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Welcome to the “PREY FOR THE DEAD” Blog Tour! @SusanneLeist @4WillsPub #RRBC

Greetings to all my readers! It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome author Susanne Leist to The Indie Spot today! Please make Susanne feel welcome by leaving a like and a comment below.

Take it away, Susanne. . .

PREY FOR THE DEAD Blog Tour

A masquerade party where a human vampire wears a vampire costume. Where is this? Oasis, Florida. Vampires and hybrids like to play. They own the night!

Enjoy an excerpt of PREY FOR THE DEAD where Todd and Gregg show their fangs in their quest for Linda. Shana is coupled with Sheriff Sam. The rest of the players have vampire blood running through them.

 

 

Todd stepped in front of Linda. Dressed in a black outfit with a long cape, she could tell it was him even though the matching mask concealed the top half of his face. Todd wears his arrogance well.

     He scowled at her.

     She tapped Gregg’s shoulder with her finger and nodded toward Todd. Gregg wrapped his arm around her waist and frowned at Todd.

     Todd leveled his dark stare at Gregg.

     Shana rushed to greet them. “Hi, Linda, Gregg.”

     After dragging her eyes from Todd’s, Linda smiled at Shana. “What a gorgeous costume. Are you Cinderella?”

     “Yes, I am.” Shana spun in her blue gown, her auburn hair in a sleek chignon, her green eyes peeking from behind a gold mask with blue feathers. “And Sam is Prince Charming.”

     Sam, wearing a white jacket, mask, and gloves, winked at her. Tassels hung from his gold epaulets; red pants completed his outfit. He favored Linda with a rakish grin.

     Linda felt Todd’s gaze on her. She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Kind sir, who are you this evening?”

     Todd moved closer and bowed. “Dracula, madam, at your service.” He spread his long, black cape and rewarded her with a fanged smile.

     “You might upset the vamps.” Linda held back a grin.

     “Vampires admire Dracula; he’s a legend.”

     “He wasn’t real. Was he?” Shana asked.

     “He was.” Todd smiled.

     Shana’s face fell.

     Sam took Shana’s hand and led her to the dance floor.

     Gregg cleared his throat before bowing. “Linda, can you honor me with a dance?”

     “Yes, thank you.” She stepped into Gregg’s arms.

     Todd stood alone, his countenance forlorn. He spun on his heel and walked across the dance floor.

     Gregg’s left hand curled around her waist while the fingers of his right hand twined with hers. A tingling sensation traveled along her arm. Feeling safe in Gregg’s arms, she relaxed and watched the guests. Kings danced with Queens; Peter Pan twirled with Tinkerbell—an impressive sight; a gathering of strangers and acquaintances alike, the masks disguising vamps from humans and even a friend from a foe.

     Across the room, Todd conversed with a blonde couple. The Duke and Duchess she’d met at Diane’s party. The two vampires Todd trusted most. Duke Alan Rutherford wore a moss green, brocade outfit with a gold crown, while his wife appeared regal in a burgundy gown with a white, stand-up collar at the back of her neck. From a distance, the dark color resembled wine or blood.

     “Are those the Duke and Duchess Rutherford with Todd?”

     Gregg’s gaze followed hers. “Oh, yes. Todd’s favorite vampires, dressed as Henry VIII and his beheaded wife, Ann Boleyn. Perfect. The king had a lust for blood.”

     Dancers banged into them. Laughter and shouts rang loud. The guests became a blur of color for her, their outfits racier, more skin and pointy teeth came to the surface. Real or fake blood dripped from a few masked faces.

     Gregg’s mouth nudged her ear. “Care to stroll in the moonlight?”

     Todd watched as Gregg led Linda to the pool deck, his arm around her shoulder, his head bent to hers.

SUSANNE LEIST BIO

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and many other authors filled my young imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn’t reading late into the night, the TV shows—Murder She Wrote and Columbo—entertained me with tales of murder and suspense.

 

Over the years, my taste in TV expanded to include such shows as Supernatural and The Originals. I searched for paranormal, murder mysteries but found few at the library or bookstore. So, I wrote one.

 

A career in writing has been a big leap for me. Accustomed to the number-crunching field of budgeting and the hectic commodity markets, I left my first career and M.B.A. in Finance behind to pursue my dream. I do not regret my foray into literature for one moment. Fellow authors helped me make my way through the competitive field. I write every day and even tried my hand at poetry. If someone tells you it’s too late in life to try something different, they are wrong. It is never too late to follow your heart.

 

The Dead Game is the first book in The Dead Game series. It brings fantasy and the surreal to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to give spice to the mix. Once you read The Dead Game, you will never look at a dead body the same way.

 

In Book Two, Prey for The Dead, the suspense continues as The Dead use an exclusive club in Disney World and infiltrate the rich and famous. The Dead grow in power, and not even the sun or the swamps of Florida can weaken them. Linda–my main character–and her friends join with the human vampires or hybrids to defeat the evil forces threatening to control their town.

 

I hope you enjoy my books. The third book of The Dead Game Series is waiting for me to write.

 

SUSANNE LEIST’S SOCIAL MEDIA & BOOK LINKS

 

Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/pILNxaD5XlI

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PB9KG4P

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130732773?ean=2940161260111

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SusanneLeist

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/susanne.leist.98

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/susanne.leist/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susanne-leist

 

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, Susanne is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!
Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

Welcome to the “WORLD UNKNOWN” Blog Tour! @Jinlobify #4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA

Today, I am privileged and honored to host Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko here on The Indie Spot. Joy is one of the most supportive members in the RRBC community. It’s time to return the love and show some support for her today. 

Take it away, Joy. . .

Day 5:

 This is the fifth day of my ten days tour.

Fear of writing was not the only thing that dogged me. I had also the fear of rejection. You see, the first ever books I published were commissioned. I was in Italy, and this young publisher wanted to create a sensation with publishing a book by a black African woman. I had written a film script which this young publisher thought would be a film hit. It was not! And the second book following that was not a hit either.

Many years later when I wrote my first book in the English language, trusting my past writing experience, I boldly sent my manuscript to traditional publishers and waited. One after the other rejections rolled in. I waited two years before I tried again. I revised and sent out more manuscripts to publishers. But after more rejections I decided to go it alone. This is where we are today! An Indie author was born. Every disappointment is a blessing! Believe me, this saying is true.

The Rules:

I have randomly chosen a short snippet from a story in my book for you to read each day of my tour.

I will choose only three winners from the correct matches. The winner with nine correct matches will be gifted with a $15 Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of your choice from any of my books. The second with eight correct matches will be gifted with a $10 Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of your choice from my books. The third winner with seven correct matches will be with gifted a $5. Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of your choice from my books.

Now the catch! If you follow the tour and read the snippets, I would hope that you would buy and read the complete stories and leave a review of the book after the tour.

This tour is supported by another of my books; Pregnant Future. If you want to read that one too, that will be great. However, the focus will be on Vagaries of Life: And Girls’ Talk. Good reading!

Vagaries of Life: And Girls’ Talk

The Book Cover

Snippet 5:

“You are a good man, Doctor Joe. In spite of my apparent unhappiness throughout this marriage, you still treated me well. I can never thank you enough, but I deserve to experience some happiness—the kind you experienced with me; the kind that made you ignore every bad thing I did, and you still smiled and treated me and everyone else with kindness. I’m not a bad person. Life just threw me a bad curve. I can’t even blame my father anymore. Only God will judge him.” She turned to us as if to plead. “Kids, I hope you will understand.”

“Your mother was treated very badly,” Papa said. “And I was instrumental in it. I thought that if I loved her as hard as I did, she would forgive me for snatching her away. It was I who bribed your father to behave as he did. You must forgive him. The fact that I was a doctor, and Obinna was just a fledgling young man looking to find his feet, sealed the deal.” He looked at Ma. “I stole you right from under his nose. I thought that marrying you was my victory, but I didn’t win. I had no idea how deeply you two felt for each other …. and for that, I am sorry.”

Obinna had said nothing all this while. He quietly listened to Papa confessing his sins. In the end, Mama wished us well and left with Obinna.

About the Author

Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

 Joy has written and published extensively on national and international scholarly                     journals, magazines, and newspapers. 

Her first short story I Come from Utopia was published in African Voices, Spring/                        Summer, 2007, pg. 18. Since then, she has published numerous others in RAVE SOUP FOR THE WRITER’S SOUL Anthology, Vols. 1 & 2.

Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women was published in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Contest in 2012. She has also two books published in the Italian language. The First titled: Io Odio, Tu Odi, & Cinema E Africa Nera, are both by Edizione, Tindalo.

The Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies, is a journey into the mysteries of life and death of the Igbos of Nigeria was published in 2014

In Pregnant Future: No One Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring, her latest Novel, Justina is the story of every young woman who found herself alone in the world to fend for herself. It is the story of the pitfalls that await such a woman. It is the story of survival

Her latest book, A collection of Short Stories, titled: Vagaries of Life: And Girls’ Talk was published in December, 2018.

Pregnant Future – Blurb

 Justina was a fighter. And, although it seemed the world was against her and her future was destined for failure …she persevered in the face of it all.

The future that was being thrown in her face, was not the one she had dreams of …and if she wanted to get her feet on the right path, she was going to have to show the world her strength. But, does she?

Will she have the will to make it to the end, unscarred?

What would you do if you knew what the future had in store for you?

Would you run towards it with open arms, or would you run away and never look back?

Justina must make a choice …before life chooses for her.

 

Links to my Social Network:

 My Web Site

 FaceBook

 Goodreads

 Twitter

 LinkedIn

 

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  

Lastly, Joy is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!

Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

 

Welcome to “FINDING BILLY BATTLES TRILOGY” Blog Tour! @JHawker69 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA

Today, I have the honor and pleasure of hosting author, fellow Blog Talk Radio host, RRBC member, and friend Ronald E. Yates here on The Indie Spot. Please give a warm welcome to Ron by leaving a comment below and sharing his post.

Take it away, Ron. . .

Finding Billy Battles
Excerpt from the Prologue

My first meeting with William Fitzroy Raglan Battles was on a warm June afternoon in 1958. We sat on the veranda of a red-brick dormitory building on the grounds of the Wadsworth old soldiers’ home in Leavenworth, Kansas. Battles was really old, and the truth be known, he kind of frightened me, though I didn’t let on that he did. I was only twelve at the time, and I didn’t even want to be there.
Chances are you have never heard of William Fitzroy Raglan Battles, and there is no reason why you should have. I know I hadn’t—until that humid afternoon in the waning days of the Eisenhower era. Today, I often wonder how I could not have known about Battles, how a life as full and audacious as his could have gone unnoticed for so many generations. God, how I wish I could have known him better. But his life—as was no doubt the case with that of millions of other anonymous participants in history—was simply lost, crushed underfoot in the unrelenting stride of time.
Of course, there was no way I could know at the time that this meeting would trigger a series of events that would lead me on an extraordinary journey into the past and change my life in ways I could never imagine. When I look back on that first meeting, I wonder why I was so fearful. William Fitzroy Raglan Battles was not a particularly menacing man. But there was a definite hardness to him—the kind of stern, leathery countenance that you get from taking, and perhaps giving, too much punishment over a lifetime. I particularly recall his eyes. They were the color of pale slate, and almost as hard.
Maybe that was what frightened me—those eyes and the way they cut into you.
It was my grandmother who had insisted that I meet the man with those flinty gray eyes and that gristly exterior. One day she simply announced that we were going to drive to Leavenworth, to meet her father—my great-grandfather. That winter, my father had suffered a fatal heart attack, and my mother thought it would be a good idea if I spent the summer with my cousins on their farm near Troy, Kansas. Most of the time, I roamed the hills by myself, riding horses and occasionally helping out with the chores. I wasn’t thrilled about spending an hour in the car with my grandmother driving the forty-five miles to Leavenworth. First, she drove really slowly; and second, I didn’t even know I had a great-grandfather.
Nobody, including my grandmother, had ever really spoken about him—at least not in my presence. Why this was the case I was to learn much later when I was older and could “understand such things,” as my grandmother put it.
The only explanation for this visit that I was able to extract at the time from my grandmother was that she wanted me to go with her because the home was commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, and my great-grandfather and several thousand other Kansans had played a significant role in it.
Big deal. The Spanish-American War. Who cares? I thought as my grandmother maneuvered her pastel-blue 1957 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham south down State Highway 7 through the undulating farmland of northeast Kansas and into Leavenworth. The Spanish-American War was ancient history. And besides, being around so many old people made me nervous. Death had taken on a new meaning for me. It was no longer some abstract event that happened to others. I had seen and felt its uncompromising manifestation when the emergency crew carried my father from our home several months before. And now I would be in the presence of someone who could die at any time.
Those were the kinds of self-indulgent thoughts that pranced through my adolescent brain that day. Today I know a lot more about my great-grandfather. The biggest regret of my life is that I was too young and too obtuse to understand what kind of human history database my great-grandfather was. I would only learn that many years later when, as a journalism student at the University of Kansas, I began to appreciate the value of personal narratives from people who could speak firsthand about events I could only read about.
That’s the way it is when we become absorbed with history. We discover that the events and people of antiquity are not ghosts, or simply lifeless words on a page, or fading sepia images. They have an essence we can touch and hear and even speak to if only we have the right medium—someone who has experienced the past with passion and perceptiveness and has the keen senses with which to make it come alive to those who, until that moment, could only fantasize about it.
In this case, that medium was a rare individual who lived during what might have been the most tumultuous years in American history. Luckily, my grandmother, intractable and single-minded as she was, made sure that I would not forget this event or my great-grandfather.

Ronald E. Yates is an award winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

 

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media. His award-winning book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014. Book #3 of the trilogy (The Lost Years of Billy Battles) was published in June 2018.

 

As a professional journalist, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places. His work resulted in multiple journalism awards, including three Pulitzer nominations and awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Inter-American Press Association, to name a few.

 

BOOK PURCHASE LINKS:

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KHDVZI/-/e/B00KQAYMA8/

TRILOGY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DNDWHH6/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/finding%20billy%20battles/_/N-8q8

MY WEBSITE & BLOG:  https://ronaldyatesbooks.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ronaldyatesbooks/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/jhawker69

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/bookmarketingglobalnetwork/author-ronald-e-yates-books/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronyates/

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on
the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book
promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, Ron is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If
you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d
love to have you!
Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

 

Welcome to the SEASONS Blog Tour @ErnestineRose25 #4WillsPub #RRBC

Today on The Indie Spot I am pleased to host Ernestine Rose, author of Seasons: My Journey through Grief. Please join me in welcoming her to my blog by leaving a comment.

Take it away, Ernestine. . .

Struggles of an Indie Writer

You have no idea how many people tell me that they want to write a book and they don’t know where to start. Some say they have a story to tell, but they are not confident about their writing skill; they were never good in English. Still others see themselves as authors, but really don’t have any idea how to organize and write a book. Neither of these is a challenge to me.

As a retired English teacher, my command of spelling, grammar and usage is immaculate. In college I’d spend weeks researching my topics, then stay up one night or two, actually writing the paper. Other than correcting a few typos, I did very little revising. I was just that good. And this was before word processors and computers. I had a manual type writer so corrections were hard and often messy. Still, I earned A’s in most of my English classes and carried this skill on to grad school.

The challenge in writing, for me, was never getting the paper started; it was bringing it to a close. I could ramble on for pages and often wound up cutting half my writing to meet the ten-page assignment I’d been given. I’m both fluid and fluent, so I thought becoming an author after I retired from teaching would be perfect for me.

Now that I’m working on my fifth book, I can tell any prospective writer that the real challenge isn’t writing the book; it’s selling it. With the technology we have now, almost anyone with a creative mind and ability to persuade can turn out a decent book. Your grammar and spelling challenges can be met with the latest correctional tools. The formatting issues can be simplified by Amazon or outsourced to someone who is better at it. In my case, I just went on to the next book when I hit a wall in formatting. When I finally got it right, I published three books within one week: 7 Tips for a Successful Marriage, Raising the Roses, and Tales from the Family Tree.

While I didn’t expect to make thousands with these first books, I had no idea how difficult it would be to sell them. At first, I followed the Kindle program that claimed I’d make a name for myself if I gave my first books away for free, and in the long run, I’d profit more from this huge shared campaign they had for their books on loan program. What I learned (the hard way), was that the people who’d buy my books were not part of the paid loan program, so I was just giving my books away for nothing. I made a few dollars every month, but most of the people I knew already had my books, so here was the question. After your friends and family buy your books, what’s next?

I read (a lot) about marketing and selling books. I bought DVD’s, watched webinars and took copious notes. I conducted sales on Kindle Direct Publishing campaigns as well as Book Goodies and joined an online book promotion group, Rave Reviews Book Club. I joined over two hundred Facebook groups, from African-American and urban fiction readers, to Christian non-fiction and romance. (My fourth book was Monday Morning Blues, because I always enjoyed a good love story.) I’d post to different groups, hoping to reach a different audience of readers. I carried my list of groups, updated daily, in my agenda, and recorded notes by each name of when and what I could post there. Some of them would actually get angry and maybe drop me if I promoted my book on the wrong day. I even invested in Mass Planner, one of many available auto-posters, so I could just schedule my posts ahead of time and choose the groups I wanted to target. When my computer wouldn’t cooperate, I learned to do this on my cell phone, and lo and behold, the groups were already there! It was just a matter of me selecting a group and going through four or five steps to post my ad, then repeating the process with another group. I had to remember which groups I’d posted to that day, because if I posted more than once, they’d really get mad. But eventually, whether using Mass Planner or my phone, I started getting temporary bans from Facebook because I was posting too much. That meant I couldn’t post any promos for four or five days, ruining my scheduled sale, then it was back to the grind again.

This time, as I’m preparing my fifth book, I want things to be different. I’ve revamped my website and I’m working on rebuilding my brand. I’m looking at the advantages and disadvantages of working with a publisher versus continuing to self-publish, or at least investing in some of the tasks, like formatting and book covers, that are not my strong suit. This time, I want to increase my distribution beyond Amazon, and reach a wider audience. I want to add audiobooks, and gain access to more creative marketing. I’d like to build my reputation as a speaker as well, about my books and about my journey. I want to help those people who lack the confidence or organizational skill to get started.

So for those of you that have wanted to write for a while, know that the journey is not easy. My last two book conferences confirmed the trend that high-dollar advances from the Big Five publishers are no longer happening unless you’re a celebrity or an author with a well-proven track record. Other publishers will do what you need for a wide range of fees. Still, if the desire is in you to write, by all means follow it. Follow your heart and your dreams, and be the writer that you know you can be.

 

Author Bio:  Ernestine Rose grew up on the west side of Chicago during the turbulent 50’s and 60’s. Adopted by an older couple, she spent a great deal of time as a child reading and participating in dance and drama club activities in school. Bradley University and the University of Dallas prepared her for a successful career as a teacher of English, speech and theater in Peoria and Fort Worth, where she earned numerous educator awards.

As a retired public school teacher and mother of four sons, she made her debut as an author with the publication of three books: 7 Tips for A Successful Marriage, Raising the Roses, and Tales from the Family Tree, all in 2012.  She later produced a romance novel, Monday Morning Blues. Her most recent work reflects her experience as a caretaker and widow, Seasons: My Journey through Grief. Inspired by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, her focus in both writing and theater is on the power of language, love, and family. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

 

BONUS!!! The Author is also hosting a giveaway during each day of her blog tour. Simply comment on each stop to be entered. You can win a copy of one of her e-books or even a $10 Amazon Gift Card!! (There will be a total of 13 giveaways!!)

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

A Big Welcome to Mary Adler, #RRBC Spotlight Author for January!

I am truly honored to host the first #RRBC Spotlight Author of 2019. Please welcome writer Mary Adler to The Indie Spot. Take it away, Mary. . .

 

WORKING SMART: PART ONE

 

CHARACTER BIBLE

There are so many things for a writer to worry about when writing a novel. Plot, dialogue, characterization, conflict, style. Do all the characters names start with the same initial? Were Jimmy’s eyes blue or brown?

To make the most of the time spent toiling at the computer, many authors create time-saving aids to make the book building process go more smoothly. I do several things as I write my first draft.

Character Descriptions: I don’t write long backstories for my characters, but I do note their physical characteristics, speech peculiarities, and other specific details about them including their birth dates and affiliations in a character bible. I also pin up photos from magazines when I find someone who looks the way I think my character should look. For example, this is a photo of a model who represents Paola Buonarotti.

And this is a photo of Oliver’s German shepherd, Harley.

I always know what color my characters’ eyes are, who is related to whom, and who hates fish.

It is also useful to keep a record – perhaps in a spreadsheet – of the first time a character appears or is mentioned. It may seem unnecessary, but when you begin revisions and start moving events around in the manuscript, it is helpful to have a record of what happens when and who was where.

Names: For some reason, I am drawn to names that begin with “L”. So, my first book has Luca and Lucy and Louis. To me, they are completely dissimilar names. (I am not so sure that the reader makes that distinction.) As I wrote the second book, I was more careful and kept a tally under the letters of the alphabet. (For their fans, Luca, Lucy, and Louis are still there.)

If you are looking for names that were popular in a given time period, you can find them easily on-line. Mary was the most popular girl’s name from 1800 until 1961. In 2011 it was 112th.  (When I hear the name Mary, I assume the person is of a certain age – like me! According to The Atlantic, modern parents want their children to have names that underline their individuality. Hmmm.)

Follow Mary online:

Twitter – @MAAdlerwrites

Facebook – https://maryadlerwrites.com/

Author Bio:

Mary Adler was an attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.

Shadowed by Death

Connecting With Readers

DSCN5084

As writers, most of us are thrilled to read reviews of our work posted on sites like Amazon and Koobug. Unsolicited, these words can spur sales of our books. They can also let us know where we lack in this craft we’ve chosen.

Then there are those messages that are of the personal nature, not intended for anybody but the author. I receive these every so often in the message box of my Goodreads account. These come from readers who were touched by something I’ve written or were reminded of some lost memory stirred back into their conscience by one of my short stories.

“Thanks for the message in your story,” they may write. “It brought back an event from my younger days—an event I’d long forgotten.” We never truly forget, though. It may slip from our thoughts but it’s always there, tucked away until the moment it’s challenged to reappear.

The thing is, I don’t set out to weave messages or lessons into my work. I write to entertain. But even so, messages appear. I believe these are out of our hands. Our egos tell us we are just creating. But there is somebody somewhere who has experienced what we’ve written.

I recently wrote a short story called Remaining Ruth, in which a teenaged girl cuts herself with a razor blade, in the privacy of her bathroom, just to have that one thing her parents can’t take away from her.

The messages were almost immediate: “I, too, was a cutter.” “I knew a girl just like Ruth.” “I didn’t cut myself but I did develop an eating disorder.”  “My sister did this for years.” This particular story touched a nerve with so many readers, though that wasn’t my intention.

My novel, Jazz Baby, has prompted many such comments as well. Talk centers around the race relations within the story; Emily’s sexuality; the struggles Emily faced to achieve her dreams; women’s rights issues. I was asked by one reader why I chose to not use the N-word in the story—after all, it is set in 1925 Mississippi and New Orleans. The truth of the matter is: that wasn’t a conscious decision. I hadn’t even really thought of it until the reader brought it up. I suppose there may have been a desire to avoid the stereotypical racist clichés. The very real racism of the deep south of early twentieth-century America is indeed present within the story; I just found more creative ways to express it without resorting to what’s been written a million times in a million other stories.

And somebody found a message in that unintentional deletion.

Not every message need be heavy, either. After I wrote an essay about a childhood incident entitled Bigfoot Was My Father, I received many wonderful stories from readers wanting to share some silly moment their own fathers provided. I am honored and humbled that so many people consider me worthy of their memories.

As authors, we create worlds and characters that wouldn’t exist without us. It’s what we do. We convince ourselves of a story’s originality, of its uniqueness. But there will always be somebody somewhere who will be reminded of a long lost moment in time. It may not be spelled out in exact detail, but it’s there. It may be the metaphor you used to describe the loss of a loved one or the silly joke your main character’s love interest tells while trying to woo the girl. It will remind somebody of something. And that’s a blessing. It means you’ve written a piece in which others find a connection. It means your story matters to another human being.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says: There is nothing new under the sun; that which has been will happen again.

I believe that. We just tell it in our own personal way.

The Chicken or the Egg? A Writer’s Dilemma.

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What comes first: the title or the story? Until recently I figured this to be a silly question. You know, a rhetorical thing meant to mock the foolish. Of course the story comes first, Goofus! Nobody writes a story based on a title.

Or do they?

I discovered recently that there are authors who do indeed come up with a title first, adding the story afterward. I happened to be snooping around in a writers’ chat room the other day; you know, one of those internet sites where people group together to discuss whatever may be the topic. Anyway, the question was asked: When do you come up with the title, before or after the story is written?

Okay, so call me old fashioned. I’ve always written the story before deciding on a title. It just makes sense to me. I write a story, get the rewrites out of the way, develop a feel for the content, and decide on what to call the work. I’ve never considered starting with a title and crafting a tale according to it. That very idea seems so foreign to my way of thinking.

But here’s the kicker: nearly half of those commenting on that thread claim to start with a title first. How does this work? I mean, do these authors sit around dreaming up titles to turn into stories? I can see this as a practical means in the case of a low-budget film.

“Hey Bob,” Danny said, speaking over the drone of silliness filling the room. “I have a great idea for a movie called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” The title is self-explanatory. There’s little need to plot out something so ridiculous. Just write the script and surely somebody in Hollywood will green light the project.

Books and short stories are different, though. Novels take time in plotting, outlining, and writing. Certainly the title wouldn’t reveal itself until everything is in place, right?

The title for my debut novel Jazz Baby didn’t come about until the week I sent the manuscript to the publisher. Even then it came down to a pair of titles—the loser being the moniker In the Time of Jazz.

The way I see it, until the story is written, nobody, not even the author, fully realizes the personality of the work. Once the story is finished, the plot and all those characters—the story’s personality—shines through, giving the author a clear understanding of what the story is truly about. This is why so many people get nicknames in life. Personality traits that weren’t recognizable at birth take time to show up.

But the thing is, starting with the title apparently works for some authors. So who am I to disparage another writer’s means to an end? Just write. That’s what we authors do, isn’t it? It’s the end result that counts.

And just for the record, the title of my work-in-progress, The Secret Collector, came about at the fifth chapter. Certainly not the beginning, sure, but not the end either.

Just write. A productive writer is a happy writer.