall is the most honest, caring and hard-working publisher I’ve ever had and I’m proud to be part of the great Canterbury House. It’s exhilarating to share her feelings about her business on its Fifth Birthday. Enjoy…and learn…

From the desk of Publisher Wendy Dingwall

wendy pic

Publisher & Author Wendy Dingwall

Whew! Where did the time go? It has certainly been a learning curve and then some. Especially given all the changes in the industry over the last five years.We are currently experiencing growing pains again due to our recent change of working directly with the wholesalers instead of using a distributor. The workload has increased and for the moment the process of new books has slowed as we adjust to new duties.

CHPcastle-old-english-burg

I am proud to say that we have published over thirty well-received books during our first five years. This includes our e-books.

I’d like to personally thank our super authors for their hard work in writing and rewriting, working with editors and last but not least in helping to market their books.

wendy's books

Yvonne Suarez Mystery books by Wendy Dingwall

I couldn’t have done it without our wonderful editors: Sandra Horton, Greg Kilgore and Donna Akers and our fabulous graphic designers: Ann Nemcosky, Aaron Burleson and most especially Tracy Arendt.

I’d also like to thank off-set printers: United Graphics and McNaughton & Gunn, and POD printer: Lightning Source, for turning out quality books each and every time.

We were pleased to celebrate our readers on our Fifth Anniversary by offering a 25% discount on all print book orders placed through the end of July, 2014. Now that the sale is over, we hope you will still purchase our esteemed authors’ works by ordering their books through Amazon, Smashwords, BN.com and other online bookstores.

Carolyn J. Rose

Carolyn J. Rose, author

One rainy day in the 1950s, my mother got out a set of aging paper dolls she’d played with as a child. Sadly, they didn’t survive for long. Not many toys or games did. My brothers and I played hard.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the tiny tabs designed to hold outfits in place never quite did their jobs, I loved the variety of clothing and the speed and ease with which I could make changes. It was far quicker than dressing the rubber-skinned ballerina doll for which my grandmother sewed skirts, tops, a cape, and even a beret.

In high school I created outfits for myself—seldom with much success—by stitching up simple jumpers and skirts, borrowing from friends, and buying what I could stretch my allowance to cover. All of that took time, time I spent yearning for what I saw as the cheap convenience of paper clothing. If only I could sketch a sweater and slip it on, paint a pair of paints, crayon a coat.

Now, with words instead of art supplies or needles, thread, and fabric, I do just that for my characters. Clothing them is far more enjoyable than clothing the dolls of the past or outfitting myself.

First, the sky is the limit. There’s no budget, no need to save up or ponder the necessity of each purchase. If Mrs. Ballantine from No Substitute for Murder insists on three strands of pearls and a cashmere wrap to wear with a silk dress, she gets them. If Dan Stone from Hemlock Lake demands top-of-the-line hiking boots, no problem. I’ll even throw in a pair of thermal socks.

Second, there’s no need to alter, hem, let out a seam, or take a tuck. Everything fits, no matter what shape the character is in. That also means there’s no need for a character to shed a few pounds or hit the gym to tone up.

Third, there are no storage issues. There’s no need to toss something old because a character bought something new. There’s always room in that fictional closet for a few more items.

Fourth, if a change of outfit is necessary to the progression of the action, it can be accomplished in the time it takes to write a sentence or two.

Fifth, unless the plot calls for an item to be impossible to find, out of stock, too large, or too small, what characters want is always available in the right size and color.

Sixth, I have the right to scoff at the dictates of fashion. Nothing goes out of style unless I want it to.

Seventh, I don’t have to dress every character every day. When they’re not in a scene, they’re on their own. I sometimes wonder if they sit at the edge of a page wearing outfits from previous scenes or if they slip into loungewear or strip down for a shower or soak.

How about you?

What advantages do you see to creating clothing with words?
What are your favorite fictional outfits?
And what do you think characters wear when they’re not appearing on the pages?

 

No Substitute for Murder by Carolyn J. Rose

No Substitute for Murder by Carolyn J. Rose

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries, Hemlock Lake and Through a Yellow Wood. Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and five novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton: The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor and Deception at Devil’s Harbor.

She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Her interests are reading, gardening, and NOT cooking.  www.deadlyduomysteries.com

Rita Plush, author

Rita Plush, author

Let Your Reader Hear Your Characters Speak on Audio
How we love to hear stories. The human voice, its richness and intonations takes us into make believe worlds.
And I love that my book, Lily Steps Out, has stepped off the monitor screen and printed page into the listening world as an audio book. After all the work of writing (5 years) and getting Lily into print (tack on another 7), it was pure pleasure to hear my story told through my characters. And because I think my fellow Indie Authors will benefit from my experience, I’m spreading the word—or words as we writers are inclined to spread.
I learned about ACX—Audiobook Creation Exchange—owned by Amazon (isn’t everything?) from a fellow author who said the procedure of getting a print or eBook into a listening format was “pretty much painless” and she was right. This this is the gist of how I did it:
First, I checked my publishing contract to see if I owned my book’s audio rights and the cover (yes and yes). If you don’t own the cover to your book ACX will help you put one together.
Thinking that the sales of the audio might in some way effect my publisher’s royalties on print and eBook venues, I ran the idea by them. Their only concern was that Amazon might “bundle” the print or eBook version at a discounted price with the audio, thus reducing their royalty—Amazon does what it wants with its pricing regardless of the publisher or author’s viewpoint (it’s good to be the king). A call to ACX assured me that if there was “bundling” it would be the audio that would be reduced, not the print or eBook version.
That bit of business out of the way I forged ahead and decided on the first of the three royalty options ACX offers. In a nutshell here they are:
1. Royalty Share—royalty payments are shared among ACX, the author, and the narrator (referred to as Rights Holder and Producer by ACX) with ACX getting 50 per cent of the royalty and the author and narrator each getting 25 percent. This plan is at zero cost to the author.
2. Pay for Production Exclusive Distribution—the author pays the narrator a one-time fee (this fee can be negotiated) and splits the royalty with ACX who is the exclusive distributor of the audio.
3. Pay for Production Non-Exclusive Distribution is the same as far as “author pays the narrator” goes, but the author can distribute to resources other than ACX which reduces the author’s royalty.
ACX handles all distribution of royalties and pays the narrator when she has earned $50 or more each month.
Next up on my to-do list was to create a personal profile, a blurb about Lily and provide a sample passage of the book. A click of a button put me in touch with narrators on the ACX website and I invited a handful to audition. The invites, auditions, and all correspondence between author and narrator are done through ACX’s website, with an 800 number if you have questions (I had many questions).
I also had a particular voice criteria for Lily Steps Out. A kind of New-Yorkish female voice, but I also wanted a narrator who could do male; there are men in the story who have a lot to say. Did I mention funny? There’s lots of humor in Lily and I wanted a voice artist who could put that over. So female, male, New York and funny.
Three narrators auditioned a fifteen minute, contract-specified, segment.
The first narrator lacked Lily’s spirit and liveliness, so she was out. The next was an improvement, but not quite right, so I emailed my reservations, suggested changes and waited for the revision (the seven year contract provides for two revisions of the fifteen minute segment). There was barely a difference between the first and second takes, and I decided she wasn’t for me. The third narrator nailed all the voices and patterns of speech but I felt that her emphasis was off in certain passages. My email to her explained the specifics, commented on her general performance and the recording quality (that’s the author’s responsibility) which according to the contract, can still be done after the entire recording has been presented.
Sheri Puggot, the narrator I chose, had other professional commitments to satisfy before she could start on Lily, and technical glitches and communication delays between her and ACX once she did start, making the audio production take a bit longer than the ACX website specified (three to four months turned into six months). Not a big deal, as far as I was concerned. We were in a partnership, she and I, both wanting the best reading of Lily.
From sign-on to breakout date, putting Lily Steps Out on audio was a learning experience, one in which I not only mastered a process unfamiliar to me (it’s not difficult, but it is involved and it does take time) but I was able to place Lily Steps Out on a new promotional track and put another notch in my marketing belt.
This post originally appeared on Indies Unlimited.

Lily Steps Out by Rita Plush

Lily Steps Out by Rita Plush

Blurb: Empty nest, retired husband… after thirty-three years of making beds and cooking dinners, Lily Gold has had it and decides to look for a job. Her husband Leon, however, doesn’t like not having her at his beck and call and puts the kibosh on her chance of opening her own antique store by emptying out their bank account. This is marriage? This is war! Follow Lily as she turns the status quo into quid pro and gives her husband a run for his money.
Rita Plush lives and writes in Queens, New York. Her writing practice includes both fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of Lily Steps Out (Penumbra Publishing 2012), and the short story collection, Alterations (Penumbra 2013).
During her forty-year career as an interior designer, Rita was the Coordinator of the Interior Design Decorating Program in Continuing Ed. at Queensborough Community College. There, she implemented and taught several classes in the program and remains on the faculty. As a speaker, Rita has presented at libraries and synagogues, at Hofstra University and CW Post Hutton House, on topics ranging from writing and publishing, the decorative arts, interior design and “Coco Chanel ~ The Woman–The Legend”
She is the facilitator of the Self-Published Authors’ Roundtable that meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Manhasset Library, Manhasset, L.I.
Links for Lily Steps Out
http://www.amazon.com/Lily-Steps-Out-Rita-Plush/
Links for Alterations: http://www.amazon.com/Alterations-Rita-Plush/dp/1938758153/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alterations-rita-plush/1115410411?ean=2940016704166
To learn more about Rita visit her website. http://www.ritaplush.com

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