Desert Camping, Hot Love

While camping in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, I noticed a woman sitting alone in a van parked near the beach. I never saw her get out of her vehicle. She sat in the driver’s seat most of the time, listening to audio tapes and chain smoking cigarettes.

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The beach was beautiful, the sun shone every day, the water was clear and inviting, the place was a paradise. Why would she not get out and inhale that fresh air, go for a walk or a swim, or enjoy this little bit of heaven? I certainly did.

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It puzzled me and I wondered what her story was. Her plates said San Diego. I mulled over many scenarios. Why was she alone? Why did she never get out of her van? Was she trying to kill herself with the first and secondhand smoke in the enclosed vehicle?

The seeds  of a novel were germinating in my head. A California girl comes to Baja alone. But why? I would make her health-minded, young, and beautiful. Yes, the character was taking shape in my head.

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She would need to find a love interest, but who would be down here on his own and why? Men come to Baja alone, looking for … something ….

Each of the characters had good reasons for being on the run, but would that interfere with them starting a new relationship? What if the attraction was so strong, they couldn’t resist?

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But what if their past troubles are coming after them? Will the new lovers stick together? Will they panic, split, and run to escape their pursuers? And what about that drug runner who is out for revenge for a slight on the road?

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Life could be so perfect, if only those nasty people from their past weren’t coming after them.

For a gripping story of love and suspense wrapped up in a Baja adventure, why not spend a big $2.99 and download Orion’s Gift from amazon.com or smashwords.com today?

Cover design for Orion’s Gift is by Anita B. Carroll. Thank you, Anita for a great cover image. You can contact Anita at anita@race-point.com

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When the Sun Was Mine

The City of Victoria may have distracted author Darlene Jones in my last post, but she has managed to publish an amazing novel just the same. I have read this book and would recommend it to young and old. Here is Darlene Jones to tell us about her latest novel, When the Sun Was Mine.

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NEW RELEASE – http://ow.ly/Ohut1  limited time introductory offer 0.99

When the Sun Was Mine

Review comments

“Expertly written, suspenseful, the mystery grips you from the first page.”

“… a surprising, entirely satisfying beginning.”

“… moments of true poetic beauty as a delicate, unusual friendship develops between a young girl (Brit) and an old lady(Flo).”

“I couldn’t put it down and towards the end I was sobbing.  Good thing I wasn’t wearing any make-up.”

“Alzheimer’s is such a fearsome disease, but Jones’ story doesn’t live there.”
“… makes its mark in terms of social commentary on this disease.”

“…when you have people willing to care, even those newly in your life, the most dreadful of situations can still touch your heart and leave you as the reader with possibility rather than loss.” 

Blurb

Flo:      I was an inmate in this hellhole they charmingly called a nursing home. Then Brit climbed in my window. She was just a kid. How could she possibly help me?

Brit:      I should have been in college, not working in this dump. But then I never would have met Flo. She had Alzheimer’s. They said she never talked, but she talked to me.

Brought together by circumstance, an old lady and a young girl develop an unlikely friendship. Each has a dream they long to fulfill, but first Brit is determined to solve the mystery of Flo.

Excerpt 

Poor little Miss Wright. Second time she comes into my room and once again she gets the shock of her life. Appreciated her concern for me, but really what could she do? I gave her a little wave as she eyed the two nurses bearing down on me and then slipped out the door behind Matthews.

All I wanted now was a long hot shower and something to eat. I’d missed breakfast of course and there likely wasn’t much left from lunch, but maybe I could scrounge something. I ignored the two nurses who had come in. One took my arm to help me to the bathroom. I shook her off and slammed the door in her face. Not fair to take my anger out on them. They hadn’t strapped me down, but then they hadn’t come to check on me all morning either.

By the time I finished my shower and put on my jeans, M*A*S*H* T-shirt, and thongs, oops, I mean flip-flops, Curly and Mo had remade my bed. The room still stank. I opened the window to let in some air. The incinerator wasn’t spewing forth at the moment so maybe my room would smell decent when I got back. I squirted some Chanel #5 on my neck and wrists and then a couple of sprays around the room. Terrible waste really, but I thought it might help.

I stepped out into the hallway and took a deep breath. Big mistake. The air didn’t smell a hell of a lot better than in my room. The omnipresent hospital odor mixed with the unique scent of old people. Not fair that everything went to pot as we aged. Wrinkles, creaky bones, flaccid muscles, droopy skin, and the sour fragrance of decay.

Just the other day, some little kid was in the visitor lounge with Esther. “Grandma, you smell funny,” he said, when his mother urged him to hug the old lady. Kid refused and kicked up a fuss. Couldn’t really blame him. At least his mother had the smarts to back off.

Yes, we were allowed out of our rooms during the day, the idea being that we could entertain each other and not burden the staff. Heaven forbid they should have to exert themselves for us. I went to the dining room and found a couple of slices of bread to pop in the toaster, and a hard-boiled egg. I poured a glass of watery orange drink made from powder like that horrible Tang stuff they sent us when we were overseas years ago, and smeared my toast with something that was supposed be butter. It tasted okay if you held your nose. Lord knows, I’d eaten a lot worse in my lifetime. Millet laced with grains of sand. I laughed when I remembered seeing the goats foraging in the mortar and pestle that held our food. I brushed toast crumbs off my hands and had to admit I felt better after eating.

I wandered over to the rec room and a sorry excuse it was. A few rickety tables and battered folding metal chairs, which made me think of France with all those sidewalk cafes, the parks, the little wrought iron tables, Michel. Now there was a lover extraordinaire, lived up to the romantic Frenchman reputation; kind and thoughtful and gentle, but a lion in bed. I closed my eyes and lived it again. Ah, those were the days.

Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes. Worn linoleum floors. One tiny window. I didn’t bother looking out. I already knew it was the same dismal view as from my room. Decrepit war-time houses across the street, scrubby grass that passed for lawns, the odd scrawny tree, no flowers to speak of, although one house had a couple of hanging pots that looked pretty, the riot of color a sight for sore eyes. Battered bikes lay scattered in the yards, abandoned haphazardly when the kids got home from school. Wrecks of cars parked in front of some of the houses. Was a wonder any of them still worked, but they did. I’d watched the people from my window when I couldn’t sleep: kids, parents, going about their business, work, school, with a few drug deals thrown in for good measure. Dreary little houses, dreary little lives. Bet all they did was watch the boob tube, guzzle beer, and smoke pot. Bah. Humbug.

We never got to go outside. Never. I’m sure prisoners were better treated. Didn’t they always have an exercise yard or was that just the movie image? A trip to a park or the mall would be nice, or the movies. Not that Hollywood was producing much good stuff these days, but still … just to get out.

Everything about Happy Hearts so conducive to enjoying oneself. I counted five people in the rec room sitting, staring at the floor. A sixth was watching television on mute alternately nodding and shaking her head at the screen.

Old Artie, and I mean old, ninety-nine and still toddling along, spent most of each day sitting at the chessboard. Never had any visitors or anyone to play with. I took pity on him, sat down, and offered to play a match. He proved to be a more challenging opponent than I expected, but I won. Took my mind off the Internet dilemma for a bit. I’d have to lie low for a couple of days, but then what?

I roamed the halls looking for Brittany and found her with a large screwdriver in her hand.

“What are you going to do with that?”

“I couldn’t open your window this morning. It’s stuck.”

Stuck? I burst out laughing. This younger generation never ceased to amaze with their ignorance. The chit had obviously never seen wooden windows before and didn’t know she had to turn the lock thingy at the top of the frame before she could slide the window up.

The girl bristled. “What’s so damn funny?”

“Whoa, did you just use a bad word?”

She blushed. Must have grown up in a staid household, I thought. Much like mine. The words in my head stopped me cold. I squeezed my eyes tight and fought to remember, but nothing came to me. I felt tears forming at the corners of my eyes. To have a glimpse, just one little glimpse of my mother. That’s all I asked. Did I have pictures of her? If so, where were they? Would I recognize her or would someone have to point her out to me? And my dad? What was he like?

That’s the worst thing about this Alzheimer’s business. Thoughts pop in and out of your head until you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. They taunt you with snippets of your life before, but there’s never enough to grasp a whole memory or maybe there is on some days and you just don’t remember.

“Is your window always locked?” Brittany asked.

Her voice jolted me back to the present. “No, why?”

“Not even at night?”

“I like to leave it open all the time for fresh air, if the incinerator’s not rumbling that is.”

“Okay then.”

I watched her amble down the hallway toward the caretaker’s office swinging the screwdriver and humming, “a merry tune to toot, he knows a song will move the job along.” Hated that movie. Maudlin nonsense.

*****

You can download this excellent ebook now:

NEW RELEASE – http://ow.ly/Ohut1  limited time introductory offer 0.99

Free Coastal Drama

FREE!

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Adventure, drama, suspense, and a trip up the coast of British Columbia — If you have not read The Wind Weeps, grab your free digital copy now on amazon or on smashwords. Follow it up with the conclusion to Andrea’s story in Reckoning Tide. Here is a sample of the beginning of Reckoning Tide.

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You’re mine!

To have,

To hold,

No matter how hard.

You’re mine!

Give me honour,

Obey,

And do as you’re told.

You’re mine!

In sickness,

My sickness,

Comes hell.

You’re mine!

This day forward,

’Til death,

Do us part.

Chapter 1

“Nurse!” I screamed. “Nurse, come back!” Robert’s smile vanished. He advanced and tossed the three orchids onto the foot of my bed.

I twisted around grasping for the cord with the call button. “Get away from me!” I hit the button frantically.

Robert lunged at me. “No, Andrea. Don’t!” He ripped the cord away from me. I pulled my fist back to punch him, but he was quick and caught my wrist in an iron grip. His eyes narrowed into slits.

“Nurse!” I yelled again. He clamped a hand over my mouth. Flashbacks of what that hard hand had done to me went through my mind. I bit down on his fingers, my terror lending me extra strength.

“Arrrgh! You bitch!” Robert’s eyes grew wide. He stared at me with a glassy look that I remembered too well. He drew his arm across his chest to backhand me, but dropped it when the nurse appeared.

“What’s going on here?” the nurse demanded. Margaret was a hefty woman. She filled most of the doorway as she stood with her hands on her hips. “Sir! Come away from the bed.”

“She bit me!” he said, unable to keep the whine out of his voice. “I brought her flowers—orchids, her favourite kind—and she bit me!”

I gasped at his outrageous boldfaced ploy, twisting the truth. “He tried to kill me. Don’t let him near me. He’s the one I told you about.”

“Now, Andrea.” Robert’s voice, silky smooth, sent ripples of terror up my spine. “You know that’s not true.” He turned to the nurse and slowly shook his head. “I’m her husband. You see, she’s had quite a shock. We had an argument and she set fire to our cabin and ran away when she thought I had died in the fire. I guess she’s surprised to see that I’m still alive.”

The nerve of him! I tried to get out of bed. “No! No-no-no!” I had to get the nurse to believe me. “He’s twisting it all around. He tried to kill me.”

The nurse was quick to put her hand out. “Stay in bed, Andrea.” She looked flustered and tried to calm us both. But no wonder she was confused. The whole situation was so bizarre. She looked from Robert to me and back to Robert again.

Would she side with Robert?

“Sir,” she said, “would you mind going to the waiting room down the hall? I’m sure the RCMP would like to speak with you, too. They’ll be here soon to interview Andrea.”

Robert raised his chin and gave me a smirk. “That was fast,” he said. “We’ll soon get to the bottom of the situation then.”

The nurse escorted him out the door. “We called them this morning when she woke up,” I heard her say as they walked down the hall.

The nurse had explained to me earlier that the police have to make a report in cases where there has been violence, especially since a gun was found in my fanny pack. The gun I pointed at him last week. Should have pulled the damn trigger.

 *****

You will find paperback and digital versions of Reckoning Tide on amazon outlets and on smashwords.com (for e-readers other than Kindle). Just click on the links:

Amazon.com

Smashwords.com

For more about Anneli Purchase and her books, visit her at http://anneli-purchase.com/

Book cover design by Anita B. Carroll. http://race-point.com

Think You’re Done? What about the Extras?

I’ve seen very little written about the “front matter” of a book. It’s not enough to slave for months (sometimes years) to write a book. Just when you think you’re in the clear, the book has been copy-edited and is clean, clean clean (if not, contact Anneli Purchase), and will be published soon, you realize you have to face all the writing for the front matter of the book – the part before the story begins.

You need to have a title picked out. That in itself can be a nightmare. You may think you’ve got the perfect title thought out and then you type it into the search space on amazon only to find there are already 18 other books listed by the same title. Back to the drawing board.

Then there is the matter of copyright. That is the least difficult. Once you tell the world that the following is your work and yours alone, your work is considered your own. In Canada you send  the information about your book (title, number of pages, subject area, date of publication, etc.) to Library and Archives Canada, and you will receive the exact information that is to appear on the copyright page, including an ISBN.

Next, the dedication of your book. Who would be flattered to have your work dedicated to them? Who is deserving of the honour of being named  in the front matter of your magnum opus? 

Then come the acknowledgements. Very important! Don’t forget to thank those lovely people who were your main support throughout the struggle of writing this wonderful book, those “without whom this book would never have been written.” But maybe you can think of some more original way to say it.

Unless you have a prologue, the front matter is basically done, but there is one more headache waiting for you. Two actually. You need to come up with a cover description – a paragraph telling the reader what your book is about. The trick will be to make them want to take the book home and read it. You will also need to make a shortened version of this enticing description for advertising purposes, in some cases for a flap jacket, or maybe next to the book cover image on the amazon page where your book is for sale.

And of course this all assumes that you have a cover image for your book already prepared. (If not, call Anita B. Carroll.)

When all is done, you can relax at last. Ha, ha. Just kidding! That is when the work begins. This is the part most authors would love to do without – the marketing. But whole books have been written on that subject alone and I won’t try to tackle it in this post.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I used to believe and follow that advice. I’ve read some excellent books that came “in a plain brown wrapper.”

Years ago, when most hardcover books came in  plain cloth or hard paper covers, not illlustrated, a discerning reader had to look for a synopsis on the inside of the flap jacket  to decide whether the book might be more interesting than its cover.

When paperbacks came out, covers of the classics and non-fiction books were still plain. Then a new kind of paperback with illustrated covers hit the market. Yes, there were a few good books among these, but many covers were associated with a lesser quality of writing or cheesier topics. Often a cheap photo or drawing attempted to lure a reader into buying.

Times have changed. Now that everyone is a writer, the market is more competitive and since most authors want to realize some sales now rather than 100 years after their death, they resort to a flashy advertising campaign. And it works!

Put a boring plain cover next to a flashy modern one, and it’s no contest. The eye, and hand, are almost always drawn to the flashier cover. Of course, in the end, the real test still lies in the text between the front and back covers of the book.

Anita B. Carroll has helped bring me into the modern age of competitive book covers. With her amazing imagination she has created a new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps.

After reading the book, she said it had the same suspense as the movie Sleeping With the Enemy starring Julia Roberts. I was so pleased that she found it to be a page turner.

For the novel, The Wind Weeps, I had thought of book cover images with a stormy ocean,  a desperate young woman, perhaps a boat … but none of these images conveyed the terror that is also a part of this love story. Andrea’s husband brings her orchids. Perhaps orchids could feature in the cover? But the cover image can’t be too rosy (sorry for the pun). It is also a dark story – the kind of darkness that makes you want to turn the page, looking for the light.

In the end, I told Anita, “Just forget my ideas and see what you come up with.”

She really came through for me. I was shocked at first because it was so different from what I expected, but she has captured all the elements of the story. The delicate orchid, the tears dripping from it into a desolate ocean; love gone wrong. The red sky symbolizing (for me) pain and fear, and the dark, rough ocean symbolizing Andrea’s remote isolation and desperation.

Here is Anita B. Carroll’s amazing creation for The Wind Weeps. This novel is available at all amazon outlets, and at smashwords.com

WEB_WRAP_2If you are looking for someone to design and create your next book cover, why not give Anita B. Carroll a try?

Anita’s  contact information:

www.race-point.com