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Hi! My name is Suzannah Safi; I’m a romance author, a promoter, a graphic designer, and the creator of Cocktails Fiction & Gossip Magazine. I have many novels and short stories that are published and tons are in process to be published with different publishers, and some I published on my own. As a promoter I created the new Magazine Cocktails Fiction & Gossip Magazine for everyone to participate in it, no limit to who will be in the magazine or what we will gossip about. It’s for all types of readers who like fiction and gossip lol. Also I’ve created Romance Alley and you can check it at www.romancealley.suzannahsafi.com this site is for authors who write romance in its all genre.
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What’s inside of this issue Public Speaking For Authors By Michael Charton—————–————————————Page 4-5 An Affaire de Coeur de Paris A work in progress by Michael Charton—–—–——–-———— Page 6 - 7 Some Facts About Invisible Path BY Author Marilyn Meredith————–———————— Page 8-9 Get to Know - First Degree Innocence - by Author Ginger Simpson——————–—–—– Page 10-12 "Get to Know the Author" Author Sandra Crowley———————————–————Page 14-18 Short Story—The Frogtown Flasher By Author Sue Fineman——–————–—–——–—Page 20-30 How to Kill Your Chances Without Really Trying By Author Judy Griffith Gill——–-———Page 31-33 Getting Your Book Reviewed Preparing the Book Kit by Author L. S. Cauldwell—————–Page 34-38 Get to Know the Book—To Catch a Cop By Author Elle Druskin————–———————-—-Page 40-43
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Public Speaking For Authors By MICHAEL CHARTON
I hate to puncture your balloon. The landing must hurt. You need to get up and start publicizing your baby. Think of it as sending out announcement about such a fine event. Well how am I supposed to write my books AND publicize? Ah, we have come to the first thing The book is in your hands. You are holding it like your new born baby. You are looking forward to being able to say “I am an author, buy my book.”
you need to do as newly published author. Time Management. Write first, then make networking a rewarding experience.
You ask your publisher what sort of publicity
“I am people shy,” you cry in agony.
she will do for you. She tells you the publicity is I reread the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. The auyour problem, read the fine print in your contract. thor mentioned being in Singapore and being interYou put on your bi focals and squint and realize viewed. The interviewer said she had a novel but was your publisher will do nothing to publicize you. She having no luck getting it out. The author suggested a just prints the books. Selling the books is your probsales course a local was teaching. The writer was aplem. palled. She saw sales as dirty and beneath her. But, that cannot be, I am an author. I auth, I Well it isn’t beneath you if you need and want to do not publicize. I don’t do sales. get the word out. 4
Down the road, you may be on radio and/or televiThank goodness for Facebook. It gives you a way
sion and may be on a panel or moderating the panel.
to build a network first. When you meet in person, Please allow me to leave you with a sample you can already say you have a friend. Such is the from the upcoming book we are writing to accompower of the Internet. pany the program. I have an author page on Facebook, under AuI taught a public speaking class in an adult thor Michael Charton, and I formed Public Speaking school. One of the things I researched was the psyfor Shy Writers. I have several other administrators chology behind public speaking. I discovered the and want to create more. One goal is to establish persuasive talk has to have four specific steps to be groups in different geographic areas of people who successful. Variations of this can be used to pitch to need help and mentors. an agent or editor or to sell your book. You are not going to give too many speeches, Let’s concentrate on selling the book, but first the
but one essential part of your advertising is going to be
four steps, then I will plug selling your book into the
the thirty second elevator speech. On line for some-
thing, the waitress in the restaurant and other such
State the issue?
situations. You are just chatting then and you are either asked “What do you do?” or you have a way to
Why is it an issue?
bring it up and hand out business cards. Ask for an What will happen if your issue isn’t taken care
email contact so you can add them to your list. No
formal speeches here, just making new contacts.
Plan of action.
Then you can graduate to something more formal, the book talk. Most will not be large groups, so
OK, plug selling your book in.
you can make them conversational.
What is the issue? You want something to do.
An Affaire de Coeur de Paris A work in progress by Michael Charton
Why do you want something to do? To keep from being bored. What will happen if you are not given something to do? Well boredom, bringing work home and getting stressed Plan of action, buy my book and you will have an
I visited Paris in July of 2010. I remember being in
the fourth floor hotel room the breeze coming in and Well I played a bit fast and loose, but the common
the bistro out back. You could hear the sounds from
element is you want to give the audience what
down there and I thought of an American in Paris.
THEY want, not what you want. Yes you want to
Wouldn’t this be a great room for a struggling artist or
sell the book, but the audience doesn’t want to
writer? The sun was out until 11 PM.
hear about how you need the sale. They want to
I put the thought away until late September,
hear how the book will entertain them, teach them,
when my friend Bethany Halle challenged me to write
make them cry or laugh. Of course how you give
a romance novel.
the talk depends on the book and your audience. My mind started working. Only one character
In our class and book, we will go into that in more
is even loosely based on a real person. The woman
detail and anyone who reads this article can ask
who rented the nearby apartment to my parents and
questions involving individual situations.
sister. Her name is Oriane de Valle, she was once a This is the world for most published authors
casting director for L’Oreal.
now. Start with baby steps and enjoy! My mind then went to work. The first 5000 words were meant to be a short story for Bethany’s new magazine. Well I’ve now gone beyond that.
Originally, I was going to have a middle aged She takes him to his hotel , gives him her business
American giving up corporate life to go to Paris to
card and tells her to call him.
make it as a writer. Then I made my character a
younger man from Boston. I named him Jimmy Joyce Jean-Pierre Kerber- A young local writer Jimmy meets (James Joyce for the literati, only he is a little differ-
in the Bistro next door. Jean-Pierre acts as a local
ent). I made him from South Boston (known as
guide for Jimmy.
Southie), my wife Elaine’s home neighborhood.
Ceri Jones- (Ceri is Welsh for Sarah). An Oxford student arriving with her friend Fiona Cameron. They
We flew from Boston because we first at-
tended my father-in-law’s 80th birthday party, so that’s meet Jimmy and Jean-Pierre in the hotel lobby. Ceri where I got the idea for the flight and to have him
attaches herself to Jimmy. She is intelligent, can
come from Boston.
match his wit, but is clinging bordering on stalking.
Now, I can introduce the main characters in this work. Barbara Alston-An African-American Radcliffe student on her junior year abroad, who overhears the
Jimmy Joyce: He is a tall sturdy 22 year old graduate
foursome in a debate in a bistro.
of Boston College, who decides to go to Paris to try
All three of these women compliment Jimmy
and make it as a writer. He is interesting in expanding
in some fashion, but there is also some sort of conflict.
beyond his environment in Boston and trying new
things. He arrives alone and through some humorous Jimmy is forced to do some growing up socially. The situations and things falling into place he ends up with journey will take you through Jimmy’s coming of age outside his environment.
four women interested in him. Jeanne de Vauban- A woman descended from French aristocracy living in slightly reduced circumstances in the 17e Arrondisement. She meets Jimmy when he comes out of the Metro station. She is recently widowed and suddenly realizes her interest in him.
Some Facts About Invisible Path BY Author Marilyn Meredith I had asked for ideas and someone gave me the name Jesus Running Bear which really got me started with what I wanted to do. One of the men in my writing group wanted me to do something with alcohol recovery, and since the local reservation has a recovery center which I included in the previous book, Dispel the Mist, I knew that would be something that I could easily include in the plot.
Invisible Path is the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. Each of the books is written as a stand-alone even though the same main characters are in every book. Tempe Crabtree is a female resident deputy in a small mountain community. Though she works a regular 4 to 11 shift, five days a week, everyone calls her when there is an emergency or something unusual happens.
Over the years I’ve noticed a group of men dressed in military-type clothing in camouflaged trucks and Jeeps heading into the mountains. I did some research on paramilitary groups and knew a similar one could play a part in this particular book.
Tempe is based on three women I met several years ago: a female resident deputy who worked in the mountain community where I live; a female police officer, who was a single mom and the only woman on the department, with whom I went on a ridealong; and an Indian woman I had a long conversation with one day who grew up on our local reservation.
This gave me the bare bones for the story and it didn’t take me long to come up with a plot for Invisible Path.
Tempe’s first husband died and she raised her son, Blair, by herself until he was a teenager and she married Hutch Hutchinson, the pastor of the local church. By the time of Invisible Path, Blair is in college studying fire science.
I love writing about Tempe, Hutch and Blair and all the people who live in Bear Creek because I’m always anxious to see what’s going to happen to them next. And, of course, I hope those who read my Tempe Crabtree books will be eager to read the next book for the same reason.
Invisible Path happens during the days before Christmas. Blair is home from college for the holiday and he’s brought along a friend. Blair is the first to notice a group of what looks like soldiers traveling though town and headed into the high country.
One more tidbit: I’ve had lots of people ask me where I came up with Tempe’s name. It was my greatgrandmother’s name. I never had the opportunity to meet her before she died, but I always loved the name. Now it belongs to my character as much as it belonged to Great Grandma Tempe.
A popular Indian’s body is found on the reservation near the recovery center. Another Indian named Jesus Running Bear is thought to be the killer. Because of Tempe’s own Indian heritage, she is asked to help with the investigation. It doesn’t take long for Tempe to realize that Jesus Running Bear is innocent though none of the victim’s friends agree.
Marilyn Meredith http://fictionforyou.com http://blogspot.com
Several people and other things contributed to the idea for the story.
Get to Know - First Degree Innocence - by Ginger Simpson At the ripe old age of fifty-nine and a newly transplanted Californian, I found myself living in Sparta, Tennessee, in order to be close to my grandson. My husband wasn't having much luck finding a job, and although I considered myself retired, I went to the local employment office and was immediately referred to the White County Sheriff's office. I assumed it was for a clerical job, but I was sooo wrong. I interviewed for a position as a Correctional Officer.
While some of the other officers were rude and demeaning, I took a different stance. I wasn't there to punish anyone; that was the judge's job, and most had already received their sentences. I treated the inmates with the same respect I would want to be treated with, and it worked. I just kept in mind that there was a fine line I didn't dare cross. I wasn't there to be their best friend, I was there to do what the job required...and it required a lot.
Head counts, laundry exchange, taking turns in the "Fat chance"...words running through my mind as I tower to provide access to all the doors, booking, finglanced at the photograph taken by the Jail Adminis- gerprinting, dressing out, administering meds... If you trator after he'd been beaten up by an inmate. I left like multi-tasking, then it was a perfect job. feeling certain that me and a snowball in hell had a lot in common. Imagine my surprise when I returned home and found a message on my answering In jail, as in most places, bullies dwell. It wasn't hard to pick out the self-appointed leader in each unit, so machine requesting I report to work the when I wrote FDI, I had a mental image of one woman following morning. who ran rough-shod over the others. As for Matron Ogden in my book, I fashioned her personality from a few of the other officers who clearly had no control Yep, I became a gun-totin' granny, totally clueless anywhere except at work. That's a dead giveaway. about my new responsibilities. I'd worked with unPeople who can't control their lives, control what they dergraduate and graduate students for over twenty years so I figured this was going to share nothing in can, and some were pretty brutal to the inmates. I guess it made them feel superior, although to me, they common with my past. I supposed I'd get some just looked foolish. I soon discovered that almost evetraining, but I was wrong again. Don your uniform, ryone in jail claims to be innocent, and I'm sure they your pepper spray, your handcuffs, and a two-way might have been if one judged on bad decisions. Most radio, and away you go. They provided the uniof the women were there because of their involvement form...black pants and a gray shirt with all the legal with the wrong man. Oh, there were women who patches and my golden name tag over my pocket, were bad on their own, but the majority had a boyand I bought all the rest. A utility belt and stays to friend sequestered in the men's unit. Although I was hold it in place are a necessity. To say I was a tad nervous would be an understatement, but I can fake begged many times to pass notes back and forth, that was against the rules. I delivered verbal messages but bravery if I have to. I didn't take the job to gather that was it. fodder for a book, but the experience turned out to be the stimulus behind First Degree Innocence.
My heroine, Carrie, was modeled after the new, naive inmates...the ones who came in shaking all over, had eyes wider than silver dollars, and didn't truly know what to expect. I wasn't fond of strip searches, but I quite often had to explain that when you ______(fill in the blank, i.e. shoplift) you give up your right to privacy. I found no satisfaction in making sure no contraband was carried inside. Trust me, I could tell you a few stories about where cigarettes and lighters were smuggled, but I won't. *smile* If there is any place where people mature quickly and learn to defend themselves with words and deeds, it's jail. My Carrie followed the path of my real inmates in learning that weakness is a trait you don't want to display for very long. Although most of the women weren't fighters, there were always the tough bitches who came in and wanted to be boss. They could lie to your face over and over again, but the truth usually prevailed. It was easy to write about visitation because I worked that quite a bit during my time in Sparta. I saw husbands, wives, mothers and fathers who longed to touch their loved one, but thick glass separated them. My heart went out to the grandmother who brought the twin babies to visit their mother each week so she could watch them grow and develop. Being in corrections means you have to grow a tough skin, and I think writing had already given me a head start.
I was fortunate to have a job that allowed me to research a book I never planned to write, but did. Carrie, as all my characters do, showed up and clamored for me to tell her story. How could I refuse, when I already had such a good basis for where she was and why she wanted out? Of course, First Degree Innocence is fiction, but I think I showed my readers how hopeless it feels to be in jail. My first review by Laurie at Coffee Time Romance validates my belief: This book took me on a wildly emotional ride as I rapidly turned the pages until I had consumed the entire book down to the final satisfying sentence. The story is told in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact way that, for me, makes Carrie's internal angst all the more powerful and believable. I feel like I was there with her, surrounded by dingy gray walls and cold steel bars. The various character interactions are portrayed realistically. All have well-defined motivations, and it was quite easy for me to picture the on-going action like a movie in my head. Speaking of which, this story would make an awesome movie! Highly Recommended!
First Degree Innocence is offered on Kindle, Smashwords and in print through Createspace. I hope I've piqued your interest.
Cocktails Fiction & Gossip Magazine Owner: Author Suzannah Safi www.suzannahsafi.com Author of sizzling Romance Stories for the Soul
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Enjoy previous issues
"Get to Know the Author" Author Sandra Crowley Let's meet author Sandra Crowley and get to know her. Welcome to 'Cocktails Fiction & Gossip Magazine' and thank you for being here with us today. Suzannah: Sandra, what will the reader expect from your writing style? Sandra: Characters they can relate to; unique but believable situations; and bits of humor that highlight the tension in both the romance and suspense aspects of my books. Two other books I've written, which I hope will be published, too, started in different ways: one with a headstone and the other with a whispered conversaSuzannah: How do you get the ideas for your stotion. ries? Sandra: Some writers derive their inspiration from one source. I'm all over the place. "Caught by a Clown" began with a situation--a shootout at a nudist resort. That scene didn't make it into the final story, but I loved the concept and knew it would be a fun book to write. Unfortunately, it had to wait a few years until I developed the skills to do it justice. I believe I did. I hope my readers do, too.
Suzannah: What is the heat level of your story, and what makes your love scenes hot in your opinion?
Sandra: "Caught by a Clown" is a Spicy read. I believe emotional vulnerability is the key to love scenes that sizzle! Without that risk, without that investment, a love scene dwindles to nothing more than discarded or disheveled clothes. For instance, Caught's spontaneous freelance journalist is on a mission of mercy when she finds herself entangled with a methodical underMy next book started with a female NASCAR driver. cover agent out to settle a score. You can see Stacie She was gutsy, ambitious, and a push-over for a stray and David approach life from opposing directions. dog. I had to write her story. It was quite a ride, and They face deep trust issues when their relationship I'm thrilled to say my editor recently asked for the full reaches the point they consider making love. That trust manuscript of "Race Against Time." and the price of surrendering it intensifies with each touch, each caress. Suzannah: What research did you do with your novel "Caught by a Clown"?
Sandra: LOL I did a lot of research. More Suzannah: Did you always know that you will be an author?
than I expected. The story moves from a nudist resort, to a horse race track, and on to a clown school. These are not my usual environments.
Sandra: Not really. I always read. Well, actually my parents started out reading to me and I picked it up. We moved a lot, so I didn't experience a long-term relationship with any of the local libraries. Librarians often challenged my reading habits when I first appeared in their area, grilling me on each of the 10 or more books I'd checked out overnight. I understood they were only trying to assure fair access for all. As soon as I shared my thoughts on my favorite characters or scenes in each, they suggested other books and genres I might like.
First, I checked into nudist resort protocols. Managers of resorts close to where I lived at the time were open and happy to help. They read my scene and said it was plausible. Nevertheless, I recently discovered variances should be expected. Although the managers assured me that my premise was believable, I found out too late to rewrite that underwear is considered overly provocative by the American Association for Nude
Please forgive me for standing on my soapbox for a moment, but local public libraries, their librarians, and volunteers are often underappreciated assets in a community. They deserve our thanks, support, and courtesy at every opportunity.
Recreation and should have been discouraged in favor of a beach wrap or something similar. Live and Learn. I also researched Lone Star Park horse race track near Dallas when the story moved to Texas. Personnel
Now, Suzannah, to finish your question about when I considered becoming an author: It wasn't until our kids had grown and moved out that I explored writing. I took a book whose plot dissatisfied me and sent the characters down paths the true author hadn't explored. Thank goodness she didn't know what I was doing. She never will. The evidence is long gone. ROFL Yet, I loved that experiment, so I wrote my own book. It was an 82 page, one chapter disaster. The worst collection of words ever typed, but I was hooked. I took writing classes, joined Romance Writers of America, and entered many, many contests. Perseverance and courage are the keys to publication. Online and conference classes still help me improve and stretch my skills. Judging contests teaches me as much or more than I impart to the entrants. I admire their courage. It's tough to open to strangers.
treated me well, and I enjoyed sights and sounds familiar from my childhood. Information on Florida based clown schools was available online (bless the internet) along with contact addresses. Again, the people I reached were happy to help and provided more details than I used. What I never expected from research was the friendships that developed. I value their diversity and generosity.
Suzannah: In your opinion, how important is the book cover to grab a reader?
Sandra: IMHO, the cover is vital to that first spark of interest, unless a well-known author wrote the book. In that case, the name is the draw and the cover or title seals the deal. I'm extremely lucky. I love "Caught by a Clown's" cover. Nicola Martinez created an I-haveto-read-that-book impulse with the knife superimposed over the couple. Jimmy Thomas is the hunk in the tuxedo. Wow. He really sets off the threads and conveys that impression of dominate, dangerous man. The chemistry between him and the female model leave the reader no doubt this is a romantic suspense.
Stacie Monroe's spontaneity lands her in hot water again when her best friend's little brother disappears and Stacie trails him to a nudist resort. To get inside the exclusive oasis and convince him to return home, she must blend in, a move tailor made to shock her oh-so-proper family and renew efforts to bring her in line.
However, once the reader is involved in the story, it's my opinion the cover loses importance. It's the characters, the story, that keep the reader turning pages. As long as the cover doesn't mislead what's inside-comedy, mystery, paranormal--I see no reason for an author to worry or complain the models don't match a character's coloring or wardrobe, or a prop misses exact plot points. After all, would you continue reading a book you didn't like just because the cover grabbed you?
That's exactly what Special Agent David Graham intends to do when she interferes in his case. Yet, the soft-hearted temptress challenges his resolve, revealing the path to a love he thought impossible. Will that love survive when he betrays her in order to unravel the final twist in his case and convict a vicious killer? View the trailer at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKrrtdCk1j w Excerpt:
Suzannah: Where can readers find Sandra Crowley and your book, and anything else you would like to tell your readers?
Stacie tapped one sandal-clad foot on the floor while Agent I'd-Rather-Scare-You-Than-
Sandra: Readers can find me at my website, www.sandracrowley.com , my personal blog, Driven2Danger, www.driven2danger.blogspot.com , and at Sweethearts of the West, www.sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com , a group blog where I post the 24th of each month. I'm also on Facebook, www.facebook.com/sandra.crowley2 . Friend me; I'd love to meet you. You met Caught's main characters, Stacie and David, for a moment in one of the earlier questions. Here's a little more about them:
Confide-In-You ignored her. She glanced toward the bathroom, crossed her legs, and wished she hadn't finished that last glass of wine. "Aren't you going to search that closet or open those two bottom drawers in the dresser?" she asked when he tucked his camera inside his pack. "Can't." A nasty suspicion raised its head. "Why not?" "Don't have a search warrant. That limits me to a visual inspection of what's in plain sight." "I won't tell," she pushed, despite being certain of his response. "There are laws." She groaned over the close match to a pronouncement she'd heard her whole life. There are rules.
Boring. Snoring. Gone. Think of something else. Like how Agent By-The-Book caused this mess. If he'd mentioned being from the FBI when they met in the office none of this would have happened. He ignored her interest in Alan Walsh and her intelligence in favor of treating her as if she were a child in need of a lesson. Nature threatened to float her teeth, but Stacie refused to ask for relief. She fidgeted on the hard chair and crossed her legs the other way. The backs of her thighs pulled where her skin had stuck to the wooden seat. That twinge of pain reminded her she ought to be thrilled Graham claimed a badge and not a rap sheet. Instead, she rattled the handcuffs that shackled her to the chair and worried how far he meant to carry her arrest. CLICK on http://bit.ly/i63Ds5 to buy "Caught by a Clown." Find out how far David carries Stacie's arrest and discover who's "Caught by a Clown." Available in ebook and paperback at The Wild Rose Press, www.thewildrosepress.com , andAmazon.com. Digi Books CafĂŠ, http://digibookscafe.com carries the ebook. The paperback can be ordered from any brick and mortar store.
Suzannah: Thank you Sandra for being here with us, wishing you the best of success. Hope to see more of your news, till then, take care all-and I hope you enjoyed the interview with author Sandra Crowley. Sandra: It's been a pleasure to be here, Suzannah. Thank you for inviting me. To 'Cocktails Fiction and Gossip Magazine' readers: Thank you for spending your valuable time with me. I can be reached at email@example.com if you have other questions. Or, click on the Contact Me tab on my website www.sandracrowley.com Let me know what you think of "Caught by a Clown." Life and writing are learning experiences.
Next a short story from Author Sue Fineman
http://suefineman.blogspot.com/ I live in a small town in Washington state with my husband of forty-eight years, a tiny poodle with no tail, and a scruffy rescue dog who wags her tail all the time. My three grown children are now officially older than me. I have one adorable grandson and multiple grandpuppies and grandkittens. At one time we had foster kids, but that was when I was younger and had a little patience. These days my husband manages to try that patience on a daily basis. What made me think I could write with him home all the time? I’ve been a secretary, technical writer, real estate agent, and foster mother to five children. Always an avid reader, I began writing in my mid-fifties. Immersing myself in my stories helps keep me sane, or insane, depending on the little people running around inside my mind. Although I don’t consider my writing humorous, there’s a little humor in everything I write. How can you write without humor? The Mitchell Money will be available in April, 2011, from The Wild Rose Press. By romance standards, the characters are older, but not too old to enjoy each other in every way. Gary’s old blue truck is on the book cover. Find out why Rachel calls the beat-up pickup “lovely” and won’t let him talk on his cell phone when he’s driving.
SHORT STORY—THE FROGTOWN FLASHER BY AUTHOR SUE FINEMAN Grandpa’s booming voice woke Caitlin Harrigan before the alarm went off. “Damn dog is doing her business in my yard again.” Cait pulled the pillow over her head, but it didn’t muffle the sound of the slamming door. One of these days, Grandpa and the neighbor, Zola Santino, would come to blows over that sweet-natured basset hound. Please don’t let it be today. <> Three hours later, Caitlin had nearly finished her presentation. The clients smiled at her new ad campaign, and she could almost smell the interior of the new car she’d buy with her bonus. The department assistant quietly stepped into the conference room and handed Cait’s boss, Evan Greene, a note. “I’ll finish the presentation, Miss Harrigan. You have a situation that needs immediate attention.” “Excuse me,” she said calmly, although she didn’t feel calm. Far from it. What could be so important he’d send her out in the middle of her presentation? Hands shaking, Caitlin stepped out the door. The assistant said, “Sorry to interrupt, Cait, but a policeman is here about your grandfather. He’s waiting in your office.” Heart pounding, she rushed into her office and saw a man looking out the window. “Is my grandfather all right?” The man turned toward her, a man she once knew quite well. “Henry’s in jail,” he said. Rico Capelli. He didn’t wear a uniform like before, but he was still a cop. So much time had passed, she didn’t know whether to rush into his arms or smack him for running out on her without saying goodbye. She did neither. She and Rico were once lovers. Although he hadn’t officially asked her, they had an understanding that someday they’d get married. Then they had a little spat about something, and he disappeared from her life. His aunt, Zola Santino, the neighbor Grandpa loved to hate, told her Rico was going to marry someone else. Cait cried for weeks. Now she couldn’t even remember what they fought about. Not that it mattered now. He’d obviously moved on. Rico got himself a wife, and Cait decided if she couldn’t have the man she wanted, she wouldn’t have any man. Seeing Rico again brought a lump to her throat, but he didn’t come to rekindle a dead romance. He came about Grandpa. “Why is Grandpa in jail?” “He flashed my aunt.” “Flashed? As in…” He waved his hand as he talked. “As in letting it all hang out. He put a paper bag filled with dog poop on her doorstep and rang the bell. She opened the door and caught him with his zipper down.” A little laugh burst from her mouth. “You’ve got to be kidding. The paper bag I can understand, because Grandpa has been complaining about Zola’s dog doing her business on our lawn, but he wouldn’t deliberately—“ “He’s not under arrest. The argument got a little heated, so I took him in for his own protection. I just wanted to let you know where to find him.” She felt like screaming. “You interrupted an important presentation and you just wanted to let 21
me know? You could have called and left a message. Instead you made me walk out on an important client.” He shrugged. “From what I hear, you don’t need the job. Your rich husband can well afford to support you.” “What rich husband?” “The one your grandfather told me about. Or is it ex-husband now?” Surprised that he’d think she could so easily replace him, Cait said, “I’ve never had a husband, rich or otherwise.” “But Henry said—“ “You’re the one who went off to marry someone else. After you dumped me, I went back to college to get my MBA.” “What?” “Zola said your parents had found you the perfect wife, and you went to Florida to marry her.” He slowly shook his head as if he couldn’t believe his aunt would say such a thing. “Crazy old woman. I went to Florida for training and to visit my parents, not to get married.” She sighed deeply. “Maybe you should lock her up instead of my grandfather.” “And maybe you should put him in a home or something.” Cait crossed her arms. “Then who would clean up after Jasmine?” He cocked his head. “Jasmine?” “Your aunt’s darling doggie, the one who’s always decorating our yard with smelly little – or not so little – presents.” “You mean that homely hound her last husband gave her?” “Jasmine is cute, but she’d be cuter without the nail polish and perfume, as if that’s going to make a basset hound look and smell less doggy.” She waved her hand. “That’s beside the point. If Jasmine would stay in her own yard, we wouldn’t have a problem. Of course, that would mean Zola would have to scoop up the poop herself.” Evan tapped on the door. “Caitlin? Everything all right?” “Fine. I’ll be right there.” She turned back to Rico, wondering if she’d ever see him again. “Tell Grandpa I’ll spring him this afternoon.” She walked back into the conference room to finish her presentation. <> Later that afternoon, Rico stood beside his car in the company parking lot, watching the main entrance to the building. Caitlin’s old beater was parked on the last row over. You’d think a woman with an MBA could afford to drive something better. Cait came out of the building with her briefcase. She looked professional, yet sexy and beautiful. Her pale red hair, thick and shiny, brushed her shoulders in a sleek, professional style, and she wore her makeup with a light touch. Her dark green suit skimmed a figure he remembered so well he could almost feel her silky skin, smell her soft hair, and taste her sweet lips. If he didn’t watch it, he’d have her naked and in his bed, but he couldn’t rush it this time. Her grandfather and his aunt had deliberately broken them apart, and if he didn’t take control of the situation now, he’d never have a future with Cait. And that was what he wanted, what he’d always wanted. 22
A future with Cait. Rico met her at her car. “Cait, we need to talk.” “Not now, Rico.” “Then we’ll talk over dinner tonight.” She shook her head and slid behind the steering wheel. He hunkered down beside the car and looked up at her. “We need to talk about the situation with Henry and Zola. It’s time to put an end to their interference in our lives.” “How?” “Dinner. We’ll talk over dinner. I’ll pick you up at six-thirty.” She shook her head. “I can’t—“ “Six-thirty.” He stood and closed her car door, shutting off her arguments. Once he settled the dispute between Zola and Henry, the good guy would get the girl. And this time, he intended to keep her. <> Cait drove directly to the police station. If she had any sense, she’d leave Grandpa sit in jail for a few more hours, but she couldn’t do it. She loved the obstinate old man. She found Grandpa sitting in a jail cell with a drunk who was singing Show Me the Way to Go Home. Grandpa had a big safety pin over the zipper of his pants, and the drunk smelled like he’d died last week. Grandpa looked up. “About time you got here.” “I should leave you here to fend for yourself.” “Can I help it if the zipper on my pants broke? Huh? I can’t believe that old biddy had me arrested. And then it’s just my luck to get the worst cop on the force. Rico Cappelli.” He said the name like it was a dirty word. She crossed her arms. “Are you finished?” “I’m finished. For now.” Rico walked up behind her. “You’re not under arrest, Henry. If you’d gone home like I asked, I wouldn’t have brought you in. Pigheaded old man.” Grandpa’s chin came up. “Yeah, well, your aunt is a batty old woman.” “Can’t argue with you there.” Rico motioned to a uniformed officer, who unlocked the cell door. Cait handed Grandpa his jacket. “This is the last fight with Zola, Grandpa. I can’t keep bailing you out of trouble.” Taking care of him was like having a four-year-old. This wasn’t the first mess he’d gotten himself into, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. <> Rico hurried home to get ready for his dinner date. He’d made reservations at Michael’s, the nicest restaurant in this part of town, and he’d pick up flowers on the way over. Who was he kidding? It would take a lot more than dinner and flowers to get her back. Their last night together, she told him she didn’t want her kids to grow up like she had, with a parent who couldn’t keep a decent job. The words she didn’t speak shouted at him. She thought he needed a better paying job. Their fight had left him with a badly bruised ego, and his Italian pride wouldn’t let him call her. And then her grandfather finished it off. He said Caitlin had found herself a rich man, they’d had a whirlwind courtship, and they were on their honeymoon cruise around the Greek islands. Rico couldn’t afford to give her a cruise anywhere. 23
The cops in Frogtown didn’t make that kind of money. He wore his best slacks with a soft yellow sweater, picked up flowers on the way over, and walked up to the door of the Harrigan house. Henry opened the door and then slammed it in Rico’s face. Frustrated, but not surprised, Rico leaned on the bell. “Hold your horses,” Caitlin yelled. “I’m coming.” She appeared at the door wearing a black mini skirt with a light blue sweater that matched her eyes. The big, floppy collar framed her pretty face, and he fought the urge to kiss her senseless right there in front of her grandfather. “Are those for me?” she asked, and he handed her the florist box with the pink roses, knowing they were her favorites. She took the lid off the box and smiled. “Thank you, Rico.” “You’re welcome.” He’d buy her roses every day if it brought a smile like that. “You look beautiful tonight, Cait.” She looked him over from head to toe. “You look pretty good yourself.” He followed her into the kitchen, where she arranged the flowers in a vase. The house looked clean and tidy, but it was more rundown than the last time he’d been here. The cabinets needed a fresh coat of paint, the linoleum floor had worn all the way through in spots, and the countertops were in bad shape. Other homes in the neighborhood had been remodeled and restored, and this one could be nice if someone put some time and money into it. How many times had he kissed her in this kitchen, then taken her to his apartment, where they made love? How often had they come back here together, where she made him breakfast before he went to work? No matter what Henry and Zola thought, he wanted Caitlin back in his life. Rico helped Caitlin on with her jacket and his hands lingered on her shoulders. His gentle touch sent tingles racing through her body. She longed to feel his arms around her and his lips on hers, but so much time had passed. He may not be married, but Rico was a lusty, loving man. Surely he had another woman in his life, someone to love as he’d once loved her. As he unlocked his car, a gust of wind swirled the dry leaves and one rust-hued maple leaf landed on Rico’s shoulder. Without thinking, she brushed it off. He put his hand over hers and held it there, while his gaze held hers in the dim glow from the street lights. “I’ve missed you, Cait. God, how I’ve missed you.” Her eyes welled up with the intensity of his words. “I’ve missed you, too, Rico.” He dipped his head for a kiss, and she couldn’t move away. His lips brushed hers, teasing and tasting, and she longed for more. His hand slid under her hair to cup the back of her neck, and he claimed her mouth with a hunger that left her weak and breathless. Until now, she thought she’d gotten over him. “Rico,” she whispered, and he kissed her again, this time deeply and passionately. After the kiss, she clung to him, blindsided by the intensity of her feelings for this man. They stood holding each other on the sidewalk in front of the house, where Grandpa and Zola could see them. At that moment she didn’t care who saw them as long as he didn’t stop touching her. Minutes later, they were seated at a private table in the restaurant. The last time Rico brought her here was on her birthday. She expected an engagement ring that night, but she left disappointed. Instead of taking her to his apartment to make love, he took her home, and he didn’t call her again. “Remembering?” he asked, his voice deep and soft and sexy. “Yes.” “It wasn’t the way I intended for things to happen that night, Cait. I didn’t even give you your birthday present.” She hadn’t celebrated a birthday since then. How could she, when they brought such painful memories? 24
They talked about Grandpa and Zola over dinner, but they were just killing time until they could leave the restaurant and be alone. From the look in his eyes, he wanted to make love tonight. So did she. She wouldn’t think about the past, and she wouldn’t wonder what Grandpa and Zola would think, because none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was being with Rico, having his lips on hers and his hands on her naked body. After dinner, he drove her to a rundown little house three blocks over from Grandpa’s house. He turned off the engine and twisted to face her. “I moved here last week. I’ve been buying houses, fixing them up in my spare time, and selling them. I make more doing this than I do in my regular job.” “You do all the work yourself?” “Most of it. Would you like to see the inside?” “Yes, I would.” Building supplies littered the living room floor, and the kitchen was a total disaster, with half the cabinets stripped out and the battered old sink sitting in the middle of the floor. He opened a bottle of wine and poured two glasses, which he carried into the bedroom. “I usually update a bedroom and bathroom before I move in, so I have a place to live while I work on the rest of the house.” The wood floor in the bedroom had been refinished, and the walls were painted a soft gray-blue. He motioned toward a door on the side of the room. “This house only had one bathroom, so I added a master bath and dressing room.” The dressing room had a huge walk-in closet, and the bathroom looked like something out of a home magazine. It had antique cabinets for the sinks and the most exquisite oversized slipper tub she’d ever seen. But the best part of the room was the man who’d built it. “I had no idea you had this kind of talent, Rico. It’s beautiful. When did you start doing this kind of work?” “When your grandfather told me you married another man, I put my fist through my apartment wall. Another cop showed me how to patch it so the landlord wouldn’t ding me for repairs. He suggested the two of us go into business together. Now he’s married with a baby on the way, and I work alone.” “But you’re still a cop.” “Yeah, I know it doesn’t pay much, but I couldn’t give that up.” “I wouldn’t want you to give it up. It’s part of who you are.” He cocked his head. “I thought you had a problem with the money I made. Isn’t that why you got an MBA?” “I got my MBA because I didn’t want to end up like my father. He spent most of his life chasing the almighty dollar and never catching it. That’s why my mother left us. She said Dad was a dreamer, always a day late and a dollar short, and she didn’t want to live that way anymore. I wasn’t criticizing your job. I’m proud of the work you do.” Rico cupped her face in his warm hands. “Forget about work. Tonight it’s just you and me, a soft bed, and a big bathtub. I bought a bottle of bubble bath today. Shall we try it out?” “I thought we were having dinner to talk about Grandpa and Zola.” “We did talk about them. Now we’re going to talk about us.” She gave him a little come-on smile. “Just talk?” “God, I hope not,” he said on a sigh. Impatient as always, his lips covered hers and coaxed her to kiss him back. It didn’t take much coaxing. “Baby, I could kiss you forever.” “When you walked out on me, I lost part of myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about you, and I
cried myself to sleep every night from missing you so much. Please don’t make me love you and then dump me again.” “Not a chance, cupcake.” He clutched her to him. “I love you, Cait. I’ve always loved you, honey.” She wanted so much to believe him, but five long years had passed, and the hurt had never gone away. His cell phone rang, interrupting their tense conversation. “Rico, your phone.” He kissed her neck. “Let the damn thing ring.” She shoved him gently. “It could be important.” Without taking his eyes off hers, Rico answered the phone. Lou, one of the 911 dispatchers, said, “I know you’re off duty tonight, Rico, but we’ve had a couple of calls about the guy you brought in this morning, the one the guys are calling the Frogtown Flasher. He and your aunt are fighting again.” Rico sucked in a breath and blew it out. So much for a night of passion. “I’ll handle it.” If he didn’t, Caitlin would never forgive him. “On my way.” He snapped the phone closed and swore under his breath. “What’s wrong?” Caitlin asked. He grabbed his jacket. “Most people don’t have this much trouble with their kids.” She muttered something about hiring a baby-sitter the next time she left the house and followed him through the maze of building supplies to the front door. Five minutes later, Rico pulled up across the street from the Harrigan home. The minute he opened the door, he heard angry voices. Caitlin walked around the car and charged toward the house. He caught her arm. “Wait.” If they listened instead of barging in there, maybe they could hear enough to get to the source of the problem. He had a feeling it didn’t have anything to do with Zola’s dog. Rico and Caitlin walked quietly toward the yard between the houses, where Henry and Zola stood yelling at each other. Jasmine plopped her big feet over to Henry and whined, and Henry stopped yelling long enough to pull a dog treat from his pocket and hand it to the dog. He was rewarded with a swish of her tail, and the treat promptly disappeared. “Did you see that?“ Cait whispered. “Shh.” “Your secret is safe, Henry,” said Zola. “I promised you I wouldn’t tell the kids, and I won’t, but you can’t hide it forever.” Hide what? What in the hell were these two keeping hidden, and what did it have to do with him and Cait? Zola turned and gasped, “Rico!” “Aw, shit,” Henry said. “My feelings exactly,” said Rico. “Okay, everyone inside. We’re going to talk about your secret.” Zola turned toward her house, and Rico said, “Henry’s house.” “But Jasmine—“ “She can come with us,” said Caitlin. “I’m sure Grandpa can find her another treat to keep her happy.” Henry’s shoulders sagged as they trooped into the living room of his house – the Frogtown 26
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Flasher, the woman Rico loved, his crazy aunt, and a long-eared basset hound wearing bright pink nail polish. Rico walked in last and pulled the door closed. No need for the neighbors to hear any more. Zola refused to meet his eyes, and Henry looked like someone had let all the air out of him. Both sat down, but neither said anything. In the meantime, Jasmine rooted in the pocket of Henry’s pants for another treat. She pulled out a dog biscuit, and for several seconds the only sound in the room was that of the dog crunching her cookie. Rico walked from one side of the room to the other. “Someone want to tell me what the argument was about?” “None of your damn business,” Henry snapped. “I’m sick and tired of playing mediator and I don’t like secrets.” Caitlin stared at her grandfather. “You either tell us or I’m moving out.” Henry’s head jerked up. “You’d do that to me?” “After you lied to Rico about me, you’re damn right I’d do that to you. Tell me why, Grandpa. Do you want to see me unhappy?” The old man shook his head. “I know you love Rico, but you can’t marry him.” “Why?” “Tell them, Henry,” Zola said. After a deep sigh, Henry said, “Zola and I loved each other when we were young pups, but her old man wouldn’t let us get married.” Zola continued the story. “Henry got drafted and sent to Korea, and I didn’t know I was pregnant until after he left. My father insisted I give the baby up for adoption. Single women didn’t keep their babies back in those days, and I had a friend who couldn’t get pregnant. She wanted a baby so badly, so I let her and her husband adopt my baby.” Rico cocked his head. “I thought you didn’t have any kids.” “She had one. My wife and her first husband adopted him. That baby was your father, Caitlin.” Henry looked from Rico to Caitlin, who seemed dazed. “Do you understand what this means? You’re cousins, and cousins can’t marry each other.” Rico looked from Henry to Caitlin and then to Zola. Everyone in his family had dark hair and eyes. Henry’s eyes were gray, but he had dark hair streaked with gray. What were the odds of these two people producing a blue-eyed, strawberry blonde granddaughter? “Does Caitlin look Italian to you?” “John did,” said Henry. “He looked like Zola, with her black hair and eyes. And Caitlin is John’s daughter.” Zola’s eyes were filled with sadness. “I always regretted letting my parents talk me into giving up my baby, but I knew Mary would give him a good home.” Rico wasn’t about to give up Caitlin. He loved her too much to lose her again. There had to be a way around this. “I want everyone to have a DNA test.” Henry shook his head. “Not necessary. I know John was my son and Zola’s son.” “Did Grandma know?” Cait asked. “No, I never told her. She and Zola stayed friends, and I didn’t want to ruin that friendship.” Zola put her hand over Caitlin’s. “I wanted to tell you years ago, but Henry wouldn’t let me. He said it was better to keep the secret, but when you and Rico started getting serious, we had to do something to keep you two apart.” Cait pulled her hand away. “You could have told us the truth instead of lying to us.” 28
She stared at Henry. “Damn it, Grandpa, why didn’t you tell me?” Henry didn’t answer. This little family secret had taken control of his tongue, and Zola’s eyes were filled with tears. Rico knew they wouldn’t try out that new tub tonight. Damn! Why did this have to happen now? After several seconds of silence, Cait stood and gathered that Irish stamina she’d inherited from her mother. If she was related to Dad, then she was also related to Zola, and Zola was Rico’s father’s oldest sibling. She and Rico weren’t first cousins, but it was still a close relationship. If they really were related. Cait excused herself and went upstairs to her bedroom to make a phone call. Mom sounded like she’d been drinking, which might help loosen her tongue. To shock her mother into telling her the truth, Caitlin blurted it out. “Tell me about my natural father.” Mom gasped. “Who told you?” “I need to know the truth, Mom. If Dad wasn’t my natural father, I need to know.“ Cait’s mother sighed. “When John was off somewhere looking for work, I met an Irish dancer. Rogan was a handsome devil, and I fell for his charm. We were only together for a week or so, and I never saw him again. I knew the day you were born that you weren’t John’s baby. You have Rogan’s blue eyes and dimples.” “Did Grandpa know?” “God, no. John didn’t know either. Henry would have thrown me out of his house if he’d known, and we had to live there, because John couldn’t keep a job. Laziest man I ever knew, and Henry and Mary always made excuses for him.” “I remember.” Dad spent his life talking and planning the things he’d do to bring in money, but he seldom followed up. Grandpa’s job supported them when Cait was a little girl, and then after Cait started school, her mother went to work. Cait was fourteen when her mother left, and Dad died two years later. By then, her mother had another husband, so Cait stayed in Frogtown, with Grandpa. Now she knew the truth. There was no need for a DNA test. She sighed with relief. She wasn’t related to Rico. Rico walked upstairs to Caitlin’s room, heavy with the burden of Henry and Zola’s secret. He hated lies, and he hated it that this lie hurt Cait so much. So what if they were related? If there was a danger of having children with birth defects, they could adopt instead of making their own babies. If necessary, he’d have a vasectomy, but he would not let this tear them apart. Not again. He tapped on her bedroom door. “Hey, cute stuff, you all right?” She opened the door and he pulled her into a hug. “I love you, Caitlin, and I want to marry you. We’ll have DNA tests done and—” She rubbed his chest. “That’s not necessary. Let’s go downstairs.” In the living room, Caitlin looked from one sad face to another. “I called Mom. She said she had an affair with an Irish dancer, that he was my natural father. So, I’m not related to any of you.” She walked behind the sofa and put her hands on Grandpa’s shoulders. “You’re still my grandfather in every way that matters.” Rico’s smile threatened to swallow his face. Grandpa hugged Caitlin, then opened a bottle of wine and poured four glasses. He held up his glass. Gazing at Zola, he said, “To love.”
“To love,” the others repeated. Cait’s eyes sparkled, and Rico couldn’t wait to get her in that big bathtub. He took her hand and tugged her toward the front door. Zola and Henry were arguing about Jasmine again, and the dog slept on the living room rug when Rico and Caitlin slipped out the door. Minutes later, they walked through his house, straight back to the bedroom. Rico turned on the water in the big slipper tub. “If the neighbors call the police again, somebody else can take the call,” he said, pouring bubble bath under the stream of water. Caitlin came into the bathroom wearing his robe and nothing else. She opened the robe and stepped closer, and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. “You’re beautiful, just like I remember.” Her breasts, full and creamy, beckoned, and she wore a little gold ring in her belly button. He quickly stripped off his clothes and stepped into the tub. After he settled in the fragrant bubbles, she sat between his legs and leaned back into his chest. He ran his hands down her silky arms, and she twisted around to kiss him. The steam from the hot water made her cheeks glow and she felt so good in his arms, he wanted to keep her there forever. They stayed in the tub until the water grew cold, then dried each other and walked into the bedroom. She rubbed her hand over his erection and, unable to wait a second longer, he buried himself inside her. He’d missed the closeness, the companionship, the sex. He’d missed everything about this woman. After they made love, Rico reached into the nightstand and pulled out a tiny box. “I want to give you your birthday present. I know it’s five years too late, but I hope you like it.” “What is it?” As if she didn’t know. “Actually, it’s me. The ring is a token of my love. What do you say, sunshine? Will you marry me?” “Yes.” Absolutely. “Nothing can tear up apart now. I love you, Rico. I’ll always love you.” She’d loved him since their first date, and she’d waited so long for this moment. “All we have to do is keep Henry and Zola from causing more trouble.” She smiled and snuggled in, content for the first time in years.
SHORT STORY—THE FROGTOWN FLASHER BY AUTHOR SUE FINEMAN
How to Kill Your Chances Without Really Trying Or Everything you read below is what not to do. By Author Judy Griffith Gill · Don’t bother with a hook to grab the editor’s interest right away. If she’s agreed to look at your book, she’ll read beyond the first sentence, even the first paragraph and the first page whether it captures her imagination or not. She’ll think, This writer cared enough to finish a whole three chapters and write a synopsis. He/she must have something good to say. · Don’t worry about internal and external conflict in the protagonists. Just tell the editor they have them. No need to waste time by demonstrating (showing) what they are and how they will be resolved. This applies to the synopsis, too. Don’t ever let the editor know how it comes out. Say something like: “If you want to know more, you’ll have to buy my book. LOL!” · Keep the editor guessing as to whose point of view you’re in. Go ahead and blend them, it keeps her on her toes. Write something like, “She felt the wind whipping her long, glossy tresses around her face and stinging raindrops pelting her camellia-like skin he as thought, she’s beautiful, even when she’s soaking wet and her nose is red from cold. ·
Mechanical errors aren’t important. If your story is good enough, the editor will ignore spelling and grammatical errors and poorly constructed sentences so don’t bother taking the time to learn the basics of writing and self-editing before submitting. Just write. Don’t let the creative flow be stifled by attempts to get it right. Technique is not required if you’re a truly gifted writer, which of course, we all know you are.
Give lots of back-story information right up front. Use long, involved sentences full of adverbs and adjectives that will impress the editor with your erudition. Don’t force the poor editor to keep turning the pages to find out why things are unfolding the way they are. Let her know right away and save her the time and effort of reading the rest of your story. Keep things interesting for your editor. Make her open her eyes and gasp with astonishment when your historical character from the 1700s says, “Jeez, Louise, that’s cool!” Or have a four-year-old speaking like a short adult--that’s sure to get her attention: e.g. “Mother, I think the pink blouse would be much more becoming on you that the blue one. It brings out the color in your cheeks. The blue one gives you a certain, shall we say... sallowness?”
Remember to stereotype secondary characters appropriately: For instance, everyone knows that all Vancouver taxi drivers are East Indians who speak very little English, just as all New York taxi drivers are Iranians with secret plots to blow up something big and important. All ships’ skippers are keen-eyed seamen accustomed to seeing long distances and they all have crinkly corners around their blue eyes. All grandmothers are chubby and gray haired and smell of cinnamon cookies. All grandfathers smoke pipes. ·
Don’t concern yourself with too much research. Historical accuracy is a waste of time. Most editors have no idea at all what went on in the American Civil War, or the War of 1812. And if someone else notices, too bad. Blame it in the typesetter or the copy-editor.
Just let yourself go. Write as it flows from your heart. If you wrote it, it must be good. One run through is surely enough. If you go over it again and again, you’ll start second-guessing yourself and probably screw up the next great novel that should be resting comfortably in every electronic reading device and/or gracing the shelves of every home and library in the world.
Do naught bother giving your work a proof reed. If you have a spell chequer, just ewes it. Spell cheques pick up nearly all the typos you might have maid. They have sharper ayes than you do and sea many things you might Miss. And if they do knot, your editor is trained to watch out four occasional miss takes.
Judy Griffith Gill, author, editor, teacher of novel writing, lives half the year aboard the motor vessel, La Niña, with her husband cruising the inlets, bays, marinas and anchorages of Coastal British Columbia, and the other half (guess which half!) in a small house 500 meters from the Caribbean Sea in Costa Rica, where she (but not her husband) loves playing in the wild surf, getting tossed and flipped and whirled around as if she were in a washing machine—then goes right back for more. Dear husband stands guard in case she doesn’t come up.
Visit Judy’s blogs, www.jggbooks.com . On the latter you can read more writing tips, and get ordering info about the books she edits along with blurbs, covers, and reviews.
Judy Griffith Gill BAD BILLY CULVER now live on Kindle http://www.judyggbooks.com
Getting Your Book Reviewed Preparing the Book Kit by Author L. S. Cauldwell How difficult can it be getting your book reviewed by a book reviewer, an organization, library, journal or company? For one thing, it involves organization, a plan (both pre-publication and after publication), homework, Internet and library research, and putting together a kit which includes: a cover letter, power testimonials, book excerpts, a marketing plan, and ARC's or book copies. Does it involve more than that? It depends. There are many facets to the book review tradition that most authors overlook. To help make it a bit easier on everyone concerned, I'm going to present one item at a time. Today, I'm going to show you how to prepare a Book Review Kit. 1. Homework and Research Do your homework first. Set aside time to go onto the Internet and find out which reviewers, journals, libraries, and companies require that you mail in your manuscript BEFORE the book goes into print. Then, find the reviewers, journals, libraries and companies requiring that you mail in the book AFTER it's published. Read their directions. For example, the list below is for self-publishing authors only. Pre-Publication Booklist American Library Association 50 E. Huron Street Chicago, IL 60611 35
Horn Book Magazine 56 Roland Street, Suite 200 Boston, MA 02129 www.hbook.com 800-325-1170 Kirkus Reviews VNU US Literary Group 770 Broadway New York, NY 10003 www.kirkusreviews.com 646-654-5500 Publishers Weekly 360 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10011 www.publishersweekly.com 646-746-6781 Post Publication
The Bulletin of the Center for Childrenâ€™s Books 501 East Daniel Street Champaign, IL 61820 http://bccb.lis.uiuc.edu 217-244-0324 Midwest Book Review 278 Orchard Drive Oregon, WI 53575 www.midwestbookreview.com www.midwestbookreview.com 608-835-7937 Midwest Book Review gives priority consideration to small publishers, selfpublished authors, academic presses, and specialty publishers. To submit a book for review we require the following: Two finished copies of the book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs). A cover letter. A publicity release or media kit. 36
There is an approximate 14 to 16-week "window of opportunity" for a book to be assigned out for review. If/when a book makes the cut and is featured, we will automatically send a tear sheet to the publisher for their records. When a book has been submitted on a publisher's behalf by an independent publicist, we will also try to furnish the publicist with a tear sheet for their files as well. It is the publisher's responsibility to inform authors and editors of the review. You've done your homework and selected the reviewers you want to submit your ARC (Advance Review Copy) or finished book (Published). What's the author's next step? 2. ARC's: The author prints out a copy of their manuscript on either 3-hole punch paper or do it manually. At Staples or Office Max, buy a package of Heavy Duty Report Covers. These covers come with a front and back side, metal fasteners and holds up to a three inch capacity of paper. Follow the directions on the package and bound your manuscript. Make sure that the box indent shows on the front cover. In that spot, you can place your author's information, Title of book and your name. Make sure it's done neatly with no glue, scotch tape or pencil smudges on it. This ARC represents you and your book. It's the first thing that a respective reviewer will see. Make it count. 3. Cover Letters: Never send out an ARC without a proper cover letter. What is a cover letter? A cover letter tells the prospective reviewer who you are, the book's title, and what the author is sending to that particular reviewer. Let's take a look at a package I put together to Midwest Book Review for my multicultural paranormal mystery. I didn't send an ARC because Midwest Review requested that they wanted two (2) copies of my published book. Inside the two books, I wrote my blurb. "Enjoy! I did! Signed my name and included my author's business card. The next step required me to print up three testimonial reviews from people who had already read the book. Each testimonial received a separate page. Each testimonial was written by a well-known author in the fiction genre: science fiction, futuristic romance, and mystery-thriller. My next step was to include the first three chapters of the novel. These I stapled together. I included a picture of the cover done by a well-known graphic artist. Great publicity for them and a professional looking cover always helps the author. I purchased a black folder with the two pockets in front and a place to insert my author's card. For the front of the folder, I added a clean white blank page with the title printed in bold letters and my name printed underneath it (Pen Name). I was told my odds of having Midwest Book Reviewing looking at my kit were slim because they receive so many requests. Imagine my surprise three months later when I received a two page letter from the Mr. Cox telling me how much he and his young adult editor enjoyed reading Anna Mae and the material that I'd enclosed. It's not impossible to receive a book review from one of the above-mentioned journals. These same steps can apply to well-known libraries, people reviewers, and newspaper reviews IF the author does their homework and research first.
I have mailed my book to additional reviewers (Radical Parenting, Best Parenting, Amazon reviewers, Tag My Books and have received reviews from everyone of them. What did I do right? o Homework and Research. o Write ahead of time to individual reviewers and make sure they want to review your book and it's in the genre they do their book reviews in. o Find out if the review is FEE based. Some reviewers, organizations, on-line groups; they charge to review. Make sure you understand the directions and follow them to the letter. o Include a cover letter to let the reviewers know what you're sending them. Make sure you send them the material as specified in the directions. ARC's, media kits, cover letters, testimonials, book location, publisher's name and address, release date, and ISBN number. o All this information determines whether they'll accept your book and review it or toss it in the pail. Some Internet reviewers state on-line that they receive millions of books for review, and yours may not be the one to be reviewed. o Write in inner book cover, "NOT FOR RESELL." That means that the reviewer can't sell your book or ARC. Do specify what you want done with your ARC's or books. Suggest they give it to the local library, hospital, charity, or school. o When sending out your books for review, always include your author's business card. o Always SIGN your book and date it. o Include a pre-paid postage card with your return address on it so that the reviewer can tell you when your book arrived. Or use it as a feedback card from potential reviewers. When I received my three pages of review from Midwest Books, they also sent along a pre-paid postage card tucked inside the envelope. Please return with your second book so we can review it. Getting your book reviewed isn't impossible nor does it have to hurt. It requires paying attention, planning, and following instructions. Keep these in mind and your next book review fiasco will turn into a resounding success.
Until next time with Author L. S. Cauldwell http://www.internetvoicesradio.com
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Get to Know the Book—To Catch a Cop Author Elle Druskin Meet Lindy Kellerman. No money. No job security. No man in her life. Oh yeah, and one dead body. A killer is on the loose at a university and Lindy is Suspect Numero Uno. Detective Fraser MacKinnon can’t decide whether to arrest Lindy or seduce her. Both are good options. There’s only one thing for Lindy to do: Catch the killer and clear her name. Doesn’t watching Law and Order count as on the job training? Can Lindy and Fraser catch a killer before the killer strikes again? That’s pretty much the story of To Catch A Cop. But, of course, there’s always a back story. Sure, there are all sorts of things in Lindy's and Fraser’s background. She’s a secret fan Scottish romance novels, hidden in her office behind scholarly textbooks. Both are single parents doing their best to juggle jobs and kids and a fair amount of guilt over divorce. Both have had more than their fair share of terrible “set-ups,” never mind dates. I knew before I started to write that I wanted mature characters. Not that twenty year olds can’t be mature; but I wanted them to have life experience. Lindy is 40, Fraser a few years older. I had a hunch that a lot of readers could relate to their circumstances, so I just started to write and that brings us to another back story. Where did this book come from anyway? I am, and always have been a voracious reader. I read almost anything and average about 4 books a week. Professionally, I am an academic and that means I spend a portion of my time writing scholarly articles for publication. I had done a fair amount of that quite successfully. It didn’t teach me anything about fiction writing but I did know something general about the writing process. I remember reading that Diana Gabaldon wrote Outlander for practice. Pretty outstanding practice novel, as we all know. I knew darned well I could never do anything like that and I wouldn’t consider attempting to do what she achieves so beautifully. No point, because it has been done so well and besides, every writer has a unique voice. Rather than attempt to imitate another writer, it would be much better to find and use that unique voice to do something original and reflected whatever skill I might have. I wasn’t sure I had any skill, to be honest. I did know I had a story in me. Since I knew nothing about fiction writing, I thought I might as well start and see where it took me on the theory that there was little likelihood anyone would see what I wrote, I didn’t know if I could write a coherent story with a plot that hung together and characters whose dialogue, quirks, and behavior were realistic, but I had nothing to lose except time. At best, I would learn something and worst, nobody would know. Like Lindy, I too, had a secret. So, I started. I worked at it every day and when I finished, was quite pleased with myself. Then, I put the manuscript away and didn’t look at it for a few years. In the interim, I thought it might be wise to actually learn something about fiction writing so 41
Get to Know Author Elle Druskin
I joined a few writing groups, read the work of other aspiring writers, and that helped. It’s much easier to see flaws in another piece of work and it made me acutely aware of my own. And I kept reading. Anyone who aspires to write has to read. Fast forward a few years. Took out the manuscript again, read it critically as if it had been written by someone else. This time, I could see the problems. Not the story, not the characters, and not the dialogue. That all seemed pretty good, but, I was giving away too much, too soon. The tension needed to be twisted more. So I set out to re-write, not only more knowledgeable about the craft of writing, but at that point in time I was getting very clear pictures and sound bytes of the story; I knew exactly how these characters looked and sounded. It was like having a television inside my head as weird as that sounds and what I realized was that I had to re-write and let them tell their story to me. I couldn’t make them do what I wanted, I didn’t even like some of the things they did, but it was their story and my job was to translate all those mental images into words. By the time I finished, I knew I had a much better story. I also changed the title (you don’t want to know the original one which was pretty awful) to better reflect the story. I still like To Catch A Cop. At this point, I had no idea what I wrote. I worked up the courage to show it to a few critical readers who would be honest. The first was a romance writer who said, “Hmm. This is a little unorthodox, but it’s a romance story.” The second said, “This is a really cute mystery, very entertaining and funny and better than a lot of things I’ve read lately.” Now then, I knew there was a mystery, but I thought it was so weak that anyone could guess the villain well before the end. (Surprise, surprise, after publication when all the reviews consistently said they should have guessed and didn’t—Go figure.) My third critical reader is a successful writer of thrillers and he said, “This is not amateur writing. I think you’ve got elements of a thriller and you should get this published.” I still didn’t know what I had written after that feedback, but I didn’t think it mattered; what did matter is they all loved the story, said that they laughed out loud at some points which I had intended, so what had amused me seemed to equally entertain them. Great, because humor is tricky. Most important was that I had a good story. Without that, there’s nothing. Fast forward again to 2010 and To Catch A Cop was published. Was I nervous about reviews? Sure. But I’ve been lucky. Every single review has been “a highly recommended read,” “Thanks for creating Lindy Kellerman.”
So where did this story come from and do I know these characters? I get asked that question quite a bit. There’s a wonderful scene in Harry Potter where Harry is buying his wand. After trying a few and wreaking havoc on the shop, the owner advises him, “The wand chooses the wizard.” In my case, the story chose me. I didn’t so much choose to set To Catch A Cop at a university campus although that is my world, but the story chose me, probably because it is a world I know so well. It kept playing out in my head, to the point where I wished at times it would stop and give me a break. The characters are not based on anyone although I know my colleagues and students tried to play mix and match. Many people have asked are you Lindy? At first I said absolutely not, although there certainly are parallels with my life. The same could be said of Kathy Reichs and Temperance Brennan. And please don’t assume for one minute I dare to place myself in a category with her talent, because I am not. The more I thought about it, I wasn’t answering the question honestly. I am Lindy. I am also Fraser MacKinnon. And Julie Silver and Matt Pacula and all the other characters in To Catch A Cop because every single one of them inhabits a space in my head and I know them very well. Had I written a traditional romance which is essentially a courtship story—two protagonists, usually a man and a woman, some conflict, which is the essence of a novel, problem solved, story over,--- I would have had nothing else to work with. But because this was not traditional, that didn’t happen. Lindy and Fraser kept talking to me, pictures started to form in my brain again and before I knew it, I was hard at work writing their next story, To Catch A Crook. Totally different setting and circumstances, but yep, another murder and we learn more about Lindy and Fraser as characters along the way. Just when I think I know everything about them, they reveal another layer and I really enjoy those little surprises that I didn’t see coming. The second book has been contracted but I have no further details yet. So that’s the story of To Catch A Cop which caught me by surprise. I hope that readers enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed the writing and hanging out with Lindy and Fraser.
www.elledruskin.com To Catch a Cop has been nominated by TRR reviewers for Best in Romantic Comedy for 2010 at The Romance Reviews (“TRR”). My books are available directly from Red Rose Publishing, Amazon Kindle, Fictionwise, Bookstrand and lots of other places.
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