Friday, August 30, 2013
Every day in the month of September, I will be writing a post about one of the Top 100 Challenged Books, giving a synopsis of the book and reasons that it is challenged. I will then be posting a writing prompt encouraging you to write your own short story that contains some of the offensive elements. Post a link to your blog or website in the comments, so we can read your contributions, and please share this event. I hope you will join me in this challenge celebrating the right to read!
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Hello, everyone! First of all, I want to thank K.A.! for having me on her blog today. I realize celebrating a character's birthday is not normally done, but doing something different is usually what gets us noticed. So, thank you for having me here today!
Not only is Ronnie celebrating a birthday, her novel, Into the Spiral, is just 99 cents for these three days, August 27-29 (Tuesday-Thursday). That's a steal compared to the normal price of $3.99! Go here to grab your copy today: http://www.amazon.com/Into-the-Spiral-ebook/dp/B00AA1O63Q/
You can also check out Michelle Nicole's blog during these three days to join in the celebration and enter to win an autographed paperback of Into the Spiral, a bunch of swag, beautiful silver-plated triple spiral earrings, and a tote to carry it all in!
Happy Birthday, Ronnie! Thank you everyone for celebrating such a fun day!
~ Erin Danzer
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Saturday, August 17, 2013
The docks were crowded, as was the air above, thick with everything from dirigibles to their humble cousins the balloon. Waitresses clad in skin tight mockeries of sailor's uniforms circled the crowd with plates of delicacies, squid featured heavily, much to the delight of the crowd. Even the band was there, majestic and miserable in their full dress regalia, and almost able to mask the din of the factories up the street. Lieutenant Dominique Brusad eyed their sweaty, flushed faces with a combination of empathy and jealousy. Dressed in her deep water gear, Dominique was sweating as much as they. They, however, would get to return to base once this was over. If it ever did get over. Dominique glanced surreptitiously at the intricate dials and gears that made up the face of her watch, a gift from her mother and father when she graduation from the Academy. What was taking so long?
On board the HMS Irene three large men were crammed into the cabin of the submersible. Their shoulders were hunched and their proud, out thrust chests nearly brushed one another, medal on metal as it were. The cabin had been designed to hold only two, and two navigators at that. Navigators were selected partially because of their petite frames, elected officials and Generals were not.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
This is a 3 tier process. The first tier is called "Grooming."
1: Groom yourself. Try to look nice. I've been given a bit of flack because I wear costumes. I don't recommend that for everyone, however I can't tell you how many salespeople are talking to me with woolly teeth or holey clothes or body odor like a wall. Take a shower, brush your teeth. and wear something nice,
2. Make your table or booth look nice. This does not take much money. Clean up your trash, make sure banners and signs are hung straight. Make sure the table is not too crowded and that the items are lined up neatly. A bunch of fresh flowers can make all of the difference in the world.
Once you have done that, its time to move on to tier 2, "Presence." Remember, you are likely one attraction among many. You have to show that you are present and engaged. So. . .
1. Stand up. There is nothing attractive or eye-catching about a bunch of people slouching in chairs behind a table. You look uninvolved and uninterested. It is difficult to make eye contact. It looks sloppy. I understand that some people have physical limitations that prohibit this. In that case, do what you need to do for your health. But, if you are able, stand up. I don't even take chairs to shows. And I do it in 5 inch heels. It may hurt, but it works. So, as I tell my children, get off of your boom-boom and DO something.
2. Stop talking to each other; talk to the visitors instead. Listen, I get it. We are geeks. Social interaction is not our favorite thing nor, for many of us, our strong point. Also, we are spending time with like-minded people who we actually know and may not see as much as we like. They are also people who are not likely to buy your book. Also, regardless of your intention, what you are doing is rude. Rude does not make people want to buy something from you. So, face front and talk to the people who have money to potentially spend on you. Chat with your friends later.
3. Get the "marks" attention. Again, there is a lot going on all around us. Many people are going to avoid eye contact because either they are afraid that we are going to try to sell us something and they will feel weird saying "no" (and let's be honest, we are, and we are going to try to make that 'no' a 'yes'), or they feel awkward talking to people they don't know. We have to overcome that. I've heard of people using a bicycle horn. I'm sure that works. I chose a different tack, though. I choose freebies. I have vampire fangs and glow sticks that I give out for free. Once they have approached me and taken their gift, I start talking about their book. You can get little gifts that emphasize some of the themes in your book for very little money and they are, frankly, invaluable. NOTE: Business cards are not freebies. No. Don't argue. They're not. Postcards of you or your book might be if they are a) well done and b) are actually postcards that someone could theoretically mail. Pens are also a bad idea. Promo pens rarely function unless they are from pharmaceutical companies who can afford the REALLY nice pens.
So, you're looking spiffy. There are people at your table. Now, you move onto tier 3 - The Pitch.
1. You have to be excited about what you are selling. More than that, you have to be able to emote or convey that excitement. I'm going to use books as an example because, well, I sell books. If someone asks about your fabulous new Yeti book and you don't make eye contact and mutter something like, "Well, I wrote this 'cause it's about yetis but it's not really about yetis I just thought yetis would help me sell books but I guess nobody likes yetis anymore 'cause I haven't sold hardly anything but anyway, um, it's not really about yetis it's about this um main character named um McIntyre who is a drummer for an Irish rock band and um yeah," you are likely not going to sell any books. After all, this is YOUR baby. If you don't think your baby is pretty, no one else is going to. Have a pitch. Practice it so you can say it in your sleep. Make it exciting and fun. Then, when the nerves or the exhaustion kick in, the excited pitch is etched permanently into your memory.
2. Finally, sweeten the deal. Everyone wants to believe that they are getting something for nothing. So, find another freebie that you will kick in if someone buys your books. Passes to a local event, CDs, a code to access special items on your website, any little something to help the deal get sweeter. Again, with a little bit of research this can be done cheaply and will help you make a good deal of money.
3. No matter the answer, say "thank you." These people gave you their time and attention; they are supporting the events that support you, so chirp a cheery "thank you" as they meander away.
So, here are my tips. I hope they help!
Monday, August 12, 2013
The courthouse It had been abandoned decades before. Every now and then someone would petition the city to knock it down, but still it stood, it's silent bell tower pointing an accusing finger at the heavens. In the evenings folks would pay to take tours, to see if they could find the ghost that was said to be haunting the crumbling halls. One day a couple; young, fresh-faced, their nervous laughter trilling up and down the street walked up to the edifice. They pulled on the doors. Nothing. Undeterred, the young man jumped and grabbed a barred window, sputtering and pawing at his face as the rust flaked into his eyes. After a brief, whispered conversation they crossed the street to where the crone sat looking.
"Excuse me, Ma'am," the young man said, "do you know the story of the ghost they say haunts over there," he gestured over his shoulder. The old woman blew smoke in a thin stream, squinting through the haze.
"Ayuh," she said at last, "I knows it."
The girl giggled again, shrilly, and the young man murmured something in her ear.
"Would you mind telling us?" he asked.
The old woman closed her eyes and her chin sunk into her chest. The ash on her cigarette grew long and the couple was just about to leave when suddenly she looked up.
"Why'nt you set down," she said. She lit another cigarette and began.
"The woman was named Elzabeth McLemore, 'n she was the daughter of one of the sharecroppers way out'n the middle of nowhere. Nothin' but scrub pines and red clay on either side. Her family had horses, 'n evver now and then the farrier would travel out that way to see if there was anythin' they needed. Elzabeth grew into a fine lookin' woman. Cherokee blood runs strong in these parts and it showed in her. She had long black hair that fell near to her waist, 'n black eyes that flashed. The farriers wife died and soon he went lookin' for another and it was Elzabeth that he decided he wanted. They got married an' he was as happy as could be but everbody in town knew that she was just miserable. She hated livin' in town, said there was too many people about. She missed her family and she faulted her husband for the hours he spent in the smithy. She took to spending time down there with him, not visitn' just staring off into space. Folks said she was part addled. Then she had her baby and it got even worse.
The little girl was as purty as her Mama and as charmin' as her Daddy, but Elzabeth just pure hated the sight of her. She wouldn't hold her, would hardly feed her, an' it got worse as the girl got older. Her Mama passed stories, and carted that child to ever' preacher and doctor in town, sayin' that the girl was sick, or maybe possessed. She said that the girl got the shakes sometimes that just wouldn't stop, that she talked words that no one could understand. She swore the girl was evil, said her eyes glowed sometimes at night. Nobody took much stock in what she said,though. Some folks just figgured it was part of her strangeness, others thought that she was jealous. 'Cause her husband, he was just ate up with that little girl. Took her with her everywhere he went and called her Hob Nail 'cause she was so short 'n sturdy. Strong. That girl, as pretty and pampered as she was, was as strong as some grown men. Lord but he was proud 'a that little girl, always kep' her dressed in the finest clothes an' would bring her dolls 'n such. Soon Elzabeth wouldn't even look at the girl, shied away from her when the girl came up for a hug. Still, what she did, folks never expected it."
The women grew silent again for a long while, staring at the courthouse spire. Suddenly she startled, looked wide eyed at the young couple as if she had forgotten who they were. Her nostrils flared and her slipper clad feet scrabbled against the wood on the porch. Then she calmed, began again.
"The farrier came home one day after a long coupl'a days on the road. As he started down the street, he noticed that there was no smoke comin' from his house or from the smithy. That was passin' odd, 'cause the nights had started to grow cold. He came to the top of the hill, that'n right there that runs through town, and saw there were no lanterns burnin' neither. He started to ride faster. He got to the house and sure enough it was dark, cold. He went out to the forge 'n that was the same. It was so dark by then that he didn't see Elzabeth 'til he nearly tripped over her. She lay on the floor, covered in blood, her black eyes huge. Her hands had been burned, so bad that they weren't nothin' but a melted mess. Her daughter, though, little Hob Nail, was nowhere to be seen and Elzabeth wasn't talkin'. Well her Daddy called out a search party and they spent days ridin' up and down the hills, knockin' on doors, while Elzabeth just sat and stared, her hands wrapped an' covered with a poultice. It were three days before anyone thought to look in the big ol' fire pit in the forge, and that's when they found 'em. The little girl's doll; her favorite one that her Daddy has brought her from two counties over, and a little leather shoe. Somehow, they'd gotten kicked to the side an' the fire had spared them before it had burned itself out. 'N that's when they knew. They knew what that woman had done.
She was taken to the prison and set to be hanged; the first woman in Jackson County ever to be put in jail, let alone set to be executed. There were those who disagreed, who said that since they never found the body that somethin' else coulda happened. Still, the law was the law and soon the time was a comin'. A buncha men set to building some gallows out back. It made ever'one in town a little scairt, listenin' to the hammerin and knowing what it was for. They never got around to the deed, though. One night someone or mebbe someones, they never knew who, broke into the jail. They took to Elzabeth with a horse whip until she was done. They said the jailer 'near passed out when he saw her and that the cell was covered in vomit from everyone who went in there to help bring her out. Eventually they got her body out, but her spirit, that lives there still, screaming while the whip comes down over and over again. Some folks think it's 'cause she's sorry for what she did, others think it's cause she wants folks to know she didn't do it at all."
For the first time in over an hour, the young man spoke up, his voice rusty and cracked with disuse. "What do you think?" he asked.
The old woman looked up and for an instant they could have sworn her eyes flashed green. "Those old stories," she said, eyeing the bell tower, "I reckon you can't never tell."
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Blog Interview - www.jennixonauthor.com - TOMORROW
Michigan Pirate Festival, Grand Haven, MI, Friday, August 9-Sunday, August 11
Dark Carnival Film Festival, Columbus, IN, Friday, August 30.
The Princess Bride Experience, Louisville, KY, Saturday, August 31.
Lorain County Zombie Outbreak, Lorain Co. OH, Saturday, September 7th.
The BucCornEar Festival, Helmburg IN, Friday, September 20-Saturday, September 21st.
Archon - St. Louis, MO, October 4-6
Trafalgar Branch, Johnson County Library - Thursday, October 10.
Columbus Branch, Bartholemew County Library - Friday, October 11, 6pm.
Boo At the Zoo - Mesker Park Zoo, Evansville, IN, October 19th-21st.
Goblins, Ghouls, and Goodies, - Community Center, Hope, IN, October 26th.
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg, TN - October 31st.
North Carolina Comic-Con, Durham, NC - Saturday, November 9th.
I'll look forward to seeing you there! Don't forget, if you'd like to see me somewhere, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Madame Margot: by John Bennett
I found this tiny gem in an equally tiny bookstore in Charleston, South Carolina, easily one of my favorite places in the world. It was under a hand-lettered sign that read "Local Works," and from the first line I was enraptured. "Much has been said of Old Charleston," it reads, "of its antique beauty, patrician arrogance, and courtly hospitality, much written, in praise and blame, both false and true, and the warm charm of the commonplace harped on until frayed threadbare." Delicious. By the time the titular character had given into a soulless madness I was unable to tear myself from the page. The rhythm and beauty of the language is hypnotic and the millinery based allegory is among the best I've read. I hope to return to Charleston very soon for a sweet grass basket, some she-crab soup, a pint at the Blind Tiger, and another trip to that bookstore.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
To create a civilization and everything that goes with it; the language, the mythology, the social structures and rituals, takes an astute and creative mind. to do so with a commonplace and incredibly familiar creature, in this case rabbits, and to do so with so deft a hand that the rabbits don't seem human but you start to feel like some woodland creature, is phenomenal. Add to that Bigwig, one of the best literary characters ever created, and this is a masterpiece.
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I first read this book as a preteen, and have revisited it often in the decades that have passed since. It has a different effect on my every time I read. I am always mad at the scientists; sometimes I am mad at Charley. Sometimes I cry; sometimes I am nauseous at the horror that his knowledge must have brought about. It is often hard for me to read nowadays, as I parent a child who is aware enough to know that he is different but unable to figure out how to change. As I struggle with depression and the feeling of being pulled in myriad directions I understand more how his situation affected his intimate desires. I think as science progresses and the ability for human interaction is further degraded this book will become more and more relevant.
'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
This novel was Jack's last, and is a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche's older sister. The emotions described and shown in this book are so familiar to each of us and are described in such a way that I found myself cheering, nodding, and hanging my head in shame. The language is all Lewis, but a mature and uninhibited Lewis that we rarely see in his works of fiction.
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
I love Steinbeck. I love what he has to say and how he uses rich but simple characters to say it. They stop just short of caricature, and it is this restraint that makes them so effective. However, I have never enjoyed a tale more than from the eyes and mouth of the ultimate character, Steinbeck himself, as he travels with his faithful companion. I find especially interesting the predictions he made and seeing how very true they are in our world today.
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
I have to admit that I enjoyed this book more before I spent as long immersed in Armed Forces protocol as I now have. I find myself getting frustrated with the Lieutenant in this book to a degree that it distracts from my ability to enjoy the story. That being said, this book is the most brilliant example of meta fiction I have ever read. It also eloquently expresses so many of the things that were wrong with our country and the way the Vietnam War was handled, and brings to light some of the uncommon horrors and effects of a guerrilla war situation.
A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
Again, the words in this novel are absolutely gorgeous and the twist on a familiar tale is haunting. This novel was not released until long after Alcott's death, as it was considered far too scandalous for the times in which it was written. It is, in fact, scandalous, with deceit, fornication, death, lust, and rage all fighting with one another. Still it is a beautiful, intriguing piece that I think is far above that which was deemed suitable.
What are your favorites?