Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Year Long Story, Sentence #17

Join in the fun of the Year Long Story, on line by line! Read the complete story so far…, and add your sentence to #17 on the home page.

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February Giveaway!

Legends of Windemere Raffleopter Giveaway kicks off tomorrow! PRIZES! Come celebrate the anniversary of the release of Beginning of a Hero. The first book in the series.

Legends of Windemere

To celebrate the February 27th Anniversary of Beginning of a Hero’s release, I’ve set up a Rafflecopter Giveaway for the month. Great prizes and a lot of fun. Spread the word that this kicks off tomorrow!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My GRL by John W. Howell Blog Tour

Big Launch in 2014 My GRL Fiction Thriller

By John W. Howell

Now available on Amazon a new Fiction Thriller published by Martin Sisters Publishing

my grl5star-shiny-web

My GRL by John W. Howell is fast-paced thriller that shows how your life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. . . It is a well-written story that kept me glued, page after page.” Readers’ Favorite Five Stars – Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi. See the entire review HERE

Click cover to visit Amazon

Blurb:

John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a well-deserved leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the attractive young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission.

Author Bio:

Photo by Tim Burdick

Photo by Tim Burdick

John W. Howell’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes thriller fiction novels and short stories. He also has a three times weekly blog at Fiction Favorites .

John lives on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author Contact:

E-mail: johnwhowell.wave@gmail.com

Twitter: @HowellWave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Warm Fuzzy

warm fuzzy 001

I wish I could have you feel this soft and silky blanket. My daughter bought it for me for Christmas.  My granddaughter, soon to be four, wrapped herself up in it and said, “Grandmother, this feels like love!”

For all my friends in cold places, grab a soft and silky blankie, wrap up in it and feel the love. I wish I could send you the real thing. Better yet, throw one around someone else and share the love.

{{{ WARM FUZZIES}}}

Retirement Plans

JumpingTheShark

I retired early for a couple of significant reasons; stress and drama at work becoming too intense, and a desire to pursue my passions before I was too old to enjoy them.

I didn’t want to wait until I had crippling arthritis to tap the keyboard.

The healthcare industry (at least here in Florida) needs a lot of work from the inside out.

So here I am.

I am reading, researching and writing. I love what I do. I am happier than I have ever been in my life.

I was looking through some articles on retirement and I find two persistent themes.

1)      There are a hundreds of articles telling you how to financially retire early.

2)      Most people are working longer due to improved health and financial need.

So what is it; retire early or retire later?

Here’s the deal. The books that I write are for a mature audience. My audience, like me when I was working, has little time to sit and read. They are busy working and earning money so they can retire…maybe early. Many boomers are just now beginning to retire, at least that’s what I am seeing in the articles I am reading.

One thing that people are saying they want when they retire is, “MORE TIME TO PLEASURE READ.” Yes, they want to travel, pursue their hobbies, but they also want more time to read!

That is a great thing for writers in ANY genre. 

The books that I most enjoy writing are about an era that most young people can’t really relate to.

I don’t write Twilight fan fiction, contemporary romance, or YA anything.

I write literary fiction and historical fiction. The real lives of people who have carved the paths others walk, with hope that new travelers will make those paths broader, safer, cleaner…keep them up and use them as roadways to a better future. It isn’t boring the way history sounds. It is real life drama in the best of times and the worst of times.

I hope that any of you who are looking to retire early to pursue your passions are able to do so.

For those of you that have already begun to pursue your passions, I applaud you for being true to your spirit.

When I was in high school, I had teachers encouraging me to major in journalism in college. I had a $17,000.00 scholarship to go to Wesleyan (a lot of money in the seventies). I was anti-establishment back then. I turned it down to get married, start a family, and work at McDonalds. Divorced and remarried at 19, I think I must have moved twenty times in two years. I was precocious, as many were in that era. Yet, I had no clue where I was going.

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A year later, when I realized that the establishment was about the only way anyone could really support themselves and increase their standard of living, I returned to school. I had a desire to become a psych nurse so I could help people like my mother who committed suicide at the age of 26, and others whom I had known with addiction problems. I went to L.P.N. school first, but you needed an RN license to work psych. I lucked out when a hospital, based on merit earned in vocational school, offered me a scholarship for RN school. So off to University I went. I did have a passion for nursing, a calling.

It wasn’t an easy road to raise three children and go to school in-between pregnancies and nursing children. It took me eleven years to obtain a four year degree despite having excellent grades. I have no regrets, as it was what I needed to do and becoming a nurse, the career experiences, have given me a perspective that I will forever treasure.

Divorced again and single in Florida, with my kids off at college, I had opportunity to live young, but with means. I was glad to have had my children early in life while I could still do cartwheels with them and chase them around the trees. We literally grew up together. We went through some really tough times together. We experienced a lot of joy together. While I am not advocating anyone to live their lives that way, I am saying that there is hope if you find yourself in dire circumstances and feel that things will never change for the better.

Although I have worked all of the high energy, fast paced areas; like ER and CCU, and did get in a few years of psychiatry, the area I am most fond of in retrospect is geriatrics. Why?  Some have told me that it is too depressing…but I never saw it that way. The old people with their stories fascinated me. Often, I would work the night shift when the old timers, who could not sleep, would get up and come to the nursing station between our rounds just to chat.

What fodder for writing! What fuel for my fire!

Years ago, I had regrets that I was not following my dreams to write, regrets that I chose a passion for nursing over journalism.

I have no regrets now.

With three beautiful grown children and two adorable grandchildren, I have had a thirty year plus career in health care, fifty three years of life experiences. God willing and the creeks don’t rise, I have time.

I am retired and living well. I am writing.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
― Henry David Thoreau

 

Sunday Synopsis

caveman-dragging-woman

My weeks have been dragging. It must be the weather. Too chilly for me to get out and about. We are not cold here in Central Florida, but we are not warm either.

Also, I am changing. In my singles days, which weren’t that long ago, (about five years), I was always on the go. I went new places every week, new restaurants, new theaters, new clubs, new beaches. There were new sights and sounds, new people to meet. I was once flying around the country, or out of the country, cruising the Caribbean, exploring fascinating cities, surveying scenic countryside. Camping, boating, hiking, and fishing. I used to work 60 hour weeks and keep up a social schedule on about four hours sleep. I did have more to talk about then. I have gotten lazy and become quite a recluse.

My life is totally different now. I go to Walmart at midnight to avoid the crowd. I get up and go to the grocery store at 7:30 am on a weekday morning to avoid the crowd. I will wait until 10:00-11:00 pm to go six city blocks to my daughters or to run to the 7-11 for a quick stop, just to avoid the traffic. Sometimes I will go a whole week only talking to my husband & daughter and, of course, you guys/gals online. I can sleep an 8 hour night and still curl up for a nap at mid-day.

I like to blame it on marriage and getting old, but I am not certain that I really enjoyed all of the socializing and whirling around when I was doing it. It was exhausting. I rather enjoy the serenity and solitude of staying home, reading, writing, and doing as little as possible. I think I wore myself out. I have become a cave dweller.

My Sunday Synopsis is simple for this past this week. I read some and I wrote some. I cooked and cleaned almost every night and got the laundry done.

This week I plan to schedule my car for an oil change, peddle some books to the indie book stores, and see if I can get my appointment now for my sensory deprivation experience. Maybe this week or sometime over next weekend I can get to Mt. Dora and go to the antique mall, I am looking for a Spirograph for my granddaughter. Not the kaleidoscope app on the iPad, but a real working Spirograph like I had as a kid.

Do they still sell those in the store? Sound like an exciting week?

Cheers to tranquility!  I will change again later, and start complaining about being bored, but for now this is working for me.

A Premium Novel Worthy of Praise

Today I received a hard copy of one of the best books I have read in twenty years, autographed by the author, Patrick O’Bryon.  “Corridor of Darkness” is a book I highly recommend. I am most pleased to have this book in paperbound version. It is a historical thriller set in what becomes Nazi Germany. Patrick is an Indie author and owner of Brantome Press. His book is most professionally done.

I first read it on digital copy, and knew right away that I wanted a paper copy. It is a moving story filled with characters that you will remember forever. The writing style is phenomenal, and one I would like to study. I loved the vivid imagery of pre-war Germany, the manner in which the character personalities developed depth and evolved over the course of the passages.  The pace changes were perfect reflections of a languid aristocratic existence to one of excitement and adventure, fighting to survive in the most perilous of circumstances.

It is a comprehensive, yet intimate, book covering the life of an American reporter, Ryan Lemmon, who becomes a spy, his lusts and loves, youthful adventures as a student in Germany, his personal experiences in discovering the atrocities of the Nazi regime, the darkness and power of the regime, and the dangerous mission to bring both meaningful people and information out of the country. There are twists and turns throughout the book, that shock you with the unexpected. It is blended with colorful history, as the horror of the Holocaust begins to emerge. In the final chapters, you sit on the edge of your seat in suspense, unable to put the book down, turning quickly through the pages in a race to see what is about to happen next. This is a book that everyone should read at least once. I have already read it twice.

According to the U.S. census, 70% of all Americans can trace their roots back to Germany. Most of these people came to this country long before the Holocaust, settling in places as far south as Florida and as far west as California.  The eastern seaboard was inhabited primarily by those with German/Dutch heritage for a full century. Much of the heart of the country became home to those who settled and farmed here. Click on images to enlarge.

Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County

1900 german nationals

My children’s great-grandparents on their father’s side were all German. Great Grandma Schultz, who lived to be 104 years, had parents who came to this country in the late 1800s. Her father built Victorian houses in Detroit. The Strodthoffs came as individuals in their early twenties on board separate boats that docked at Ellis Island. Great Grandpa Strodthoff , a painter, said he went to the docks with his Uncle and they saw the two sisters, Great Grandma and her sister, and he picked out the one that had the widest hips in hopes of having a wife who could easily bear children. They had immigrated in 1921, and kept their thick accents into their eighties.

View of Ellis Island with Liberty island in the background.
View of Ellis Island with Liberty island in the background.

Partick’s words in “Corridor of Darkness” brought back the stories that I recalled from my children’s immediate ancestors, and those relatives whom we visited with in 1985 that had remained in Germany. The relatives had shared some horrific tales and there was envy by many who resented not having been prepared or allowed to leave that country before and during WW II. Several of the old timers had unwittingly surrendered their souls to Nazi service to prevent perishing in a world that they did not fully understand. Others had Jewish friends who disappeared in the night, never to be heard from again. Many assisted those in need.

My daughter, in college, had opportunity, also, to do a study abroad that took her to visit some of these cousins again, and the younger ones all spoke fluent English and had no recollections of their Great Grandparent’s nightmares. At least, they weren’t spoken about.

I applaud Patrick O’Bryon’s literary work and look forward to his next novel, “Beacon of Vengeance”.

Thank you, Patrick! I will read it again and again, so I don’t expect it to remain in this pristine condition. It will most likely become quite dog-eared as I pass it around. I want my grown children to read it.

Read the stellar reviews and get your copy  here today!

You won’t be disappointed.

Update: Scrivener and Me

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I have a brief update on my working with Scrivener to share. I wanted to blame Scrivener for the lack of progress I had with my crime novel. I was writing scene by scene according to the outline. Trying to keep it all organized and fit into the binder as I had set it up, I thought, was stifling my progress, but that’s not true.

I have my new WIP in Scrivener and it is flowing very well. I have a steady pace and there are a couple of tiny features that I am thrilled with. They may not seem like much, trivial in the greater scope of things, but they are a huge asset to me in time management.

First, this little box pops up in the middle of your document when you click a small button at the bottom of your page. You can set your word count for a writing session, or for the document length.

Capture5

If I want to assure 1000 words in a session, it is easy to monitor. See how the little bar at the bottom of the page turns from red, to orange, to yellow to green as you meet your goal. It is small thing, but really useful to me.  I am a very visual person and the color is in my peripheral vision as I type.

The word and character count for each scene/chapter document is also at the bottom center of the page.

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I have set up my binder different from how I had it with the crime novel. Instead of setting up chapter folders and moving between each scene, I have it set up to do a full chapter as a scene.  That is more comfortable to me with a linear writing style, since I prefer it over plotting. It will still set up an outline in my outliner as I move along.

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I can move chapters around in the binder above, break the chapters into scenes if need be, move them around, and edit easily with the split screen as below.

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Gwen Hernandez, author of “Scrivener for Dummies”, has her awesome online classes coming up in February. These are terrific whether you are a novice or a seasoned pro. There is still time to register:

http://gwenhernandez.com/2013/12/19/scrivener-online-courses-now-open-for-registration/

The most exciting thing to me is that when I am all done, I make some adjustments, punch a button and compile a .mobi or .epub for my beta readers.

Funny what excites us, huh?

Profound Appreciation for Your Time

Time2-150x150First, I would like to offer my most sincere appreciation for all of the people who have taken the time to read and review “Red Clay and Roses”. As busy as life is, to know that these 23 people took time out of their hectic schedules to read the book and write thoughtful reviews warms my heart and highly motivates me to continue to write passionately.

There are 20 five star reviews and 3 four star reviews and I can’t even begin to describe the joy found in pleasing a reader with my literary work. I won’t reprint them here, but you can find them here at Amazon.

I don’t know how Amazon decides what should be on page one, but you can go to the bottom and see Newest First. The most current reviews may reflect better the work effort of the edit and revision made in October, 2013.

On Goodreads, the ratings fall from 4.9 to 4.3 and there are 2 three star reviews with the remaining ones being four and five.

Today; however, two things or three things occurred that were most disappointing, but I am not taking it personal.

1) A reader returned a book. I know that it could have been an accidental purchase or a dissatisfied reader. Either way, I was sad to see it.

2) A Goodreads person left a 1 star review. There were no words, just a rating, so I do not know why this reader was dissatisfied. There are sensitive issues in the book from the very start, so it could have been not to her liking. There may have been issues with the negro speak in the three chapters about Moses Grier, that bothered her, as I have read many reviews on other books that spoke to this as an issue. I am speculating and probably don’t need to go there. I am most grateful, that although she was dissatisfied, she did not trash talk the book and I know that she is most certainly entitled to her opinion. I can appreciate that she was honest. I also don’t know if she was able to read the entire book, and for that, I am sorry. I am also disturbed that she is from my home state, as I thought being a regional piece, it might be better received there. Reflecting a brutal past in that area may have been disconcerting. Still, I am grateful, and feel I have been slightly anointed with the realities of authorship.

3) A couple of weeks ago I was turned down for a promo on BookBub. They would like to see more editorial reviews and more reviews in general.  I have encouraged people who have read the book to write reviews. That is as much as I can do about that. I have eight copies out to people that have indicated that they would like to read the book in exchange for an honest review, so those are coming.

Now, on to editorial reviews. Unless you have an in with a famous author, or traditionally publish and get recognized by a worthy newspaper or periodical, you have to PAY for these editorial reviews.  You do expect for them to be honest and professional. I broke down and submitted to Kirkus, although the expense of doing so appalls me. They do have a stellar reputation and I suppose, even though people have told me that they mostly read the reader reviews not the editorial reviews to make up their minds about purchasing books, this was an inevitable necessity if I want to continue to promote in broad reaching venues.

I also submitted to Awesome Indies: an additional expense. I am concerned about that one in as much as I have read their criteria and knowing that I don’t have a, “Clear and Concise” protagonist, and may not meet other points on their check off list, this list being quite long and IMHO, not necessarily “all telling” about the quality of a read…well, it is a risk to take.

Finally, I submitted to Reader’s Favorite. Less expensive at $200.00 for five reviews. This one really sent me to a place that I did not need to go. The first three that have come back have been five star and one has been a four star. I should be happy and quite satisfied. It was disturbing to read one of the five star reviews though and I will tell you why:

For those of you who have read the book, you know that the beginning is set in 1992-93, and the bulk of the story takes place in the 1950s-60s.

I took extra care to provide citations to dates of historical events that affected the everyday people…both in their personal lives and from the larger historical/political events of the times, and described how those were interrelated. They were a significant part of the plot and storyline. Dates clearly marked dozens of passages.

************Possible SPOILER ALERT************

In the bulk of the story that takes place in the 1950s-60s, which is mentioned in the book description, the effects of WW II and the Korean War were explained. Also, these modern people were riding around in convertibles and fancy automobiles and trucks, listening to record players, radios, watching T.V. and going to skating rinks and drive-in movie theaters, they were reading Playboy, Sybil opens a hair salon, Nathan graduates from medical school, Trent has a pawn, radio, bicycle repair shop. Women were just being introduced to the birth control pill. Sybil goes into a treatment facility for alcohol and depression. Her husband is jailed after an encounter with the FBI and the IRS.

These are hardly things anyone would encounter a hundred years earlier, in the 1850-60s. I am thinking pre-Civil War, horse and buggy days.

But one of the reviewers, whose review I had to question through customer service, wrote the following:

“Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls is a story based on Southern America during the time of slavery.”… and went on to say … “It all takes place during a time when blacks were slaves, the Jim Crow Law was in place, women were often seen as the inferior gender, and racism was very strong.”

The 2 paragraph five star review was very beautiful and eloquently written. When I contacted customer service about the very obvious issues here, they contacted the reviewer, who apologized and said she, “Thought it was about 18*50s-60s”…………………PLEASE…………………….and offered to correct the review. She insists she read the book.

Now I know that people read and put a book down and pick it up again. I know that people are reading with their own experiences and education supporting their thoughts while reading. But there was no mention of slavery, except when Moses was telling of his father’s birth as a free man on the same farm his grandfather had been a slave on. Moses is 86 years old when he is telling this, and there is NOT ONE slave in this book.

The book is about the issues that propelled the Civil Rights Movement, and touched on women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities in the 1960s.

Needless to say, I have lost my faith in editorial reviews. Most of them appeared to be synopses of the book blurb.  Maybe I need to work some more on the book description so editorial reviewers will have a better grasp on what to include in their very flattering reviews. Perhaps NOT ALL editorial reviews are of this nature, but this one was shameful. I do hope the young lady learned something.

And to think,

Advertisers are insisting on these!

I am feeling like I should have just stayed in my comfortable little place of having sold a few hundred books and called it quits on the extensive promo attempts.

They offered to refund me and give me the reviews anyway and I declined.  I was not looking for free, just honest. So I will take her correction, and post the reviews that I feel most positively and accurately reflect the material in the book. GEEZ.

What a journey. Please be aware that I am writing this, not out of spite, but to share my experiences as a writer/author in hopes that my experiences can help others. I am sure other authors have had better experiences with editorial reviews.

Welcome to my bipolar moment.

Perhaps I was just a wee tad overzealous.

Check out Ereader News Today today

Great heart felt story of “Coming of Old Age” by Kevin Brennan. Today on EReader News Today. Perfect time to pick up your copy!

WHAT THE HELL

Small cover

As promised, Yesterday Road will be listed on the free/bargain ebook site, Ereader News Today. You can click here to see the listing.

Later it will be posted on their Facebook page. Please drop over to LIKE their page and leave a comment about Yesterday Road. It could help drum up business!

Also, if you have a spare slot on your blog today, maybe you can reblog this announcement.

Thanks in advance, everyone!

UPDATE: As of 6:10 pm PST, Yesterday Road is #1910 7(!) on the Kindle Store Literary Humor list. Not half bad. (And ahead of Jennifer Weiner…) 😝

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