ORANGE BARREL DAY - old dogs and new tricks.
I've had a lot of help during the past 2 weeks with regard to marketing. I realized I was spending most of my time marketing to reader and author groups -- but they never responded and my fans rarely saw the promotions. It was time for a change, First I decreased my promo sites from 186 to 76. Gradually I will drop more un til I find a sweet group of under 50 sites. Also Cynthia Carver constructed a lesson for me on how to Create Google Forms. There was an addendum she also recorded but I'm getting to that after this blog. Son you'll be able to order books from Amazon or directly from me if you want autographed copies with my special bookmarks. Prices. I've been told that my ebooks are priced too low at $2.99 to $3.99. What I am hearing is ebooks should be half the paperback price. That would make my ebooks $9.99 if I were to adjust the price. Thoughts? So it's been a busy week. I've been busy writing recently too. As my gift to you, I'm posting the opening paragraphs from four upcoming pieces. On my Facebook page, please go to the labeled post and tell me what you think of each!
Here's a submission for the YA Ghostly Rites. I am not usually a YA writer and I've never been that fond of the genre. I decided to challenge myself. It's a ghost story that becomes something else.
The Green Cabinet Door
The tenth graders at Pearl Boulevard High School were friendly enough my first day at the new school. I hadn’t expected that. I was all set to eat my lunch by myself when a cluster of girls sat down around me.
I stifled a pained sigh.
Here it comes. The teasing and pointy snobby stuff as they began to rank me and show me my place on the bottom rung.
Except that didn’t happen. They just sat down. They did look over their shoulders at this cute boy who was moving over to sit with the jocks.
Intros went around.
“I’m Aliyse Bright.” You know how that goes.
That day I met June, Felicia, Abbie, Gloria and Cynthia. After school we met the cute boy. He was actually Gloria’s twin brother Cosimo. – They were from Italy. They had come here three years ago, but spoke English so well you almost couldn’t tell.
After school, we walked to our homes talking about the weather, the teachers, how cool the school is, and if there was a way to get rid of those awful, big New Orleans roaches.
Felicia, and Abbie said bye, but then everything came to a dead stop when we came to my house.
“Is that your house?” Cosimo’s eyes grew larger and blacker than they already were.
Everyone looked up at the pristine white building with black and burgundy details.
“Uh-Huh, why?” I asked, sipping on the straw in my soda can.
“I didn’t think anyone was gonna buy that place. There’s stories about it.” Cosimo shuffled out of his backpack and dropped it on the sidewalk as if he knew I would ask him more stuff about it – which I did.
“Is it haunted or something?” I asked and thought: Oh the endless possibilities: Me with a Mom who specializes in writing vampire and shifter love stories. It was bad enough Dad got transferred to New Orleans. She’d go crazy to be living in a real haunted house.
“Nah. No way it is.” I shrugged. “Any ghosts in there are either scared, gone, or wusses. Nothing but those stupid roaches and this rat my Mom saw the other day.” I paused, noticing for only an instant that Cosimo was goofy looking but kind of cute.
“I heard it just looks like the old house that used to be there, but that’s what makes it so cool. New house, old vibes. Nobody died there as far as I know.”
“Not that house. The house that was there before was haunted, I heard.” Cosimo insisted.
I paused, sorting through holes in my information. “Dad said maybe a hundred years ago there was a Pearl House, like the name of our school. When Katrina hit, it finished the place off and what didn’t fall down caught fire. The lot was empty for almost ten years. Then someone bought the land and put the house up from old photographs. He has them in a box somewhere.”
“The Rosetta Pearl House.” Gloria, Cynthia and June chorused.
Cosimo bobbed up and down waving his hands like a silly ghost and going “Wooooo” until his sister smacked his arm.My new friends noticed my confused frown as I thought of something else.
“Nobody was living in the old house when the storm came were they?” I hadn’t been born yet and neither had any of my friends, but the pictures of how bad was and how many died were in all the history studies.“No. It was empty – or was supposed to be but folks around here say the Pearl Family ghosts are supposed to be haunting it.”
“Right.” I nodded but still felt less sure of myself “were haunting it.”
Here's a rough draft of a story for an Anthology. I have a couple choices of where it will go. I guess it's up to the editors :-) This one is about the plight of a lonely bus driver about to retire. He's reviewing his life as the story starts.
I believe knew every pothole the city took too long to fix. I knew where each streetlight was out and that it would likely stay that way through the chilly and wet winter and that these random lights would stay out until several weeks into another sweaty, sticky summer. Life on the route. A charted task. I always thought.
The wheeze of the opening bus doors after I bounced and lurched up to each stop was all too familiar. Nothing ever changed about the ride out or the ride back. A few times they put a newer bus on the line that wouldn't break down as often. It would age, abused by roads, stops and passengers. The cycle would begin again. Life was like that too.
Over the years there were a few other changes. The clinky coin deposit that whirled and sorted quarters from half-fare tokens was replaced by a transfer and paper ticket taker. It was quieter and easier for me to drift now.
At the beginning of the route, I was downtown. It was always crowded. Riders squeezed past my worn and cracked pleather seat with tired cushions for my ailing back. They carried parcels, groceries, canes, squirming children and from time to time there was the occasional drunk shambling to a grimy florescent-lit plastic seat.
Even though the city had seen more peaceful and orderly days, there were no fights or rough stuff on my bus. Those were reserved for the weekends and other lines. Long ago, I drove one of those lines. I even got hurt in a shooting too, but I was not crippled by it. I just walked with a limp. For my trouble (They said I was a hero) The Central Dispatch gave me a new route: this quiet 309. It became Mister Charlie's bus
“Three-oh-Nine, Blue Line Southbound” I called out at each stop. Then I’d call out the name of the street and the next one to come.
As most of you know, I've started to write Book 5 of the series Children of Stone. - The Lake of Memory. After the stunning events at the end of Book 4 Heart of the Lotus, I really didn't know which way I was going to go. My original ending was also totally unacceptable. There are spoilers, so if you've read some or all of the books in the series you might not want to look. Personally, I think it'll be okay.
Dreams are important in all the stories. Book 4 began with a glimpse of some distant past. This book starts with a prophetic dream, engineered by a new character self-inserting in Marai's dream of Paradise.
Child of Earth
Say to them: I am a child of Earth and Starry Heaven, but my race is of heaven alone. You know this to be true.
Marai had dreamed of this plenty of times before. He called it the “bower” – a gentle place of healing, sheltered from the world and all the strife he left behind. This time he lay in it on his side beside the gently bubbling stream. A giant tree – a white cypress bigger than he could imagine grew up across the creek, it’s massive trunk, hollow in spots extended into the water. Greenest moss grew partway up and then surrounded the base like a wide skirt.
In his life of seas of sand, and even in his journeys into the grasslands and start of the high Ta-Seti canopy forests at the outer edge of green jungle he had not seen such. In the dream, however, it was familiar as the veins in the back of his hand.
A gentle rush of a breeze loosened the softest pink and white petals from some high up flowering and nearby trees. Glow bugs popped like tiniest orbs and the sound of children laughing grew closer, then further away. He smiled, because for the briefest of moments he thought of “his” children -- the ones he had always wanted. They belonged to him and to Naibe, maybe even to Ariennu somewhere in time. He frowned in his waking moment because Naibe had always been with him, sharing that dream.
He sensed movement behind him and frowned because the steps were quiet like a barefoot dancer’s feet. A hand touched his arm. It was a slim, probably male hand that reminded him of Wserkaf’s expressive hands.
“Wse?” he whispered “How--?” he turned to look back over his shoulder because there was no reason on the Earth or under the sun that Wserkaf should or could be in anything but a dream. The sight of long, coal black hair that trailed hip length brought a thought back to him for another fleeting moment: “Naibe?”
His eyes fixed on a youth with a beautiful and somewhat feminine face, male enough and yet – His frown deepened until the creature beside him giggled in a throaty trilled version of his own laugh. His eyes were wide and amber brown. They flashed golden. He wore a crown styled of grape leaves interwoven with flowers.
“Father?” the youth asked. “Is it truly you?”
Marai sat and shook himself.
“No, this is a dream. I have no child born yet. You said ‘Father’?”
When I originally wrote Going Forth By Day in 2015 it was narrator heavy and filled with a lot of retelling of Voices in Crystal The same POV problems followed me. The first chapter caught the reader up. In the new version I let Ariennu tell what happened in a more active scene.
Chapter 1: Pronouncement
Six days and nothing from you, Marai. I’m tired of lying to Baby One and Bone Woman. Ari sat on the edge of the well, shrouded in her invisibility until the alleyway furor dissipated.
I think they’ve even started lying to each other about not being worried, like me. It was good the first half moon and some. Talking through our stones, you saying it’s alright. Then just nothing? Something bad’s happened.
“You see which way that sorceress went?” a voice followed by several gruff-voiced companions emerged from an alleyway and headed toward the well. Ari hunkered down tightly until she appeared to look like either a shadow or an old woman who had risen for goddess knows what.
I’m good at this now. They won’t find me. She tapped the place where the dark stone in her brow lay. His fault anyway.
Ari thought of the drunken male who had come staggering out of a tavern not long ago. She hadn’t been able to sleep. Leaving Deka and Naibe in their apartment, she had stomped along the waterfront, looking in on the tavern where she had enjoyed some of the patrons before Marai and she had become intimate.
He’ll sense me taking my own pleasure like in the old days, she thought. It’ll make him want to speak to us.
She had been standing in the doorway watching the revelry inside. Men were singing some discordant tune about the king being the best drunk in the land and adding verses about some of the women they knew lying with him. Others were gambling over a senet game.
One of the girls who wore a badly fitting bobbed wig bent over near a man and ground her hips suggestively.
Somehow, moments later, Ari had lost any interest in finding that kind of fun.
Well would you know—she mused. It’s not this stone doing it, it’s you after all, you big fool. She had looked up into the night sky. Girl can’t go have a good time without thinking about you. You know I was that girl I was watching in the tavern all my life not so long ago and my mother before me was nothing but a low waterfront kuna. She sighed, disinterested. Might as well go back and try to get some sleep before sunup.
She had taken a step back and felt hands on her waist drawing her into an embrace.
“Pretty, pretty! Pale girl.” a male voice whispered in her ear. “Got something for you.”
“Not impressed. Get off me.” She snapped, but the grip tightened.
“You out here at this hour? You’re looking for a big hnn to fill you up. Don’t lie to me, ka’t.”
Ari knew it was the last thing the young man had said before his friends found him addled, bleeding from a gash on the throat that taught him a lesson in blood but didn’t do anything fatal, and nurturing a swollen groin.
Oh, and did you notice that teensy-weensy bit of a cover reveal?
This week's new teaser features a scene in which Deka struggles with her subconscious. One part wishes to yield to Marai, the other part knows she can't because he's not the one!
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