Shouting in the Wind, Spitting in the Torrent

It’s not easy. I never thought it would be, but then the tiniest glimmer of hope landed in my lap. I finished my first novel and felt confident in it. I had a couple of small publishers interested and accepted the terms from one. Since A Lovely County published a year ago, I’ve come to realize how hard it is to make that a dream worth pursuing in today’s publishing world.

The waterfall that feeds the stream behind our home in Northwest Arkansas.

The waterfall that feeds the stream behind our home in Northwest Arkansas.

I feel like a drop of water in a rushing waterfall.

I blog. I’m not especially good at it, but I put my thoughts out there. I have a Pinterest presence. I Pin things writerly, beautiful landscapes, yummy looking recipes, and more. I even Tweet. In addition, I have an author’s page on Facebook and on Goodreads. I talk about things other than writing. I don’t overly push my book on social media, just try to keep my presence there and hope to be noticed. Does any of it mean anything?

I shout, I scream, I type, but it does little to bring attention to my book, my struggle to get readers, reviews, NOTICED!

I’ve even entered contests and have had some success. (Thank you, Ozark Writer’s League for the recognition with your prized President’s Award last year.)

Is Amazon, today’s Mega-God of Publishing, to blame? Surely, the legions of wannabe authors who’ve flooded the market with unedited or poorly written work can take some credit for the hard struggle of authors today. My book isn’t published by one of the big New York houses. It’s not sold in bookstores. (Maybe someday.) But, frankly, the bookstores want publishers to send them X number of copies and vow to reimburse them when they only sell Y number of copies. A small publisher, even many mid-range publishers, can’t afford that risk.

So, all the experts say an author has to push themselves on social media, get recognition and you’ll get reviews on Amazon and sales. I do that, but so do thousands of others. We shout at each other on social media, but who else cares?

I’ll never stop writing. I have dozens of Danni Edens mysteries in my head, one ready to go the publisher, a half-written thriller, and a young adult paranormal series I’d love to start writing.

I push on and hope for the best, but I have to wonder if it wouldn’t be easier on me to give copies to a few friends and family, and call it good. I love to write, love to tell the stories that bang around in my head, and that trumps all the struggle, so I press on.

If you have the same dream, tell me how you deal with the challenge.

No Name, No Glory

In light of this week’s shooting on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon, I have to say I totally agree with Sheriff John Hanlin’s stance against naming the gunman. “I don’t want to glorify the shooter, I don’t want to glorify his name, I don’t want to glorify his cause,” he’s quoted as stating.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wrote about this very issue last year on this blog, and feel even more strongly that naming these shooters feeds the sickness and their drive to become famous by killing scores of innocent at once.

It’s hard to fathom from a journalist’s point of view the notion of not providing all the pertinent information for any news story. However, I’ve come to believe we should never know the names or see the photos of accused shooters or mass murderers, particularly those who wreak their havoc in our schools.

We so often fulfill their goal when their name becomes immortalized, when we forever remember the monsters of the world. This seems to be especially true of school shooters who strike at the most innocent of victims.

The gunman who entered an Atlanta, Georgia school last year is now famous. We’re inundated with photos and information about Thursday’s killer as well. Their motives were likely the same as countless others who were successful in the sick plan. They are so often seeking notoriety through mass executions in some warped sense of self. Sure, we can say that mental illness is to blame, but I still feel their goal should not be fulfilled.

Sometimes they claim to be striking out after being bullied, which is an issue schools seem to be dealing with more frequently and more fervently. But the desire still comes down to an “I’ll show them and make myself famous doing it” attitude.

We should know these shooters as a number only. Take away that privilege of hearing the accused’s name on the television, knowing that their mug is now familiar to everyone within earshot of a television, and let’s see if the tragedies don’t slow down.

Withholding of personal information on the shooter should have started with the Columbine massacre in April 1999. If we knew them simply as 99-01 and 99-02, maybe we wouldn’t have had many follow in their footsteps.

It’s just a thought from a heart that worries for the next group of children hovering in the corner of a classroom and listening to gunshots, a wish for us to end the suffering of families like those who lost so many young lives this week. My daughter just graduated from law school, passed the bar and found a job. We’re thankful, proud and happy to see her transitioning into the successful adult she has worked so hard to become, but the parents that lost the college students to this week’s senseless killing will not feel that joy and thankfulness. My heart aches for them.

As a mystery writer I read stories of murder and mayhem looking for inspiration, but these school shootings spark little more than sadness.

Do you agree that assigning these senseless monsters a number is better for the public good than knowing who they are and seeing their faces plastered on the television screen?

A Dead Bug and a Motorcycle for Sale

I could tell some whopping story of a kickboxing stunt gone awry or a fight to defend my honor that ended with tragic consequences, but it was simply a bug that had flown in late at night that brought my husband down.
A few months ago in the heat of a summer night, we let the dogs out. A nasty red flying cockroach took advantage of the open sliding glass door. It landed high on the soffit that sticks out above the couch. It had to go. No ifs, ands, or buts about that!
Lloyd grabbed a couple of tissues. His plan-capture the enemy and squash it or toss it back outdoors.
Lloyd was not happy getting his cast.

Lloyd was not happy getting his cast.

I thought he would climb up on the couch and tossed a blanket throw across it to keep him from stepping directly on the furniture.
He jumped instead.
As he came down, the rug in front of the couch slid back, his foot slipped out of his shoe, and he fell forward. He landed on the couch, tissues still in hand.
“My foot.” He looked up at me. “Did you hear that snap?”
I hadn’t heard the noise. He may have felt it more than heard it, or maybe it echoed from his foot to his brain.
“I got it,” he said holding up the tissues for me to see the dead bug from his sort of crouched position on the front of the couch.
A few minutes later, we were on our way to the emergency room. He’d broken the fifth metatarsal, the long bone along the outside of your foot, and broken it severely. It was two months of doctor visits, cast on, cast off, and ending up at a foot and ankle specialist who put him in a boot and it finally healed. In the end, we had spent hundreds on a variety of men’s shoes in different sizes that don’t really fit anymore now that it has healed.
Funny thing, it was a pair of Crocs he wore the night his foot slipped and broke, and now he keeps a pair of rubber ones next to the bed to slip on when he gets up. There’s no going to the bathroom barefoot in the middle of the night, he might hit the foot on something and cause more damage.
In addition, that motorcycle he’d bought a couple of years ago and rarely rides anyway, is now for sale. He never wants to “go through that again,” never wants another broken bone.
Knowing Lloyd, it’s not the thought of the pain; it’s the worry of being vulnerable. It’s the idea of having me take care of things that are his territory. I mowed the lawn, replaced some plumbing with him looking on and instructing me, and even changed out a light fixture in the bathroom per his step-by-step instructions. I was proud to be able to handle those things, but in his manly mind, it wasn’t the way things are supposed to happen.
The last ride before the bug, the cast, and the decision to sell it.

The last ride before the bug, the cast, and the decision to sell it. It’s a Yamaha V Star.

Lloyd is absolutely the bravest man I know. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to protect me from any size of menace. He’ll still handle the bugs, and he’s mowing the lawn now. Yet, who knows when he’ll ever go barefoot in the middle of the night again, there’ll be no riding a motorcycle, and there will certainly be no jumping up to kill a bug, no matter how big or nasty it may be.

For Bailey, Our Sweet Boy

I wrote this post some time ago. Since then, we’ve lost Riley to old age and Bailey is now sick with tick disease. 

The boss hollers at me, but I ignore him. He thinks that if he provides a few benefits, which I more than deserve, I should trot my ass right on over when he yells.

He calls again. I turn my head and glance over my shoulder. He’s not even looking my way but appears to be scanning the sky, checking out the clouds. I’ll stay right here where I please, enjoying the breeze and watching a squirrel run up and down the big tree just beyond the fence.

I’ve about had it with his demands. I should just walk out and see what other opportunities there are for a guy like me. I know how to contribute. I’m good at security patrol in a place like this. I’m big and can push my weight around if I want something.

The boss mistakenly thinks he’s got me under his thumb. What a joke. He doesn’t even seem to know how much I’ve helped myself to around here. If it’s something I want and it’s within reach, I take it. Screw the rules. They aren’t for me and never have been.

I do have to give my boss some credit. He comes to my defense with this new cook he’s hired. She can sure put some good grub on the table. But damn, she’s bossy, doesn’t like me in the kitchen, and won’t let me have any of the leftovers I used to get. On top of that, she bitches all the time about the messes I make.

I have my rights. I know where I rank in this organization. Granted, my standing was much more stable before she came on board, but I still have seniority.

Even the old man that works with me, knows deep down that I was here first. He doesn’t always act like it and treats me like he’s my supervisor just because he’s older. I try to remind him now and then that I was here long before him.

The boss thought I needed some help, so he brought him in. That hasn’t worked out so well though. He’s not much of an assistant, and they all go easy on him because of his age. Just recently they gave him an official uniform. Of course, he was injured on the job and the uniform keeps him from hurting himself. But still, I didn’t get one.

Yeah, things might be a little better down the road a ways. I’ll keep stewing on that, but I doubt I make a move any time soon. I kind of like the boss, even if he doesn’t always give me the credit I deserve. It’s still nice working for such a pushover. I doubt I could ever get away with as much as I do here. He sometimes talks big and hollers at me, yet rarely does much of anything when I don’t comply.

BigBailey

Bailey, our 120-pound Golden Retriever is now down to a tiny 100 pounds. His buddy, Riley, is lying in the background. Taken when Riley was sick, you might be able to see he’s wearing a padded cut-off tee shirt I made him to keep him from scratching his stitches.

There’s a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen, and the boss is hollering at me again. I guess I better quit barking at the darn squirrel and go inside to see if that bitchy cook might have a pork chop I can steal.

A Tidbit From A Work in Progress

My mystery novel A Lovely County was published in January. I’m in the final stretch of writing the second in the series, tentatively titled A Lovely Murder. I’m anxious to write these last few chapters and read back through it. Over the next few months the hard part will be the editing, but I’m confident the pain will be eased with the help of my favorite editor Gil Miller, a dedicated and skilled member of the Oghma Creative Media staff.

Below is an excerpt tease from A Lovely Murder: 

“She shook her head and scanned the area around her. There was nothing but trees and brush between her and the lake. Whoever she chased had to be up the hill. Had to be trying to get out of the woods.

Running again, she tripped on something hard and fell face first to the ground. Her shirt snagged on a sapling as she went down. The cotton tee shirt yanked to the side. It ripped but held and helped to break her fall, or at least slow the momentum of the tumble.

She pulled the shirt loose from the tree, rolled over on her back, and fought to catch her breath.

Her heart pounded.

The siren grew louder, then stopped.

A turkey vulture circled in the window of sky in the canopy of leaves above her. The bird arced to one side, disappeared for a few seconds above the trees, and came back into view, its graceful flight similar to a ballerina with arms wide open gliding silently across a stage.

Silence. Only her own breathing.

“Who are you?” she screamed.

“Why?” she screamed louder.

“Oh my God, why?”

A lump caught in her throat, but she didn’t cry, wouldn’t cry. Tears would make it real, not a nightmare. It had to all be a nightmare.

Holding her breath, she listened.

Nothing for a minute.

She exhaled.

A car ignition started from somewhere up the hill. Then the sound of gravel spraying behind it as it sped away.

She lay still, watching the vulture.”

Book cover by Casey Cowan, Oghma Creative Media

Book cover by Casey Cowan, Oghma Creative Media

You can pick up A Lovely County on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lovely-County-Lori-Ericson-ebook/dp/B00S5I1ILY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435930767&sr=1-1&keywords=lori+ericson

Also, check out Gil Miller’s blog The Book of Writing at https://gilmiller.wordpress.com. He’s got a lot of good advice on the craft. I loved his recent post on Stephen King and how we can admire but not copy his work.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mothers With Regrets and Mothers With None

As I look at the world today, I know there are many mothers out there who are suffering, many who suffer with regrets over things they should have done differently. I feel for those moms, but not for the ones who know how their children suffer and take no action.

Years ago as a reporter, I met a mom who made my own heart ache for the regrets she had. Her son had been abused, abused by a man she was led to believe would help him. Her boy was struggling when a co-worker began telling her about his experience in counseling boys. She didn’t know he had served a term in prison after being a counselor for a boy’s camp. She didn’t know that he had just been released from the Arkansas 309 prison program for abusing young boys. She knew he’d been in the program but was told it was for hot check violations.

Her son was raped. Her pain and guilt over the trust she’d bestowed in this man were heart wrenching.

Featured Image -- 245I used this mother’s story as a basis for Amy in my mystery novel A Lovely County. This mom was shocked at what she’d done. She regretted trusting this man.

Yet, there seem to be plenty of mothers who know how their children suffer but take no steps to protect them, plenty of mothers who only consider their own needs and consequences while their children are abused.

Sure, I could talk about parents in general here, but today is a day for moms.

Why are some so unable to take a stand and protect the children they birthed? Why not get up and leave if they feel their child could be in danger from the man they love? I know there’s nothing that would stop me from doing all I can to protect my own. But others don’t seem to have the strength or drive.

In northwest Arkansas, a mother sits in jail along with her husband after their six-year-old son died from horrific abuse. She claims it was all her husband’s doing. Even if the mother had nothing to do with it, she had to know. She should have acted long before. The signs of abuse had to be obvious on this poor child. News stories have detailed the state of their home and a camper that was used by the family in the days prior to his death and signs of abuse were apparently obvious there as well.

This is a different world than decades ago when there may not have been much help for victims of abuse. There are shelters and agencies ready to help at any time. There are churches even that will reach out to provide assistance.

Mothers cannot turn a blind eye, deny when horrible things are happening in their own home. They must take a stand and do all they can to protect their children, care for them, and set them up for the best possible future.

I can’t imagine doing anything less than that.

Daughter of the Howling Moon

I’ve read paranormal, but it’s not my favorite genre. I may have to change my mind after reading Daughter of the Howling Moon by R.H. Burkett, but this tale is more of a mystery/thriller with some paranormal elements. I was so impressed with the writing style, the storyline and the characterization that I had to tell you about it here.

FullSizeRender-2This book absolutely draws you in with the first chapter and keeps you in its claws with every turn of plot.

Here’s a taste of one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever read, Bethany Ann from Chapter 1: “Mama looked like always. Well, maybe there was hint of paleness around her mouth and a funny rattle to her breathing, but certainly not anything close to the feared shadow of Death. Then again, what was Death supposed to look like, anyway?

‘Is that you, Bethany Ann?’

‘Yes, Mama,’ I said and took her outstretched hand in mine.

Her hands looked the same too. Hard and calloused from years scrubbing clothes on the old washboard out back and permanently faded from the harsh lye soap. Washing, cooking, and cleaning, that was Mama in a nutshell. Probably would be the exact words chiseled on her tombstone too.”

I was intrigued by the synopsis and the first few pages of this book. I read on and couldn’t stop. I realized the thrill of the mystery in this story was pulling me from page to page, keeping me guessing and dying to know more. Burkett does an outstanding job of presenting her characters and immersing the reader in the story through her portrayal of those characters, making you care, root for them, against them and everything in between. When I turned to the last page, I was absolutely disappointed to have to let go of Bethany Ann and her Ben! The story was complete and Burkett did a great job of telling it, but I wanted more!

Here’s a snippet from Ben’s point of view: “Maybe he imagined it. Maybe the effects of a long day in the heat and sun coupled with a hungry gut, a tried butt and a short night of drums pounding his head had scrambled his thinking. He didn’t know. But stagnant, humid air cooled and whispered to the tree tops. Night sounds of swamp creatures hushed as if the crickets and bullfrogs were holding their breath. A shimmering, much like moonbeams on still water, danced just out of reach. He blinked, not trusting what he saw. And the girl in front of him stood taller and spoke with a dangerous, powerful voice that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention.”

The reader gets easily and totally immersed in the scenery because of the outstanding description. I was in the head of Bethany Ann and Ben with Burkett’s fine and inspiring writing style. This is without a doubt a fantastic book with a storyline that will keep you guessing until the end.

I highly recommend this read. Published by Pen-L Publishing, Daughter of the Howling Moon is a sure bet for any reader of mystery, paranormal or thriller.

Check it out on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Howling-Moon-R-Burkett/dp/1940222710/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427400245&sr=8-1&keywords=Daughter+of+the+Howling+Moon

Author Wednesday – Lori Ericson

Thank you, P.C. Zick for featuring me for your Author Wednesday.

P.C. ZICK

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome author Lori Ericson who recently released her debut novel, A Lovely County, a suspenseful mystery, published by Oghma Creative Media. The book description provides a haunting and provocative one liner about her book. 

Welcome to a lovely county, where innocence finds no justice, and monsters run free. 

A Lovely County Front

Welcome, Lori, and congratulations on the publication of your first novel. I’m always interested in when other writers discover their voice. Do you remember when it happened for you? 

I dabbled at writing short stories when I was very young, but doubted my ability to make a living at it. Consequently, I pursued a journalism degree in college. I was a newspaper reporter for twenty years. During that time I came across various events and issues that I thought made good fodder for a novel and dreamed of being a writer. Yet, it wasn’t until…

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Women’s Role in the West

The final entry in the February Blog-a-thon from writers of Oghma Creative Media. And this is from one of my favorite writers and people, Velda Brotherton! Always nice to finish with a bang!

Velda Brotherton

Oghma Blog-a-thon

She was often a cowhand She was often a cowhand

In the days of the westward movement women were second class citizens. It’s important to remember that when writing historical stories, whether they be romances or westerns. With few exceptions women weren’t much more than slaves. So a heroine would probably be trapped in this sort of situation. The man, her master, may be her father or an elder brother who’s now the head of the family or even someone her family sold her to. He might be the man she works for, as in cooking, cleaning, washing. Or she could be an innocent girl caught up in the life of a “soiled dove,” or a widow battling being alone again.

Consider the set-up of a few of my books to see how these poor ladies are situated: In IMAGES IN SCARLET, my heroine, Allison Caine, lives in Missouri. It’s 1866. Her family…

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