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Virginia’s Diary by Suzanne Peyton

Not long ago I had the privilege to meet Suzanne Peyton and hear a bit of her story that inspired this book. It’s an amazing tale and I want to encourage y’all to check it out. The book has been updated and will release on the 4th of this month. And the really cool thing, there is a movie in the works for this. It’s going to be awesome. So, get the book now.

Virginia's Diary

 

What would you do if you went to bed tonight and had a dream that changed your life and your family’s history forever?

January 3, 1958 – An old woman, who had been wrongly committed into a mental hospital, took her own life. I found out later that woman was my great-grandmother, Virginia Avery.

January 3, 1999 – I had a dream that causes me to challenge every story my mother had been told about Virginia, who supposedly abandoned her children in 1904.

As the lies began to unravel, my journey led me to New Orleans, and what I found, rocked me to my core.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Books

 

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Use a comma, keep Grandma out of trouble…

comma

Many of you are acquainted with my daughter, Beth. She’s the author of the cutest kid’s book, A Tough Little Squirrel. We’re working on the sequel, Stop That Turtle. It’s going to be even cuter. But that’s not what this post is about.

Our church held VBS today. That would be Vacation Bible School for those not familiar with the terminology. But. late Friday afternoon, after work, Beth and my mom went to the church to do some decorating. And that’s cool. She has her own car and could come home when she was ready. Well, it was almost 9:30 and she still wasn’t home so I had my youngest daughter text her to see what’s going on.She replied that she was painting and stuff.

Now, I admit I’m a bit overprotective. I guess when you lose one child, it naturally happens. I had youngest ask if anyone else was there. Our church is safe, but still, it was getting on to 10 p.m. and I didn’t want her there alone. That overprotective thing.  Beth’s reply was “No other people here.” And this is where Grandma was about to get in trouble. My mom is a bit protective too so I knew, or at least thought I knew, that she’d never leave Beth at church alone. Through youngest, I told her to go ahead and come home and we could finish early this morning.

When she got home, we were talking and she was telling about the other people there. I had to ask her to clarify her message. It should have been, “No, other people are here.” She left out the comma.

Because there was no comma, there was a whole mix-up in the message, and I was about to start looking for a “home” for my mom who was obviously loosing it. (Joking here.)

I still haven’t gotten all the comma rules down. I am working on it though and am better than I was. What about you? Got those commas figured out? Here’s a few links that might help.

Ten Simple Rules for Using Commas

Basic Rules of Commas in Writing

5 Simple Comma Rules to Live By

Comment and be entered to win a free 10 page critique from me. I’ll pick at least one person from all the comments this month as my way of giving back to all those who helped me.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Writing

 

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Asking for it…

First, let me say again how great a time I had a LexiCon this year and urge you to plan to attend next year. It will be the 5th anniversary and I know it’s going to be special.

One of the great things about LexiCon is getting to socialize with other writers. Not only did we socialize between workshops but some of us had breakfast together, went to lunch together, or had dinner together, We were together, sharing and getting to know those we didn’t know and catching up with those we knew but hadn’t seen in a while. And after everything was done for the day, some of us sat around the hotel and socialized some more. It was awesome to be with “my” people.

Naturally, discussion turned to selling books.and how difficult it is. I mentioned in a previous post about that so won’t go into it again. We talked about how hard it was to get people to buy a book and how most of us feel uncomfortable with the “buy my book” thing. Someone quoted the experts (whoever they are) saying that it takes 3 nos to get 1 yes. I’ve heard that before so guess it must be right…or at least close.

So, today, I’m asking you to buy my book. Not borrow it but to buy it. If you borrow it and don’t read it, I don’t get paid. That’s right, I’m asking you to spend some of your hard earned money on  my hard work. Dragons of Jade is a YA fantasy. It’s a clean read…my pastor’s 14 year old daughter loves it. (So did one of our deacons so it’t not just for kids.) Six Pack of Murder is six pieces of flash fiction all dealing with murder of some sort. Dragons of Jade Six Pack of Murder

Thanks bunches! I won’t ask again. At least not this month.

Remember to leave a comment to be entered to win a 10 page critique. No purchase needed. :-)

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2015 in My Writing

 

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On the lighter side…

Yesterday’s post was a bit sad and depressing so today, here’s something lighter.105

First some backstory…  I love to play in the genres. All of them. I’ve written romance, time travel, western, fantasy, mystery, inspirational, scifi, and I even have a horror idea started. Now, the thing about scifi, to do it right, you have to do your research.  And, I discovered,I will probably never do much scifi just for that reason. Fans know their genre and don’t like it when you screw up. But, there was a flash fiction challenge, and I had this really, really interesting idea. I had to do a bit of research on cryo-stasis, which was cool…no pun intended. Then came along another idea…this one involved travel to another planet and that meant research.

So I start researching means of travel to planets. There are several different theories, one of them being faster than light (FTL) travel. I won’t bore you with all the details but I did a couple weeks of research. I was in the zone.

Now, to say I’m not a morning person is putting it lightly most days. I tend to work best between 1 and 4 a.m. then sleep until noon.  And that would be cool except for having a husband with a job that often requires the alarm going off at 6 a.m. So, one morning after a late night, I got up with hubby and while he was in the shower, I pulled out his clothes for work. Among these items was a pair of undies with FTL printed all around the waistband.

Naturally, this caught my attention. I mean, what did men’s undies have to do with FTL travel. I sat and pondered for about 10 minutes before realizing FTL stood for Fruit of the Loom.When hubby got out of the shower he saw my perplexed expression and asked what was wrong. He still laughs about his FTL undies.

What about you? Got any stories you’d like to share? Remember, all those who comment this month will win a free 10 page critique from me. It’s my way of giving back.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in Misc.

 

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Adding it up…

One of the things I brought home from LexiCon this past weekend dealt with the value of our – and let’s call it what it really is…a product. Yep, I hate to say it, but for those of us who write and hope to make money from it, our book is a product. So, I started putting some numbers together. Now, I’m not the greatest with math but here goes.warning sign

Say you spend just 200 hours writing and editing your book at a $10 an hour minimum wage, you have $2,000 invested. Now, because you do want to make money and know you need a quality product you spend money for an editor, a knockout cover, and so forth.Let’s add another $2,000.  (The editor I’m working with now cost over $2k but is so worth it.) That gives us an investment of $4,000.

Now, we put that baby on Amazon and wait for the money to roll in.  Wrong. If you price your book at .99, which you only get .35 cents of, you’d have to sell almost 11,500 copies to break even. But say you figured it out so that you managed to get $2.00 per book, you’d still have to sell 2,000 copies to just break even on time and money invested.

Can it happen…sure. Just add in some promotions. Remember to add in all your time in that too…tweeting, facebooking, paid ads, posting to free ad sites.

But, let’s say you go to a book event. You pay $50 for your booth, and it’s an eight hour day so add in $80 for minimum wage (you aren’t home doing housework, etc. or maybe you took day off from work.) and let’s add $20 for lunch and misc. stuff. That makes $150 you are in the hole.  Now, again for ease of numbers, let’s say you sell your book for $10 but you have a great looking book, well put together. It costs $6.00 for printing, shipping, and such. You will earn $4 on each sale.  Sounds good right? Sell a book, make $4.  But to break even for the day, you’d have to sell 38 books. I don’t know about you, but I’ve done quite a few book events, large and small, and never sold 38 books. Maybe I’m at the wrong events. And of course, to break even this way, you have to sell over 1,000 copies and statistics say that most self-published books sell less than 250 copies. Not sure what small press numbers are but still…

How many of you though, when you tell someone the price of your book, have seen their face change? They go from ‘this is so cool and I want this book’ to ‘uhhh, I don’t think so.’ You can see it happen. Yet these same people, more than likely, pay $4 for that Starbucks latte that takes maybe 30 minutes to drink or they will go to a movie, pay $7 for ticket, spend another $15 on drinks and popcorn.

Here’s the thing. Most of us work darn hard on our books. We not only give up things we enjoy but we take time away from our family and friends to write. Sure, we write because we love it and can’t stop, but again, some of us want to make money doing what we love. And that’s not wrong. But how often are we made to feel bad for asking for what our books really are worth?

I’m not sure what the answer is but from now on, I refuse to undervalue my book’s worth. I refuse to undervalue all the effort and time that goes into putting out a great book.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Writing

 
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Not long ago, my two daughters and I took a women’s handgun safety class put on by our local, Longview Police Department. First off, it was free. There were four nights about two hours each then Saturday morning, we met out at the police gun range. The officers did a wonderful job, and if you are in the area and a female, you need to take this class.

Our first class discussed safety in parking lots, stores, and in general. Most of it I knew, some I didn’t but it was good to be reminded. And especially good for my girls. The second night we were taught what to do in an active shooting event. For example, if someone came into an office where we were or some such thing. I now feel more confident about surviving such an event. Next, we were taught handgun safety and the laws that apply. And again, this was info I didn’t know.

Friday we met and used the Firearms Training Simulator. This was awesome. But it gave us a small insight into what it’s like to be a cop.  For example, my first scenario was a nicely dressed guy standing on the sidewalk. As I approached, he started talking…nothing dangerous or threatening. He starts moving a bit, then he pulls a  gun and fires at me. Naturally, I killed him. But the thing is, there wasn’t anything about him that screamed “I’m a gun-packing looney and I want to kill you.”

The guy waving his knife around was an easy threat to determine. Especially when he lunged for me. I killed him too. :-)

One of the situations was a domestic dispute. As I “arrived on location” I heard screaming and yelling from inside the house. As I made my way inside, I discovered a man holding a shotgun with a hostage.(That didn’t quite come out right but…) I didn’t attempt to talk him down, I just took him out. I did a couple others, but these stuck with me.

Where am I going with this?

I spent this past weekend at LexiCon in Denton, Texas. The keynote speaker, Verdi Lethermon, used to be the Director of Psychological Services for the Houston Police Department. She gave an awesome presentation on cops and some of the things we don’t see. One story she told really stuck with me.  She told of a call out to go pick up the body of a dog that had been hit and killed on the highway before it caused an accident.  Thing is, when the officer got there, it was a 10 year old boy instead. This officer had to pick up dismembered body parts off the highway. An arm here, maybe a leg over there…

Here’s the thing. When an officer pulls over a car, he doesn’t know who is in the car, what that person has done or is willing to do. He doesn’t know if that person is going to pull a gun or hand over his “license and registration.” When an officer arrives at the home in the middle of a domestic dispute, she doesn’t know the story. All she knows is someone called for help and she has sworn an oath to “serve and protect.” When that police officer puts his gun in his holster and walks out his door in the morning, he doesn’t know if that’s the last time he’ll do so. He doesn’t know if he’ll come home that evening. She doesn’t know if she will even make it to lunch – and some don’t.

Every day, every call, could be a police officer’s last. It’s a scary thing. Especially when they are just doing their job.

For example, if you don’t want a speeding ticket – don’t speed. How simple is that? If you don’t want the cops to hassle you…don’t break the law.  And yes, I know there are some bad cops out there. But you know what, there are bad employees in every job. In fact, my husband works with several bad employees who don’t give a rip about their job. We don’t see them profiled on the news though.

We also don’t see the good things the police do every day. Sure, more of it is showing up now, but still. For example, not long ago I saw three officers pushing a car out of the street after it had broken down. They didn’t have to, they could have left it there. They chose to “serve.” It’s what they do.  They “serve and protect.” They are there whenever we need them. I once saw a picture that had “Hate cops? Next time you’re in trouble, call a crackhead.”

Police officers deserve our respect and appreciation. They deserve to be held in esteem. They deserve better than they get.

I love this guy!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2015 in Misc.

 

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The Green Mile

Tonight, I’m sitting here watching The Green Mile again. And not for the second time or even the third.  I’ve watched the movie numerous times, and even read the book. Naturally the book is better, the books always are, but the movie is pretty darn good. And I’m trying to figure just what makes it work.

Is it the characters? There is such a varied cast? Wild Bill, John Coffey, Brutal, Paul, Percy , and of course Del and Mr. Jingles. Each one is different from the others. Their speech, mannerisms, their goals, and motivations, the actors did a great job bringing each one to life.

Maybe it’s the story. Thing is, there is more than one story going on here. The overall story plus the day to day life on “the mile”, the tragedy of the warden’s wife’s cancer, Percy and his downright petty nature and meanness, and Mr. Jingles. All these stories are woven together into one big story.

And think of all the conflict here. Percy is petty and mean. Think about how he stomped Mr. Jingles, and how he told Del as he was about to die there was no Mouseville. Paul is just doing his job but now has to execute someone he considers “one of God’s miracles.” John of course, is innocent yet on death row.

So, what is Mr. King’s secret? Any ideas? What are your thoughts? Is there a movie you watch over and over?

Comment below and be entered to win a 10 page critique from me.  It’s my way of giving back.

 

And please forgive any typos, I’m using a tablet and it’s a lots slower than I’m used to, plus the cat just walked over me.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2015 in Ultimate Blog Challenge

 

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