Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Reflections on Holiday Shopping Revisited

Holiday shopping is in high gear. Today is the first day of Chanukah. It will soon be followed by Christmas, all of which brings a flurry of shopping.


The where and how of holiday shopping plagues many of us. Nothing can quite compare with the yearly ritual of holiday shopping, which theoretically begins on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. However, in actuality it begins much earlier, of late right after Halloween. In fact, the way things are going, pretty soon the stores will start putting up tinsel on the 4th of July.

 The frenetic pace of mall madness increases unabated throughout December. The shopping itself takes on such dimensions that with many people the material overwhelms the spiritual aspect of the holidays.

But before the shopping can even begin, there is the business of finding parking at The Mall. Holiday shoppers know when they are nearing this location because traffic becomes as thick as an ant colony, and jockeying for position starts in earnest. Inevitably, a type "A" personality loses patience and aggressively pulls out on the shoulder of the road, speeds ahead, then forces his/her way into the regular stream of traffic. This individual manages to gain perhaps four or five car lengths to ultimately beat the traffic light, forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes and come to an abrupt halt. A cacophony of horns proceeds to announce the general agitation.

Arriving at the mall, one is treated to a breathtaking sight—an unending sea of automobiles. There is quite literally not a parking spot to spare. And so begins the art of cruising for a space. This can be compared to the choreography of a ballet. Automobiles pirouette and arabesque around the lot.

Inevitably, there is a car waiting in each aisle for someone to pull out. Often there are two vehicles set to swoop down like vultures. The poor driver who must pull out of the spot has a serious dilemma: which way to go? One or the other of the waiting drivers must be disappointed, only to drive off angrily, perhaps offering the middle finger salute. Definitely not showing proper holiday spirit! (More like the gunfight at Okay Corral)Drivers keep cruising, ready to dive like kamikaze pilots when they find a likely target--barely avoiding fender benders--a holiday miracle in itself. No matter how many spaces exist, there are never enough.

Another technique involves following those who are leaving. Sometimes these shoppers are merely putting away their packages and return to the Mall for further exploration. Then there is the individual, fully aware someone is waiting for his/her parking spot, who decides this is a good time to sit and light up a cigarette, fiddle with the car radio, or begin a philosophical discussion on the meaning of life with someone they've conjured on a cell phone.

Most amazing of all are those who decide to grab the closest parking spot. I'm talking here about nabbing the spaces set aside for the handicapped. These artists fall into several categories. First are those who have no physical impediment whatsoever but park illegally because they don't want to continue cruising. We have no trouble spotting them as they run out when the police start ticketing. The second category: those who somehow obtained handicapped stickers yet can move like gazelles, either had some impediment but are over it and kept their stickers, or obtained them illegally in the first place. There seem to be a growing number of these talented artists who we may refer to as prima donnas.

With so many people claiming the right to place handicapped stickers in their automobiles, I am waiting for the time when non-handicapped signs will be issued instead.

After managing to obtain a parking spot and reaching the Promised Land of the Mall, we are greeted by a chorus of Hallelujah from the sound system. Unfortunately, by this time, we are almost too weary to shop.

When Chanukah and Christmas come and all the gifts are finally handed out, matters are not in the least resolved, as a good portion of those gifts will end up being returned soon after. (The heaviest shopping day of the entire year is December 26th) So just when we think our holiday shopping is finally done, it's only just begun!

Then there's the matter of re-gifting. That's the most bizarre ritual of all. This refers to presents that don't come with any clue as to where they were purchased. Even Sherlock Holmes would scratch his head in perplexity.

These are gifts that no one in their right mind would want to keep: purple plaid socks, perfume that would make a skunk turn up its tail in disgust. Well, you get the picture! So what does one do with such odious presents? Naturally, we save them and give them to those who have given us their re-gifts. You know you've gone full cycle when one of your re-gifts is gifted back to you.

So how do we avoid mall madness? More people than ever are turning to online shopping. A good friend told me the other day that she has neither the time nor the health to shop other than via the internet. So what are good gifts that won’t put you in hock for the rest of the year and can be purchased conveniently?

I would like to suggest that books are excellent gifts to give. You don’t have to run around. You can make your selections in comfort. And you don’t have to spend your life savings. There’s a perfect book for everyone, whether a bestseller or something from an unknown author. There are a multitude of useful nonfiction titles: perhaps a cookbook, a book on home repairs, or history. Fiction provides many choices such as romance, mystery, or thriller. Children’s books are more appealing than ever.

Naturally I’m going to recommend my backlist as well as my current book THE BURNING which I believe is a good choice for both male and female readers. It combines fiction with nonfiction and is available in both print and ALL e-book formats. 

You can check it out here:

What are your feelings regarding holiday shopping? Do you shop online or prefer to shop in person?  Do you give books as gifts? Do you consider books good gifts? What books would you like to recommend, either your own or those of others? Thoughts and comments most welcome!



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is Our Love Affair With Digital Over?

In a recent Opinion piece in The New York Times Sunday edition, David Sax wrote that “Our Love Affair With Digital Is Over”. He goes on to observe that: “Sales of old-fashioned print books 
are up for three years in a row, according to the Association of American Book Publishers, while ebook sales have been 
declining.”

Angela Hoy, publisher of WritersWeekly.com, made a similar observation in a recent newsletter but concluded:
“Authors need to offer both electronic and print editions 
to their readers to attract the largest readership.” 
 
Sax ends his Times article by acknowledging that 
we do not have to make a simple choice between 
digital and analog but rather need to balance the two. 
 
I personally prefer reading print books. However, I read many digital books as well. As a writer, I am not happy unless my work appears both in print and digital editions.

Purchasing hardcover books can be expensive. These days, I generally borrow them from the library. One of the benefits of digital books is that they are so much lower in cost. Also, they are convenient to use on devices.

In addition, there’s the matter of space. Unless you have a large house, bookcases can become overcrowded and your living space becomes cluttered with print editions. When we downsized from a house to an apartment, I was forced to give away several thousand print books. It was painful.


As a writer, I am pleased that many of my more recent books are also available as e-books that are low in price. Current example: THE BURNING which is available both in print and all e-book formats.



What is your opinion? Do you prefer print over digital books? Do you like them equally well? Which are you inclined to purchase?



Saturday, November 18, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway for THE BURNING by Jacqueline Seewald

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. I look forward to
spending time with my family, children and grandchildren.
In the spirit of the holiday, my publisher is offering a gift.

Annorlunda Books is sponsoring a giveaway of a print copy of my latest work, THE BURNING, on Goodreads. (The giveaway ends on November 25th.)

You can register for it at:


This novella is a perfect choice for holiday reading and is available in print and all e-book formats.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And now it’s time for me to start my shopping for the holiday.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Giveaway Winners Announced

Last week, I offered a free copy of my novella THE BURNING in celebration of this new publication. Today I’m announcing that two readers have been selected as winners. They are:

Betty Gordon

Susan Coryell


Good news for readers! The publisher, Annorlunda Books, will soon be offering a giveaway of THE BURNING via Goodreads beginning at the end of this week.

http://annorlundaenterprises.com/books/the-burning/


You can check out reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

THE BURNING: Publication Announcement and Giveaway

It gives me great pleasure to announce that today, November 8th 2017, THE BURNING is officially published by Annorlunda Books. To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a print or digital copy of this new release as preferred.

Drop a comment here if you want to be entered for a copy, and include an e-mail address for contact. A giveaway winner will be chosen at random in one week.

The Burning is based on a play I wrote that won the Playhouse 22 Playwrights Award (in the late 1980’s) and was performed on stage.


THE BURNING is faction--part fact, part fiction, about what happens to a family in Pennsylvania as the result of a coal fire burning under the town. Members of the Ferris family face his or her personal hell, barely coming through it alive, forced to acknowledge painful truths. It’s based on real events that occurred in Centralia. Unfortunately, such problems continue to plague coal-mining communities in different places. And there are no easy answers.

The publisher has provided this novella with the following blurb:

George Ferris has worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family without going into the coal mines that shortened his father’s life. Now, a slow-moving catastrophe is threatening to take it all away. How far will he go to protect everything he has worked for? And will he realize what really matters before it is too late? Inspired by true events.
Here is a brief excerpt from the novella:


George drove home on autopilot, detached, barely aware of his surroundings. The talk with Baines kept turning over in his head. He’d worked so hard for so many years to provide a good life for his family. Was that going to end now? The whole thing seemed crazy. Could some underground fire wreck his life and that of his family? He shook his head, refusing to accept this as inevitable.
The living room of George Ferris’s house usually offered a refuge, but he didn’t want to walk inside yet. Instead he stood in the front hallway praying for composure while silently lurking. He could see Amy was sitting on the sofa attentively reading a book, feet tucked under her.
Every so often, she coughed. Liz came into the room. She was dressed in brown slacks and a casual cream-colored blouse. He admired how beautiful his wife was. With her natural good looks, she wore very little make-up and didn’t need it. George was reminded of how much he loved her. Liz was the real deal. What would this news do to her? She deserved so much better in life. For a few minutes, he watched Liz straightening up the room, but then she stopped to listen to Amy’s recurring cough.

THE BURNING is now available both in print and as an e-book. Check out the details from the publisher at: 

or:
https://www.amazon.com/Burning-J-P-Seewald/dp/1944354263 


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-burning-j-p-seewald/1127102724?ean=9781944354268 
 
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-burning-38
 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753033


Thanks for dropping by! Comments welcome.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Curious Mystery


Blogger keeps statistics on the number of views or hits that posts receive. Not long ago one of my posts received over 16,300 views. I confess this was unusual for me. I am far from a famous author. And so I am still not certain why this happened. Honor bright, I couldn’t discover a reason for that much interest in a single post I’d written. The blog is titled “Ten Tips for Writing Short Fiction that Sells.”

I googled in an effort to discover why this happened. Had an influential individual recommended the blog? Are there that many fellow writers interested in getting info on success in short fiction writing? I thought the second might be possible because I hear from a lot of editors that they are overwhelmed by the number of submissions as never before. I credit this to the ease of using the internet for submissions these days. However, Google gave me no clues to solving this mystery.

I would very much appreciate your input. So if you have a possible solution for this puzzle, let me know. With so many blogs on the net these days, no one can expect to draw a great many readers. But, needless to say, they are very welcome!



Monday, October 16, 2017

Novellas: Dead or Alive? By Jacqueline Seewald

Recently THE WRITER MAGAZINE ran an excellent article entitled “Novellas:  Stepping stone to success or waste of time?” Since my novella THE BURNING is now available in pre-order and will be published November 8th, I kind of like to think this is not a dead art form. Or as Mark Twain so cleverly quipped: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Just so you know, a novella is written fictional prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, and usually somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 words, although it can be a bit longer or shorter.

For those who would like to try writing in this length, be aware that novellas are more complex than short stories yet leaner and more focused than novels. 

In a NEW YORKER article in 2012, Ian McEwan stated:
“I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction.” Yet even famous writers like Stephen King have lamented that the novella gets no respect (forgive me for borrowing, okay stealing, Rodney Dangerfield’s best line). 

THE ATLANTIC also ran an interesting article in April 2012 about the return of the novella in which Joe Fassler described it as “an unfairly neglected literary art form practiced for centuries by celebrated writers.”

It is true that the novella hasn’t been a particularly commercially successful format. Too long for most magazines and journals, yet too short to satisfy novel publishers, the genre can languish. Still, my first novella, LETTER OF THE LAW, was published with some enthusiasm last year in SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE.


 I was also fortunate to find a publisher who found my novella THE BURNING worthy of publication. Now I have to hope it will also find a readership. Simple enough? Don’t I wish!

As mentioned, on November 8th, THE BURNING will be published by Annurlunda Enterprises. The Burning is based on a play I wrote that won the Playhouse 22 Playwrights Award (in the late 1980’s) and was performed on stage.

THE BURNING is faction, part fact, but also fiction, about what happens to a family in Pennsylvania as the result of a coal fire burning under the town. Members of the Ferris family face his or her personal hell, barely coming through it alive, forced to acknowledge painful truths. It’s based on real events that occurred in Centralia. Unfortunately, such problems continue to plague coal-mining communities in different places. And there are no easy answers.


The publisher has provided this novella with the following blurb:
 George Ferris has worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family without going into the coal mines that shortened his father’s life. Now, a slow-moving catastrophe is threatening to take it all away. How far will he go to protect everything he has worked for? And will he realize what really matters before it is too late? Inspired by true events.

Here is a brief excerpt from the novella:


George drove home on autopilot, detached, barely aware of his surroundings. The talk with Baines kept turning over in his head. He’d worked so hard for so many years to provide a good life for his family. Was that going to end now? The whole thing seemed crazy. Could some underground fire wreck his life and that of his family? He shook his head, refusing to accept this as inevitable.
The living room of George Ferris’s house usually offered a refuge, but he didn’t want to walk inside yet. Instead he stood in the front hallway praying for composure while silently lurking. He could see Amy was sitting on the sofa attentively reading a book, feet tucked under her.
Every so often, she coughed. Liz came into the room. She was dressed in brown slacks and a casual cream-colored blouse. He admired how beautiful his wife was. With her natural good looks, she wore very little make-up and didn’t need it. George was reminded of how much he loved her. Liz was the real deal. What would this news do to her? She deserved so much better in life. For a few minutes, he watched Liz straightening up the room, but then she stopped to listen to Amy’s recurring cough.

THE BURNING is now available for pre-order both in print and as an e-book. Check out the details from the publisher at: 


or:

https://www.amazon.com/Burning-J-P-Seewald/dp/1944354263 
or:

or:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-burning-j-p-seewald/1127102724?ean=9781944354268 
 
or:
 
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-burning-38
 
or:
 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/753033
 
 

Your thoughts and comments most welcome!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Spotlight on Bestselling Author Jennifer Lowery

My guest writer today is New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Lowery. She grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer.  Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side.
Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers.  She loves everything there is about romance.  Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines.  She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love.

Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and charming rescued tomcat named Shamrock. Their son lives near them and is in the Army National Guard as well as a student at a local university. Their daughter is married and lives with her amazing husband who is stationed at Fort Bragg.  When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.



Hello fans and readers! How is everyone today? I’m great. Fall is my favorite season and in honor of that I am offering the second book in my Wolff Securities Series, Not Without Risk, for .99 cents on Amazon, September 30-October 4! Yay! Of course, Kindle Unlimited subscribers always read for free. Keep reading for buy links!

If you haven’t read the first book, Maximum Risk, no worries. These are standalone books as well as part of a series. You don’t have to read them in order, but I recommend it. Simply because you will get a fuller character experience by reading them in order.

As a bonus for your continued support and generosity I have including one of my favorite fall recipes. I make these muffins every year and they never last long, lol. Please enjoy the recipe and the .99 cent book!


Not Without Risk Blurb:
He always keeps his promises…

Private security specialist, Nate Wolff promised to rescue humanitarian aid worker, Macy Gibbs, not harbor a fugitive. Determined to keep his promise and not make the same mistakes his brother made, he risks his life to protect her from the terrorist group hunting her.

Keeping this one will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do…

With a bounty on her head for the murder of a man who bought her in an illegal human trafficking ring, Macy Gibbs puts both her life, and the life of the tall, handsome stranger who’s vowed to rescue her, in danger. Emotionally scarred from her ordeal, she trusts no one. But, can the biggest danger she’s about to face be the impact this former SEAL has on her heart?

Not Without Risk Excerpt:

Nate put a hand on Macy’s shoulder. She didn’t stir. Unable to resist, he caressed her cheek. Warm. Not as hot. A good sign. Beneath his hand her skin felt soft as silk. He gently ran his thumb across the fading bruise on her jawline. Anger and the urge to protect and defend surged through him. Except, it felt more personal. Not just a bodyguard protecting his charge. More…
Nope. Not going there. The reasons stuck like a knife in his heart.
He dropped his hand to his side, sobered, and put his thoughts in proper order. First things first. Get Macy dressed, then grab her and go. They may not have confiscated his weapons, but that could be a ruse to keep him off guard.
His supply of clothing for Macy was running low. Only two shirts and one pair of pants left. Foregoing the undergarments, he grasped the edge of the blanket, prepared to dress her and make a run for it.
“Nate?”
The murmured question came from Macy. He froze, his gaze flying to her face to find her eyes open. Glazed, confused.
Letting go of the blanket, he leaned over her. “Hey. I’m here.”
Her beautiful blue eyes that reminded him so much of Bleu Lake back home, met his, radiating with pain. “Don’t leave me. Please.”
The impact of those words went straight through his chest. At that moment, he knew they couldn’t go. Not until she was healthy enough to go. They’d pushed hard already and look where it got them.
Bending, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I’m not going anywhere. Go back to sleep. You’re safe.”
That seemed to work because the tension went out of her muscles and her eyes drifted closed. Seconds later her breathing evened out, indicating she slept peacefully.
Nate straightened and scrubbed a hand down his face. He returned the clothes to his pack, dragged the crude chair in front of the bed and dropped down on it. His Glock now rested across his thigh, finger near the trigger as he settled in.
Whomever, or whatever, came through that door they would have to go through him first in order to get to Macy. And he’d die before he let another person hurt her.

Buy the Book:

And now for the recipe!! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.     Mix pumpkin, vegetable oil and sugar on low speed with electric mixer (I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer).
3.     Add in eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly after each addition.
4.     Add vanilla
5.     In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Slowly add to liquids, scraping sides of bowl to combine.
6.     Make Filling: Mix filling ingredients until combined.
7.     Fill 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
8.     Fill each with pumpkin mixture.
9.     Spoon cream cheese mixture on top and swirl with a skewer or toothpick.
10.           Bake until done.

Connect with Jennifer:
Read more about her books on her website: https://jenniferloweryauthor.com/
Please "like" her Facebook author page! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferLowery/
Sign up on her website with your email and never miss another update from Jennifer: https://jenniferloweryauthor.com/
Join Jennifer’s Street Team: https://jenniferloweryauthor.com/

Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with me today! I appreciate it more than you can know!

Happy Fall,
Jennifer


Your comments for Jennifer are welcome here!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Are Bestsellers Getting Dumber?


According to the September 2017 issue of READER’S DIGEST, bestsellers are indeed dumber. The article demonstrates that the language of the most popular novels today is much simpler than just a few decades ago.

Author Ben Blatt discusses this in his book NABOKOV’S FAVORITE WORD IS MAUVE from which the article is taken. Blatt collected every digitized number one NEW YORK TIMES bestseller from 1960 to 2014 and ran the Flesch-Kincaid test on all 563 of them. His research maintains that most books meant for a general audience fall within the 4th to 11th grade range as do all of the bestsellers. In the 1960’s, the median book had a grade level of 8. Blatt’s research places today’s median grade level at 6. Interestingly, bestsellers at the lowest score range (grade 4.4) were written by three high volume writers who generally top the bestseller list: James Patterson, Janet Evanovich and Nora Roberts.

Blatt also breaks down books by genre. Thrillers and romances are singled out in particular for what he calls the “dumbification” of popular fiction. Stephen King, Danielle Steel and Harlan Coben all rank at or below 6th grade reading level.

However, Blatt doesn’t castigate these writers for using simple language. Popular writers want to embrace the masses, to reach as many readers as possible. He sees this as a good thing.


As a writer, the advice I’ve run across most frequently is to use language that is clear, concise and simple. George Orwell said it best: “Good prose should be transparent, like a window pane.”

 Yet as a former teacher as well, I have observed that the interest and ability to read has diminished to some extent in our society, at least in my lifetime. Perhaps you disagree or agree?

Your thoughts welcome here.



Monday, August 21, 2017

Ten Tips on Writing Short Fiction that Sells

First of all, do I have the proper credentials for writing this article? I’ll let you decide. I’ve written well over a hundred short stories, most of which have sold to paying markets and some of which have also sold as reprints.

My latest short story is featured in the current summer issue of HYPNOS MAGAZINE, (Volume 6, Issue 2), a print anthology. I’ve had short stories published in HYPNOS for the past three years.

 Stories published in HYPNOS are described as “weird.” I prefer the terms imaginative, dark fantasy or perhaps speculative. Anyway, if this type of genre interests you, HYPNOS is a great publication to which to submit your work. You don’t have to be famous. Just submit a good story.


                      http://radiumtownpress.com/store.html

I’ve learned some things that I believe help sell fiction and which I’ll share with you.

Tip One:

There are two ways to go about this. You can write for a specific market following their guidelines and requirements or you can write the story you want to write and then look for a market that is appropriate. I suggest the latter choice--unless you are specifically invited to submit your work by an editor for a themed anthology or magazine issue. My reasoning is that you should write what you really enjoy. Your passion will show in your work. That will give you an edge.

Tip Two:

You are unlikely to sell short stories unless you’ve read a great many of them. This will give you an instinctive grasp of the genre. If you don’t enjoy reading short fiction, you shouldn’t bother writing them. It will show.

Tip Three:

 Don’t assume that because short stories are brief in length that they are easy to write. In reality, it takes discipline to write a good short story and sheer brilliance to write a great one. Short stories are focused works of fiction, just as Poe explained.

Tip Four:

You need to decide the type of short fiction you intend to write. Do you love literary short stories? Try then to write one of your own. Are you into speculative fiction? Do you enjoy science fiction, horror, or fantasy? Are you a mystery writer? Read some of the best both past and present before you attempt your own.  However, be aware that each genre has its own type of content and style. Mashups are acceptable, but first know the rules of each genre before you attempt to mix them. Do the research before you start to write.

Tip Five:

Whether writing short fiction or a novel, you need to consider the basics: plot, setting, characters, and theme. Analyze how they fit together in your story. One hint: limit the number of characters in a short story to just a few so you can develop each properly.

Tip Six:

Also consider point of view. For instance, who is telling the story? Will this story work best in first or third person? Why? Is the narrator sophisticated, jaded, innocent, naïve? The style and choice of language need to reflect these considerations.

Tip Seven:

When you finish writing your story, put it away for a while and go on to another project. Wait at least one month, then reread and revise as needed. You are now the editor. You will see the need for changes and improvements.

Tip Eight:

When you are ready to submit your story for publication, carefully read all the submission guidelines. You really have to follow them exactly. Each market has its own unique requirements.

Tip Nine:

Avoid writing only for “exposure” if possible. There actually are paying markets that encourage beginners who are without publishing credits.

Tip Ten:

Don’t be afraid to try writing in more than one genre or style. The great thing about short story writing is that you can be experimental.

Tip Eleven: (I’m throwing an extra one in) Don’t get discouraged by rejections. All of us receive our share.The competition is fierce. If an editor is generous enough to provide some suggestions, consider using them to improve your work. Then resubmit to another publication. Never, ever give up on your writing if it’s something you really want and need to do!

Your thoughts and comments welcome here!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Spotlight on Author C.A. (Christine) Verstraete

C.A. (Christine) Verstraete is my special guest writer today. The author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter adds a new dimension to the real-life Lizzie Borden murder mystery with a new short mystery also set in Fall River, MA.
The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden's Fall River, lets the Borden's doctor and neighbor share his side of the story following the gruesome murders. Saturday, August 4 marked the 125th anniversary of the 1892 Borden murders.
The supernatural-flavored mystery (141 pages) is on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in print. http://getBook.at/HauntingofDrBowen
Author website: http://cverstraete.com
About The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden's Fall River:
Gruesome deaths haunt the industrial city of Fall River, Massachusetts.
Dr. Seabury Bowen—physician to the infamous Lizzie Borden—swears he’s being stalked by spirits, though his beloved wife thinks it’s merely his imagination. But the retired doctor insists that neither greed nor anger provoked the recent sensational axe murders in Fall River. Rather, he believes the city is poisoned by bad blood and a thirst for revenge dating back to the Indian and Colonial wars.
Now, two years after the Borden murders, Dr. Bowen is determined to uncover the mysteries stirring up the city’s ancient, bloodthirsty specters. Can he discover who, or what, is shattering the peace before Fall River runs red? Or will he be the next victim?
Part mystery, part love story, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen reveals the eerie side of Fall River as witnessed by the first doctor on the scene of the legendary Borden murders.


What made you want to write about Dr. Bowen – and who is he?

I really enjoyed learning more about the Borden murders in writing my first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. I am working on a sequel, but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun writing something a bit different about the Borden murders. The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden's Fall River, offers a more supernatural-flavored aspect to the story and Lizzie’s hometown by focusing on the Borden family’s doctor and neighbor.
          The doctor was the first official who arrived at the Borden’s home located kitty-corner from him at 92 Second Street. As you read the trial testimonies, it almost seems like he was protecting Lizzie. Some of the newspaper reports even mention his favorable reactions to her.
This was the OJ crime of the 19th century. It caught the public’s imagination and continues to fascinate people today. That’s what makes it so interesting to write about – the real life facts are horrific and unreal enough, of course, that no embellishment is needed. But it definitely gives a writer ideas to expand on.

You wrote about zombies in the first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. What made you take a different approach this time? And why zombies?


I still love writing about zombies and will have a new Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter short story coming out soon. With the Dr. Bowen book, I wanted to write a story that adds a different dimension and focuses more on the supernatural and paranormal. The Borden murders were so gruesome that I started wondering, what if the doctor was haunted by that day? It also ties into some real-life past events, some that I twisted a bit to fit the story. Did you know that there was also another axe murder around the time of the Borden murders, too? Any zombie stories will be tied into the Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter theme, I am also working on Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter2.

Here’s an excerpt: from The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden's Fall River:
Prologue
   
    “Never did I say to anyone that she had died of fright. My first thought, when I was standing in the door, was that she had fainted.”
—Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, Trial of Lizzie Borden, June 8, 1893


 Why won’t anyone believe me? Why, Phoebe, why?”
Dr.  Seabury Bowen shoved back the shock of white hair hanging over his forehead and wiped a wrinkled hand across his stubbled chin.
    His appearance, like his surroundings, could stand a bit of major housekeeping, not that he cared a whit.
“Here, it’s here somewhere,” he mumbled.
  The old man rummaged among the giant pile of documents, books, and what-not littering the large walnut desk in his study. Several minutes later, and after the search through dozens of loose papers, he saw the faded red book lying beneath a tottering pile. He pulled at it, sending the rest of the stack falling like so much unwanted garbage.
    The good doctor, but a shadow of his once- robust self, flipped the pages. He stared at the offending journal entry before setting the book aside with a heartrending sob.


Chapter One
   
    “I saw the form of Mr. Borden lying on the lounge at the left of the sitting-room door. His face was very badly cut, apparently with a sharp instrument; his face was covered with blood.”
—Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, Trial of Lizzie Borden, June 8, 1893

   The man reached toward him with long, lean fingers. Dr. Seabury Bowen blinked and tried to make out the features of the unknown figure standing in the corner. The unexpected visitor had a broad, dark face and what looked like a band across his forehead. Bowen stretched out his arm in turn and jumped when their fingers touched, the jolt surging through him like the electricity he knew would soon replace all the gas lights.
    “Seabury, dear, are you all right?” His wife, Phoebe, sounded concerned. “What’s wrong?”
    Bowen breathed hard. He bolted upright and held a hand on his chest, trying to catch his breath. Still stunned, he gazed about the room, disturbed at the odd shapes until he recognized familiar things… the bureau, the armoire, the paintings on his bedroom walls. He swallowed and nodded.
     “Ye-yes. I-I’m fine. A bad dream, that’s all it was. Just a dream.”
    “A bad dream? Dear, you’re breathing so hard, your heart must be pounding like a drum in Mr. Sousa’s band! Are you sure you’re fine?”
    The doctor took his wife’s hand and kissed it, relieved to feel his heartbeat return to normal. He had to admit his reaction worried him for a minute, too. “I’m fine now, Phoebe. Really, it’s all right. Go back to sleep. I’m too wrought up to rest. I think I’ll go downstairs and read awhile.”
    He gave her a loving smile before he rose and slipped on his robe, his thoughts in a whirl. To tell the truth, these dreams or hallucinations or whatever they were appeared to be getting stronger and more frequent. Not that he’d tell her, of course. It made Bowen wonder if he was losing touch with his faculties, something he’d never dare mention. Nor did he want to even entertain the thought, but he did. Am I going mad? Am I?



Thanks for letting me spend some time with your readers!

Questions and comments for Christine are welcome.