Books for Kids

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Better than any Christmas Card

From my good friend Danny Kemp

Now here's a thing, takes a bit of time to read it all, but worth it!

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front.. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer..

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus"

This story is better than any greeting card.

Now clear the lump from your throat, blow your nose, and send this along to a friend of yours or someone who may need a reminder as to why we celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did You Know

Women are better at negotiation, empathy, nurturing, support, group dynamics and multi tasking. Women observe, listen, and articulate better than men, they are also better at fine detail. It is a scientific fact that although women have smaller brains than men do, they are 3% more intelligent.

Men are better at fixing things and finding a destination. Men can always find north when asked. They are better at mathematics and chemistry. Their spacial awareness makes them good at judging volume and distances and very good at parking. 

Unfortunately, most women have trouble reading maps, telling right from left, are hopeless at finding north and poor spacial awareness leaves a lot to be desired on the parking front. Men on the other hand, can’t do more than one thing at a time, are totally inarticulate and completely deaf when either reading a newspaper or watching TV.

So, there you have it, science has now explained how the multi tasking ability of women and the tunnel vision of men; so useful in the Stone Age is the foundation of why we find it so difficult to co-exist today.

Bearing in mind what I have learned, I have decided to stop complaining about my partners cleaning methods in the kitchen, he can’t help missing most of the mess because he can’t see it. His inability to detect fine detail hampers him in this chore. 
Carol x 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cranky Old Man....

I found this during my many wander across the net. As I’m fast approaching that time in life when people look at me and think (that’s an old person) I wanted to share this with you all. A beautiful but simple poem that needs to be set in stone and placed in every hospital, nursing home and place where the elderly dwell.

Read and remember….
Carol x

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, they thought he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that they made copies and distributed them to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appears in magazines for Mental Health. A slide presentation was made, based on his simple, but eloquent, poem. This old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man....

What do you see nurses?.... What do you see?
What are you thinking?.... When you're looking at me?
A cranky old man…. Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit…. With faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food…. and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice…. 'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice…. the things that you do.
And forever is losing…. a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not…. lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding…. the long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?.... Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse…. You're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am…. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding…. as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten…. with a father and mother.
Brothers and sisters…. who love one another.
A young boy of Sixteen…. with wings on his feet.
Dreaming that soon now…. a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty…. my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows…. that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five…. now I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide…. and a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty…. my young now grown fast.
Bound to each other…. with ties that should last.
At Forty my young sons…. have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me…. to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more…. babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children…. my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me…. my wife is now dead.
I look at the future…. I shudder with dread.
For my young are all…. rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years…. and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man…. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age…. look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles…. grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone…. where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass…. A young man still dwells,
And now and again…. My battered heart swells
I remember the joys…. I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living…. life over again.
I think of the years…. all too few gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact…. that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people…. open and see.

Not a cranky old man.
Look closer….see….ME!!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Carol Interviews Author Paula Shene

What inspired you to write?

Writing full time occurred in 2008 when my illustrator son faced a breakup of his marriage. My granddaughter developed nightmares with the uncertainty in her and her baby brother’s life. Mandy, she knew. Mandy did not have a good beginning and she too, had to learn to overcome. The story was written about Mandy for Samantha in an effort to help Samantha overcome her fears.

We are also into animal rescue, so 10% of our proceeds on this series, The Chronicles of the K-9 Boys and Girls on Locus Street, goes to animal rescue.

We sought publication for Mandy The Alpha Dog only after friends and relatives said ‘give it a try.’ In 2008, either there were not the resources for self publication there is now, or I was not aware enough of the market.

Finding self publication was prohibitive price-wise, I continued to seek a publisher even though reading about breaking into the ‘conventional’ print world is daunting.
Publish America  while in its early days had accepted all and sundry obtaining a bad rep, had also overcome as it went into its tenth year. After my initial asking for a ‘reading’ and including a synopsis, I waited; they insisted on reading one fourth of the story, I waited; then they requested all text in the story, I waited; followed by a request to see the pictures for the story which is written for the ‘smart aleck’ ages of seven through twelve’ ~ an attitude I seem to have kept. I waited. After weeks of ‘will they, won’t they?,’ we were accepted and then went into months of production. Mandy hit the waves in June of 2009. It is harder to break into the market for children than it is for the adult audience, and that is difficult.

The Midnight Caper was to have been the next instalment in this series. It is written except for the final scene and having my illustrator slow down long enough to sketch his cartoons. In the meantime, I found myself following a fellow author into the BookRix site and I’ve written more stories in this series which I’m slowly in the process of updating and publishing for sale. The first story I put into a contest on BookRix won third place. It was the only children’s story, and I think would have done even better if my illustrator had darker pictures which we fixed after the announcement of the winner. The name of the story is Digging Bones:
But, I found I also like to write stories for the adults. A lot of my dark humor seems to follow me into that age, too.

Do you have anyone you show manuscripts to and get advice from or are you a loner doing it all yourself?

My husband was my slash and burn partner when I was writing a monthly column for a church newspaper in the Northwest. He would always yell out to me... “You can’t start a sentence with an ‘and’ or a ‘but!’ But, my column was the one sought out by the women and the men alike.

I’m the lady with the Orange Juice Stand … “We ran out of lemons but have the most thirst quenching Orange Juice this side of the Mississippi. May I offer you some?”

I wanted to be involved with the newly formed newspaper - maybe in layout, which I had done for a living; hard copy, not virtual - but never could make the meetings. I was called and offered the job no one wanted. I interviewed one woman a month, prayed, culled and produced a column. I found after writing thirty-six columns, I enjoyed writing, but the winds turned and I had need to return to my roots to bury my aunt who was much more to me. She had been a mother, a friend, and a mentor.

My husband is no longer able to read, proof, and critique because of dementia actually caused by a smack to his head in a near fatal accident. He was misdiagnosed, said to have Lewy Body Dementia, put on anti-depressants, thrown into a full blown case of Parkinson’s and then... we went through a year of detoxification hell. I wrote about that in Lewy vs Al 
and for the humorous look at it in the children’s section, There’s Something Strange. My son is interactive with the children’s stories and if I can make him laugh, I know I succeeded. Then I have my neighbourhood fan club who look for the new story or the kids on the site who also are reading the stories. I’m always amazed when I run into someone I do not know and am told, ‘You wrote that book about Mandy. Hey, I loved it.’

What genre do you normally write in? Also, is there a genre you've always wanted to write in, but don't feel you could pull it off?

Not really. I write articles. I can write romance. I try to enter the contests because they each are for a different genre. I work well with deadlines - usually screeching to the finish. I have a lot of plates spinning and am always willing to add one more. So I try not to use absolutes in anything.

The one thing I find though is I am more of a sprinter than a long distance runner. I fare so much better with the short story then with a novel.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

“Snort.” All the time. Not necessarily physical, but certainly attitudinal.

What advice would you give to someone who was just starting off in writing?

Don’t quit your day job BUT write, write, write. Don’t let the critics kill your writing soul. I wrote an article for Angie’s Diary on What Not To Do in a Conference Call Interview and this was my take on this question: know what you are capable of writing and make sure your words are the ones that you mean to use – do not rely on spell check – if you use the wrong there {they’re, their}, or to {too, two}, or any other homophone in writing, the literate reader will pick up on it even if you miss it. {This is especially crucial if you’re your own editor}. I would also add, intimately know your target audience and what they like to read.

Go to your local library and scan shelves, then go to the catalogue which is now more than likely computerized and check the prolificacy of authors – read their books, what works for that genre and become so familiar with your subject, your writing flows.

If you do not have a passion for writing or a passion for the subject, it is time to change your direction either into another genre or profession or another time.

I wrote here and there throughout the years but did not seriously think of writing for the general public until recently when I was forced into retirement due to illness. When my body refuses to work but my mind is curious and my fingers tingle to type, writing becomes a God send for sanity. That’s my passion keeping me on the keys.

Do your stories tend to have morals, or special messages, included within them?

I don’t know how to write without a message somewhere. I’m not sure any writer is able to keep their views from seeping into a story. One of the characters is going to reflect their views either good or bad.

I do try to know my subject especially if I writing for the children. I do not want to give misinformation and that is so easy to do if you’re just breezing along and not thinking where you’re going until you hit the tree dead on.

This question was posed by a fellow author and I loved it so I decided to throw it into the mix ~ Oh no! One of your characters has escaped. Luckily, I have caught them! I will interrogate them with the help of a lie detector. Welcome! Take a seat, make yourself comfortable. You will be returning to your book once this is over. What's your name, where are you from and what is your role in the book?

“Well, hello. Carol? I ain’t ever met anyone I didn’t like, and I can tell I’ll be likin’ you. You don’t need to get that old contraption out. I’m a New York Dalmatian by the name of shadow. Shadow Hugh Shene, and I ain’t into lying. I’m into gettin’ information, too. That’s why I hang with Grandma. She’s the one at the computer and, um... she’s the one that feeds us.

I am the alpha dog, really. Just don’t go tellin’ Mandy. I like to keep her happy but she’s gettin’ up there in age, and I’m just helpin’ her keep up. Speakin’ of which, I really need to get back to work. It sure was nice meetin’ you though, Carol. Hope to see you again. Bye for now.”

Tell us why we would enjoy reading your books?
My stories evoke strong feelings and some people like certain stories, yet not others. I do seem to have something for everyone. My children stories are well received by the kids and most adults, but again not all. But, I do know there is something I’ve written that will bring a smile to your face.
To find out more about Paula, check out her author page on Indie Author Network:

 Carol x

Monday, July 02, 2012

Inappropriate Book Tags

Inappropriate Book Tags
We all know tags are useful to help readers searching for a particular book, so we create tags to help them and the internet bots find our precious offerings. You do add tags to your books, including your author name, don’t you? If you don't yet do it check out this  blog post I did a while back.

Now, while agreeing some tags on an author’s book the other day I came across a worrying trend and we all need to be vigilant. It seems someone has cottoned on to the fact that anyone can add tags to any book on Amazon. I’ve found some very inappropriate tags such as erotica and bogus authors name on a book about family life? Worse still similar erotic tags on children’s books again with an author’s name who has nothing to do with the books in question.
If you’re an author with books on Amazon, I suggest you go check the tags on all your book. If you find any inappropriate tags on your books or on the books of authors you know, shout about it. Complain to Amazon and disagree any tags you don’t want on your book.   

How to disagree inappropriate tag:

1)       Go to the book page, scroll down to the tag section: Tags Customers Associate with This Product’

2)      Then click on ‘See all tags’ if you don’t see this it’s because there are fewer than 16 tags so just click on ‘Agree with these tags?’ notice there is a question mark on this option.

3)      Now you should see tiny boxes to the right of all the tag words associated with the book.

4)      Click on the tiny box to the right of the inappropriate word and another little box will pop up with the words ‘Do you agree this product is related to (book title)’ you get two options yes or no, hit the no and you’re done.

If we all do this on any inappropriate tags we find, it will help keep the unscrupulous trolls from doing this because, Amazon does know who added the tags and they will be stopped.

Happy tagging

Carol x

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A New Look

Wow!! have we been busy over at Indie Author Network, the whole place has had a makeover and the new look is stunning. For the roll out on the new look,  we have free books, contests, chances to win Amazon gift cards, an opportunity to get some free editing services and lots more.

Pop over and check out our resident authors, find out what they are up to and maybe grab yourself a book from your favourite author. Because I'm a UK writer we felt it was a good idea if I looked after the UK bookstore but there is a US bookstore on the second floor & third floor so, I'm sure you will find something to whet your appetite.

Indie Author Network is a place where our fans can meet with their favourite author. Ok, yes that's me but there are plenty more of us. We're also happy for writers to come for advice because IAN is a place where like-minded folks feel at home. 
Come and say hello, you might even want to stay a while. x

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Indie Author Network

I live in many places but this is one of my favourites. We are a collection of Indie Authors, Artists & Editors who work to support each other in our endeavours. The nicest bunch of people you could ever wish to meet.  Check out my page and have a wander around the site, you'll find some good books to read and much more. Enjoy.

Carol Wills Author -       Indie Author Network

Carol x

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Birth of Titus the Blue Tit

Someone asked me the other day, where I got the idea to write my children's stories about this little bird called Titus. I guess the original idea came from watching the garden birds. One day I was just staring out the window, [as you do when bored] and saw some Wrens creating a nest and getting harassed by a Blue Tit as they flitted about.

Ping!! the what if bell rang and turned into a flash story called 'New Neighbours' that's in my collection 'Five Minute Fiction'.  Then while trying to entertain my grand children one day, I created a verbal story about this little Blue Tit called Titus who got into trouble try to visit a friend. I'd never thought of writing for children but my grandchildren liked the story so I thought why not.

I spent a lot of time playing around with 'Titus' not sure if I had what it takes to be a writer of kids stuff. I'm a writer of flash fiction, I don't write novels. What makes me think I'd be any good at writing for kids? So, I read up on the subject of writing for children. Boy did that confuse me, people say it's hard to get the tone right and even harder to use the right language level for kids, and the list of doe's and don'ts is as long as your arm.

What to do? Well, I went on line and found a writing forum, joined in with the chat about writing and when I felt comfortable, I posted my little story for some feedback. I got a lot of constructive criticism and used the feedback to improve the story. Then came the big test. I needed to show it to my peers, and get some face to face feedback.

Although I'd read it to all the family and anyone else who stood still long enough, I still wasn't sure. After all they were my family and friends, who would always say nice thing about my writing wouldn't they? I mean, they wouldn't want to upset me, with the truth would they? I guess we writers all go through this uncertainty about our work, don't we?

I belonged to a creative writing group in my home town at the time and tentatively showed it to the group. Although they were a friendly group I knew I could rely on them to tell me the truth. One by one they said it was good or they would read it to their kids etc. Wow! I was pumped. Then, one member [a teacher of 5-7 year olds] said, would I like her to read it to her class and get some feedback from the kids. Would I? I snatched her hand off.

Back to my teacher friend, it was a hit, her class loved it. They especially liked the bits about the bugs, well, kids always love buggy stuff don't they?  Titus was born and became 'A Titus Adventure' with beautiful illustrations by the wonderful artist Barbara Shore. At first I thought it was a one off, but it got such good reviews when I published it, I thought maybe I can do another.

I now have three 'Titus' stories published, two are self-published as A Titus Adventure and  Titus and the Magic Feather I also have Titus stories  in collections published by The Peacock Writers in aid of children's charities. Titus and his Adventure with Cedric and Santa is in a Whimsical Holiday for Children  and Tius and the Magic Feather is in The Rain Clouds Gifts  Titus and his Adventures with Cedric and Santa will be published as a stand alone with illustrations by Barbara Shore in time for Christmas. All Titus stories are paperback as well as e-books.

About The Peacock Writers
An on line group I belong to had the idea of writing a book for children's charities and called for submissions. This turned into The Peacock Writer of which I am a very proud member. Two or three times a year we get together and write a themed book for children and all royalties go to various children's charities.

The Peacock Writers have written and published two book to date, the first had a Christmas/winter theme and the second a rainbow/spring theme.  We have another in the pipeline for Halloween/autumn and there will be a 'Titus story in that too.

Carol x

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Peacock Writers are Recruiting

The Peacock Writers are  a group of writer who come together three or four times a year to write for children's charities. Here's a note from my very good friend Paula Shene who is like myself a founder member of The Peacock Writers.

From Paula Shene  at Paul and Paula's Place

If we thought last month was busy, this month got off to a plunge into new adventures of editing, writing, publishing, promoting, and social interaction.

The Rain Cloud's Gift written for Children's Charities by our group The Peacock Writers' is on it's way to the NYC BOOK FAIR at the JACOB JAVIT'S CONVENTION CENTER. No mass books or signing, just books displayed for industry professionals, stars, editors, publicists, publishers, and acquisition teams for the movie industry. Gwenna D'Young has an Angel who was so impressed with the book, and has given us the money and backing to have the book appear in the line up. We are also in the process of releasing a full, pictures included, limited edition.

Our next book in this series will celebrate the fall season and we are recruiting writers {1 each} from India, Japan, and Philippines - America has Halloween and Thanksgiving, Great Britain has Guy Fawkes - we would like stories that reflect fall traditions or holidays for these other cultures as well. The stories would remain the sole property of the author and their use as a donation would only occur for the book collection for Children's Charities. The story is to be written on a level where a child could either read it or have it read to them - our age goal for readers is 0 through 12. 

Please leave a comment on this link which will take you to Paul & Paula's Place, if you are interested in being considered.
Carol x

Saturday, May 19, 2012

New Titus Adventure

Hi all, just wanted to let you all know I have a new Titus Adventures book on sale in both e-book and paperback. This one is Titus and the Magic Feather. Barbara Shore has outdone herself with the illustrations on this one, here's just a few. 

The story is about Titus’s friend Hamlet who is a Great Dane. Hamlet gets kidnapped or rather dog-napped and Titus along with his friends goes to the rescue.
Here’s the paperback link:

If you prefer to buy from Amazon, they tell me the paperback will be on there soon.
The e-book is available on Amazon:

However, unless you have Kindle Fire the images will be in black and white.


Carol x

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Idea Theft!!

What do you do when you think someone has stolen your story ideas? After all, there is a saying that there are only six basic story ideas in the world; so did our own ideas come from one of them? Of course they did.

However, if you write a story from an idea that just seemed to pop into you head, then some time later (and I stress the 'sometime later' point here) find someone has used that idea to create another story somewhat different but still the same basic plot and ending, should it make you mad? Damn right, it should!

Then when you find that same person has used another of your ideas, well, it's downright cheeky in my opinion. People who steal story idea just go to prove they have no imagination. So it begs the question; are all their stories unoriginal? I think it does, there is an old saying 'monkey see, monkey do' and people without original thoughts or idea will always jump on a good one; if they think they can make a buck or two out of them.

Read this excerpt from a news article by Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES — “Pirates of the Caribbean.” “The Matrix.” “The Last Samurai.” “Broken Flowers.” “Amistad.”

Success isn’t all these films have in common. Each was also challenged by a lawsuit claiming “idea theft” — a common Hollywood problem that lawyers say is likely to continue as long as huge movie studios wield enormous power.

But why would movie studios, with every resource at their disposal, steal stories? Are these writers just cranks, frustrated wannabes with delusions of creativity?

No, says attorney John Marder, who specializes in representing aggrieved writers. Many are victims of a system that favors studios and networks and offers little protection for writers and ideas.

“It’s a small group of people that have all the juice, and if you’re not in that crowd, you’re really at their mercy,” he says. “There’s a real lack of moral compass on the issue in Hollywood. And there’s an ego-driven arrogance about it, like how dare you challenge this producer, this director, this studio? They’ll spend $10 million fighting a case where the demand is $100,000.”

So, lets go back to the original question. What do you do? Well, unfortunately you can do nothing unless the story is a direct rip-off. By that, I mean, it would be plagiarism if it were your story with just minor changes. If it's just the plot idea; however close to your plot, there is no legal redress.

Nevertheless, you can make a noise. Shout about it from the rooftops, write about it on your blog, and post in writers forums. Just be sure to mention no names or the story in question because you might find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Carol x

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What the Kindle Forums are saying about us Indies

While checking my offerings on Amazon I had a wander through the Kindle forums. This is my take on what they had to say about us Indi authors.
The number one complaint seems to be about typos.
It's one of my pet hates too, if you can't afford an editor make sure you turn on the inbuilt spell & grammar checker in your word processing package. Yes, I know this is basic but it's surprising how many don't activate the grammar check. Trust me it does work, and if you get funny squiggly lines under the word or sentence it's because you've done something wrong. Don't just ignore it, keep working at it until you lose the squiggle I promise it will make the sentence sound better. Eventually.
If you're still not sure it's spelt right or looks odd, use the thesaurus to check for synonyms (alternative words), you'd be amazed how many times I've done that and found I was using the wrong spelling of a word to describe something. Oh, and watch for missing words, this usually happens when you're editing for the nth time, 'can't see the woods for the trees' syndrome. Don't give the Kindle trolls grist for their mill,
The second complaint was about homophones.
Now, I must confess I had no idea what a homophone was but I do now, it’s just a technical term for something I’ve always known, and I have to admit they have driven me mad when I see them in a book. For those like myself who have lived most of their life in ignorance of the technical term homophone, they are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings IE: there/their, your/you're, hair/hare, break/brake, flower/flour, night/knight, affect/effect.
The list is long so if you don't know the correct spelling for the sentence you are writing, look up homophones on line, there are plenty of sites 'spelling 'it out. Don't get too down about this I've read books by famous authors with incorrect or missing words. However, because we are self published we need to think like the women pioneers in a male dominated job, we need to be better than the established authors to rise to the top.
Number three was dubious reviews.
It seems they don't like it if we get too many 5 star reviews because they think we get our friends and family to use reviews as propaganda to improve our sales. Well, as we know, friends and family will always give a good review, although my family haven't so far... :( So, what do we do about our love ones?
I suppose we could always be as honest as one author I read, he commented below the review that it was from a friend. His frank disclosure was refreshing so I bought the book. You could always ask some of those loved ones to give 3 & 4 star reviews, though I doubt they'd be able to force their finger down the star list. Maybe I'll try that, if any of my family or friends, ever get round to giving me a review.
Number four was cover art.
Apparently, according to the trolls, too few Indi’s take the time to obtain a good cover for their book. We all know the saying 'don't judge a book by it's cover' but the trolls are turned off by some of our covers. Ok, this again comes down to cost, and not all of us can afford to employ cover artist.
Of course, you might just be capable of doing it yourself, so think about exchanging skills with another writer. Do you need an editor? Offer to do a cover for their book, and they return the favour.
The only other thing I can think of to combat this is, to capture a geek. Awww! come on people, we all know a geek of some sort, ask around and pick the youngest one, they are the most clued in. They often do it free for the kudos. Just promise them a credit in the book, and don't forget to follow through on your promise. Having said all that, I don't judge a book by its cover, I mostly go by the blurb so make sure it's a killer.
So there we have it, the top four complaints from the Kindle Trolls. Check your books my friends and let's make them the best they can be, our reputation depends in it.
Carol x
PS One of my characters has escaped

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another Indie Author Tip

Because I've been promoting my books like mad lately, I've come across some useful tips for independent author like myself. Now, this one could be very useful indeed. I found it whilst popping into book seller sites to support and tweet for fellow Indie authors. Several authors had free books to download mostly in the US so being from the UK I copied and pasted the title into the UK site. That got me to the book in question right? Wrong, you would be amazed how many writers use the same titles for their books.

I thought I was being clever when I put together a collection of very short stories and called it 'Five Minute Fiction'. I got a big shock when I pasted my book title into the site search and up came about 50 books all with the same name. Of course my book was nowhere the top of the list and there were probably more than the 50 I saw, but I got fed up scrolling through the pages.

So my Indie friends, when you write that next block buster and you just know you have a kick ass title; go put it into the book sellers search box and see how many other clever writers had the same great idea. Then before you publish, go think up another mind blowing title to fit your block buster and put yourself at the top of that list. Oh, and check out your current titles you might just want to change them.

Carol x

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A must do list do for authors

A bit cheeky I know but I’ve decided to write a must do list do for Amazon authors on both sides of the pond. If anyone finds I’ve left out something vital post it here:

1)   Make sure you sign up for Amazon membership on both US and UK sites, trust me it’s worth it.
2)   Get an Amazon US authors page from and make sure you put all your books on here. You also need to add a Blog feed, your Twitter link and any video promotions you have, to this page.
3)   Do the same thing on Amazon UK yes you need this because they only link the reviews if you’re a member on both sites.
4)   Join Amazon’s affiliate program US and UK trust me you need both.  With these memberships you can earn money on all your book sales. You can also add widgets for linking your books and something they call an aStore in which you can list not only your own books, but those of others and anything else that Amazon sells, to your website, blog and anywhere else you call home.

5)   Remember to tag all your books on both sides of the pond and don't forget to add your name as one of the tags. Now if you're brave enough, you can also sign into your Amazon account in Germany, France, Spain and Italy where you can also tag your books. However, you won't be able to like your own books (you are liking your own books aren't you) unless you have made a purchase in those countries. 
  • Ok, now you need to consolidate all your places on the net. It's not easy people; here is a list of other places to consider joining and posting your books:

Did I leave anywhere out? Every time I think I've got it licked, another place needs my attention.

Whew! When you’ve done all that you’ll need a holiday or as my friends over the pond say a vacation. 

Carol x 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tags & Likes are they vital?

Yes, for a struggling indie author tags and likes are vital, they help us stand out from the crowd, get us noticed, especially on Amazon. We even  get stumbled across sometimes due to those clever little tags. I've just been wandering round some other blogs, and stumbled upon something else that I think is useful to all of us indie writers. One writer I viewed had their name in the tags on their books, now I might be a bit thick here but, why on earth didn't it occur to me to do this? Not only does it guide readers to you it also shows said readers what else you have up there. Put your own name in your book tags folks and if you haven't yet added tags to your books then tut tut tut do it now.

Now, I have to admit it took me a while to realise tags were useful and it's nice if people click on the 'Agree with these tags' spot at the bottom of the book page and even create their own. You never know, they might even click on my name now, to see what else I've written.

Because I've been banging my head against a brick wall trying to get readers to hit the like button when they download my books. I thought I'd show them where to find it, just in case they don't know. This is what it looks like:

 Carol x

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Another Freebie

For all my friends and anyone else who downloaded my free book Five Minute Fiction; I’ve decided to do another special promotion. My children’s book A Titus Adventure will be free to download from Amazon for 2 days starting tomorrow 7th of March.  If you don’t have a Kindle you can download an app for your PC.  

Here are the links, and if you do download; please take the time to hit the like button and maybe leave a comment if you have a moment.

A Titus Adventure US

A Titus Adventure UK


Carol x

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Free book

For all my friends and anyone else who would like to read my stuff; I’m doing a special promotion. My book Five Minute Fiction will be free to download from Amazon for 2 days starting tomorrow 4th of March. 
If you don’t have a Kindle you can download an app for your PC.  
Here’s the link and if you do download please hit the like button and leave a few words on what you think.

Five Minute Fiction US

Five Minute Fiction UK


Carol x

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A great tip

Check out this tip I found on Facebook from a fellow indie author: (thanks Rick)

'Hi peeps, I would like to mention that whenever you go to a page on Amazon to check out a mentioned book PLEASE remember to click the like button. This helps the author get recognition from Amazon and with 50 likes they will spotlight your book.'

So, even if you can't afford to buy the books right now; you can still hit the little like button and help an Indie friend. Get clicking folks we need all the help we can get. I'm off to let my finger do the walking on some great books.
Carol x

Monday, February 20, 2012

Perfect Prose

Have you ever noticed how some authors can leave you breathless with their elegant descriptive sentences? A good author will give us perfect ‘show not tell’ prose, leaving us in no doubt as to what they are trying to convey. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you today.

From: By the Light Of The Moon by Dean Koontz
Rather than being combed by a single wind, the night was plaited with many breezes, each with an individual quality of whispery speech and a unique scent.

From: Fear Nothing also by Dean Koontz
The pine needles stitched and elaborate dark embroidery on a wondrous purple-blue, late-afternoon sky bright with mystery...

From: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I sat like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly closed, I was shrined in double retirement.

From: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hour and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards; as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there.

Anyone else got favourites?
Carol x

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review of Windswept by Yezall Strongheart

Just read Windswept, a new book by Yezall Strongheart.

This is a wonderful fantasy story set in a far away world, if you think romantic Arabian Nights and a young girl coming of age then you'll get the picture. Throw in some magic and you have the essence of a rollicking good tale.

The main character Zylena has been told she has a gift, but she doesn't realise just how complicated this will make her life. Swept from all she knows and loves by fate; she is selected by Kaneck another with the same gift. Not sure what to expect, she is told she can go with him to his home in the city of Tivolty. 

 Zylena knows her father returned to that very same place and her mother, Theola, decided to stay behind in her village. Determined to find the father she has never known she agrees to go with Kaneck. Once in the big city, her life takes many twists and turns. Which kepted this reader's attention.

We don't get much  up front information on this world or it's inhabitants, which is fine by me.  I like the way Ms Strongheart weaves this into the story line as it progresses, I hate info dumps at the beginning of a book. The story line is well put together and characters are finely drawn.
All in all a good read with the added bonus of escape from reality. I highly recommend buying.  You can find the book here Windswept by Yezall Strongheart

Happy reading folks.

Carol x

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flash Fiction

Today I want to talk about Flash Fiction.

Why flash fiction? Well, take a look at all the writing sites and competitions on-line. The world is reading flash. In this busy life, many people only have time for short stuff and the traditional publisher has yet to catch on. We are told by publisher, no one buys flash fiction or short story collections, which I think is blatantly untrue. Just check out Amazon if you don’t believe me. They just can’t think outside the box.

Flash fiction has one main advantage over the long-established novel. It’s a fast read when time is at a premium and today’s readers understand the value of a satisfying read they don’t have to put down between never-ending tasks.

So, what constitutes a good flash story then? Like all stories flash has a beginning, middle and an end. Most flash stories are between 500 & 1000 words long, while that is not set in stone, for competition purposes; there is usually an upper word limit. I also think getting from the beginning to the end without giving the plot away until the last sentence is paramount in a good piece of flash.

The first lesson in writing good flash is to make sure you cut all unnecessary words from every sentence you write. If the sentence is still understandable you’ve probably done a good job. Next you need to read the story through and ask yourself does every sentence move the story forward; most writers already do this when editing a novel. However, it needs to be tougher with flash.

For instance if I write: The cat sat in the corner of the room on the mat. It’s an ok sentence, but for flash we need to think about word count; so I cut the extra words: The cat sat on the mat. Ok, I know it’s not a very good example but if your reader doesn’t need to know where the cat sat to move the story forward; why bother telling them, this is flash and you mustn’t ramble.

I read so many short stories where the writer pads the story with unnecessary words I sometimes give up reading the darn thing. Is it ok to pad out a novel, I don’t think so because I always skip over the long rambling bits to get to what’s going to happen next. A good novel should keep you reading not bore you with long unnecessary descriptions if it doesn’t move the story forward. Have you read ‘War & Peace’ lately?

Another habit some writers have is to tell us how the character is feeling then go on to reinforce it with showing us. Why tell us when they’re showing us, do they think we won’t get it unless they spell it out twice.

Take this sentence for example: Jane was so angry she slammed the door and kicked the cat. The writer doesn’t need to tell us Jane is angry they show us by her actions: Jane slammed the door and kicked the cat. Ok another lame example but I’m sure you guys get my meaning.

The next time you write a chapter of your blockbuster novel, remember, think flash it might help and it sure can’t hurt.

I’d love to hear what others think on this topic, feel free to shoot me down if you don’t agree.