March 26, 2018

Lessons from Wabbaseka By Liza O’Connor



Lessons from Wabbaseka

By Liza O’Connor

Southern vs. Northern Rudeness

Since I was born and raised in Arkansas, then moved and lived most of my adult life in New Jersey, I can tell you for certain each state has their own rudeness technique.

An Arkansas rudeness will often be coated in fake sugar. They have made an art out of insulting people with what ALMOST sounds like a compliment.

A New Jersey rudeness will be far more direct. (Expect an FU and a bird)

 

Blurb

When Anna Baker is fired from her New York job, she accepts her aunt and uncle’s offer to come live with them in the little town of Wabbaseka, Arkansas. She discovers a house in dire need of repairs and her relatives in need of proper care. Under the misconception that being unemployed means she has no money, the local sheriff gets involved in her life, trying to determine how she can afford the building materials to fix up the house. Her cousin, Dewayne, appears and wants her evicted, and the FBI thinks she’s involved in a money-laundering scheme. While Anna doesn’t find the peace and quiet she seeks, she may find love…

 Excerpt

An informal reception line seemed to have grown so the entire town could meet Anna. Everyone got in line, except for one man in the back of the church, who watched her like a hawk. When Anna had greeted the last of the people, she helped the ancient-ones shuffle toward the back door. The tall, slender man stepped out into the aisle as they neared. His light brown hair cropped close to his head and his chiseled jaw set him apart.

“Sheriff Carr, this is our great niece, Anna Baker,” Peck said.

He nodded in her direction but didn’t offer her his hand. “Miss Baker. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Anna sensed the man’s words meant more than a casual greeting. Deciding she was just growing paranoid, she shook off her concern and thanked him. “How long have you been sheriff here?”

“For about a year. I came here to retire, and then discovered I didn’t like retirement.”

Anna thought he looked a bit young and far too spry to be close to retirement age.

“The sheriff is from a big city, too,” her aunt added.

“Houston,” the sheriff clarified. “And you’re from New York City?”

“Actually, no. I’m from Denville, NJ. Population 12,000.”

“But honey, you worked in New York City.”

“That is true.”

The sheriff’s light blue eyes studied her with an eerie intensity. “What was your line of work, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Financial Analyst.”

“What does a financial analyst do?”

“I did business modeling on potential acquisitions,” Anna replied, feeling as if she were under interrogation.

“Sounds like a good job. Why’d you give it up?”

“I was laid off. With the economy being bad, the company stopped making acquisitions.”

“So what do they do when the economy improves?”

“Hire another. If you’ll excuse me, I think my aunt and uncle are getting tired.”

“Of course. I noticed you sitting with Adams. Y’all friends?”

“He’s fixing the roof.”

“So you’re not friends?”

Anna was confused by his question. “I’ve only known him a week, what’s your definition of friends?”

Sheriff Carr smiled. “What’s your definition?”

God help her! She didn’t have time for this shit. “I’ll have to think about that. But right now, I’d best get my aunt and uncle home.”

“Need any help?”

“No. We’re right next door.”

“Long way, for some...”

Anna had had it with his attitude. “I’ve got a car.”

“The green Subaru?”

“Yes.”

He glanced down at his pad. “NJ License plate ANG 251?”

“Yes,” Anna replied, her voice considerably cooler now.

“You planning to re-register in Arkansas?”

“Probably.”

“Probably? Does that mean you might not be staying?”

“It means I haven’t given the matter any thought.”

“Well, if you stay in the state more than 90 days, you’re legally required to register the car in Arkansas.”

“Thank you for the notice. Now I really have to go.” She now wished the man had retired—someplace else. What a nosey pain in the ass!


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February 20, 2018

Top Ten Peeves of Writing Teachers


Photo by Mateusz Dach from Pexels

Top Ten Peeves of Writing Teachers (Including ‘Vegetables for Authors’)
By Melodie Campbell

It all started in 1992.  I’d won a couple of crime fiction awards, and the local college came calling.  Did I want to come on faculty and teach in the writing program?  Hell, yes!  (Pass the scotch.)

Over the years, I continued to teach fiction writing, but also picked up English Lit, Marketing (my degree) and a few odd ones, like Animation and Theatre.  Such is the life of an itinerant college prof.  (Pass the scotch.)

Twenty-four years later, I’m a full-time author.  Except for Wednesday nights, when I put on my mask, don a cape, and turn into SUPER TEACH!  (Okay, ‘Crazy Author Prof.’ Too much time alone at a keyboard can be scary.  Pass the scotch.)

Recently, a jovial colleague asked me if I was a good teacher or an evil one.  I’m definitely on the kind side of the equation.  The last thing I want is to be a Dream Killer.  But even the kindest, most dedicated writing teachers can get frustrated.  So when Anne suggested I rant on these pages, I gracefully accepted.  (With the sort of grace that might be associated with a herd of stampeding mastodons.)
So here are my top ten peeves as a writing teacher:
THE OBVIOUS
1.       “I don’t need no stinkin’ genre” aka Students who turn their noses up at the genres.

In addition to basic and advanced writing skills, I teach the genres in my course.  Meaning, we deconstruct each of the main genres of fiction (mystery, thriller, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, western, literary…etc.) to see what publishers expect.  This is particularly important when it comes to endings.  Mickey Spillane said those famous words:  Your first page sells this book.  Your last page sells the next one.

Most publishers categorize the books they accept into genres.  Most readers stick to a few genres they like best for their reading pleasure.  So it stands to reason that if you can slot your work into an already active genre, you have a better chance of getting published and read.

Many students refuse to classify their work.  They feel it is ‘selling out’ to do so. (Yes, I’ve heard this frequently.)   They don’t want to ‘conform’ or be associated with a genre that has a ‘formula.’  (One day I hope to discover that formula. I’ll be rich.)

So I often start out with half a class that claims to be writing literary fiction, even though not a single student can name a contemporary literary book they’ve actually read.  Pass the scotch.

2.      The memoir disguised as fiction.
These students have no interest in writing fiction.  They really only want to write one book ever, and that is their life story.  But they know that memoirs of unknown people don’t sell well, so they’re going to write it is a novel. Because then it will be a bestseller.
Here’s what I tell them:  What happens to you in real life – no matter how dramatic and emotional it is for you – usually doesn’t make a good novel.  Novels are stories.  Stories have endings, and readers expect satisfactory endings.  Real life rarely gives you those endings, and so you will have to make something up.
If you want to write your life story, go for it.  Take a memoir writing class.
3.       “My editor will fix this” - Students who think that grammar and punctuation are not important. 
Someone else will fix that.  They even expect me – the teacher – to copyedit their work.  Or at least to ignore all seventeen errors on the first page when I am marking. (*hits head against desk*)
I should really put this under the ‘baffling’ category.  If you are an artist or craftsman, you need to learn the tools of your trade.  Writers deal in words, and our main tools are grammar, punctuation and diction.  How could you expect to become a writer without mastering the tools of our trade?

4.      The Hunger Games clone. 
I can’t tell you how many times students in my classes have come determined to rewrite The Hunger Games with different character names on a different planet.  Yes, I’m picking on Hunger Games, because it seems to be an endemic obsession with my younger students.

What I’m really talking about here is the sheer number of people who want to be writers but really can’t come up with a new way to say things.  Yes, you can write a new spin on an old plot.  But it has to be something we haven’t seen before. 

There are just some plots we are absolutely sick of seeing.  For me, it’s the ‘harvesting organs’ plot.  Almost every class I’ve taught has someone in it who is writing a story about killing people to sell their organs.  It’s been done, I tell them.  I can’t think of a new angle that hasn’t already been done, and done well.  Enough, already.  Write something else.  Please. Leave the poor organs where they are.!

THE BAFFLING
5.       The Preachers: Students who really want to teach other people a lesson. 
And that’s all they want to do.  Akin to the memoir, these students come to class with a cause, often an environmental one.  They want to write a novel that teaches the rest of us the importance of reuse and recycling.   Or the evils of eating meat.
Recently, I had a woman join my fiction class for the express purpose of teaching people how to manage their finances better.  She thought if she wrote novels about people going down the tubes financially, and then being bailed out by lessons from a friendly banker (like herself ) it would get her message across. 
All noble.  But the problem is: people read fiction to be entertained.  They don’t want to be lectured.   If your entire goal is to teach people a lesson, probably you should take a nonfiction course.  Or here’s a novel <sic> idea: become a teacher.

6.      Literary Snowflakes - Students who ignore publisher guidelines. 
“A typical publisher guideline for novels is 70,000-80,000 words?  Well, mine is 150,000, and I don’t need to worry about that because they will love it.  Too bad if it doesn’t fit their print run and genre guidelines. They’ll make an exception for me.”

I don’t want to make this a generational thing.  Okay, hell yes – maybe I should come clean.  I came from a generation that was booted out of the house at 18 and told to make a living. ‘Special’ wasn’t a concept back when we used slide rules instead of calculators. 

Thing is, these students don’t believe me.  They simply don’t believe they can’t write exactly what they want and not get published.  And I’m breaking their hearts when I tell them this:  Publishers buy what readers want to read.  Not what writers want to write.

7.      Students who set out to deliberately break the rules to become famous. 
There are many ways to tell a story.  We have some rules on viewpoint, and we discuss what they are, the reasons for them, and why you don’t want to break them.  Then we discuss why you might WANT to break them.  Apparently, this isn’t enough.  (*sobs into sleeve*)
 I have some students who set out to break every rule they can think of because they want to be different.  “To hell with the readers.  I’ll head-hop if I want.  And if Gone Girl has two first person viewpoints, my book is going to have seventeen!  No one will have seen anything like it before.  They’ll think I’m brilliant.”

Never mind that the prose is unreadable.  Or that we don’t have a clear protagonist, and thus don’t know whom to root for.  e.e.cummings did it.  Why can’t they?


8.      Students who come to class every week but don’t write anything. 
They love the class.  Never miss a week.  But struggle to complete one chapter by the end of term.  Not only that, this isn’t the first fiction writing class they’ve taken.  They specialize in writers’ workshops and retreats.

It seems baffling, but some people like to hobby as aspiring writers.  They learn all about writing but never actually write.  Of course, we veterans can get that part.  Writing is work – hard work.  Writing is done alone in a room.  In contrast, learning about writing can be fun.  That’s done in a social environment with other people.

THE ‘I COULDN’T MAKE THIS UP’
9.      Other writing teachers who take our classes to steal our material for their own classes and workshops. (*removes gun from stocking*)
Not kidding.  I actually had an adult student come clean about this.  By class seven, he hadn’t done any of the assignments, and admitted he was collecting material to use for the high school creative writing class he taught.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

10.  Students who don’t read. 
This is the one that gets me the most.  Last term I did a survey.  I asked each student to write the number of books they had read last year on a small piece of paper and hand it in.  I begged them to be honest.  They didn’t have to write their names on the paper, so I would never know who had written what total.  Here’s the tally of number of books read;
Highest number by one person:  26
Lowest number by one person:  0-1
Average:  7
Yup, I’m still shaking my head over that low.  He couldn’t remember whether he’d actually read a book.  (How can you not KNOW?)
And these people want to be writers.  *collective groan* Why – will someone please tell me why anyone would want to be a writer if they don’t read books?
To be clear here:  I read 101 novels last year.  I read for one hour every night before I go to bed, and have done so for years.  That’s seven hours a week, assuming I don’t sneak other time to read.  Two books a week.  And that doesn’t include the hours I spend reading students manuscripts over three terms.
If reading isn’t your hobby, how can you possibly think you can write?  Why would you want to?
By this point, you are probably asking:
Hey Teach!  Why do you do it?

As this term draws to an end, I decided to ask myself that question.  And give a completely honest answer.  Here goes:

It’s not the Money.
Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?  Part time profs in Canada are poorly paid.  I’m top rate, at $47 an hour.  I’m only paid for my time in the classroom (3 hours a week).  For every hour in the classroom, I spend at least two hours prepping and marking.  We don’t get paid for that.  At end of term, I spend several days evaluating manuscripts.  We don’t get paid for that either.  This means I am getting paid less than minimum wage.  So I’m not doing it for the money.

It’s not all those Book Sales.
When I first started teaching, an author gal more published than I was at the time said a peculiar thing to me:   “Be sure you enjoy teaching because aspiring writers don’t buy books.”  At first I was puzzled, but then I started to understand what she meant.  Students are here to learn how to make their fiction better.  That’s their focus.  They really don’t care about what their teacher has written.

So why the heck do you do it, Mel?  That’s time you could invest in writing your own books…

It’s Vegetables for Authors.  Let me explain:

It takes me back to first principles.
I teach all three terms.  Every four months, I am reminded about goal/motivation/conflict.  Three act structure.  Viewpoint rules.  Creating compelling characters.  Teaching Crafting a Novel forces me to constantly evaluate my own work, as I do my students.  In other words, it’s ‘vegetables for authors’ - good for me.

It’s the People.
By far, the most valuable thing about teaching a night course year after year is it allows me to mix with people who would not normally be part of my crowd.  Adult students of all ages and backgrounds meet up in my classrooms, and many are delightful.  I’ve treasured the varied people I’ve met through the years, and keep in touch with many of them. 

Getting to know people other than your own crowd (in my case, other writers) is extremely valuable for an author.  You’re not merely guessing how others different from you may think…you actually *know* people who are different.  This helps you create diverse characters in your fiction who come alive. 

As well, you meet people from different professions…doctors, lawyers, salespeople, bank officers, government workers, labourers, grad students, Starbucks baristas, roofers, police, firefighters, chefs, paramedics.  I have my own list of people to call on, when I need to do research.

It’s good for my Soul
I'm paying it forward.  Believe it or not, I didn't become an author in a vacuum.  I had two mentors along the way who believed in me.  Michael Crawley and Lou Allin - I hope you are having a fab time in the afterlife.  Hugs all around, when I get there.

Students take writing courses for all sorts of reasons.  Some take it for college course credit.  Some take it for interest, as they might take photography or cooking classes.  Some need an escape from dreary jobs, and a writing class can provide that escape, if only temporarily.  But many actually do hope to become authors like I am.  When I connect with one of them, and can help them on their way, it is magic.  There is no greater high.

No question, my life is richer through teaching fiction writing, even if my bank account is not.

You can help Melodie’s bank account by buying her humorous books, like The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter.  This will keep her from writing dreary novels that will depress us all.  Pass the scotch.


About Melodie Campbell
The Toronto Sun called her Canada’s “Queen of Comedy.” Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  Melodie Campbell has won the Derringer, the Arthur Ellis Award, and eight more awards for crime fiction. In 2015, Melodie made the Top 50 Amazon Bestseller list, sandwiched between Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts.  She is the former Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada. www.melodiecampbell.com

The B-Team!
They do wrong for all the right reasons...and sometimes it even works.
Perhaps you've heard of The A-Team?  Vietnam vets turned vigilantes? They had a television show a while back.  We're not them.
But if you've been the victim of a scam, give us a call.  We deal in justice, not the law.
We're the B-Team.


October 6, 2017

October Newsletter - Check Out What's New This Month



The most commonly asked question I'm asked is where I get my ideas.
For me, the answer is simple: LIFE

A few months ago while I wrapped up the Jungle Island series, I wondered where to go next. What would everyone be excited to read? 

After a trip to the feed store, and listening to a group of local ranchers talk about hard times during the California drought, I found my inspiration. Within minutes I was reaching for my notebook and scribbling like mad.
I spent the next few days outlining the books in my upcoming
contemporary western romance series!





If you missed it...

* Free For A Limited Time Only *

My version of Tarzan and Jane
swinging through the jungle
is a whole lot hotter than the original.

Find other great books to enjoy too!







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Meet New Authors

There's a new online magazine called BP that's filled with author interviews, in-depth articles, and links to FREE books!

Check it out!








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Thought I would share a few new releases and great deals by my friends!

Happy Reading!









Meet Man Of The Night, Sexy Rex...


BUY













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She’s my best friend’s daughter…
Naive. Sweet. Innocent and hot as hell.

$0.99

BUY




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I’ve been a bad girl. A very, very bad girl, and I’ve got a wish or more like a demand.                                                                  BUY

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Join Me On Facebook!

Have a crazy Meme to share? Maybe a sexy
pick-me-up picture is in order.
Join my fun and zany group on
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Hope to see you there!




September 14, 2017

Ancient Love - by Liza O'Connor


Ancient Love
A Dark Suspenseful Ghost Thriller
With a Romantic Ending


When telling a story in a different country than the one you live in, the famous advice: ‘Write what you know’ sent me researching what I did and didn’t know.  I needed armed police officers to swarm the basement of the museum. Clearly these couldn’t be the nice friendly policeman who will help tourist find their way back to their hotel. Nope, I needed armed officers.

Fortunately, I found them. They are called AFOs: Authorized Firearm Officers. And if you have a sadist killing a woman in the basement of the museum then that is exactly who you need to call.While the largest quantity of AFO’s protect London, I was impressed with how few AFO’s there are in England and how few deaths occur compared to New York City, or Newark New Jersey. The AFO had seven incidents for the entire year of 2016 in which police discharged firearms. The New York City Police officers could exceed that in a single weekend.




BLURB

Alice has no idea that a deadly danger follows her through every life she lives. All she knows is for the first time in this life, she is happy and with purpose in a quaint museum located in an ancient castle. Only Rainier, a ghost from the past, knows the complete truth, and a curse prevents him from warning her of the dangers that will end her life, as it has ended all her lives before. But this time, a man of his bloodline has entered the battle, so Rainier is not alone in his fight to keep Alice alive and well from the demon of their past.

An intriguing tale that pits everlasting love against a deadly curse that has followed the heroine through all her lives. A ghost from her past and a good man in her current life risk everything to keep her alive.




EXCERPT

While a part of him wanted to rush immediately to Alice, if Edward had a gun, such foolishness would only get him killed.

He needed to think and be logical.

He hurried to the first floor. Upon spotting a security guard, he yelled, “Call 999 and ask for Scotland Yard. Tell them we have an armed man in the basement, holding a woman hostage and I believe she’s been harmed. Tell them we need an ambulance”

The security guard’s eyes widened for a brief second before he pulled out his cell phone.

Rein didn’t dare wait for the Scotland Yard to arrive. By then Alice could be dead. He needed to rescue her now. Carl stood before the basement door, blocking his way. Without a second thought, he slammed his fist into the side of Carl’s head. The bastard went down like a sack of potatoes.

Discovering the door to the basement locked, he knelt and secured Carl’s set of keys. He then pulled Carl’s unconscious body away from the door. Noticing the security guard had frozen in stunned disbelief, he yelled, “Make the calls!”

The guard approached. “I’ve made the calls sir, anything else you want me to do?”

“Yes. Lock this piece of shit up somewhere secure.”

After unlocking the basement door, Rein hurried down the steps to the main aisle. A rack of dresses had been pulled out into the aisle blocking his way. Slowly, he pushed open a space and attempted to push his way through. Only something hit him hard in the chest burning like hot embers. Then everything went black.


SALES LINK

ANCIENT LOVE




About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

Click here For ALL Novels by Liza
(There’s over 30 now)


Social Networks


August 9, 2017

Indulge with Sheri


Everyone who joins my Facebook group

Indulge With Sheri

by 8/31/17
will be automatically entered to win
two $5 Amazon gift cards.

(I say two, but handing out prezzies is so much fun!
I bet there'll be more.)

Click on here to join now! 




July 7, 2017

Quest of a Warrior by Mary Morgan #ParanormalRomance



QUEST OF A WARRIOR
Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Book 1
spinoff from the Order of the Dragon Knights series
by Mary Morgan

June 23, 2017

Krystal Shannan - Podcast style!


Ever wondered about the personalities behind your favorite books? Victoria Danann's new podcast with Riley J. Ford has an incredible lineup of authors booked through the spring. No question is out of bounds. Check it out!

THIS WEEK'S BEST SELLING AUTHOR...
KRYSTAL SHANNAN!

Krystal Shannan, also known as Emma Roman, lives in a sprawling ranch style home with her husband, daughter, and a pack of rescue Basset Hounds. She is an advocate for Autism Awareness and shares the experiences and adventures she’s been through with her daughter whenever she can.

Needless to say, life is never boring when you have an elementary-aged special needs child you are homeschooling and half a dozen 4-legged friends roaming the house. They keep her and her husband busy, smiling, and laughing.

Krystal writes magick and Emma doesn’t. If you are looking for leisurely-paced sweet romance, her books are probably not for you. However, for those looking for a story filled with adventure, passion, and just enough humor to make you laugh out loud. Welcome home!