Category Archives: Publishing

The Color of Nothing

Because my publisher is in a state of suspended animation and two completed projects under contract with them are stalled, I’ve started pulling manuscripts out from under the bed and working on them. Something I wrote more than ten years ago, originally entitled “Sneakers” has re-snagged my interest. Back then an editor from Simon & Shuster requested the manuscript and an agent with Authors House read it, which was encouraging, but ultimately did not result in a sale.  I renamed it The Color of Nothing. Here is Chapter One:

I walk in without even trying to be quiet. What would be the point? I’d left at one this morning. It’s now eleven p.m. I hadn’t tried to hide my absence from my mother. Why should I?  She doesn’t care whether I’m around or not.

She’ll yell at me, but I know she doesn’t care whether I ever come home.

Yep. There she is, coming out of the bathroom, ready for bed. “Where have you been? Do you know what time it is?”

I glance at the clock on the wall. “A little after eleven,” I say.

I plop down on the sofa, shove a handful of stuffing back beneath the upholstery and untie my shoes.

“Listen, you little shit, I was about ready to call the cops and report you as a runaway. Where the hell have you been?”

I toe my sneakers off, lean back and stare at the ceiling. I’ll have to listen to whatever she has to say.  Correction. I have to sit here. I don’t have to listen.  Truth is I stopped listening to my mother a long time ago.

“I swear, Darla, if you sneak out of this house one more time, I’m calling the cops. They’ll drag your sorry ass home.”

If they can find me. Most of the time I have trouble finding myself.

I don’t exactly sneak out, either. I simply wait until I’m sure my mother is asleep. Then I open the front door and walk out.

But sometime after I left last night she locked the door. This time she turned the deadbolt, and she knows I don’t have a key.

So I couldn’t get back in. You’d think she’d learn. You’d think she’d just stay in her bed until a decent hour, say eight or nine in the morning. I’m usually home by then, sound asleep in my bed. She wouldn’t even know I was gone. I mean, really, what was the point of locking me out? Truth was I’d returned home around five this morning. But I’d be damned if I was going to knock on the door and beg her to let me in.

The hell with her. I have friends my mother doesn’t know about, places where I can go and sleep most of the day with no one hassling me. You’d think she’d be glad to see me home safe and sound, wouldn’t you?

Instead, she’s glaring at me. As usual. As long as I can remember my mother’s been mad at me. I don’t know what I did.  Except be born. That was my big mistake. If I just hadn’t been born, my mother’s life would be freakin’ fantastic. This isn’t just what I think. It’s what she’s told me about a hundred times a year for the last fifteen years.

I’m pretty sure I’m about to hear it again.

Yep, here she comes, advancing across the grubby green carpeting in those filthy, threadbare house slippers she always wears. Yep, there’s the finger pointed at me, the narrowing of the eyes, the thinning of the lips.

My mother is not an attractive woman.  At least I’ve never thought so. Maybe she was once. In fact, I know she was. I’ve seen pictures. She wasn’t always fifty pounds overweight and built like a barrel. And she didn’t always wear her hair hacked off and clinging to her little head. My mother has sort of a small head, which makes her body look even bigger. It’s kind of of sad. Like someone set a pea on top of a pumpkin.

The finger shakes. “I’ve had it with you, Darla.  Everyone’s had it with you. You’re flunking out of school.  Sneaking out. Doing drugs, drinking. Sleeping around. I’m going to find some place that can deal with a girl like you and I’m going to send you there. Maybe they can do something with you, cuz I sure can’t.

“I’m tired of being woke up in the middle of the night, and I’m tired of wondering where you are and what you’re doing. It ain’t nothin’ good, I know that much. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sneakin’ around to do it.

“You keep it up and I’ll fix your wagon, girl. I’ll find a place for you. A place with nice high fences and locks on the doors and windows. A place you can’t sneak out of.”

Okay, Mother. Whatever. I don’t do drugs really. Or drink.  And I don’t sleep around. Has she taken a good look at me lately? Who would want me?

I glare back at her, sort of, but I’m too tired to do more than that. Besides, it never does any good. Usually it just pisses her off even more. Then she’ll really get going and I’ll have to sit here and listen to her tell me how worthless I am and how sorry she is I’d been born. Then, if she’s feeling really mean, she’ll launch into a diatribe against my father, who by the way, didn’t marry her, hadn’t wanted me, had in fact, given her money to get rid of me.

She somehow thought that was noble, I guess, that she hadn’t got rid of me like he wanted.  Like she’d show him.  Yeah, he’d really be impressed with us if he ever came around.  Not that he ever would.

What my mother didn’t know was how often I wished she’d done as he wanted. I wish I wasn’t even here. I try hard not to be. But she doesn’t appreciate my efforts.

The Color of Nothing  © 2016 by Barbara Meyers

#young #adult #fiction

WHY AUTHORS NEED EDITORS

To me, an author saying “I don’t need an editor.” is = to saying “I don’t need to give my readers the best book possible.”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” target=”_blank”>

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” target=”_blank”>Angela James ‏@angelajames 18m18 minutes ago 9/3/15

It’s pretty apropos to read something like this from the editorial director of Harlequin’s Carina Press just as I’m ready to blog about WHY WRITERS NEED EDITORS.

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)I am SO sick of reading unedited books. I’m sick of the arrogance of writers who think their writing is so good they don’t need to be edited. Or proofread for that matter. In fact, many of them don’t believe in using the spell check/grammar check programs included with their word processing program.

Whoever said it’s important to know what you don’t know could have added that it’s important to see what you can’t see. For a writer, that’s an editor’s job.

I am one of those arrogant writers who has self-published a few novels in the past few years and I might publish a few more in the future. I didn’t pay an editor to edit any of them. I can tell a pretty good story without an editor and these particular books weren’t going to sell to a publishing house anyway, so I didn’t want to invest too much money in them. But I did proofread them. They are cohesive stories that make sense. Except now I wonder how much better they could have been if they’d been professionally edited.

Barbs_Book_Front
Indie pubbed

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Earlier this month my sixth book (Fantasy Man) with Samhain Publishing release. It is the third book of mine edited by Noah Chinn. It is probably also the most he has had to edit one of my books.

Fantasy Man was one of my “manuscripts under the bed.” I’d started it early in my writing quest and for years I kept pulling it out and working on it. I’d originally submitted Fantasy Man to Noah along with another book (Nobody’s Fool 2/15) and he turned it down. He outlined his objections to it. He didn’t ask me to revise and resubmit, but I could see he was right. So I revised it on my own and asked if he wanted to take another look. Reluctantly, (I think) he said he’d look at the revised synopsis. On the strength of that as I recall, he offered a contract. We both learned a lesson from this experience.

FantasyMan72web
Fantasy Man releases February 2016 from Samhain Publishing

When Noah started first round edits, I started getting emails from him. Although I thought I’d “fixed” most of the manuscript’s problems, apparently what I did was create more. Noah was giving me a heads up. We had a lot of work still ahead. By the time I got the first round edits back I had nine pages of notes lifted from our emails. I was not prepared for how much editing and revision was needed. I don’t think Noah was either.

For two weeks I did nothing but go back and forth from the manuscript to my notes while I spent every spare moment working on this book. Then I just couldn’t look at it any more. I didn’t know where to go even though I knew there was still work to be done. Back it went to Noah.

We both learned something. Noah learned to be a bit more careful when accepting an old manuscript from an established author. I learned I shouldn’t be publishing ANYTHING that isn’t professionally edited. Not if I want it  to be the best that it can be, that is.

#editors

Sunday Morning Musings: Publishing and Other Things

Cover for FANTASY MAN which is scheduled for release February 2016 from Samhain Publishing.

FantasyMan72web

I have a new addiction: Mary’s Gone Crackers. Original Crackers [mgc-000106.jpg] - Click for More Information

I blame Starbucks for putting them in their Bistro Box. The crackers are quite expensive. Fifty cents an ounce via Amazon is the least expensive price I found. Imagine my surprise when I discovered them in the organic/health food section of the local Publix. $4.69 for a 6-ounce box.  What other treat can I forgo so I can afford them?

Things the headlines this past week make me think:

“I don’t eat anything that has a face” is not the same as “I won’t kill anything that has a face.” (Cecil the lion and the Planned Parenthood controversy.)

If you like government bureaucracy, you can keep your government bureaucracy. Vote for a Democrat. (Ugh. Politics in general.)

Don’t go ballistic, okay? This column is called Sunday Morning Musings for a reason.

But mostly I think about how lucky I am and how many choices I have, especially when it comes to publishing. I just put up MISCONCEIVE on a bunch of other book-selling sites via Draft2Digital. Previously MISCONCEIVE was only available on Amazon. Draft2Digital does formatting and allows authors to not only set their own prices, but to pick and choose where their books will be sold. D2D takes a percentage of each sale, but it’s lower than the cut publishers take. And authors can remove their works from the system at any time.Barbs_Book_Front

If anyone had told me ten years ago that I’d have more than one publisher interested in my work and that I also had the option of self-publishing without making myself a pariah in the world of writers, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Right now I look at publishing as a bit of an experiment because there are so many options available. I never thought I’d need a business manager but that’s how I feel. Somebody to help me make decisions and keep track of what’s going on with each book. Because really? All I want to do is write.

#musings #publishing #writing #authors

 

Turn Off Your Internal Critic and Write!

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)Sometimes you don’t know what you need until it appears in front of you. Such is the case with a creativity coach. In the fall of 2013, an offer came across a writer’s loop for free sessions from Denise Agnew. She had to work with a certain number of clients to earn her coaching certification. I jumped on the offer without really knowing what it was about. I only knew I needed something to help me get out of the hole I’d dug myself into.

The first thing Denise did was tell me to lay it all on the line. What did I see as my problems and issues with writing? What was holding me back or keeping me from writing.

Creativity coaching is a bit like therapy. You offer some background information and the coach says, “How do you feel about that?” “What could you do about that?” “Could you try this or that and see how it works?” In other words, the coach forces you to confront your problems and solve them yourself. She is there to nudge you into doing SOMETHING besides what you’ve been doing. The ultimate goal is to get you writing (and we hope selling) again. Or whatever your individual ultimate goal is, I suppose.

Part of my problem was I wasn’t writing at all. I told myself it was because I was working my day job which exhausted me. On my days off from that, when I intended to write, I allowed the rest of my life to interfere. I didn’t have long periods of time to sit down and concentrate on writing. Coupled with the fact that I had several projects in various stages of completion that I’d been working on simultaneously over the past several months (or years), each time I went to work on one of them I had to reacquaint myself with the status of that particular project.

Writing wasn’t fun any more. It was work. I already worked at my day job. I deserved time off from work. I didn’t want to do more work.

I write flying by the seat of my pants starting with a vague idea of the story and the characters. I build as I go and sometimes I haven’t thought far enough ahead and I don’t know where my story is going. I hit a wall. I have to think about that story so in the meantime I work on something else. Until I hit a wall there and move on to another and so on. Which is why I have several things going at once and at that time none of them were getting done. I had nothing to show to an editor, nothing to sell or publish myself. My only thought was, oh what’s the use?

I’d stalled out. I wasn’t writing anything. I wasn’t blogging. I wasn’t Tweeting. I could barely come up with a witty post for Facebook.

Denise asked why I thought plotters had it any easier than pantsers.   She suggested to me that they probably don’t. I had assumed for most of my career that having some idea of the plot before you started writing would be easier than making it all up as you go along.

Next Denise suggested I turn off my internal critic and editor and simply write. Could I find an hour a day to write? Yes, probably. If I stopped watching Castle reruns while simultaneously playing Bejeweled Blitz every night. If I couldn’t find an hour, could I find a half hour to write every day? If I’d said no to either of those I’m sure Denise would have whittled it down to fifteen minutes or even five, just to get me back in front of my laptop working on something for any length of time on a daily basis.

She didn’t have to. She asked me which of my projects I’d most like to finish. I told her Fantasy Man because I thought it was the most likely to sell to my current publisher. But when I sat down to start working again, I started on Cool Beans, which is the second book in my AJ Tillock screwball fantasy series, Grinding Reality.CoolBeans_CVR4 like3

finalGRcoverAlthough very few people have read the first book in the series The Forbidden Bean, the ones who have loved it and have been begging for the second book. Admittedly, most of those people are related to me, but still, when someone says a book you’ve written is the best book they’ve ever read or that it’s their favorite book of all time, you kind of want to write more of that.

So I concentrated on Cool Beans and got it to a place where I needed to print out a rough draft and take a hard look at it. Next I bounced over to Fantasy Man and discovered it wasn’t quite as “done” as I thought it was. I thought I might go back and take a look at Rich Woman, or mis·con·ceive or Nobody’s Fool. The point is I started writing again. Without someone coaching me, I’m not sure I would have.

Denise’s coaching business and website is called Creative Pen Coaching and the website is www.creativepencoaching.com  You can contact her at denise@creativepencoaching.com

If you want to see what else Denise is up to visit her here: www.deniseagnew.com

Author’s Note: While I still haven’t published Cool Beans,

NobodysFool72smNobody’s Fool became available from Samhain Publishing January 2015.

Misconceive is currently available in ebook format only from Amazon.Barbs_Book_Front What A Rich Woman Wants released May of 2015 and Fantasy Man is scheduled for release February 2016.

WhatARichWomanWants72web See what happens when you just allow yourself to write?

Thank you Denise!

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraMeyersAuthorPage

Web Site:  http://www.barbarameyers.com

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Twitter: @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

New Year’s Goals

ajtillock2013 012I hate the idea of New Year’s Resolutions  They’re so…resolute!  It’s all or nothing.  If I don’t completely achieve them I’ve completely failed.

But I like the idea of goals.  I can work toward them and even if I don’t make it all the way, I probably accomplished something.  I don’t see how I can “fail” as long as I’m working toward that goal.

I can’t find my goals for 2014.  I’m sure I wrote them down…somewhere.  In a journal, I bet.  When I find them I will share and we’ll see what I achieved and whether it’s what I set out to accomplish.  (Found them.  They were all about writing more.)

I sold two books to Samhain Publishing in 2014.  Nobody’s Fool and What a Rich Woman Wants will be released in January and May 2015 respectively.  This is the first year I have two books releasing.

Goal Number One for 2015 is to publish/sell/contract for four books.  Only two of these books are in rough draft form at the moment.  The other two are incomplete.  Perhaps I haven’t even started them!  No, I’ll go further out on this limb.  Fantasy Man (I don’t want to tell you how long I’ve been working on this one) has been rewritten, revised and tweaked and is almost ready for submission.  It’s been turned down once, but a kindly editor offered a whole slew of suggestions for reworking it, all of which I have taken into consideration.  I’m kind of hoping he’ll take another look at it and love it.

Cool Beans (sigh) is the second book of my AJ Tillock screwball fantasy series, Grinding Reality.  I have been sitting on it for ages because it’s a lot of work to self-publish books.  Another author has read through it and sent back her critique, so I’m just going to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done, get a cover designed, get it formatted, etc., and get it out there in 2015.

New year 2015 poster design

Goal Number Two is to weigh what I did on my wedding day.  135 pounds.  I’ve already started on that. I’m convinced age has nothing to do with whether or not you can lose weight.  Nor do hormones.  I think telling myself that is a cop-out.  There’s too much evidence to the contrary.

For twenty years I’ve carried around an extra twenty pounds our of shear laziness.  I got married and I got comfortable.  I was no longer competing to find a man. I had kids and I told myself it’s okay if I don’t lose all that “baby” weight.  Then my metabolism slowed down and the pounds crept on. woman shows her weight loss by wearing an old jeans

Numerous people have told me I don’t look like I need to lose weight.  I’d say I look okay at the weight I’m at, but there are days where I really dislike that muffin-top effect.

I’ve already started this process thanks to a couple of good friends who have set an example and offered me advice or motivated me in other ways.  I started doing a few miles several days a week of alternating walking and jogging.  I’m not a dieter, but I’ve tried hard to make my calories count.  I have to turn my back on the potato chips and the chocolate bars when I shop for food.  I snack on homemade popcorn.popcorn 2

I realized a lot of time it’s the texture not necessarily the taste I crave.  I want crunch, but there are other healthier things that crunch besides potato chips.  I know I will eat the entire bag if I buy them.

Composite image of this year i am going to

Nothing has motivated me more than living in a neighborhood where a lot of older, overweight people ride around in golf carts.  I am convinced they’d all be healthier if they walked wherever it is they’re going.

Stay tuned for monthly updates.  I hope you set some goals that are achievable.  Don’t get discouraged.

Comment on this blog during January 2015 and you could win your choice of one of my books.

 Visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com/

MISCONCEIVE

Barbs_Book_Front As usual, it has taken me forever to make a book available to my legions of fans. Thank you for your patience.
Writing and publishing are not only still in the experimental stages as far as my career goes, they are a mystery to me. This time I am trying the Amazon KDP Select program which gives Amazon exclusive rights to offer the digital version of the book for 90 days. I can’t offer it in print, just yet, and it won’t be available anywhere else. It’s priced at $2.49, but that’s subject to change on Amazon’s whim. When you’ve got nothing to lose, it’s easy to take a risk.
MISCONCEIVE started out as a short story I wrote for a creative writing class a very, very long time ago. It evolved over time into the novel I’m making available which basically asks the question, “What would you do if your husband was in a coma and you got pregnant by another man?”
Along the way many “misconceptions” are revealed to the heroine Annie Langdon. Those closest to her are not who she thinks they are. Maybe she’s not the woman she thinks she is either.
The couple of readers who read the draft loved it. Writers and editors? Not so much. Not that I’m deterred. I am reminded of an author saying, “Editors look for what’s wrong in a book. Readers look for what’s right.” I love that quote. I have a lot of faith in readers.
MISCONCEIVE may not be perfect. It tells a story of a woman’s journey, her relationship with her mother, her children and the men who love her. As a young mother myself at one time I was fascinated by the dilemma I’d created in MISCONCEIVE. As someone who had a less than ideal relationship with her own mother, I took Annie’s situation with her mother to the extreme.
When you’re in the creative process of writing you don’t always know where you’re going. You follow a thread and hope it leads somewhere. There’s a grain of an idea and maybe part of what you’re doing is working out your own pain and anger and letting it spill onto the page.
MISCONCEIVE’s cover was designed by the very talented Brandon Buchanan (Snippets Press).
MISCONCEIVE is a PG-13 read. No violence, profanity or graphic love scenes.
Visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com
ajtillock2013 012Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock
You can find my Braddock Brotherhood series at Samhain Publishing.
Happy reading!

Barbara Meyers Author Newsletter – April 2014

ajtillock2013 012You might wonder why my newsletters are so infrequent. It’s because I don’t have any writing news to report. No new books being released. No contracts signed. Right now all I do is write and rewrite.

A couple of my fans keep asking when the next book in the Grinding Reality series will be done. I thought I was close until I printed out a rough draft and let it sit for six weeks before I read through it. My answer now is it’s going to be awhile. Cool Beans is the second book and I can’t tell you how hard it is to write in a genre you’ve never written in before and to write a series when you’ve never written a series before. I am truly making it up as I go along because the sky’s the limit. I don’t think anything similar has been written or if it has, I haven’t read it. It’s so far out there even I have a hard time figuring out how to pull it together. The biggest problem I have with Cool Beans is the pacing. Tee is addicted to the forbidden coffee beans (see The Forbidden Bean) and she has to have one every seven days or bad things will happen. I need to work on my timeline, because right now it doesn’t make sense. The story is there, though. That’s the good news.finalGRcover

At this moment (Thursday, February 27, 2014, 1:34 p.m.) I am preparing to read through the printed rough draft of Nobody’s Fool to see what it still needs. Another manuscript “almost” done. I have to print them out to get a clearer picture of where I am. I can’t do it on a computer.

For the past few months, when I haven’t been working on either of these, I work on Fantasyman or Rich Woman. Evidently, I’m not happy unless I’m working on four or five manuscripts at a time.

The third book in The Braddock Brotherhood series, The First Time Again, will be out in print in May.

FirstTimeAgain,The72lg[1]FINAL

In between bouts of fiction writing I write blogs which I eventually post. I write them, read through them several times. Edit them. Add to them. Read through them again to make sure they say what I want them to say. Lately, I’ve been stuck on writing blogs about marriage. I don’t know why. Marriage is weird and I find it an interesting subject. My neighbors brought cake over the other day because they were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. I am thinking about interviewing them for a future blog(s).

I haven’t written any poetry lately but Carlene Thissen, Martha Christian and I finished our song Roses in the Sand.

It’s as difficult to break into selling songs as it is books. Carlene sings at venues in the Naples, Florida area. I wrote lyrics for a fun song called “Quittin’ Time” which audiences have dubbed “The Horny Waitress Song.” It’s become a crowd favorite at Old Fogies in Bonita Springs. Next we’re going to work on “Hot Flashes” another fun song idea.

Meanwhile I work my day job three or four days a week. I try to do my version of working out.* I figured out how to work my iPod Nano and even download songs from iTunes. No big deal, you say? Then you don’t know how little confidence I have in my techie capabilities, so this was a big step for me. It has also boosted my confidence. Today I went into my web site and figured out how to make a few changes to the text on a couple of different pages. Applause, please.  Now if I could just remember how to use the camera on my phone without asking for help from a 20-something coworker…

*Someone posted The Plank Challenge on Facebook so tried it. I developed tendonitis in my foot and have to wear a brace for the next 2-3 weeks. Planks strengthen your core, (my core definitely needs strengthening) but I advise against doing them barefoot. Sixty seconds was my best time…

https://www.facebook.com/30DayPlankChallenge

Another reason my newsletters are so rare is because for awhile I wasn’t writing at all. I worked with creativity coach Denise Agnew and she helped me immensely. Check her out here:  www.deniseagnew.com/

Watch for a future blog about that experience.

In November I did booksignings at two local arts and crafts fairs and sold 26 books.

Coming up in October I’ll be attending the Novelists, Inc. conference in St. Pete Beach. This will be the fourth Ninc conference I’ve attended, the third one in St. Pete. Visit the Novelists Inc. web site here:  http://www.ninc.com/

Newsletter Update: March 29, 2014

This started out as the March newsletter…

While I put the finishing touches on Fantasyman, I have a query and partial out on it and also on Nobody’s Fool and Misconceive. Hope to hear from editors soon.

No planks and no walking for the time being. The tendonitis is better, but not cured after much money spent on two podiatrist visits. Instead of the $200 custom orthotics they wanted to sell me, at my son’s suggestion I invested in a new pair of work shoes and decided to try $12 arch support inserts from Walgreens.   Writer heal thyself!

I’ve realized I am not a slow writer after all. I’m a thorough writer more interested in quality than speed. There are enough bad books out there already (I know—take a look at some of my “Picky Reader” blogs!). I don’t want to add to the mediocrity in the world or disappoint a reader. Publishing news soon!

Visit me at www.barbarameyers.com

Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

P.S.  About that marriage thing…today my husband displayed one of his many heroic qualities.  He’s about the least handy guy you’ll ever meet but he fixed the toilet that was driving me crazy.  They used to say if you caught your child doing something good to make sure you commented on it.  Likewise, if your husband does something that makes him your hero, even if it’s something small, tell him so.  It makes up for all the moments when he drives you crazy. 🙂

#newsletter #author #barbarameyers

 

Picky Reader Disappointed

ajtillock2013 012First on my list of disappointments were some of my recent library book selections.  I could only read two out of five.  One was a Lee Child Jack Reacher novel.  The other was Betrayal by John Patrick Hunter.  The rejected ones were, in no particular order:  an award winning (literary?) novel so bogged down in excessive description I’m not sure a story existed; a historical novel that looked intriguing but again was so bogged down by historical information that had nothing to do with the actual story I gave up.  Note to self:  beware of historical novels written by British history professors.  Number three was a British chick lit(?) book, again, bogged down in a slow- moving set-up and a heroine(?) so depressed and depressing I knew I wouldn’t be able to get interested.  Why do British authors take so long to get into the story????

Why do I choose at least five books on each library trip?  Because I hope I can get through at least two of them.  Sometimes it’s more.  Sometimes it’s less.

Now, for the even bigger disappointment:  I took a fellow author up on a free ebook offer I saw on Facebook for one of her mystery series books.

I’ve never read this author before and tend to think I won’t again.  It appears she indie published this mystery, which I would think would make a professional author even more vigilant about proofreading, but apparently that is not the case in this instance.   The misspellings, usage errors and repetitiveness nearly drove me insane.  Add to that a heroine who can’t get it through her head (even after the investigating police detective assures her numerous times) that she is a witness and not a suspect.  She’s convinced she’ll end up in the slammer facing the death penalty unless she solves the case on her own.  It’s like she has a mental block or something.  I wanted to smack her.

Many of us are doing indie publishing these days, myself included, with mixed results.  I applaud the effort, but I wish the standards were higher, because a book like this makes us look bad.  Or I thought it would at least make this particular author look bad.  But such is not the case.  This book has four plus stars as its average rating on Amazon.com.  I wish I could figure out why something I think sucks garners rave reviews.  Are these the author’s friends and family posting such positive comments?  Or are they readers who honestly thought this was a great book?  I wish I knew and I wish I had as many reader fans willing to post wonderful reviews of my books.

I won’t even ask my friends and family to read my books any more or to post reviews for me.  If they are inclined to do so on their own (most of them aren’t) that’s great and I appreciate it.  But if they don’t like my books, I don’t want them to lie on my behalf.  (Actually I do but I would never ask them to!)

I should no longer be surprised by the number of traditionally published books that are essentially about nothing.  By page 163 of a recent read I still had no idea what the point of the story was or where it was going.  I didn’t care about the main character or anything else.  I wish I’d given up on this one much sooner.

I’ve decided the test of a “good” book is how long it takes me to read it.  If I can’t wait to pick it up again, if I read to the exclusion of other leisure time activities (and that includes watching Sex and the City or Castle reruns while playing Bejeweled Blitz), then I’ve picked a winner.  Sadly, this doesn’t happen often enough.nqh-small

Visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com

Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

#picky reader

#publishing

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I Don’t Know Him But I Think I Love Him

51Lt2jJTdsL__SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_I never Tweet.  Mostly because I don’t understand Twitter.  I haven’t read my Dummies for Twitter book even though I’ve had it for a year.  Besides, who has the time?  Between writing fiction, song lyrics, the occasional poem, keeping up with e-mail, working a day job, life in general, and figuring out a new laptop, seriously I don’t have time to Tweet even if I knew what to Tweet about.

My new Toshiba laptop ate my Music and Lyrics DVD.  That’s what I Tweeted this morning because it’s true, weird, perhaps slightly interesting to my few followers.  I even attempted the hashtag thing.  This on my cell phone, but when I hit the right button to see who had Tweeted about me (no one ever does as far as I know, but I never check and Twitter just makes me feel more anonymous than I usually do) lo and behold, someone has posted a Tweet about me!  Not about me, exactly, but about my short story “Katy’s Place” which appears in the anthology I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE YOU AGAIN.  It’s a positive review.  Dare I say a glowing review?

My day, probably my week has been made.  I can float around in la-la land at least that long thinking “he likes me, he really likes me (my story anyway).”

If you’re not a writer you won’t get why this is such a big deal.  Even as a published author I languish in obscurity.  Mostly this doesn’t bother me.  My novels get good reviews but what counts in the publishing world is what I don’t have a lot of:  sales.

There are many days when you wonder is anyone reading my work?  Does anyone know it exists?  Am I just spinning my wheels?  I need reviews, validation, something, to keep me going.  Simple acknowledgment, maybe.

I’m supposed to use social media to market my work and I would…but me and technology, we don’t get along (see above description of disappearing DVD).

God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?  I rarely post on Twitter.  I’ve never lost a DVD inside a laptop, either.  But if I hadn’t I doubt I would have seen Nathan’s review.  God must have known that was exactly what I needed.  Let’s all order Nathan’s book.

Short Stories 365:225

          Blog Post by ‘Nathan Burgoine – Aug.13.2013 – 4:07 pm:

“….”Katy’s Place,” by Barbara Meyers

This  story was a well-balanced story that was dark – and hopeful – in parts.  The set-up is this: Cassie, a woman who as a teen lost control of her  car and had an accident that claimed the life of her best friend has  just come face-to-face with the friend’s mother, many years later. Is  there forgiveness? Cassie isn’t sure, but when her dead friend’s mother  asks for time to sit and talk to her, Cassie accepts. What follows is an  eloquent – and at times, almost painful – recounting of Cassie’s life  as she tells the mother everything she has done to try and pay back a  debt she knows full well she can never repay.

The story then  gives the mother a chance to speak, and the ending – well. If you don’t  have a shiver up and down your spine, I think you may have missed a word  or two. I Never Thought I’d See You Again continues to deliver.”

The One

The One – Chapter One

Spending the summer pressed up against a ten really messed with my self-esteem. Try it sometime. Tens think they’re perfect, like they’re worth so much more than me and others like me. It’s the story of my life. I’ve been used. Abused. Forgotten. Ignored. I can’t even buy a decent cup of coffee in most places. Oh, sure, when a bunch of us get together, we can be impressive in large numbers. But out there alone, on our own? Forget it.

The first cold day, Stacy Cunningham put on her coat and touched me again. Her cool fingers wrapped around both me and the ten and suddenly there we were, out of that silk-lined coat pocket and into the light of day. Stacy squealed with delight. I’d been listening to her squeals on a regular basis all summer, actually, being right there in her bedroom closet every day and every night and her being a newlywed and all. I’d heard it all. The heavy breathing, the contented sighs, the pillow talk.

A wallet isn’t my favorite place to be either, but at least you get to go places. A woman’s wallet is my preference if I’m given a choice which I’m not. But being folded in half and sat on by some sweaty, farting guy isn’t my idea of fun. At least Stacy’s wallet wasn’t too crowded. A couple of twenties, another ten and several of my brethren. Those tens? They’ll stick together. The twenties can’t even be bothered to acknowledge our presence. There’s some grumbling as we join them and they’re forced to shift their positions. I hunker down for the duration because what else am I going to do? The ten pinches me. Jerk.

A door opens and closes and I can tell we’re outside. The temperature drops and I try not to shiver. Oh, Stacy, Stacy, where are we going? I hope it’s somewhere warm. I may not have been crazy about being in that dark coat pocket, but at least I was reasonably comfortable.

I can hear traffic and bits and pieces of conversation from passers-by. The click of heels. A car horn every once in awhile. Nothing to do but wait it out and hope for the best. I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime.

I’ve been dropped in the basket at more than one church. Tucked into a sweaty stripper’s G-string. I spent an entire day in a Starbucks tip jar before I got dumped into a plastic bag and dropped into the safe for a week. Then it was off to the bank, into a drawer at the drive-up window until a construction worker cashed his paycheck. (See aforementioned experience being sat on by a sweaty, farting male.) I spent some time on a bar that night before I was plucked up to pay for a beer. See? No respect. Then it’s back in some cash drawer, dropped into a safe, a new bank, a new drawer, and the cycle starts all over.

It can be exciting. A little scary. Sometimes it’s a dead bore. Especially if I get stuck somewhere. I spent a year in some kid’s piggy bank with a bunch of cold, hard-assed coins. Most of them are worthless. There wasn’t even a hunky silver-dollar for me to pal around with. I got pummeled every time more coins fell on me through the slot at the top. I was nearly buried alive, but the glimpse of daylight through the slot was the one thing that kept me going. One of these days, I swore, I’d get out of there. And when I did, watch out.

That kid, Devin? He was hard worker which, from what I can glean, is a rare thing these days. I found out why he was saving his money when he took the entire piggy bank to a store one day, pulled the plug on the bottom (who knew there was an alternate escape route beneath me the entire time?) and emptied it out onto the counter to the consternation of a store clerk. He pointed to a small, antique jewelry box in the display case. The clerk sighed and started counting. Into the cash drawer I went. I have no idea what Devin’s mom looks like, but I like to imagine the look of pleasure on her face when he gave her her birthday present. Incidents like these may not restore my faith in the economic system but they give me hope for humankind.

I hear a bell tinkle and almost immediately the temperature in Stacy’s wallet starts to rise. It’s still cool but at least I’m not freezing my serial number off. Wherever we are, it’s relatively quiet. I hear an older female voice ask if she can help Stacy and Stacy responds that she’s going to browse for a bit.

I don’t nap but sometimes I zone out. Especially if it’s dark and warm and semi-comfortable wherever I am. Like now. It’s quiet, too. That helps.

The next thing I know, bright light hits me. Stacy’s plunked her handbag onto the counter and she’s opened her wallet. “Oh,” trills the older female voice, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I imagine her peering at Stacy expectantly.

Next thing I know I’m in Stacy’s hand, being shuffled around and handed over. The old lady’s hand is soft. Probably as soft as a baby’s behind although I will admit that’s one place I’ve never been. More shuffling and then I’m tucked into another drawer. So what else is new?

Goodbye, Stacy. I’ll miss your squeals of delight.

******************************************************************************************
In lieu of a September newsletter (not much going on in my writing/publishing world) I offer the beginning of “The One.” This might be(come) a short story. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I like the idea of infusing inanimate objects with the ability to observe and comment on their surroundings and experiences.

Want to read short stories by me and other Novelists, Inc. members? Experience the 2013 anthology I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE YOU AGAIN.

A sequel to my short story “Katy’s Place” appears in the previous blog post.

Enjoy. Comments always welcome!