Excerpt From “Miss Bitsy”


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Excerpt From “Miss Bitsy”

By Nandy Ekle

“We’ll keep working on that mystery. This cake is wonderful! and the caramel brownies,… I think I died and went to Heaven. Miss Bitsy, you’re amazing.:

“Oh, thank you, Dear. It’s just the same old recipe I’ve always had”

“Now you said you last saw Anton about a month ago?”

“Yes.” She stopped and looked up the stairs as if she’d heard a noise. Her expression changed to a dark frown, then back to her sweet, smiling self, as if a could had crossed her face.

“Miss Bitsy, are you okay?”

She turned back and smiled. “Oh, yes, I’m fine. I just thought I heard something. Must be squirrels up there. Yes, I think it was about a month ago. I’m afraid we had a little disagreement. You see, some of my things disappeared. Oh, nothing big, but gadgets I was fond of. I’m afraid I accused him of taking them. I just can’t imagine why he would want that stuff. He said he hadn’t touched them, but he was the only other person here.”

“Do you think he stole your stuff and left town?”

“Well, I don’t know about that. I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of him taking anything from me. If he had just asked I would have given him anything.”

“What things were missing?”

“Let’s see… things missing… well, my rose colored Pyrex dish… my green apron… oh, my marble rolling pin, and my flour sifter.”

Jeremy looked at her, incredulous at the list of missing items. The Miss Bitsy he remembered would never have made a big deal out of losing something as inconsequential as a Pyrex dish. Surely she had plenty of dishes to cook in. “Are you sure Mr. Easley took those things? What kind of monetary value did any of that have for a college student?”

“Well, I don’t know why he would want them, but he was the only other person in the house; it couldn’t have been anyone else. He said he didn’t take them, but there was no one else here.” Again she looked up the stairs as if she’d heard something, and once again a frown momentarily creased her brow.

“Miss Bitsy, let me go look for the squirrel to pay you back for the cake and brownies.”

“Oh, Jerry, I could always count on you to do little jobs for me, but I think this is a job for someone else. Don’t you worry about it.”

He swallowed  gulp of milk and nodded. “Exactly what did Anton say when you asked him about those items?”

“He said he didn’t take them. He said I’m like his grandmother and he would never steal anything from me.” She turned back to the stairs, frowning, and after a moment she stood up, shook her finger at the rooms above her head and began to yell. “You can’t threaten me like that anymore, Eli Bevel! I know you’re dead ‘cause I killed you myself!”

An excerpt from the anthology, One Murderous Week. A book of seven short stories written by Nandy Ekle, available at a book store near you, or amazon.com, Barnesandnobles.com or from carpediempublishers.com. 

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Continuation of Last Week’s Work


Continuation of Last Week’s Work

By Adam Huddleston

 

Here is some more from last week’s work.

I sit at a long lunch table in the school’s cafeteria waiting for the first bell. My classmates are chatting at that volume above casual dialogue but just below shouting.  After yesterday’s events, I don’t feel like talking at all, especially about the banal subjects that my peers seem obsessed with.

Who is sleeping with whom?  What website a student found that contains actual suicide videos?  Which sophomore stole the answer key to Friday’s exam?

I sip on a bottle of water and stare at the clock, willing it to move faster. It doesn’t and a sandy-blonde boy I’d spoken to only a handful of times grabs my shoulder.

“You hear about Shasta?”

I can smell something strong on his breath that isn’t chewing gum.

“Who’s Shasta,” I ask, not really caring.

“Shasta!  The girl that sits in the front cubicle in English.  I heard she got herpes.  Ain’t that funny?  Herpes!”

I stare at him for a full ten seconds then turn away.  He bursts out laughing and moves on to another table.

The bell for first period blares throughout the room and we all move en masse out of the cafeteria’s double doors and into the hallway.  The din of the lunchroom pales in comparison to that in the halls.  With my backpack and computer, I have no free hands to cover my ears so I make a quick bee-line to my first class, Civics.

 

Improvement


Outtakes 350

Improvement

By Cait Collins

I’ve been reviewing some of my under-the-bed and box-in the-closet manuscripts.  I thought I had written some really great stories.  But when I compare these earlier offerings with my more recent works, I realize how much better the new stories are.  Over the years I’ve learned more about characterization, plots and turning points, and dialogue. With new tools, I do a better job of crafting a story.

I’ve also learned that honest criticism is not a bad thing.  I can trust my friends with WordsmithSix to be honest in their critiques.  I can listen to their ideas and thoughts but still feel comfortable in choosing what to incorporate in my story and what to discard or hold for future use.  They encourage me to be just me.

While I see major improvement in my writing, I am well aware I’m not where I want to be and could be.  I have to keep looking for better ways to say things, practice getting into my characters’ heads and figuring out how they will respond to the milestones of life. More importantly, I cannot base my characters actions on how I see things or how I would handle the situation. I must step outside the box and allow the character to map his or her future without my interference.

So what am I going to do with those old manuscripts?  I’m keeping them.  Some of the stories have good bones.  They just need a little reshaping and restructuring.  And maybe the passing years have allowed some good characters to grow up and provide a new perspective on an old plot.

How About Picking a Good Title


How About Picking a Good Title

Rory C. Keel

A good title is almost as much work as writing the story. I ran across this information that has helped me in picking titles for my writing.

PINC was created by Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson and author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World). It stands for Promise, Intrigue, Need, and Content. In essence, your book title should do one of the following four things:

  • Make a Promise. Your book title can be your promise to your reader—what they will get out of reading your book.
  • Create Intrigue. Your title can engage your potential reader in a compelling way—drawing them in to learn more.
  • Identify a Need. Your book title can point out a need in someone’s life. It may be a need they already know they have, or it might be a need they become aware of through reading your title.
  • State the Content. A book’s title can also simply state the content of the book—letting the reader know exactly what they will learn or receive from reading it.

Opportunities to Promote Your eBook


Opportunities to Promote Your eBook

Natalie Bright

There are a variety of opportunities to advertise and promote your eBooks for minimal amount of money. Here a few links to several great articles about promotion sites for your eBook.

Best Promotion Sites for 2018

https://www.lincolncole.net/tools/best-paid-book-promotion-sites-for-indie-authors

https://blog.reedsy.com/book-promotion-services/

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/01/21/nates-big-list-free-paid-book-promotion-websites/

There might be one slight road block you have to overcome though; many of the promo deals require a minimum number of reviews.  Sometimes it’s not necessary that you have all 5 Stars, because it’s the numbers of reviews that can boost you in the algorithms, not the star ratings.

Here’s my problem:  I get the nicest comments on Facebook or through emails from people who enjoy reading my books, but they don’t leave a review online. Some people are just not comfortable with the process, I think.

We’re all writers here, so let’s spread the love. Leave a review for your favorite author. Share a new release by someone in your writing community and remind your friends to leave a online reviews for their favorite authors.

 

Still, The Day Job


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Still, The Day Job

By Nandy Ekle

At this point in time, working a mandatory ten hours a day (pay is good, don’t get me wrong) for over a year, about the nicest thing I can say is 

UGH.

And the research of old contracts that puff dust in my face when I open them on the computer, 

UGH.

Rough Work


Rough Work

by Adam Huddleston

 

Here’s another taste of dystopian story that I’m working on.

 

Scene 1-Introduction

“Ben. Go ahead and close the blinds.”

I stand up on legs that are a little shaky and make my way across the carpeted living room.  There is no movement from outside, so I quickly draw the blinds, casting darkness over our meeting.

“Thank you son,” he says.

My father stands tall in the center of our circle, looking around at each of us with a firm and steady stare.  He raises a smooth, long-fingered hand and smiles.

“I’ll Fly Away,” he whispers.

We begin singing the familiar first verse, piano, so as not to draw the attention of anyone walking down the sidewalk in front of our house.  My father directs us in 4/4 time, marking each downbeat with a pop of the wrist. When we reach the chorus, I struggle to resist the urge to raise my volume.  Father, sensing my hardship, grins wider while using his other hand to direct our small congregation to sing ever quieter.

“…When I die, Hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away,” we finish in not much more than a whisper.

We sing another handful of hymns, all from memory of course. Decades before my dad was born, the government enacted the Freedom From Religion Act.  All religious books, hymnals, pamphlets etc. were banned.  Any public displays of faith were prohibited as well, so no more churches, synagogues, or mosques.  Praying before a meal at a restaurant warranted the same punishment as any other infraction.

My father removes a cloth covering a brass plate.  Resting on top of the plate is a thin, round loaf of unleavened bread.  Beside it sits a bottle of homemade wine and a few small cups.

“In times such as these, we still remember our Savior.  His body was broken and his blood shed so that our sins would be forgiven.  No matter what dangers we face, we will partake in this supper until the end.”

Father didn’t have to explain what the “end” meant.  It could be our individual deaths or the death of the world.  Either way, Paradise awaited.

He breaks the bread and people outside begin shouting. I run to the window and gently peek between the blind slats.  Two houses down from us, Mr. Langston is being dragged out of his house by two men wearing black, armored uniforms.  One of the officers steps away and the other pulls a sidearm from its holster.  Our neighbor holds his hands up and shouts something and that’s when the officer shoots him in the forehead.  I see a brief cloud of blood in the air behind his head and he slumps forward onto the ground.  His wife and sons are standing in their doorway screaming.  I turn back to the dark room and begin crying.

My father leads me to the couch and sits beside me.  He wraps a long arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.

“I’m sorry, son.  I’m so sorry you saw that.  George was a good man and I’m gonna miss him.  I’m proud of his resolve, too.  Like us, his family never stopped worshipping.”

This makes me feel a little better but then my mind begins forming a scene where something similar happens to us.

“What if the Agency ever discovers us?  I’m scared, Dad.”

He looks away for a moment and I follow his gaze.  On the wall across the room is a picture of my mother. She was killed a few years after I was born when an Agency officer suspected her of trying to evangelize while shopping for groceries in town.  My father, who speaks often of her, but rarely of her death, says that he doesn’t know if that’s true or not.  Part of me hopes that it is.  If she had to die, I want to think that it was for a noble cause.

He sees me looking at her picture and hugs me tighter.

“It’s alright, Ben.  The government is strong.  Our family is stronger.  God is the strongest.”

What’s Next?


Outtakes 349

What’s Next?

By Cait Collins

 

I’ve always had more than one writing project going at a time. Sometimes I put one aside because the muse is working for another.  When the ideas dry up, I move to another one.  Right now I have four projects in the works.  First Love Forever Love is a memoir about my life-long love affair with the sea.  I’m working the edits on this book.  I’ve received the feedback from my beta readers, so it’s a matter of reviewing and implementing the necessary changes.

The second project is Tables, a memoir about growing up as a military brat in the fifties and sixties.  Much of the book is written, but there are stories I want to add.  I’m considering a chapter on seeing President Kennedy just weeks before he was assassinated and how my parents handled our questions and concerns.

The third project is the editing of my novel How Do You Like Me Now.  Kate Walker shows the town elite how to get even…legally.  It’s too long so I have to decide what can be taken out without impacting the story.

The fourth work is my short story for Wordsmith Six’s second Route 66 anthology Holiday’s on Route 66.  I have some ideas but I must do substantial research before I even consider writing the work.

My goal is to have at least two of the projects completed by the end of this year. Now that Our Time On Route 66 is available as an eBook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I’m excited about getting more books out and in the hands of readers.  I never really understood the thrill of seeing my name on a book jacket.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66


OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas:

  • A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright
  • A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel
  • A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols
  • A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins
  • Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

 

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Read it now!

Amazon       Apple iBooks        Barnes and Noble

Carpe Diem Publishers

A Few Words on Adverbs


This week I wanted to submit a throwback to one of my first blogs!

 

A Few Words on Adverbs

Adam Huddleston

 

It has been said that the road to, well, let’s just say a rather “toasty” destination, is paved with adverbs. While I don’t harbor a fierce hatred for those “-ly” words, I do see a glimmer of truth in the proverb.

One of the basic precepts of writing is to keep it short and sweet.  Why use three weak words when one strong one will do?

For example: The man talked quickly.  How about: The man babbled.

Or: The deer swiftly ran.  Instead: The deer galloped.

Eliminating needless words will make your work cleaner and your chosen words stand out.  That being said, you don’t have to be an “adverb Nazi”!  There are many lonely adverbs out there looking for a loving home and many verbs which cannot be changed so easily.

My advice; read through your writing a few times and see if it sounds too wordy or cluttered.  If it does, start chunking those adverbs and see how “quickly” your work improves!

Happy writing!