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Humpday Special – Excerpt: Fried Windows Chapter One

FINAL Final Fried Windows Front Cover Only

The following is an excerpt from Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce), published May 2014 by Pandamoon Publishing. It is offered here as a sample of the story.

The book is currently available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats – http://www.amazon.com/Fried-Windows-Light-White-Sauce-ebook/dp/B00KM6MXI4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Copyright 2014 Elgon Williams All Rights Reserved

1 The Problem Delivery

Mrs. Fields’s twisted directions were just that— twisted. I couldn’t figure them out. There was a computer system to deliver, and the schedule was tight . There was nothing new about that. My frustration and sense of urgency rose as none of the directions on the paper made sense. The street names were real but how could reality be bent to fit these convoluted directions?

Three days before, Mrs. Fields popped in to the computer store where I worked looking for a computer system. There was no salesperson available to help her, so she went to the tech shop where I worked in the store and asked me. Fine. She said she needed delivery and set up, and since that would likely be me anyway, I figured I could take a little break from what I was doing.

She was a chunky, elderly lady about five-foot nothing with short cropped hair that sort of looked silver and sort of looked white depending on how the light hit it. At six-foot two, I towered over her.

After spending an hour showing her systems and asking her questions I determined she wasn’t at all savvy and mostly incapable of talking coherently. That became very clear when giving me directions to her house. She didn’t know her exact address.

“You can’t possibly miss it, dearie,” she assured me as she jotted down the directions. “It’s the only place out that way.”

So, I let it go. I thought I’d find the road she lived on and it would be the only house, just like she said.

After scrabbling with those directions for nearly an hour and still being lost, my options narrowed to one. Driving to an area that I thought was at least close, I looked for a letter carrier. One was parked at the side of the street, just before the edge of downtown, enjoying his lunch. I wished I had time to enjoy lunch. I had lost ten pounds in the two weeks of non-stop deliveries during a special promotion. Being built mostly like a scarecrow, it wasn’t like I had the weight to spare. Anyway, I apologized for interrupting the man’s lunch. Then, I asked for help deciphering the cryptic directions.

“Oh— oh, yes, Mrs. Fields,” he said. This was good; I was making headway. Apparently, he recognized not only the name, but also seemed to know the lady as well. I was sure I’d be receiving precise directions any moment now.

“Am I getting close at least?”

“No closer than you were to begin with. You see if you’re here, you’re still lost. I used to deliver mail to her,” he explained.

I listened patiently even though panic was starting to seep in. At least he knew where she lived, so I kept listening. The letter carrier fancied himself a storyteller, though, and finally, I had to interrupt him.

“I’m sorry, but I have a lot of things to do today. All I need is for you to point me in the right direction. What’s confusing is that she told me to drive to the edge of downtown and then up the hill. This is the only hill I know of. I mean, I’ve only lived here for a few years but I haven’t seen any other hills around, not in this part of Florida, anyway.”

“This is the only hill in town,” he confirmed.

“And the directions say, just before I reached the hilltop, make a U-turn and look for a street on the right. When I find it, turn left, not the first left but the second left, and take the more crooked road of the two.”

“Yes, and you drive straight down that road,” he said with a laugh. “She’s telling you exactly how she gets there, obviously. That’s how she drives.”

“Straight down a crooked road?”

“Yes, precisely,” he confirmed. “She gave you the right directions. The second road is crooked, but it is the most direct way to get to her house. I think that’s what she meant by ‘straight’.”

“Okay.” Glancing down at the directions, I tried for a little more clarity. “She says to look for a farmhouse where there is no barn. It has a large front door and a small front porch but no windows.”

“Yep, that’s her place. That’s it to a ‘T’.”

“She lives in a house with no windows?”

“Well, as I understand it, there was a tough season a while back. The crops were not up to expectations and money was hard to come by.”

“What does that have to do with why there are no windows in the house? Did she have to sell them?”

“No. According to her, she actually ate‘em.”

Did I misunderstand? “She ate the windows?”

“Fried‘em up and served them in a light white sauce,” he said and then laughed. “That’s what she told me, anyway.”

“That’s crazy!”

“Before you pass judgment, get to know Mrs. Fields. She’s a gem. She has a story to tell everyone and anyone, but the story she tells is always intended just for you.”

“I really don’t have the time to . . .”

“You should make the time, Brent,” he said, stealing my name with a brief glance at my name badge. “It’d be well worth the effort. Just have an open mind— a wide-open mind. She has a rare gift, but you really gotta wanna receive it.”

“And she eats windows?”

“Well, I don’t know that for a fact. It’s what she told me, though. Maybe she wanted to make me laugh. Her sense of humor is a little bizarre. Still, the fact remains that her house has no windows. Once you get to know her, none of that will bother you as much as it does now. Trust me on that. You’ll never look at the world in the same way.”

“If that’s intended as a sales pitch, it’s not working.”

“Hey, you make your own decisions, guy,” he said. “Do you think you can find it now?”

“I’ll give it a shot, I guess.” My confidence was at an all time low.

“When you feel like you’re lost you’re probably getting close. Drive until the glare of the afternoon sun is so bad that it blinds you. Pull over to the side of the road and look through the haze, and you’ll be there.”

“You’re as crazy as she is.” He laughed.

“Like you’re not?”

“Well, I have my doubts some times. Everyone does.”

“You think everyone’s crazy. In fact, mostly we are. We differ by degrees, I suppose. But this is truth, my friend. If you want to learn something different, you can’t keep looking in the same place and expect to find anything but what you already know. If you think about it, being crazy isn’t such a bad place to start when you need some novelty in your life.”

“I have enough trouble dealing with the things the way they are. I’m certain I don’t want to learn anything from a lady who eats windows and gives strange directions to her house.”

“Look, others don’t measure up to your expectations and they probably never will. But that’s okay because you don’t measure up to their standards either. So why judge anybody? Once you get past judging others, amazing things can happen,” he said with a wink.

“It doesn’t make sense.”

“Of course it doesn’t. Look, people like to think they’re being logical. And logic can be useful in understanding some things. But it can also restrict you from going places and finding what you’re looking for. That’s what I learned from Mrs. Fields.”

“You speak as if she was your teacher.”

“Mentor is a better word. Here’s the fact. I used to be frustrated. My job is important and I get that. People depend on the prompt delivery of their mail. But I was upset because I always wanted to be something else. Never in my wildest, youthful dreams did I think that when I grew-up, I’d fight in a strange foreign war that we couldn’t win, and afterwards, I’d end up delivering the mail in some sleepy little coastal town in Florida. I was going to be a police officer, a fire fighter, a cowboy, or one of the astronauts they shoot into space from the Cape— you know, a real hero, somebody others look up to. Then, after I connected with Mrs. Fields, I understood that everything I ever desired was still inside of me from when I was a kid. The little things I do everyday make me a hero to someone and that’s probably as good as it gets most of the time— at least on this side of reality. She told me that as I grew older, I misplaced some dreams. That’s all. They were still there. It’s just— other things got put in front of them. Priorities, you know? If your mind is open to all possibilities, you can find the dreams you lost. When you do, you’ll be forever young where it counts.” He tapped his index finger to his temple for emphasis.

Staring at him as much as he stared back at me, one of us was waiting for some sort of sign, I guess. But if he was waiting for me to get his point, that wasn’t about to happen. He saw me shrug, so he nodded, and turned the key to start his jeep. There was nothing else he needed to say to me. What did he really care if I understood or believed? If I found the house— fine. Otherwise, I’d just continue being as lost as I ever was.

After he pulled away, I watched him continuing on up the street to the base of the hill. I didn’t know exactly what to do. I got back in my delivery truck , pulled out onto the street, and took my best shot at following Mrs. Fields’s peculiar directions. I drove up the hill, and close to the top, I made a U-turn and came back downhill, looking for the street on the right. Then, I turned left on the second of two streets. At first, it appeared to be the straighter of the two, but when my choice proved to be a crooked road, I felt better about it. Maybe this was the right way. I imagined arriving soon, setting up the computer, and going on to my next delivery. My kids might see their father for once and receive some help with their homework.

The road meandered without any logic. The ground was tabletop flat, mostly free of obstruction, or contour. There was no apparent reason for the original planners to create such a crooked course. At one point, the road split into two lanes to avoid a stand of several towering palm trees around a large stone monument. Obviously, the monument had some significance to force the road builders to surround it.

Driving for a fairly long time without result, my confidence dwindled again. Could Mrs. Fields have forgotten to mention some key landmark or turn in her directions? She didn’t seem like she was all there after all. Had I driven past the house? Then, I wondered how anybody could not notice a house with no windows.

Maybe I should turn back. Exasperated, I pulled over to the side of the road and looked down at the paper with the warped directions. When I looked up from my clipboard, the glare from the afternoon sun struck my eyes. Shading them with my hand so I could see, inexplicably, there it was. Through the afternoon haze, directly ahead of where I pulled over to the side of the road, was a house surrounded by fields of tall grass gently swaying in the breeze. It had a massive front door and tiny porch but absolutely no windows.

My heart jumped. Tentatively, I opened the truck door, telling myself this didn’t make any sense. Why hadn’t I seen the house while driving? Seeing it now conjured up all sorts of intimidating and frightening possibilities and explanations. Most of those worried me.

Back to the matter at hand, I had to deliver a computer system and set it up in a house with no windows. That was all that mattered. I stepped out onto the pavement, crossed the road, and marched up to the front door. Already running way behind schedule, I intended to ring the bell, knock, yell, or use any other means available to communicate my presence. Having spent too much time finding the place, I was determined to wrap up this delivery as quickly as possible and be on my way to the next customer.

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As I reached for the large brass doorknocker that adorned the front door, there was rustling in the bushes to my right. Distracted, I turned without bothering to knock. There before me on the ground below the lip of the porch a petite young lady was picking flowers. I walked to the edge of the porch where I got a better look at her. When she looked up at me with eyes that seemed to sparkle and change colors, her smile made me feel at ease.

For whatever reason, when I first noticed her, I thought she might be a child. But as she appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties with shoulder-length, auburn hair, fair skin with a few freckles scattered across the bridge of her nose, I decided she had a natural sort of cuteness the defied showing her age. She was pretty, not needing any cosmetic amendment. She wore loose fitting work clothes, a tee shirt that came down to mid thigh, and jeans that were rolled up to her knees. The overall effect made her look even thinner.

“Hello there,” I said. “I’m here to . . .”

“I know. And it’s wonderful to see you again,” she replied with her bright, perfect smile that dazzled me as much as her eyes.

“Again?” I asked.

“There should never be a first time for anything, so that there’ll never need to be a last, especially when saying hello . This time, you’re from that computer place, right?”

“Uh, yes, Digital World HQ.”

“That’s the one. Strawb asked me to wait here for your arrival. And so, while I was waiting here, I thought I’d tend to the flowerbeds and pick some fresh flowers to take inside the house. Aren’t they pretty?” She held up the bouquet she’d assembled. “Strawb’s waiting for you in the backyard.”

“Who is Strawb?”

“Mrs. Fields,” the young lady said with some impatience.

“You really have forgotten much,” she said as she hopped up onto the
porch, proving that my estimation of her height was actually generous, as she came up to about my chest.

She looked up into my eyes. “You know, of course, Mrs. Fields is not her real name. If you recall, that was what Johnny and Paul started calling her. She rather liked it, as well as the fine story behind the name, so it stuck,” she explained as if she really expected me to recall. “I hope you remember me, at least.”

Somehow, I didn’t want to disappoint her, but I had to confess as I shook my head, “I— don’t recall us having ever met.”

“It’s such a pity. We were always such famous friends. I’m Lucy,” she offered with her biggest smile yet, as her eyes reflected the blue of the sky and reminded me of gemstones twinkling in the light.

“Brent,” I gave her my name, as I pointed to my nametag. I accepted her delicate hand and we shook.

“Brent, among other names.” Lucy laughed. “Strawb said you were very nice to her at the store, but she warned me that you didn’t recognize her. That happens sometimes when we pretend too hard to be who we’re not.”

“I’m nice to everyone, I guess. I mean I try to be,” I said. “I try not to pretend.”

“It’s good you’re nice, but it’s a shame you don’t pretend. Why, pretending is the best way to play, I think.”

“I’m really sorry but I have no recollection of ever having met either of you, other than talking to Mrs. Fields in the store, of course.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll remember everything, eventually. It’s rare to my experience that anyone doesn’t remember once they are here and the confusion settles. The best times are always within reach, if you allow them to return. The way to see things most clearly is to close your eyes. But everyone is in such a hurry, and afraid to look away for even a moment because they think they might miss something, when all they might miss is more distractions.”

“Maybe you have a point, there.”

“Oh. I know I’m right about that.” Her eyes continued to invite me to explore their depths, probing me in the process as if she was waiting for a sudden flash of remembrance. Then she sighed. “Strawb said you took the time and patiently asked all the right questions. She felt comfortably confident that you recommended the right solution, even if you forgot about her— about us and all this,” she made a sweeping gesture with her arm. “That’s why she requested that you make the delivery personally. She was hoping to return your kindness with the gift of reconnection so that maybe we could help you, and you could help us in the process.”

“I’d be glad to help. But what is this reconnection?”

“With your past and your imagination, of course.”

“My past is forgettable and my imagination is just fine.”

“Maybe that’s the case. But I’ll bet you try too hard to ignore both. The past is as unavoidable as the future, and imagination is something that if you don’t use it you lose it.”

“Like a foreign language.”

“It’s nothing like a foreign language at all. If it seems to be, then that’s part of your problem.” She shook her head. “Try not to be difficult, please.”

“Look, it was a fluke that I was selling computers last Sunday. I usually don’t sell them. I just make deliveries and repair them when they break.”

“Well, we are all the more grateful for your efforts, then.”

“The store depends on repeat business, and referrals, of course. I try to satisfy every customer.”

“Then, you must be very successful.”

“We do okay.”

“What about you, personally?”

“I do okay, too.”

“If it’s just okay, then you aren’t properly rewarded for your efforts.”

“Do you know where Mrs. Fields wants the computer set up?” I was growing impatient and it was getting later by the moment.

“Where else would she want it? In the backyard.”

“The backyard?”

“It’s where everyone comes to play, now isn’t it? The computer is intended for the children, all of them, but especially Haim. So it needs to be there.”

“I strongly recommend against setting up a computer outdoors. It’s a highly complicated electronic device that will not appreciate getting wet when it rains.”

“Okay,” Lucy said. “Hmmm, well then, I suppose we’ll just have to make do without rain, at least where the computer is.”

“What?”

“Come, I’ll show you the way,” Lucy said.

“Let me get the hand-truck and bring the computer with me. I’m on a tight schedule.”

“I’ll put these flowers in a vase and I’ll meet you back here.”

By the time I loaded up all the boxes containing the computer components, Lucy was waiting for me at the front corner of the house. As I walked toward her, she came to the edge of the road to meet me. She pointed the way to a tall shadow-box wood fence and an open gate at the side of the house that she’d left open for us.

Once inside, the fenced-in yard seemed an immense parcel of real estate. And yet, everything there appeared designed for amusement. A huge playground with two sandboxes, multiple swing sets with spiral slides, places to climb, benches to sit for resting, and tables for children to sit and eat snacks, or have lunch. Around the perimeter and outside the fence were several tall trees with their branches extended over the playground, though they didn’t appear to be giving much shade for the time of day. It reminded me more of a public park than the backyard of a residence.

“Are you in the daycare business?” I asked, making small talk as I carefully carted the boxes over the grass, holding one hand on the stack to keep them from sliding or falling off.

“Daycare? What is that?” Lucy asked.

“The amusements, they’re for children aren’t they?”

“Oh, those. Yes, this is a place for the young, but not necessarily just kids. Youth is an attitude as much as a perspective. Everyone who comes is youthful but not necessarily a child.”

“But it’s a playground, right?”

“We all play here, yes. Deep inside, everyone is a five-year-old or six tops. That’s the age we’re intended to be. Everything is marvelous and amusing to us then. Nothing about the world is boring. We discover and invent. We imagine and create. When we are five or six, we are connected to everything around us but also innocent and willing to discover everything about anything, aren’t we?”

“I guess so. I mean, sometimes I think about when I was a kid,” I admitted.

“Good, then you haven’t lost your way, you just need directions to get back on course.”

“About that, I almost didn’t find this place.”

“Until you did, and that’s all that matters. Now we’re here, together again. So, relax, be yourself, and be happy you made it back.” She twirled around as if inspired to dance.

“As attractive as that thought might be, we still live in the real world.”

“Well, if you like the real world, you can have it. It’s a choice you make. Here we choose not to be miserable.”

“I’m not miserable.” I leaned against the handle of the hand truck as I temporarily parked it at the back corner of the house, waiting for further directions.

“If you’re in the real world and say you’re not miserable, then you’re deceiving yourself,” Lucy said. “Anyone who is not here is lost.”

“Well, I’m not lost.”

“Because you’re here. You get bored with the outside world and want to escape its pressures, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but that’s true of everyone.”

“Doesn’t that make you miserable?”

“Sometimes, I guess it does.”

“So, you see, you lie to yourself, saying you’re not miserable when really you are. You never lied to yourself before when you were here. You couldn’t because no one taught you how.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Why, the difference is everything, isn’t it?” Then she cleared her throat. “It’s everything and nothing, same as anything else. All you need to do is decide to be young and everything else follows from that. To be young is what it was like before you started acting old.”

Copyright 2014 Elgon Williams All Rights Reserved

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Book Seven Revisions Complete

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For those of you following the saga of the entire series revision for The Wolfcat Chronicles, Book 7 was submitted to my publisher this morning. Now I move on to Book 8 – after a brief break.

As I have said before, I’ve not worked on Books 8 through 10 for several years. Over that time my writing style has changed a bit. Also I completed and self published The Attributes and signed with Pandamoon Publishing to see Fried Windows released this past May. In other words, a lot has happened.

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I’ve always planned a substantial revision for the final three books that comprise The Last Wolfcat section of the series. As I have written several of the other tangential pieces that tie into The Last Wolfcat, I have some new ideas for the conclusion. I have never been happy with the way the original draft ended.Now that I know how everything connects to Fried Windows, The Attributes, One over X and The Power of X – along with some as yet untitled pieces – I will tackle the task of rewriting the last third of so of Book 10. I am also considering an 11th book that falls outside of the storyline of The Wolfcat Chronicles but would provide some backstory support. I’m thinking of calling the supplement, The Offspring – not to be confused with the musical group.

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So, although I’m happy to have completed the Spectre of Dammerwald and One Pack sections of The Wolfcat Chronicles, and would love to take the day off and celebrate, I have a lot left to do. I really need to have the entire series wrapped up before April to fit into my plans for other books that remain on the back burner – including sequels to Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman.

As for Becoming Thurman’s release date, expect it sometime around summer. Since it has a baseball theme that is a better time of year for it to appear, I think.

I’ll be promoting Fried Windows locally in some bookstores with signing and personal appearances over the next few months as well as building interest in the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles and having some launch parties. So if you live in Central Florida be looking for the announcements. My publicist and I are considering some other promotional events, perhaps in other states. Nothing has been officially scheduled yet but it’s in the works. Also, I’ll be offering personally autographed copies of Fried Windows online. I’m working out the logistics of that as well.

#FriedWindows #TheWolfcatChronicles #BecomingThuperman #ThePowerOfX #OneOverX #TheAttributes #Revisions #Publishing #PandamoonPublishing

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Pandamoon Publishing Acquires The Kingdom Thief by Alisse Lee Goldenberg

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Pandamoon Publishing is proud to announce the acquisition of The Kingdom Thief by Alisse Lee Goldenberg, the eagerly awaited sequel to the winner of Mom’s Choice Award Gold and the Cybils Award Nominated fantasy novel Sitnalta, October 2013 Pandamoon Publishing – ISBN 978-0-9912131-3-9 (eBook) ISBN 978-0-9912131-0-8 (paperback).

Princess Sitnalta has been living happily ever after with Queen Aud and King Gerald as her adoptive parents, enjoying the peace in her world. Her growing friendship with the mysterious Prince Navor leads her on a journey to visit his island kingdom. While there she receives the horrible news that her kingdom has been stolen and cruel King Wilhelm is responsible. Far from home and unsure of whom to trust, Sitnalta must find a way to save her kingdom, and return her beloved Aud and Gerald to their rightful thrones.

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Alisse Lee Goldenberg is an author of Horror and Young Adult fantasy fiction. She is the writer of such novels as Bath Salts, and The Strings of the Violin. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree (neither of which she uses), and has studied fantasy and folklore since she was a child. Alisse lives in a very full house in Toronto with her husband Brian, their young triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian.

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When Alisse is not writing, she is a property manager, musical theatre performer with Steppin’ Out Theatrical Productions, and go-to props manager for Angelwalk Theatre. You can find her doing anything from singing and dancing to building a life-size key to the city out of toilet paper rolls. She firmly believes that coffee is the nectar of all life.

You can follow Alisse on her website.

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Projects for 2015

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Yesterday I completed a list of uncommonly spelled words and names for my editor’s use in preparing a stylesheet for the publication of The Wolfcat Chronicles. The list is complete through Book Six, which is as far as I have gotten with he current round of revisions. I figure as I go forward l’ll add anything that appears to the list, though I believe most things are on the list already. There are some new characters for Books Eight through Ten, though. Already the list is eight pages long. It will exceed ten pages before I reach the end of the series.

The first order of business for 2015 is completing the revision on Book Seven, a process I’ve already begun. Sunday is a day off from my nn-wiritng job, so I’ll knock out several chapters. I’m hoping to complete the effort before January 15. I don’t foresee a problem in doing that.

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Beyond Book Seven I expect books Eight and Nine will take until the end of February. I’m allocating March and April for the rewrite I envision for Book Ten. Factoring in the time I’ll need to devote to substantive and content edits on both Books One and Two of the series, if I finish the revisions sooner, all the better. At some point I’ll be going through sub-edits and content edits for Becoming Thuperman as well, as I expect to release three books this year, two of them are part of The Wolfcat Chronicles. Because the entire series will be completely revised by April, I suppose it is possible that more book of the series might appear in print before the end of 2015, provided my publisher has the bandwidth to process them. Depending on how many of The Wolfcat Chronicles books are slated for 2015 release, I might spend most of my time with edits.

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Six new authors were added recently to Pandamoon Publishing’s family. So their books will be in production concurrently as well as follow-up novels from authors who had books released in late 2013 and throughout 2014. Christine Gabriel, Chrissy Lessey and Steph Post have new manuscripts. Jason Beem plans another novel. Emily Belden is working on a new project as well. Alisse Lee-Goldenberg is rumored to have a sequel for her fantasy Sitnalta that is ready to enter the editing process – nothing officially announced on that one yet, but you can expect something soon. So, there could be as many as 24 books released in 2015 from my publisher.

Then there are other projects I need to work on as well, including the sequel to Fried Windows. I need to finish writing that one. There is also a sequel to Becoming Thuperman envisioned, though I haven’t begun writing it. And there are a couple of other novels in progress that I have yet to complete.

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Once I complete the revisions on The Wolfcat Chronicles I plan to begin revising some other manuscripts I haven’t yet published. I’m not sure whether my publisher will produce any of those, but at least I’ll submit them. For 2016 and beyond I may decide to pull my self-published work, revise those for new editions and submit them as well. At some point I want to complete the One Over X thread that covers Andy Hunter, Terry Harper and Lee Anders Johnston who appear in The Wolfcat Chronicles as minor characters. Then there are the Power of X books, which fill in the background for Ela’na and clarifies her connection to Earth and Brent Woods. Additionally I have a number of books about Brent Woods, pretty much from childhood through college and his military service upto entering The Program. I may also revise a new edition of The Attributes, which is sort of a capstone for all the science fiction threads from One Over X, The Wolfcat Chronicles and The Power of X. All told there are forty manuscripts in various stages of completion, with twenty written in draft (at least) and about half of those have been revised and submitted. So, even if I were able to push out five books a year, which is highly optimistic, I am looking at eight years’ work.

Publicity and building a fan based continue to be major background efforts. 2013 and 2014 were years of building from obscurity. There’s still a lot I need to do. Foremost is establishing a worldwide street team prior to the launch of The Wolfcat Chronicles Book 1. My social media presence has increased significantly in the past year, but I’ll need to leverage those contacts in some way. A major problem is that the majority of my friends and followers are fellow authors. Understandably they are working on their own books and promotions. So networking and dovetailing fan bases is the only strategy that will engage them for supporting my work.

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My urgent goal it to find more readers and get the word out about my writing. Fried Windows has not received the attention I think it deserves. Yes, I know I’m biased because I wrote it. But I truly believe int he book. People who have read it believe it is one of the best fantasy novels out there. It has remained relatively obscure with all the noise out there from competing titles. There is no lack of good books in the marketplace, but the problem for readers is finding them from amongst the utter crap, some of which has come from major publishing houses. Quality control is not exclusively a self-publishing issue, though, admittedly, the bulk of published work comes from independents. A lot of work being published every day that is not ready for prime time – if it will ever be.

It is far too easy to self-publish a book in the hubris and euphoria following the moment of relief typing The End on the final page. Many a writer has put work out there that needs considerable amounts of professional editing. In the past I’ve been guilty of that as well. But I have learned.

Despite overtures to the contrary, quality control in self-publishing remains virtually nonexistent. The measures some, like Amazon, have in place are too easily abused. A book troll can complain about a novel’s quality over some bogus issue and the book will be pulled and the author notified that a revision of the issues must be completed before the book can be resubmitted for further review. The problem with all that is that the validity of the reader’s complaint doesn’t seem to enter into the discussion. There have been several instances that best selling self-published books have been yanked due to a reader’s complaint about an alleged grammar problem that is not based in fact. Many indie authors pay a lot of money to have books professional edited using established industry standards by major publishing houses. I wonder if a reader complains about a book from a major house if it would be yanked from the site?

#revisions #writing #TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #Publishing #StreetTeams #FanBase #Publicity #PandamoonPublishing

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Progress on The Wolfcat Chronicles

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A couple of days ago I completed the most recent revision of the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles, The Spectre’s Warning. I have submitted it to my publisher. Since this will be my third book with Pandamoon Publishing (if it is contracted) it is not the next one in the queue. When and if it is acquired, I’ll let everyone know and a tentative publication date when that information is available. For now I’m seven chapters into revising the second book of the series, A Warrior’s Heart.

I know I have discussed the evolution of The Chronicles previously on this blog, but as I continue to grow in followers, I wanted to sort of bring the whole story together in one place and say a few things about how the series came about.

Whenever I tell people I have a book almost always they ask what it’s about? And if the conversation continues beyond that, invariably the question comes up, where did you get that idea? I’m offering the answer to both here and now for future reference.

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The beginning of The Wolfcat Chronicles can be traced back to a creative writing course I took in the spring semester of 1977 at Purdue University. On January 13th, I submitted a character profile as an assignment. It pretty much described a wolfcat. As my instructor hated science fiction/fantasy he picked it apart. First of all, how could there possibly be a creature with he attributes of a wolf, cat and human? I proposed something along the lines of gene splicing but received laughs from the other down of so would be writers in the classroom. My response that anything is possible in fiction was unsatisfactory to one and all. I received a C for the assignment and suffered through the remainder of the course listening to the instructor pontificate about how choosing writing as a career is anything by lucrative (which is true) and that it is next to impossible to get a book published (which was true for him).

Also I spent most of my time in class justifying why I wrote what I wrote as part of in class critiques on writing assignments. You see, my dialogue wasn’t realistic enough to satisfy anyone else in the class – not their their writing was better, mind you. I took that last part to heart, though, and have spent a good deal of effort over the years getting a better feel for dialogue. As a result, I’m told the dialogue in my stories is pretty good.

Anyway, the first novel I wrote was titled Tarot. The characters were based on the major arcana of the fortune telling cards. Of course it was a fantasy story. How could it not be, right? I banged out a typewritten manuscript in 1978. A couple of friends read it and thought it was pretty good. I even thought about having several copies made at the campus bookstore and submitting it to publishers. Realize that back then each page of a manuscript had to be xerox copied.

At some point I decided to read it and as a direct result had serious doubts about my ability to write a decent story. In other words, after the euphoria of having finished something that was novel length had subsided reality set in and I could see the novel in progress for what it was – a lame, pretentious, uninspiring piece of crap. Having said that, I kept the manuscript and still have it stored in a box somewhere. If I ever feel like being humbled, I can always pull it out and read a few pages.

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I’ve come a long way on my journey to be a writer.

There are a few things that survive from the story line of Tarot, though. And they found their ways into One Over X, my first publication, and The Wolfcat Chronicles, my current major project.

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While I was revising One Over X in the summer of the 2000, about a year before it was published, I spent some of my free time online with several other people in an IRC chatroom. A lot of those folks played Dungeons and Dragons back int he day. They had invented a role playing game where we were all members of a wolf pack. We wrote our profiles and carried out adventures, some of them pretty humorous.

I was working two part time jobs at the time, one delivering newspapers early in the morning and the other involved driving to Orlando from Melbourne each day to service retail stores as a vendor representative. For those who don’t know Florida geography, Orlando is about a hour’s drive from Melbourne. Between driving, delivering papers and completing revisions prior to submitting them to my publisher, I had maybe a few hours to sleep. I’m not sure how I did it, except I enjoyed the role playing game and looked forward to chatting with the people for a few hours each night.

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At some point I told some of the chatters I I was a writer and that I was working on a book that was going to be published. Everybody is writing a book, right? It wasn’t a huge deal at all. But one of the folks said she’d like to read it. After explaining it was going to be about a year before it was released she was disappointed. She said she wanted to read something I had written. So, I committed to writing a story about the wolf pack and sending it to her. Thirteen weeks later there was a 413-page rough draft of the core story contained in the middle five books of The Wolfcat Chronciles. So let’s just say that between May and July of 2000 was when I started work on the series.

The server where the wolf pack’s chatroom was located went down forever. Some of us who had personal contact through email or instant messenger stayed in touch but it was never quite the same. Also, I lost all contact for a while the the lady for whom I had written the story, my muse. I figured I’d finish the book, publish it and she’d hear about it and get to read it in that way. So, in the background as I continued to work two jobs and revise a book for publication I was also revising a book titled One Pack.

As any writer can tell you the goal of revising a book is taking out all the parts that aren’t necessary or redundant, fixing grammar, misspelling and typos, and making certain the story is clearly written. The idea is making a book as complete as possible while being succinct. What usually happen, though, is the story expands and goes off on all sorts of tangents as the writer follows the characters on their adventures and misadventures. You see, a writer of any story is probably the worst person possible to revise a story. Having said that, who except the writer knows the story better?

While I wasn’t paying attention to page count One Pack outgrew the expected confines of a novel. All I wanted to do was see where the story was headed as it kind of took on its own life and wrote itself.

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The beginning of One Pack is pretty bleak. It kind of reflected my overall mood at the time of the writing. Each day I had to drive through smoke from a brush fire that continued to burn for several weeks. At times the visibility was nearly zero and the smoke irritated my eyes, saturated my clothes and stung my nose. Some of that found its way into the story, of course.

I never really paid attention to how long the story was becoming until much later on. But as of December 2000, when I made contact with someone who personally knew my muse who had inspired me to write One Pack, it was probably around 500 to 600 pages. She told me she’d give my email address to her friend and I could send the story to her that way. We made contact in January and I send her the wolf story, as she called it. She later told me she had no idea how long it was until she started to print it out – expecting something a few pages in length but having to halt the printing after twenty of the pages rolled out. She emailed me back asking me how long the story was. Honestly, that was the first time I looked at the page count. Obviously the story had grown in the course of filling in all the background and details about the characters.

So, from those beginnings The Wolfcat Chronicles was born. One Pack became five books. And the way One Pack ended left many loose ends so it demanded a sequel, which became The Last Wolfcat that evolved into another three books. While half way through The Last Wolfcat, I was editing a children’s book for a friend and my publisher suggested I try writing a book for kids. There were some things I need to know about Ela’na and Rotor’s past prior to One Pack so I considered a prequel to flesh out all those details. I originally conceived of it as a children’s book about Elana and Rotor as pups. It would be sort of like The Hobbit served The Lord Of The Rings, a story to set up the epic portion o the story to follow. A few chapters into the prequel, though, it became clear the characters weren’t about to let it be a children’s story. And so, another two books came into being that add a lot of history and detail to the series.

All the while I was working on other projects and working a full time job in retail management. I finished the drafts of all ten books of The Wolfcat Chronicles in 2005. By that time I’d become pretty close friends with my muse despite us living on different sides of the country. Along the way I asked her what her birthday way so I could send her a card. When she told me it was January 13th it didn’t register as significant. It wasn’t until I was sorting through my old papers int he process of throwing away things I didn’t need in preparation for moving that I found the notebook from college. It contained the character profile I had written all this years ago describing a wolfcat – though it did not name the creature or its species. I’d written the piece on the day she was born.

The first revision of the entirety took about a year as did the second revision. In 2007, after a major publisher rejected the first book – from the wording of the standardized letter citing economic conditions and the changing book market it was clear no one bothered looking at it – I attempted to self-publish a part of the series. That didn’t turn out exactly like I planned though it was experience with the fledgling systems available for authors at the time.

I revised the entire series again in 2009 and another time in 2011 after sampling the entire series on Fanstory. Roughly a dozen people followed the story from start to end and I picked up a few fans in the process. One of my fans is a British poetess who composed a poem about my story.

There was another revision to the first seven books of The Chronicles in 2013 just prior to my submission of Fried Windows to Pandamoon Publishing. The last revision of the first two books before this current session was in January of 2014.

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As a very wise author once told me you’d best love your story if you ever hope to have it published because you will read it many, many times before it is finished.

#writing #publishing #revisions #TheWolfcatChronicles #authors #muses #origins #PandamoonPublishing #FriedWindows #OneOverX

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Reblog: Steph Post’s Interview With Christine Gabriel

For those who don’t know much about her yet, Christine Gabriel is an YA/NA fantasy author whose debut novel, Crimson Forest, will be released very soon (August 30). Steph Post’s debut novel, A Tree Born Crooked, has been receiving a lot of critical attention and is due to release at the end of September. Both are Pandamoon Publishing authors and dear friends of mine. Also FYI, Christine is my publicist and I am Steph’s publicist.

The following interview originally appeared at:

http://stephpostauthor.blogspot.com/2014/08/christine-gabriel-author-ninja-panda.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+StephPost+%28Steph+Post%29

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Christine Gabriel: Author-Ninja-Panda-Rock-Star (An Interview)

Posted: 02 Aug 2014 06:51 AM PDT
Christine Gabriel is not only the author of the soon to be released fantasy novel Crimson Forest, she is also a high-energy ninja rock star with a heart of gold. When she’s not too busy writing, she also works as a publicist for Pandamoon Publishing and I was lucky to slow her down for a few minutes this week to catch up. Keep reading to find out more…

As the secrets begin to reveal themselves, Angelina learns that the mistakes made in the past could ultimately alter her future. She realizes she will have to risk everything, including her own soul in order to save the one man her heart can’t live without. It’s within the Crimson Forest that she’ll realize true love exists and fairy tales are real…

Steph Post: Crimson Forest’s debut is only a month away… How excited are you right about now?

Christine Gabriel: Oh man, excited is probably and understatement. I’m freaking scared to death!! I’m so darn nervous that I will probably hide under my comforter the day of its release haha.

SP: Crimson Forest is a new adult fantasy novel about an eighteen year old girl confronting the mystical inhabitants of a mysterious forest just outside of town. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy and was struck by the imaginative characters and situations. What draws you to the fantasy genre and what is your process for creating characters that are ‘otherworldly’?

CG: I love the fantasy genre because I’m so curious about the things that are unknown and undiscovered in this great big ol’ world. I mean, why couldn’t some of these creatures exist, but they simply hide themselves from us because they fear what we would do or what they would have to do to us?

When it comes to creating my characters, I always base them on people that I know. Everything from their personality to the way they look goes into that character. I’ll even go so far as to use a similar name. I feel almost like it’s kind of an honor because once you’re put into a book, you can never die…so in some sense, they’ll get to live forever in the pages of something that many people will enjoy for years to come.

SP: Another point that struck me when reading Crimson Forest was the strength of the main character’s narration. How do you go about getting inside the head of an eighteen year old? Do you find writing from this point of view natural or challenging?

CG: It was very natural to be honest. I just put myself in her shoes and write how I believe I would’ve been back when I was 18 (man that just made me feel so old.)

SP: Crimson Forest is the first book in a fantasy series that will continue on with Crimson Moon. Do you have the entire series already planned out? When writing, are you continually looking ahead towards the scope of the series?

CG: I do! Crazy right?! Let’s just say that the future books will hopefully be just as amazing as the first one. I am presently in love with Crimson Moon. It has really turned out to be a fabulous read. When writing, I do continually look ahead towards the scope of the series. Right now, my biggest obstacle is deciding if I want to end it as a Trilogy or continue it on. Let’s just say I know how the series will end whether I continue on after book 3 or stop.

SP: In addition to being an author, you are also an author publicist. Any tips for authors on how to navigating the ever-challenging world of marketing and publicity?

CG: One thing an author must remember is that – Marketing is NOT scary and is a necessity in this ever changing market. There are millions of authors trying to get their work noticed and without marketing your work it will go nowhere. That’s why I adore my job as a Publicist because I get to help make dreams come true by getting their work noticed by thousands of people.

Also, whether you’re an Indie Author or with a Publishing House, marketing begins and ends with you. What you put out is what you will receive. This is easily forgotten in the publishing world as some authors believe it is not their responsibility to market themselves. Building your brand is crucial. You want your readers to know you, not just your books.

SP: On a personal note, I have to ask- what’s the deal with earthworms? I get strange phobias (mine are probably stranger than yours), but I’ve never heard of a fear of earthworms….

CG: Yeah, it’s a pretty dumb fear honestly but holy cow…you should see what happens when I come face to face with this fear.

When I was younger, my babysitter let me watch the movie “Squirm.” Let’s just say it tainted my entire outlook on any kind of worm that exists. All I can think about is this squiggly, slimy worm burrowing itself into my skin. Yeah…I’m totally terrified of them.

SP: To wrap this up, let’s do speed favorites (first thing that pops into your head!) Ready? Go!

Favorite…

Sports Team: Ohio State Buckeyes of course!! Go Bucks! Oooo and The Cleveland Indians!

Ice Cream Flavor: Cookie Dough

Book You Read as a Child: Where the Red Fern Grows

Celebrity: Adam Sandler

Undomesticated Animal: A Squirrel!!!

Ride at a Theme Park: Millennium Force at America’s Roller Coast – Cedar Point

Sentence to Tell Your Kids When They’re Driving You Crazy: That’s it, I’m taking away your (insert electronic of choice.)

Want to know more about Christine?

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Christine Gabriel, a diehard Buckeye fan, grew up in the small farming community of Monroeville, Ohio where she spent much of her time writing imaginative stories. She has spent the last ten years managing a financial institution in Norwalk, Ohio in which she’s learned that compassion and love are her greatest gifts to give to others.

She has a small tribe of children who have become her biggest fans and most honest critics. She’s an avid animal lover and has been known to bring home a stray to cuddle with her while she writes. She’s also deathly afraid of earthworms and will cross the street in order to avoid one on the sidewalk. She loves vanilla coffee and can’t begin her morning without it, even knowing that doing so has consequential effects that could potentially cause a Zombie Apocalypse.

Christine’s most important view is that her readers are able to escape out of their realities and enjoy a little piece of her imagination. She holds each one of her readers close to her heart and loves them as if they were one her dearest friends. She currently resides in Norwalk, Ohio where she’s working on Crimson Moon, Book Two of The Crimson Chronicles series.

Connect with Christine at…

http://www.christinegabriel.net

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorChristineGabriel

http://www.twitter.com/ChristineGabriel

http://www.facebook.com/ChristineGabriel

http://pandamoonpublishing.com/pandamoon/christinegabriel.html

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#ChristineGabriel #CrimsonMoon #Author #PandamoonPublishing #OhioAuthors

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Interview With Regina West, Author of The Long Way Home

Regina West

Regina West is a romance and erotica novelist who signed with Pandamoon Publishing last year. She is a mother of two boys, plays classical guitar, lives in Lakewood, Colorado and is a huge fan of chocolate. I asked her a few questions and this is how it went.

Her first novel, The Long Way Home is due out in a couple of weeks. (See review posted July 11, 2014). Earlier this year she and I talked about her upcoming novel and her life in the Rocky Mountain state.

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Elgon – Imagine for a moment that you’re a famous, bestselling author. They’re making a movie out of your most recent book. What do you do next to top that you’ve already achieved?

Regina West – I gotta say…if that happens, I doubt I’ll bother topping it.  I’d keep writing, sure, but I’d spend an inordinate amount of time rolling around naked in my piles of money while sipping umbrella drinks at my beach house in Tahiti.

EW – Creative people tend to be spontaneous. In particular, most people think that writers are at least a little crazy. Tell us the most unusual thing you have done in your real life that doesn’t directly relate to writing.

RW – I am way too much of a control freak to be spontaneous.  Crazy, yes.  Spontaneous, not so much.  I suppose the most unusual thing I’ve done was go-kart racing.  Most of the time, I was the only girl racing, and, believe it or not, I was good at it.  Not many women have that claim to fame.  I tend to think of myself as a NASCAR driver – driving too fast, doing fishtails in empty parking lots. Just ask the Colorado Highway Patrol.

EW – Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?

RW – As a child, I took dance lessons for many years and spent a great deal of my spare time choreographing routines.  Even now, if I hear a catchy song on the radio, I can envision dance steps in my head.  In adulthood, I began taking classical guitar lessons and fell in love with that, but, unfortunately, with all the other things going on in my life, I’ve had to put it down for now.  I truly miss making music.

EW – Where do you see yourself at this moment in your life had you never decided to write a book?

RW – I think I’d be right where I am now.  Writing is a lovely, all-encompassing experience, but the pay sucks.  So, for the most part, I think I’d still be working full-time, spending time with my kids, and generally growing as a person.  I’d probably spend far less time on social media, though.

EW – Family and relationships are important in peoples’ lives. So, it is little surprise that there are relationships between characters in books. How closely do the interactions in your books mirror your real life?

RW – Well, I write romance, so I take the sexual tension everyday real-life people might feel and ramp it up about a thousand notches.  That said, there are bits and pieces of me and people I’ve known in all the characters I’ve ever created, so the interactions are similar, albeit far more dramatic.

A prime example from The Long Way Home is when my introverted main character, Twilah, meets her future best friend, Victoria.  Victoria is bold, outgoing, and has nothing to lose, which chafes against Twilah’s more cautious nature, so her first reaction is an odd mixture of curiosity and mistrust.  I’ve had the same initial response to my extroverted friends.  It can take a long while for someone who spends a lot of time hiding behind her personal inner walls to understand someone with no walls at all, but once the trust is built, these two opposites become inseparable pieces of a puzzle.

Many thanks to Regina West for taking the time to answer a few questions.  The Long Way Home, her first novel, will be released through Pandamoon Publishing on July 30, 2014.

About The Long Way Home:

Forty-two-year-old Twilah Dunn has it all – a thriving ad agency in Los Angeles she shares with her business partner who is also her fiancé. But one phone call changes everything and leaves Twilah with a dead father, a cheating fiancé, and a score to settle.

She returns to her small hometown in North Carolina determined to sell her father’s horse farm and use the money to buy her business out from under her cheating fiancé, but her plans change when she sees the farm’s dilapidated state. She can’t bear the thought of leaving it that way.

Against all reason, she trades her fast-paced, high-stakes city life for a down-home, country one to restore her childhood home to its former glory. But she knows she can’t do it alone.

She hires sexy, forty-something cowboy Aidan Perry to help her do it. Soon, she can’t keep her mind or her hands off him, but rumors of his dark past loom. Besides, she’s been burned before by mixing business with pleasure.

Will Twilah push through her fear and let herself love Aidan? Will his mysterious past prove too dangerous? Has she really left Los Angeles behind? For some, the way to happiness is the long, winding road home.

Contact Ms West on her website or the social media links below:

Blog: http://www.reginawest.com

Twitter: @ginawestauthor

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/reginawestromanceauthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7223916.Regina_West

You can also learn more about her book at:

http://pandamoonpublishing.com/pandamoon/reginawest.html

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#TheLongWayHome #ReginaWest #NewReleaseBooks #MustReadBooks #PandamoonPublishing #writing #NewAuthor #Colorado

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From a Misread Headline to a Manuscript and Beyond

There’s a new book coming-out soon. Nothing new about that – there are millions published each year. What’s different about this one is the odd title, Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce) and the by line – it’s mine.

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Like every book I have written it was a labor of love though the creative impulse came unexpectedly. The core of the overall story – sixteen chapters really – were composed in less than a month in the early spring of 2012. I left a dead-end retail management job after more than four years and I had pretty much decided to pursue writing as a career. As is so often the case, it wasn’t the best of times to make such a choice.

The quirky title of the book fits the unusual story. It came from a misread news headline that, of course, drew me right in. I wondered what Fried Windows were and immediately pondered how one would serve them. In a light white sauce! – yeah, it was one of those days.

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Somewhere along the way I was sidetracked, deviating far from my personal goals. Some of that I did because of three kids I believed in and a marriage I no longer did. I took that one last job in order to continue supporting my youngest while she finished high school. She lived with me for a couple of years afterwards before moving away, joining her older sister who was beginning graduate school up north. That event triggered something of a midlife crisis for me. Immediately after hugging her and her sister goodbye, I felt like I was left pretty much alone.

Certainly, I was not alone. My son still lived about fifteen miles away; he was also in graduate school. My ex-wife with whom I still communicated occasionally was on the east coast about an hour and a half away from where I was. My sister and brother-in-law lived on the west coast and my great niece was in the greater Miami area. Still, for all intents and purposes I was alone.

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My job frustrated me. I don’t know whether I had ever been satisfied though at first I believed a lot of the bull about being promoted, being given my own store, and the company’s desire to change its ways to become more modern and competitive. At first it seemed like that was happening, albeit slowly. Later on it became clear that it was a district effort that was not aligned with the corporate direction. The district manager was replaced. A company man took over and word went out that there would be changes. Foremost was an antithetical concept for me that I hadn’t had to deal with since leaving the military: we were being paid not to think but to execute on directions from above. That predisposes that upper management is always right and has an unambiguous direction in its policies – which was not the case at all. Ignoring feedback from the front lines is the formula for disaster in any campaign.

Anyway, there were other reasons for my eventual resignation. Many of those related to my unhealthy lifestyle that had evolved form working crazy house, making time to write trying to write, which was something I enjoyed, and dealing with the stress of working a job in which there did not seem to be any progress. A lot of what I was experiencing related to my desire to do what I always wanted to be before getting married and going to college. A little over two years ago it seemed like the last chance I might ever have to become a professional writer – a sort of now or never proposition.

Almost a month after quitting by job, I wrote a short story under the Fried Windows title. At the time I belonged to a writer’s group. I posted the story in two installments with the break roughly where the chapter breaks are now in the book. It received favorable reviews and some suggested I continue writing about the characters. Over the next few weeks I continued writing what I believed were related short stories. Afterwards, I shelved the project and continued working on revisions of The Wolfcat Chronicles, a ten book series I began seriously working on in 2002 though, honestly, the story has roots back to a character profile I created in a writing course at Purdue University in 1977.

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For the next year what was left of my personal life pretty much fell apart. I experienced the worst parts of economic demise and personal embarrassment. I was essentially homeless by choice doing some couch surfing among my relatives. One can only do that for so long. The experience afforded me some time to finish revisions. One of the last things I worked on was Fried Windows. I wanted to submit the initial short story to a magazine. I always believed the story was good enough to be published somewhere.

A friend who lives a short train ride away from Toronto consented to editing the piece for me. Afterwards, I figured it was in pretty good shape for critical scrutiny. So, I submitted it, sincerely expecting that it would be published. My next concern was having something to submit as a follow up, envisioning the sixteen original stories as installments that the magazine would want after all the positive feedback they would receive my first short story. Yeah, I live in my own world a lot.

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While revising the pieces I found some continuity of story line. I wrote a couple of bridging pieces and what was a collection of short stories took shape as a novel – one starting with chapter three of the present book because, after all, the first two chapters were a short story that I expected fully to be published in a magazine.

The same day the rejection notification from the magazine came I finished revisions to what had grown into a twenty-eight-chapter novel. The story connected well into the overall Brent Woods universe of my other unpublished fiction ventures. I was disappointed, of course, but at the same time elated because now I had an excuse to include the short story that began it all as the first two chapters of the book. I repackaged it, renumbered the chapters and prepared it for self-publishing.

In the background I had been working on building a fan base through social media. Part of that was building up my Facebook and Twitter following. Already I had many friends who were authors and some who were publicists and small publishers as well as a couple of smaller houses with affiliations with the major publishers. Those were not really great connections for getting a book published but you start with what you have. Also, I had been seeking a literary agent for the past three or four years, discovering that finding a good one was probably the only thing harder than landing a publishing contract with one of majors which is something more difficult the gaining admission into an Ivy League school.

Somewhere in the few moments between finishing the revision of Fried Windows and setting it up for eBook publishing I receive a tweet from a small publisher based in my favorite city, Austin, asking for new manuscripts. The name of the house intrigued me enough to check them out. In the process I discovered they were a traditional publisher with a very different mission statement that focused on building author brand rather than selling books alone. Deciding that I liked their ideas for growing their business, I read and followed the submission guidelines and reformatted my manuscript accordingly. I sent it to them instead of self-publishing it. I figured I could wait a few weeks for the rejection I’d come to expect. In the meanwhile I could move on to other projects.

There’s a funny thing that happens in most author’s lives surrounding rejection. Eventually you do grow numb to it. You warp the universe around you to actually set a goal of receiving the maximum number or rejections possible for any submission. It makes sense in a way. If you try every avenue you might find that one yes. You get to the point that when you don’t receive another rejection letter to add to your growing collection you’re almost pissed-off. But then, in the next moment of disbelief, you re-read the acceptance letter as the surprise turns more toward suspicion that 1) you must have read the thing wrong or 2) there must be some catch – start looking for the fine print. Paraphrasing the immortal Grocho Marx, you wonder if you want to belong to any club that would have someone like you as a member. You’re so accustomed to hearing that your baby is ugly you disbelieve that anyone could actually like it. Even more surreal was that it had been less than two weeks from submission to acceptance. That’s unheard of in an industry that routinely takes a week to decide to get around to thinking about doing anything and several months to actual years to finally produce a novel. So, I remained guardedly optimistic going into a conference call regarding the acquisition of my book.

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Although I had experience in self-publishing I didn’t have good results. The failure was not necessarily the quality of the material but the lack of promotion behind my releases. After all I was still growing my network of followers and establishing my author’s brand. That takes time. I didn’t lack from material to publish, though. At that point, I had twenty manuscripts ready to go. It was just that when I was working sixty to seventy hours a week. I had plenty of excuses for why I didn’t have the time or energy to put forth in becoming successful. I had been stuck in the trying stage of reaching my goal for so long I had grown roots and settled comfortably in obscurity. With the successful negotiation and signing of a publishing contract all that ended. Someone else believed in one of my books. Together we were going to embark on a journey toward producing a novel. A publisher was committing to provide professional editing, cover design and marketing. And so, the long journey of taking a raw manuscript through to a finished novel began.

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Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce) launches May 30, 2014 from Pandamoon Publishing. Sharing the dream begins then.

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Jackson Paul Baer – Literary Suspense Writer And Father

Jackson and Kids

Jackson Paul Baer is an author of literary suspense whose most recent release, The Earth Bleeds Red launched late last October from Pandamoon publishing and is available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online book sites. Originally from Woodstock, Ga (north of Atlanta) he’s a huge Braves and Georgia Tech fan. However, he lived in Oregon for the over five years and only recently moved back to North Georgia. Over the past twelve years he had been all over the country. He loves the Trailblazers as well as Oregon State, where he will soon graduate with a B.A. in English in June 2014. He has been married for eleven years and has four beautiful children, ages 4-9.

He graduated from a Bible college in 2003; that’s where he met his wife. He spent seven years as a youth & teaching pastor, but has not been a pastor for the past three years now. “I’m not very religious though you will find spiritual themes within my writing due to it being such a large part of the majority of my life. My characters, much like myself, struggle with faith, doubt, and love as a part of their everyday lives.” The Earth Bleeds Red is by no means a Christian novel, however, with language you’d find in real life, as well as situations not suited for a church service.

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Jackson’s favorite author is Joyce Carol Oates and he also loves Junot Diaz and Sherman Alexie, among many others. “Their novels have influenced me the most and I’d like to think my writing style resembles their amazing books. Them by Joyce Carol Oates is the best book I’ve ever read. If you’ve never read it, stop what you’re doing right now and read it. Seriously, do it now.”

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Jackson’s latest book is The Earth Bleeds Red:

Scott Miller has everything he’s ever hoped for. He has a successful marriage to Jessie, a stunningly beautiful, creative woman. His seventeen-year-old daughter, Ashley, is both gorgeous and intelligent, and has just been accepted to the University of Notre Dame, where Scott received his PhD. He has a comforting home in the woods, and a fulfilling career as a college professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis. He’s blissful, and at peace, until it all comes shattering down.

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Ashley is kidnapped. The scene of the abduction is horrific and bloody, and the police are convinced she couldn’t have survived. They accuse her boyfriend, Brandon, of Ashley’s murder. He declares his innocence, and claims that a masked man who entered his house and overwhelmed them both took Ashley. No one believes Brandon.

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Then the bodies of three other missing girls are discovered, all bearing the mark of a known serial killer the FBI has been hunting for years. Evidence mounts. As Special Agent James Duncan tracks the Hail Mary Killer, Scott and Jessie try to move on with their lives. But they can’t shake the feeling that Ashley may still be alive, and that the time for saving their only daughter is quickly running out.

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In the best tradition of literature and suspense, Jackson Paul Baer has weaved a heartfelt tale of one family’s struggle to survive after a despicable evil wrenches them apart.

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Jackson is current working on a literary psychological thriller titled The Lights Will Never Fade.

He gave me the chance to ask a few questions and learn more about his fascinating life and his writing:

Q: How much research do you do before starting a novel? Does the research help develop the plot or do you use it for all background details?

A: I researched a lot for The Earth Bleeds Red. I went and took pictures in the city of Corvallis, or that I pictured as I was writing the book. I wanted my writing to accurately reflect the city. I also had to do a good deal of research with regards to police procedure, crime scenes, what happens to a person after death etc… With my write-in-progress, I emailed people who live in the town I set the book in to verify the types of trees, flowers, close rivers, and other things like that.

River near Corvallis

Q: Creative people tend to be spontaneous. In particular, most people think that writers are at least a little crazy. Tell us the most unusual thing you have done in your real life that doesn’t directly relate to writing.

A: I’m a fairly spontaneous person. I travel a lot, playing cards, and have been known to take a road trip on a whim. I don’t do this as much anymore as I’ve gotten older and my kids have gotten bigger, but I’ve driven ten hours before, only an hour or so after deciding to go.

Q: Every writer has that one story that clicked, inspiring him or her to pursue writing as a career. What was the story and what was there about it that made it influential?

A: The story line in “Them,” by Joyce Carol Oates has to be one of the biggest influences on me as a writer. The characters were so flawed and imperfect. I actually heard her speak at Oregon State and after that, I went out and bought that novel. I read it and fell in love with her writing.

Q: Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?

A: I’ve actually written a handful of songs and even recorded four or five of them several years back. It was more for fun than trying to make a career out of it, but I do enjoy music. I play guitar and bass and songwriting is really where I got my start in writing.

Q: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to me I play video solitaire. What do you do?

A: I usually take a break and read. I think that any good writer is an avid reader, as time allows. With work, school, and a family, my time for reading has been limited. I am almost done with school and will be able to devote regular time to reading and writing again. I miss them dearly.

 

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Q: There is usually someone in a writer’s past that is to credit or to blame. In your life, who was that, when and what happened?

A: I had a professor at Oregon State who spoke to me. He was real and down to earth. To be honest, it started at the community college I went to prior, but this professor’s class was the first actual writing class that I took. I began to write short stories for the class and realized how much I loved creating this world that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

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Check out Jackson Paul Baer online at:

http://jacksonpaulbaer.com

www.facebook.com/JacksonPaulBaer

https://twitter.com/JacksonPaulBaer

And Jackson’s Previous writing:

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Michelle Bellon Balances A Busy Life With Writing Novels

Michelle Bellon

What amazes me is how creativity affects different people in similar ways. Even though it may seem to manifest in strange and unusual ways, for writers, at least, it’s been my experience that we’re a lot more alike in our uniqueness than different. One of the many things that is a similarly is the obsessive compulsion to tell stories. Another is the way a story will insist on being told despite how busy we are at doing other things.

Recently I got the chance to ask some question of Michelle Bellon, author of Rogue Alliance and several other books. She’s always a busy lady but she finds the time to help others; it’s in her nature. She’s a nurse, a mother and a wife – not necessarily in that order – but also she loves writing and respects the process and others who write as well. Personally, I wonder about people like her, having no idea how she juggles all the spinning plates of her life on those spindly, wobbly poles and still find the time to write. That is, until I think about all the things that every author I know does to feed the compulsion – if not obsession – to write stories. It goes toward proving my point, though, that a story needs to be told and it will always find a way of getting onto paper or into a digital file on some writer’s computer. I guess as writers all we need to be is receptive to that creative impulse and capture the idea.

 

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Michelle’s most recent novel, Rogue Alliance, the first of a series. It is a genre stretching tale that held my interest from start to finish and turned me into a fan.

Trying to escape a horrific past, Shyla has immersed herself in life as a tough cop in the bustle of LA. When the case of a lifetime takes her back to her hometown of Redding, she is thrown into a world of organized crime, deceit, and bitter reminders of her childhood.

As Shyla’s path crosses that of Brennan, a troubled sidekick to the ringleader she’s intent on taking down, she discovers he has a past even darker than hers and she is forced to re-evaluate everything she believes about herself, her job, and what she knows about right and wrong.

Can she face the demons of her upbringing and learn to trust again? Her life will depend on it.

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Q: You wake up only to realize you don’t remember your name or what you’re doing in Des Moines, Iowa. What’s the story?

A: I’m terrible with geography. Is Iowa cold? I don’t like cold. Can we make this story start in Hawaii? I want to live there…in a hut…and live off shellfish…getting down with nature. But I don’t want to go all Tom Hanks in Cast Away, that’s a bit much. Did I answer the question correctly?

Q: Yes, it’s cold there. I think I like the setting for your story better than mine. Anyway, let’s talk about when you were a kid. In school were you a troublemaker, an instigator or the teacher’s pet? Explain

A: Oh, I believe I was all of those at one time or another. In second grade I had the best teacher ever, Mrs. Rogers, and I was surely teacher’s pet. I loved learning, craved it.

I found myself causing a bit of trouble in fifth and sixth grades but that was only because I have a cousin that had special needs and I wound up in a few too many fights defending him. I became known as a fighter about that time.

Then somewhere along the lines, around seventh grade or so, I just kind of got confused. Hormones kicked in and my brain cells ceased to function properly. I look back and it seems as if I were walking around in a fog all the time. I remember wandering around school, just kind of bumping around going, “What’s going on? Where am I supposed to be?”

That lack of brainpower only increased throughout the beginning of high school when I became absolutely boy crazy. Fortunately, I still managed to get decent grades. I was always friendly to everyone but maintained friendships with only a few close girl friends. I’ve always been careful about choosing friends. It’s sacred to me. It’s for life. My best friends are girls I’ve known my entire life. They’ve got my back, and I’ve got theirs. Forever.

Q: The next one is a fantasy type question: Imagine for a moment that you’re a famous, bestselling author. They’re making a movie out of your last book. What do you do next to top that you’re already achieved?

A: That is a huge accomplishment and one that many of us dream of achieving. I would be over the moon with excitement if one of my books made it to the big screen.

My next goal would be to write my next book. That’s it. I just want to keep making stories. It feels amazing to create something: a story, characters, another reality – that would have otherwise never existed.

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Q: Many writers say that being creative becomes an integral part of their daily lives and part of their routine. How do you balance your responsibilities to others around your need to create?

A: This is something I constantly struggle with. My family, my husband and children, are my first priority. Then there’s the responsibility of maintaining our home and fulfilling the needs of my day job as a registered nurse. My creative side, which for me is writing, comes at the end of all that, though I feel it is important.

There is another component here. After I became a published author, I learned that there is a huge responsibility to market your work. Once you dig into that and learn what it takes to promote your finished product, you find yourself consumed with that aspect of the industry and the actual writing takes a huge back seat.

Right now I’m at a huge turning point, where I’ve let all of that get out of balance to the point that I’m no longer writing. I just don’t have the time and then when I do find a small chunk of time and sit down at the laptop, I have nothing to give, because all of my creative energies have been leeched out by the marketing aspect of writing. It can be very destructive if you let it. And I did let it.

But I recently decided to re-prioritize and get back to what I love – writing. Here’s why – I’ve learned that there are things that feed you and things that starve you. Marketing and promoting, if let get out of balance, will starve you, creatively. When you write and tap into that creative energy where things come to life, it feeds you. I’m determined to get back to that. Writers must write.

Q: Every writer has that one story that clicked, inspiring him or her to pursue writing as a career. What was the story and what was there about it that made it influential?

A: As for any one book that I read and it inspired me to write, there’s not just a single story. They all did. I simply love to read. I love to jump inside of other people’s fictional lives and fall in love with characters. It’s so magical.

What inspired me to actually write my own book was the desire to tell my own stories and entertain an audience of my own. The moment that it all clicked into place was when I began to write my first novel, Embracing You, Embracing Me. It’s a coming of age young adult novel that deals with young love, tragedy, and self-realization. Though fiction, it’s loosely based on my own experiences and dedicated to someone special in my life that passed at much too young of an age. Readers respond strongly to that story and that moves me. My intention is for everyone who reads it to remember that we must tell the ones we love that we love them today. You never know if you’ll have tomorrow. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker, or so I’ve heard.

Q: Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?

A: Actually, I don’t consider myself creative. Before I started writing I honestly believed that I was lacking a creative gene. I can’t paint. Every picture I take is blurry and off center. I can’t act and I don’t like to speak in front of crowds. I’m logical and detail oriented with strong OCD tendencies. Those traits often kill creativity.

It still surprises me that I have been able to write novels. Sometimes I pick up one of my books and stare it, thinking, “Holy crap! I wrote this!”

Even then, I don’t feel creative because it doesn’t feel like I’m the creator of these stories. When a book idea comes to me it’s not because I sit and brainstorm. The storyline and characters often just pop into my head, like a little gift from the universe, or sometimes I’ll dream them. At that point, it’s up to me to simply write it down and fill in all the details.

Q: Where do you see yourself at this moment in your life had you never decided to write a book?

A: I’d be doing mostly the same things; working as a nurse, taking care of my children, loving on my husband. But I’d still be convinced that I lacked any fraction of creativity, and that’s a sad thought. Writing opened up a whole new world for me with possibilities that I would have never imagined before. Most importantly, it’s taught me a lot about myself and what I can accomplish through hard work, dedication, perseverance, and passion. I had no idea that I had all of this inside of me.

Q: Family and relationships are important in peoples’ lives and so, it is little surprise that there are relationships between characters in books. How closely do the interactions in your books mirror your real life?

A: Very closely. For me, the crux of every story is the character arc, their internal and external struggle as they learn to overcome whatever difficult journey I’ve put them on. In each book I write, though most are radically different than my real life, I definitely incorporate my own life lessons and relationship trials into the fictional story I’m writing at the time. By forcing my characters to face their personal demons and reconcile challenging relationship dynamics, I’m essentially creating an outlet for self-realization, self-healing. My character learns and evolves, therefore so do I. It’s very cathartic.

Q: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to be I play video solitaire. What do you do?

Omg! That is exactly what I do! When I get stuck, I stop what I’m doing, minimize my screen, and pull up solitaire. I like to play Free Cell. I have a 99% winning average. Is that a talent?

Q: It may be. I never mastered Free Cell.  Okay here’s a touch one: When friends, family and even people you barely know at work find out you are publishing a book they expect a gratis copy. It could be a touchy situation. How do handle it?

A: Oh, man, this is a touchy subject. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people ask, and even expect, a free book. And I’ve given out far too many. I just have the hardest time telling them no.

However, I’ve reached a point where, when asked this question, I have to kindly evade the part where I offer a free book. I have to start respecting my work by making a decision to earn something for my hard work. I feel that it’s so sad that the industry has “evolved” to a point where talented, hard-working authors are giving away their books for free. It baffles me when I hear a reader say that they only buy books if they are 99 cents or free. It makes me want to ask them if they’d like to work on a project for a year or more, pour their heart and soul into it, accept a hundred rejections before they finally find an outlet to showcase their work and then at the end of the day, they get a check for 99 cents? Yeah, somehow I don’t think they’d be down with that.

Michelle has published other books, look for these covers online at Amazon.com

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Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four beautiful children. She earned her Associates Degree in Nursing and fills her moments of free time with her love for writing. She writes in multiple genres, including, YA, romance suspense, women’s fiction, and general fiction.

Find Michelle Bellon Online:

http://www.michellebellon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/michelle.authorpage

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Bellon-Author/544448685599147?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/MichelleBellon