Sunday, April 24, 2011

Parmenters Wager by Terri Main


Parmenters Wager by Terri Main

Rev. Chris Parmenter enjoyed a comfortable life as pastor of a prosperous suburban church. Then one day, a parishioner reveals that she is a clone and asks a provocative question, “Do I have a soul?” His search for an answer leads him to a surprising conclusion as he balances faith, compassion and the business of running a church.

Excerpt:
“Erica…”

“Pastor…”  They both spoke at once, looking away from the river and at each other.

“No, let me go first, Erica. I want—I need to apologize to you. You came to me for comfort, compassion, and understanding, and I didn’t give you any of that. I’m sorry. I should have done better.” He wanted to say more, to explain, but he believed that apologies should be heart-felt expressions of regret over bad actions, and not explanations of them.

“I was hurt, but I’m not without fault either. I should not have hidden my background. My only excuse is that of fear. So many people reject me when they see that barcode. I just didn't want to be rejected again. I realize that is no excuse. I should have been stronger.” Erica looked once more at the river. Another silence followed as Pastor and parishioner watched a trickle of water cut its way through a sandy riverbed.

“Pastor, do you know what I do for a living? I design cyberweb environments for social networking services. It involves writing code and crunching numbers. I really hate writing code, and I don't like numbers that much, but I can do the work at home where no one will see my barcode. I did the job interview by vidphone and was careful to keep my hands in my lap. If I hadn't, I might not have gotten the job. What I really wanted to be when I grew up was a grade school teacher. I love children. I love being around them. I want to see them grow.”

Parmenter could see tears beginning to rise in the corners of Erica's eyes. “When I was in my senior year of high school, I went for vocational counseling like everyone else. The sign on the wall said, ‘Live your dreams.’ I told the counselor my dreams. She was kind, but suggested I train for something in computers. Only later did I discover that the state Code of Education forbids clones from serving in any state job involving children.” Erica fished a handkerchief out of her purse. She patted her eyes.

“I didn't know.” It was all Parmenter could think of to say. Maybe that was some of the “fascinating” information the computer had left to tell him.

“Few people do. I’m not covered by any of the civil rights legislation of the past hundred and fifty years. I can be denied access to any business. I can be denied a job simply because I am a clone. If I was beaten to death tomorrow, the perpetrators would be charged with a property crime and not homicide. It’s a felony with an equal amount of jail time, but it is not called homicide. To call it homicide would be to admit clones are human beings which is something the world is still not ready to do.”

At this point the pastor saw something in the young woman he had not seen before—anger. More accurately, it was a type of righteous indignation over a sense of injustice. Although, to be fair, it was an “injustice” which only affected a very few, and, honestly, could they actually be considered human?

Far from helping him clarify matters, he found himself more confused than ever.
A Wedding to Die for by Heather Haven

A wedding without a groom leaves a lot to be desired. So when the wedding of Lee’s best friend is threatened by the arrest of the groom for murder, thirty-four-year old Lee Alvarez -- a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum - heads south of the border in search of the real killer. Not only is this half Latina, half WASP, and 100% detective thrown into the well-organized world of plundered Mesoamerican relics, but she finds herself eating the best tasting tamales ever.

With the help of the rest of the Alvarez Family, Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day blueblood mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, brother and computer genius, Richard; favorite uncle, “Tío” Mateo; and Tugger, her energetic orange and white cat, Lee stumbles across the man of her dreams. But is he too good to be true? Probably. She tries to follow her own sage advice, ‘when Cupid’s wings start flapping, take cover.’ Good luck to her.

A Wedding To Die For is the second novel in a series of humorous murder mysteries involving the Alvarez Family, owners of Silicon Valley’s successful Discretionary Inquiries.

 
Excerpt: 
“Allied Arts is renting us the restaurant for the reception, including the outside patios, from five-thirty to eleven-thirty p.m. Do you think ten cases of champagne, plus five cases each of Chardonnay and a Napa cab are enough?”

“That sounds more than sufficient. What else?”

I started counting off items on my fingers. “Bridal shower, next week. Richard is in charge of the bachelor party. The tuxes are ordered. The gowns arrive this afternoon, and I have two seamstresses set up for the fittings. I haven’t seen a picture or rendering of the designs yet, but I’ll bet they’re incredible. Mr. McFadden designed them himself, something he hasn’t done for years. He said he chose a ‘theme,’ which reminds me, I’ll have to get samples of the fabric to the florist. Don’t you own one or two of Warren McFadden’s dresses?”

“No. I find him a little avant-garde, Liana,” Mom said.

“I think they call it cutting-edge now, Mom,” I corrected.

“If you say so.” She smiled and changed the subject. “Did you find a photographer?”

“Yes, finally. I thought I was going to have to buy a camera and take pictures, myself.”

“Who is it?”

“Did you know the reason the wedding got canceled that was supposed to take place at Mem Chu was because the bride came out of the closet and is now living in San Francisco with her lover, Charlene?”

“Get to the point, dear.”

“I thought you might be interested in hearing the lead-in.”

“No.”

“Oh. Well, anyway, this guy was supposed to be their photographer, so he was available. I’ve seen his portfolio. He’s good.”

“That sounds fine,” Lila said, somewhat mollified. “What about the rehearsal dinner? Didn’t John offer to take care of that part of the festivities?”

“Originally, but he had to bow out due to a heavy work schedule.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yes,” I said and nothing more. My latest love had been pulling back big-time on a lot of things, but I didn’t want to admit it or deal with it yet.

“However, Carlos took over and got us a private room at the new Japanese steakhouse for after we go through our paces.”

I looked at the tattered list again with all the checkmarks indicating completion and would have done cartwheels around the room if I hadn’t been so tired.

“Mom, I think I’ve done it. After I order the flowers and take care of the fittings, I’m done,” I said with pride. “This wedding is completely done and Good-to-Go.”

Five hours later, I stood in front of a mirror, enveloped in what felt like eighty yards of a chartreuse moiré taffeta laughingly called “Whipped Lime.” Between the starched crinoline underskirt, ruffled hem of the overskirt, and tufted bodice, all in a hideous yellow-green, I looked like a New Year’s Eve float depicting baby poo. I ripped open the other boxes to find matching gowns in different odious colors sporting the names of “Pineapple Fizz,” “Mango Madness,” “Orange Frappe,” and “Passion Fruit Frazzle.” Mr. McFadden had created a theme, all right. Jamba Juice Rejects. And in moiré taffeta. When Mom called his work avant-garde, she was being kind.

The phone rang, but I was afraid to move. On top of how I looked, any movement sounded like leaves trapped in a wind tunnel. No wonder no one wore taffeta anymore, I thought. Noise pollution. One of the seamstresses answered the phone and slapped it into my frozen hand.

“Hello?” I said.

“Lee, it’s me. We need your help,” Mira said. Her voice sounded frantic and as if she’d been crying.

“Mira? Are you all right?”

“No, I’m not,” she sobbed. “Carlos is being arrested for murder.”

“What?” I said, sinking straight to the floor, buried in a mound of taffeta. “Carlos is being arrested for murder?”

“Yes, they say he murdered the thief who broke into our apartment last night. They’re taking him away,” she wailed.

“Wait a minute. What thief? What murder? Mira, what’s going on?”

She tried to tell me, but between the hysteria, coughing, and wheezing, I couldn’t understand her.
“Never mind,” I interrupted. “Hold tight. I’ll be right there.”

I struggled to my feet and thought, with the groom arrested for murder maybe this Good-to-Go wedding just Got Up and Went.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Excuses and the Five Senses


Don’t make excuses. Don't make funny faces. Write. So what if the laundry is piling higher than your roof. It isn't going anywhere.

Yes, some days your Muse will decide to hide and sleep. That’s fine, we all deserve a break. But allow your Muse to go on a long holiday and you’re done for. Force her back by reading, enticing her to join you and maybe come up with new ways to have ended or written that book.

Reading and writing is an escape from the usual daily chores in one’s life.

Perhaps your Muse went away because she was stuck using the same old words and fed up. Help her. Buy a Thesaurus.

The Muse might have been sick and tired of the boring passages in the novel because she couldn’t smell, taste, touch, see, or hear anything in your fictional world. If you lost your Muse imagine how quickly your reader will leave you.

YOUR TURN. Let’s try an exercise in using some of the five senses. Look at my exercise and then post your one paragraph description.

You're held captive in a dungeon, hands tied tightly, burning into your flesh. In one paragraph describe your situation, using as many of the five senses as possible. Be creative.

Monday, April 11, 2011

QUESTIONS ASKED...FINALLY THE ANSWERS

Hi everyone.



I am finally getting back to you all with answers to the questions some of you have asked during the past weeks. Sorry it has taken me this long to respond...I'm discovering life sometimes interferes with the best plans.


Let me get started...


For those of you who do not know me I am Lin but I write as L.J. Holmes for both the Muse It Up and Muse It Hot sides of the Muse Publishing, Inc.


The most frequent question I get asked is how I come up with the ideas for what I write? I only have one answer...Life!


I have spent most of my life observing what goes on around me. Since I grew up in a town smaller than the one depicted in Grace Metallius' PEYTON PLACE, I didn't have to do much more than walk out my door to start observing.


I'm not sure how my neighbors would feel about me watching their activities, then using my quirky mind to fill in the unspoken gaps. I have two short stories coming out with Muse during the next few months that are based on real events.


Questions...my own questions lead me to weaving answers that I am certain would not always please those whose lives originated the final tales...but isn't most fiction based on some kernel of truth?

Not everything I observed would make for gripping tales. I spent a lot of time watching the gentle dance and sway of the lacy bells strung upon the slender stems of Lilly of the Valley. To me they were mesmerizing, but I haven't figured out how to translate that into a 3000 plus word story that would grip you, the reader, so I keep it locked away inside me knowing someday I will find a way of sharing my awe of such natural exquisiteness.


Where do I find the time to write? This is another question I am asked with increasing regularity as more and more of my stories make their way into the e-pub realm.


I'm not sure "finding" the time is the real issue. When your inner voice demands that you grab pen, pencil, lipstick, or whatever is close by that can be used to smudge words upon a receiving implement...and paper is not always available...Just ask my daughter how many times I have written on her shorts clad leg when nothing else was at the ready. (She's ticklish, so reading it later often proved as challenging as reading petroglyphs.)


When your inner story weaver decides the time is ripe to write, you are fighting a losing battle if you just don't shrug your shoulders and give in. (Some people have suggested I carry a tape recorder with me...but I have this little girl voice, so hearing it later describing hot passion gets me cracking up so much I can't transcribe what my inner voice has channeled through me.)

What genré do I write?

I don't know if I'd recognize a genré if it barreled into me at 100MPH while flashing flags, hula dancers, and the sexiest male strippers on the planet.


The story I have releasing next month is one of those stories that is based, somewhat on my growing up years. It's called TWILIGHT COMES and it is a dark story with no happily ever after. My other based on true life events, BEYOND YESTERDAY is coming out in September. That one DOES have a happy ending.


That last one actually was triggered by the video Reba MacEntire did for her FANCY song reminding me of events from my childhood I had not even realized I had observed and locked away inside me during my early teens.


My first book, SANTA IS A LADY, came into being when the news reported a career Santa had been arrested. I had worked in retail for a year while in college and know how important those very few weeks/days between Black Friday and Christmas Eve are. Santa plays a vital role in retails bottom line.


What makes me have disabled heroes and heroines in so many of my stories?


I once knew a guy who was center-fold gorgeous, but beneath the veneer he was not perfectly abled. If someone who looks like he walked off the cover of GQ hasn't figured it out, how imperfect are those that we perceive as imperfect?

There's another reason. I am disabled, and a part of me is an optimist. I believe one day in spite of my many physical challenges there will be a happy ending in my life too.

What if there isn't?

That question is the natural follow-up to my last response. And here's my response.

I've learned contentment for the most part. I am lucky to have given birth to my best friend, my daughter. Since we are both disabled, we have fashioned a life that works as well as I think any life can. She is a writer too, a very talented one with Muse, Kat Holmes, and we bounce ideas off of each other, and 99% of the time don't want to kill each other. :-)

If I never find that one man to light my world and infuse my spirit, I have been blessed beyond measure with this amazing child I was fortunate enough to bring to life and share all the years since. We have challenges that many shake their heads over and wonder how we manage. She's severely epileptic, and I...well I have many less than abling conditions...but she is the joy that makes me smile, the reason I put one foot before the next and the force that allows my story-teller to soar.

I hope I have answered all the questions you have been sending me. I've tried remembering them. If you have more, please leave a comment and I will respond.

And thank you for coming to our Muse sites and letting us share a bit of your life too.

Most Appreciatively,
Lin
A.K.A.
L.J. Holmes

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ginger Simpson

There’s an award floating around the net, and it comes with no strings attached. You don’t have to make 7 wishes, say 7 things about the sender or receiver, or do anything with any number. But, let it be clear a talented, multi-published author who’s been an inspiration to many is the very first one to receive this award.
The badge goes out to Ginger Simpson, designed and created by Cate Masters.
There’s a multitude lucky to know Ginger, grateful for her constant promotion of peers, to the craft of arranging words, and her many comments with such lovely humor.
Feel free to pass these “forget me nots” along to someone you appreciate.

Researching

For any historical author, and most contemporary set writers, too, researching has to be done to make the book read as authentic as possible.
The smallest item can seem suddenly very interesting, and also extremely difficult to find the history about! Hours can be spent pouring over library books and the Internet searching for the right answer. We tear our hair out wondering if a certain item was invented and widely used in our period, etc. it can be terribly frightening, but also very rewarding when we do find the correct answer. I think it is very important for historical authors to get the period they write – right! However, that said, we are only human and we make mistakes no matter how hard we try not to. We can’t know everything (although we like to think we do) and that’s where different types of researching comes into it.


Sometimes, if we are lucky, we can travel to the places we set our books. Visiting castles, manor houses, streets and landscapes all help us to ‘see’ the place as our characters do. Of course over the years places and buildings change, but we have imaginations, good ones as writers do, and we can see how it would look through our characters’ eyes. taking numerous photos of one building, hill, village or street becomes common place for a writer.


Aside from traveling to a place, we can use our TVs and watch documentaries and movies to help set the mood. One of the best DVDs I have for my research is a walking guide to places around the Calder valley and Hebden Bridge area of West Yorkshire. Thankfully, I have been to that area myself, but if I hadn't just by watching the dvd I could see the steepness of the walks, the hills, etc, and that information would help write the book.






Research books are one of my favourite expenses. There is nothing like buying a large research book filled with interesting information and beautiful pictures to capture my imagination. I can never have enough of them. I sigh over them like some women sigh over a gorgeous pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or a Gucci handbag. Tragic, I know. But I don't want the cure.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Writer's Block and Repetitive Strain Injury



Hello everyone!

A bit late, but I thought I'd address the topic of writer's block and repetitive strain injury. For me, writing is an addiction; a passion that I cannot ignore and have never tried to until recently. I am very lucky to never have suffered from writer's block. I have, however, suffered from what I like to call writers fatigue. I write whatever comes to mind, rarely wanting to use a detailed outline, but instead allowing my fantasies and imagination to spring forth however they wish upon the page. Sometimes I am proud of my work, at other times I come close to shame, LOL. I try to see my works of poorer merit as an exercise rather than as wasted time and texts. Perhaps there are times when my imagination must be allowed to wander however it wishes, a sort of mental form of jogging. And in return for this, I have days, even weeks, when my writing seems to be full of energy and purpose.

As I said I've never suffered from writer's block. Recent events, however, have seen me starting to suffer from repetitive strain injury, a much worse and more immediate problem. During periods of worse pain I am forced to curtail my passion. This afternoon, for example, I am trying dictation software for the first time as I write this blog entry. I feel like a Star Trek character talking to the computer on the Enterprise! The experience is interesting, novel but also a bit stiff, artificial. Commanding a computer to interpret my words feels almost too mechanical for creative writing, but I might continue using it for blog entries. Please let me know what you think of this blog entry, if it feels natural or artificially, stiffly constructed :-).

I have found ways of managing my repetitive strain injury, but of course I have my good days and my bad days. Today is a bad day, LOL. On such days my passion must be curbed, and I'm forced to remain an outsider to the world, the characters that I've created. If anything, however, this makes the good days all the sweeter, and I hope this shows in my writing. I now have two contracts with Muse it Up publishing. The Heart's Lone Desire, my debut novella will be released in just under a month and my shorter story, 'In the Flesh' will see a December release. I look forward to further releases with Muse it Up publishing and to reading works by my fellow authors. Writing means the world to me, and I am glad to be with people who want writing to have meaning for the world.
Have a good weekend, everyone!


Nicolai Due-Gundersen


Friday, April 1, 2011

Pantser or Plotter?


That’s a question I hear often from writers seeking advice. I simply tell them to get that story out of their heads and onto paper and not to worry if it reads either like a screenplay filled with dialogue or something a grade one put together. Why?

Because it’s a first draft. Everyone works first drafts differently. Some love to sketch out their characters with extensive profiles; others love to map out the world or plot; and there are those, like me, who allow their characters to drive them wherever they want—otherwise known as a pantser. There’s no particular method that works for everyone. Each writer goes with the flow according to what their muse tells them.

All of my first drafts are basically screenplays loaded with dialogue. I allow the characters to speak to me and then in the subsequent drafts I go in and fill in narrative, descriptions, five senses to bring the story alive, and build my world and setting.

I’ve tried to be a plotter but it simply doesn’t work for me. It stresses me because when I have to follow a formula and my characters move in a different direction I get blocked. So to avoid this blockage I move forward with no particular direction and write.

Another ‘no-no’ that I do is I don’t set limits to word count per day. Tried that and again, for me, maybe not for you, a word count to reach seems to frustrate me. There are days where I write several chapters, and other times where one word comes to mind...a cuss word inner thought to ‘moi’ and that’s about all I do for writing that day. Won’t deny it’s not frustrating, but it would be double hell for me if I knew I missed my 1000 words and need to make up for it the next day by penning 2000. No thanks.

So, how many of you here are Pantsers and how many are Plotters?

Wishing Everyone A Great Month

There have been many who say "OPA" during an email exchange, knowing I am Greek. Well, thought it about time for them now to hear an OPA OPA song to dance to and celebrate the first day of April. Enjoy.

How I Found My Ending from a Stumbling Block

This is late, but I hope it's okay to post it anyway! I don't want to get a wet noodle for this:) (It's a private joke)

My young adult novel was going along smoothly with my writing about a chapter every time I sat down to write. I knew it wouldn't be done fast, since I was working and had only a small amount of time each day to write. The words flowed from my fingers effortlessly and soon I had half the book done. Then it happened. The words no longer came. I was stuck, because I realized in panic that I didn't have an ending. I didn't know where my story was going and it froze me. I put the story aside and decided I'd let it sit awhile. Maybe if it sat awhile I would find the ending.

This didn't work, so one night after a frustrating time of staring at my computer, I decided to copy a story to the computer I had done earlier on paper. When it was put on the computer screen and I tweaked it a little bit, I realized it was good. When I saw an offer from a website for children's stories I sent it to them. To my surprise they accepted it and I had my first published story. Also, I wrote an adult story which was published too. Yet I still didn't have an ending for my novel. So when I saw the ad for Children's Writers Boot Camp I grabbed the chance to learn more about my craft. At the time I thought maybe I'd get an idea that would help me from the information I got there.

Well, Children's Writers Boot Camp really lived up to its name. We spent two days morning to evening learning about writing and writing on our own. The first day we spent with lectures and the second day we put our knowledge to work. After learning more about character development I decided to work on my secondary character's plot line. We had learned about plot lines too. So when I actually plotted out my secondary character's story I saw my ending. When I concentrated on my secondary character her story popped out and continued to a natural ending. As I saw how the main character and secondary character's stories intertwined my ending appeared and when I left the Boot Camp I knew exactly how my story would end.

The next day I took out my WIP and wrote and wrote and wrote. By the end of the week the book was finished!!! I know if I hadn't gotten some help I would never have been able to finish the book. Now, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is complete and will be ready to be published in September. It was knowing my secondary character's, Jennifer Taylor's, story that allowed me to see my ending. You never know where help will be, but take it from me, if it's there use it.:)