Mindspeak/Heartspeak by Sandy Nathan Summary: Dr. Clarisse Hull is a brilliant theoretical physicist living in a world of schemes and hidden peril. Her revolutionary research manages to prove the existence of alternative universes, and she… More
The Shooter (a short story by DL Sullivan)
“I’m gonna count to 3, and then I start shooting!” I said. The man’s grin widened with confidence as though he knew a secret that would ultimately save him.
I was determined to right the wrong he had committed on the little blond-haired girl standing behind me. The look of sadness that suffused her small face had nearly broken my heart.
My face felt flushed from the anger I felt inside. I couldn’t stand by and let this happen to this precious little girl without reprisal for the man’s callous actions.
I had checked the gun I grabbed from the top of the short wall separating us. I smirked as I saw that he had changed the sight on the gun to shoot a little to the left of center. My experience years earlier in the Special Forces came in very handy now. I could have stripped this gun down to its individual parts and reassembled it with my eyes blindfolded.
His smile faltered as I counted, “One.”
The man’s seemingly calm, smug smile couldn’t hide the hint of worry on his face. The corners of his mouth twitched ever so slightly in a nervous tick. Sweat was beading on his upper lip despite the cool evening air.
I stared directly into his gray eyes as I counted, “Two.”
He straightened from his casual slouch. His eyes darted from side to side looking for a way to escape his fate.
“Three,” I said with finality. I quickly raised the gun, aimed a little to the right of center, and fired.
The man jerked violently when the gun went off. The look of surprise on his face was a joy to see as the bell rang loudly, indicating I had hit the target square in the middle of the bullseye.
“We’ll take that giant teddy bear, now,” I said with a satisfied smile.
The carney looked dumbfounded as he reached for the bear sitting behind him. I swear, I think the bear was smiling, too. With a look of defeat on his face, he took the bear in both hands and slowly handed the bear to me over the short wall of the booth.
I turned around and held the bear out to the little girl. The look of delight on her face as she took possession of the bear filled me with joy.
I would remember this day for a very. long. time.
Twice a month a member of my writing group comes up with a sentence, piece of dialogue, phrase, or concept and challenges us to use it to create a short story, poem, or opening chapter to a book in any genre.
It’s a fun way to push ourselves and stretch our writing talents. It’s also a fun way to give ourselves permission to try out genres that we might otherwise shy away from. For instance, I primarily write fantasy and paranormal books, but I love to read mysteries and thrillers. This little game gives me a chance to try writing the opening for a mystery, thriller, western, or any other type of book without the pressure. After all, it’s a game…it’s all in fun. And if it happens to lead to another book or a publishable short story, then all the better.
What I also love about this game is how many ideas can spring from a simple sentence, phrase, or piece of dialogue. We each get about a week to come up with an idea and rough it out before presenting our results to the group. Some writers may have a single idea; others, two or three ideas; and still others, may come up blank. It’s okay, though, because it’s not a contest, just a helpful exercise to get your brain thinking in different ways.
“I’m gonna count to 3, and then I start shooting!”
That was the prompt for the game we got at our last meeting. What can you come up with using that? What story or images does that bit of dialogue spark in your mind?
In a couple of days I will present three of the results based on this bit of dialogue. In the meantime, see what you can come up with, and feel free to post them as part of the comments, or on your own blog…
I always love to see what ideas people can find in something so simple as the sentence above.
Most authors are not sales people. We tend to be loners and introverts, rather than extroverts and life-of-the-party types. Because of this temperament, many of us find that selling our books doesn’t come easily. Yet, without a bit of marketing, our books and other writings are unnoticed and often overlooked.
For each reader out there, there are at least a 1000 books that “hit the shelves” every day. Yet, without something to entice readers to find them, most of these books may never find a single reader, and many may only be found by the author’s friends and family. Yet, every book has 4 free, built-in sales and marketing points that many of us authors overlook.
Every time you, as the author, publish one of your works, you need to provide:
- A book cover
Think about it. What makes potential readers select a book written by an unknown author from an overwhelming list of unknown authors? The cover. Whether at a brick and mortar book store or online, a winning cover can make potential readers stop and check out your book. You need to create a cover that is unique and eye-catching, but the design also has to visually convey what your book is about. If your story is about space exploration, don’t show an image of a haunted house. And if it’s about vampires, don’t use space ships (well…unless it’s a book about space vampires). Worst of all, though, don’t give potential readers a blank cover with just the title and your name on it. That says you don’t care enough about the readers to even try to entice them.
- A book synopsis
I remember at a book conference, one of the guest author panelists said, if you can’t summarize your story, then you don’t understand your own plotline. What is the main arc of your story? What is it your characters are trying to do, solve, resolve, or accomplish? But don’t get side-tracked by subplots, just summarize the main idea of your story.
Every distribution site I’ve seen asks authors to provide a summary of the book (some even ask for two summaries—a long summary consisting of 1000 words, and a short summary containing only 200 words). That’s where you can really shine; after all, writing is what you do, right? So, give the reader something great.
If a potential reader has stopped to consider your cover, the next thing that reader will want is an overview of what the book is about. Give your potential readers the high-points of the story; give them a reason to want your book over someone else’s. There are millions of science fiction, romance, and murder mystery stories out there, why should they read yours?
- An author write up
Many readers also want to know something about you, the author. They want to know who you are and what makes you tick. They need to know what makes you worthy of their time, or what qualifies you to be an author on a specific topic? However, when you answer these questions, don’t go overboard, yet don’t be too skimpy, either.
Some authors feel that they need to include their whole resume in their author bio; while others feel they don’t need to include any information at all. The truth of it is, many readers of fiction and non-fiction want a way to relate to you as a person; it helps them decide whether they want to give your work a chance. For instance, if you put in your author bio that you love chocolate, potential readers can go, “Ooooh, so do I.” Or perhaps you are a volunteer, a mother, or a person who rescues animals, if it relates to your book topic, tell the reader. It helps them relate to you, and it helps them accept that you just might know something about your book topic.
You especially need to include some biographical information if the book is non-fiction. That’s because potential readers are even more insistent on knowing that the author is someone they can trust to give them information on this particular topic. Potential readers want to know that if the book is about art history that you have the knowledge, background, or credentials to write knowledgably about that topic.
- A book sample
Some authors shy away from including book samples. Perhaps they feel they don’t need to give away their hard work. Yet, how else can potential readers gauge whether your writing style and their reading styles will mesh? How do they know they want to travel the story world with you as their guide if they can’t see your writing style? In a brick and mortar store, a reader can always pull the book off the shelf and read a sentence, a paragraph, or even several chapters. If you don’t give them the same chance when shopping online, then you’re tossing away possible sales.
As an author, you need to give the reader every possible chance to find you, find out about you, and to find out about your characters and your story. Personally, as a reader, the above-mentioned 4 items are key to whether I’ll buy your book. So, make sure you include them; because, when you use them, and use them well, you make your book shine.
“How to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerk” by Bruce Kasanoff
Summary: This book purports to help you promote yourself and your service or product by showing you how to be the best you you can be.
Review: the book is primarily a collection of insights based on common sense. Yet, even common sense isn’t always common or easily recognized when it pushes you to step outside your comfort zone.
This book holds your hand as you step beyond your self-doubts and venture into that world of “I am worth it.”
Unlike most similar books, Mr. Kasanoff actually explains how to take these baby steps. He doesn’t just tell you that you need to be generous, he explains some of the ways you can be generous and still end up promoting yourself. For instance, his first chapter (which is entitled, “Help This Person”) explains how you can help yourself by helping others (really helping others, not just going through the motions). He makes it seem so easy that you wonder why you hadn’t thought of it yourself. In fact, I found myself nodding along as I read, while thinking, “I can do that.” One of the examples he gives of helping others to help yourself is this: when the phone rings on a busy day, don’t get frustrated by the interruption. Instead, think about how you can help the person who is calling…really help them. When you help them, they remember you (in a positive way). Then when you need help, they want to return the favor.
All his chapters are like this. Each one helps you determine how to be the kind of person other people want to help, want to promote, and want to remember.
It’s a fast read, but one read-through isn’t enough. This is the type of book you will find yourself referring to over and over again.
Amazon.com finally caught up with the other distributors, so now you can get Mastering Meditation free for your Kindle, too. Try some of the different meditations from the book, and see which of them works for you.
Do you wonder what types of lives you might have lived previously, or what lives you might live in the future? Using the regression and progression meditation techniques included in the book can help you find out. The book also contains some examples of past and future life memories.
So, download your free copy today, and happy reading! (Please don’t forget to write up a review and post it ; )
Many well-known authors will admonish new authors and wannabe-authors to read, read, read. Yet, what many of them fail to make clear is why reading is so important. You’re not reading simply for the fun of it (although, that certainly helps); you’re actually reading to learn.
You need to select books that may not normally appeal to you; you need to look outside your genre and your preferences, but most off all, you need to read with awareness. You need to do more than just enjoy the story, you need to be aware of what you are reading. You need to notice the broad strokes and the details; understand and note the word choices; listen to the cadence of the author’s speech patterns; notice how the author sets the pace and note the story’s structure; pay attention to the characters and their actions and reactions; and hear the overall voice of the story. If you don’t read with awareness, you may fail to learn anything about why the book appeals or fails to appeal to you.
Enjoying books is great—I’ve enjoyed reading and books since I was about 2 or 3; however, like any artist, you need to study others in your field so that you can understand what and how they do what they do. Writing, to me, can be every bit as complex and mystifying as a magic trick. While you’re busy watching the characters over here, the author is quickly rearranging the sets and hiding clues over there. Therefore, to see the tricks as the magician (or author) is performing them, you need to keep your eyes and your mind open.
Some readers claim there is a formula or a predetermined framework to how stories are created, and, in some cases, that may be so. I think all good mysteries, romances, and thrillers follow a certain pattern or flow. However, I think a great story takes those same frameworks or formulas and stands them on their heads, but an author can’t do that until he or she fully understands what all the nuances and tricks are to writing a good story, first. Once you’ve discovered the secrets to building a good story, you can easily create a great one by tweaking the rules to suit yourself.
But how do you learn that formula or where can you get a copy of that structure? By reading and writing. Reading helps you identify the building blocks of a story. It shows you what is good (and bad) about plot and character development, about pace and flow, and about how much truth is required to make that fictional piece feel so real. Reading with awareness helps you see those ‘magic tricks’ so you can understand what to emulate and what to avoid when you build your own books. As you read through a story you can note the pace, the sentence and paragraph structure, and the different facets of the overall tone and voice of the piece. You need to make notes, highlight passages, and, much like you did in those long-ago, dreaded English and Literature courses in high school and college, explain why you like those passages or what is wrong with them. Explain (to yourself) what the theme of the piece was, the character’s motivations, and (yes) even the author’s motivation for writing the piece (and don’t use the old “…because they needed the money…” cop out). Really delve into the story and understand it.
And, if doing this on your own is difficult, then join a book club or reading group. These types of groups can help you refine your reading techniques and your ability to be aware of every part of that book. Reading is fun, but it’s also an exercise in understanding how to build a great story. If you want to learn to be a great author; then take the time to read…everything.
It’s FREE, and it’s coming soon!
Did you ever want to try meditation but didn’t know what type? Or maybe you didn’t know there were different types of meditations? Well, there are. And in my soon-to-be-released FREE book, Mastering Meditation, you can check out the different types of meditation, try some of the different meditations from the book, and see which of them works for you. Do you want to relax? Or are you looking for help or guidance?
Do you wonder what types of lives you might have lived previously, or what lives you might live in the future? Using the regression and progression meditation techniques included in the book can help you find out. The book also contains some examples of past life memories as recalled by me and several others who have used these meditation techniques. So, get ready…this FREE book is coming soon.