Monthly Archives: June 2018

Building Your Writing CV

Just like any other job you’re applying for, your potential clients will want to see what you’ve already done and what you’re capable of doing.  While I don’t want to go into the differences of a resume versus a CV here, let’s just simplify it by saying that a CV focuses only on the writing work you’ve done and not every job you’ve held in your adult life.  Ideally, your CV will be part of a portfolio, but that’s another post.

If you’re new in the field, then you might not have a lot to put on your CV.  So how are you supposed to build it up if you don’t already have credits on there to show what you’re capable of?  Here are a few tips that may help.

Submissions:  Having your work in a publication is a great addition to any CV.  If you’re into fiction, set your short stories free in the world and start submitting them to literary magazines.  You may spend a bit of time doing this and tweaking your work before you get accepted, but it’s really worth it in the long run.  Keep in mind that smaller mags are often more likely to accept new writers, but the credits aren’t necessarily as prestigious.  Send out to any place you feel your writing would be a good fit.  Landing guest posts on blogs can be a similar way to show that your work has been accepted by others.

Local businesses:  It can be easier to get in touch with someone local than to find a client online who’s willing to hire you.  Reach out to businesses in your area and let them know just what you can do for them.  Are you great at social media marketing?  Many small companies don’t have the time for it.  See a pamphlet that needs proofreading?  Give them a call and offer your skills.

Trade deals:  When working with a local company, you may find that they’re unable to afford your services.  Consider offering them a trade deal, where you provide writing services for the business and they provide their services to you.  Be sure that the deal can benefit you; if you aren’t interested in what they can offer, then you’ll only be frustrated.  Also, it may be helpful to draw up a contract that denotes exactly what services are to be exchanged and how often to ensure that all parties are happy with the deal.  If you’re making programs for a theater but aren’t interested in free tickets, move along.

Local charities:  While you won’t get paid for doing work with charities, it’s still a great listing on your CV.  You might be able to write a newsletter for an animal rescue, type up flyers for a homeless shelter, or draft emails for a children’s hospital.

Keep in mind that it takes time to build up your CV.  You won’t hear back from magazines right away, and you may have to call numerous businesses and charities before you find someone willing to talk to you.  Be patient and persistent!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

 

Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

 

 

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Guest Post: Where Do Those Characters in the Books Come From? by Jerold Last

by Jerold Last

As we try to create the imaginary worlds of our books, to be believable we have to rely on reality for inspiration.  I use the places I’ve lived in and visited in South America as settings in my South American Mystery novels.  These novels have to be populated with people, both the central characters like my detectives Roger Bowman and Suzanne Foster, and all of the rest of the people they will meet as they investigate the murder or murders.  We quickly encounter a problem of how to make these other characters into distinct individuals rather than just 20 stereotypes named Pedro or Jose.  To solve this problem I generally use real people I’ve met in South America as models for fictional characters in these books.  The process begins by visualizing someone I actually met for a physical description, and/or by taking part of their personas to start building the fictional characters.  To demonstrate this process, let’s follow the path from reality to book pages of several suspects in the murders being investigated in three of my novels.

 First up is Bernardo Colletti, the head of the Uruguayan Nazi Party in The Ambivalent Corpse, and a suspect in the murder.  He has strong roots in reality.  I first visited Montevideo in 1982 as a Fulbright Professor teaching courses in toxicology and protein biochemistry during the waning days of a right-wing military dictatorship.  One of my hosts was married to a physician who worked in the Emergency Room (think of George Clooney’s role in ER) of the major hospital in Montevideo, who also turned out to be the head of the Uruguayan Nazi Party.  Despite his politics, he was a charming and well-educated (Uruguay and Chicago, USA) physician with whom I was expected to interact professionally and socially while I was there.  To create Bernardo’s character in the book, I merely aged his role model from 1982 to 2011 and grafted the real Nazi’s looks and personality onto the fictional one.  Despite the obvious reasons one should not like a virulent fascist, I tried to portray Bernardo as I recalled the real person: extremely charming and intelligent in social settings where he chose not to emphasize the more odious of his political views.  But, I have to admit, I enjoyed finally killing him off in The Body In The Bed.

Next up is another character (actually a couple) from The Ambivalent Corpse, Gerardo and Andrea, who act as hosts for Suzanne at the University de la Republica and become good friends of our heroes as the story evolves.  The couple is modeled after my two best friends and scientific colleagues in Montevideo. They are, in fact, named after their two children.  Now there’s a switch, naming the parents after their children.  You can get a real sense of power when you write fiction!  The scene at the Feria (open air market) in the park described in the book is based on the actual Saturday morning Feria in the park across the street from the apartment we rented when we lived in Montevideo.  Andrea’s research with algal toxins she describes at dinner in the book is pretty close to what the real “Andrea and Gerardo” do in Montevideo, and formed a large part of the basis for our collaborative research and teaching.  

In The Surreal Killer, Suzanne and Roger are taken for a flight over Northern Chile’s vast Atacama Desert in a small two-engine plane by two of their suspects, Pedro and Romero.  Along the way, Pedro gives both of them lessons in how to fly the plane.  Pedro’s character is a composite based upon a couple of real scientists I’ve known very well.  One of them is a North American, originally from New Jersey, who actually taught me how to fly a single-engine Cessna many years ago while we were both research scientists at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  The other, more extroverted, half of Pedro’s character is based upon Manuel E., a Chilean scientist who hosted me during several visits to Santiago as we tried to build a collaborative program at The University of Chile similar to those we had already developed in Montevideo and Salta, Argentina. 

Finally, the Kaufman sisters, Gretchen and Barbara, make their debut as murder suspects in The Origin of Murder, as fellow passengers on a cruise of the Galapagos Islands with Roger and Suzanne.  They return to the series again to play substantial roles in Unbearably Deadly and Abra Cadaver.  We met the sisters’ counterparts in real life as, you may have guessed, passengers on the cruise ship we took for our real vacation in the Galapagos Islands.  One of the sisters taught school in the San Francisco Bay area, the other lived with her and worked for a publisher in the city.  We spent several dinners together on board the ship discussing life for single women in San Francisco, our common love of dogs, and whatever other topics came to mind, and tended to hang together as we visited the islands.  We also met for dinner in the Bay Area a few times after we returned to California, but that was a long drive and the friendship petered out.  I grafted their physical descriptions and personalities onto the fictional sisters in the novel as the list of characters emerged.  They were promoted to recurring character status in Unbearably Deadly.  I like how they can interact with Roger and Suzanne to keep the plot moving along without having to steal the limelight from our main characters.  I suspect we’ll continue to see them occasionally as the series continues.

            In this brief blog entry I’ve tried to describe how a small part of the creative process works for fiction authors.  Our life experiences are the source and our books and their characters are the product.  If you’d like to meet Bernardo, Andrea, and Gerardo, they can be found hanging out in The Ambivalent Corpse.  You can meet Pedro, Romero, and their Beechcraft Baron airplane in The Surreal Killer.  The Kaufman sisters appear in The Origin of Murder, Unbearably Deadly, and Abra Cadaver.  Finally, Bernardo Colletti also appears (very briefly) in the novella The Body in the Bed.

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JL Photo

Jerold Last is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California.  Jerry, a two-time winner of The Indie Book of the Day Award, writes “tweener” mystery books (tough and occasionally violent mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing), all published as e-books on Amazon Kindle with six also published as paperback versions, that are fast moving and entertain the reader.  Several of the books introduce the readers to South America, a region where he has lived and worked that is a long way from home for most English speakers.  He and his wife Elaine lived previously in Salta, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.  Jerry selects the most interesting Latin American locations he found for Roger and Suzanne to visit while solving miscellaneous murders.  Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, Cuba, the Galapagos Islands, and Iguazu Falls are also characters in these books, and the novels portray these places as vivid and real.  Jerry and Elaine breed prize-winning German shorthaired pointer dogs; Elaine also provides technical advice for Jerry’s dog-related novels like The Deadly Dog Show, Hunter Down, and Abra Cadaver, as well as editing for all of the books.

Interested in having your guest post featured here?  Contact me.

 

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Guest Post: Writing a Humorous Murder Mystery by Robin Donovan

by Robin Donovan

Editing is always critical, no matter what you write. Editing a humorous murder mystery is considerably more critical than a non-humorous fictional murder because you can easily lose the empathy of your reader if the humor goes too far or becomes too macabre. Even if the victim was a vile person, there is still a line over which the protagonist dare not step. On the other hand, if you’re not into cozy mysteries, becoming too macabre may be your goal. Long live Stephen King!

The humorous murder mystery has to maintain something of a pathos throughout, while highlighting humorous components whenever possible. And there had better be enough tasteful humorous components or you will lose your audience to boredom.

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While my protagonist in Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? can’t pretend to be sorry her horrible former colleague has been murdered, she does take the time to comment on her feelings of sadness for the widower and the now motherless child. In other parts of the story, through another character, we are informed that the clownishly large feet of the murdered woman were almost too big to fit in her coffin. Were these elements juxtaposed too closely and not timed perfectly, it might highlight the humor in a negative or cruel light, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the reader.

That sounds like an extremely delicate balance – and it is. But hitting that sweet spot, that perfect balance of humor and compassion, can be so rewarding.

When I first started writing cozy mysteries, I took my cue for humor from the extremely successful Janet Evanovich. She typically employs about 6 different comedic incidents in every book. That’s harder than it sounds. Not to mention that a humorous undertone must work right alongside pathos when murder is involved, so the author must carefully interweave these elements with masterful timing.

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The husband of Is It Still has to make a somber decision to give up the woman he loves, his mistress, as it is in the best interest of his young son after his wife’s tragic death. At the same time, said mistress is having a laughable public meltdown as she decides that the dead woman’s mother is responsible for her being dumped. With these scenes, I hope to elicit respect for a man who is able to make a difficult decision to sacrifice his own needs for those of his son, and conversely, amusement over a woman who takes a completely self-centered viewpoint of a tragic event that does not directly involve her. If my timing misses, this whole scenario is likely to fall flatter than a pancake. But if it works, I will succeed in taking your emotions way down and then back up all the way to laughter. That’s a very heady feeling for an author.

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BookdeliverydayRobin Leemann Donovan is the author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues has been republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop, and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards. Her first book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? won an AMA Pinnacle award. Her second book: I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Shortsighted, was released in November, 2015. And her third book: I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying, came out early last year.

Donovan was born and raised in New Jersey but lived and worked in Connecticut for a number of years before moving to Nebraska in 1999. Starting her career as a high school English teacher, Donovan moved into advertising in the early 80’s and became a VP Media Director working on brands like Duracell, Stanley Tools, IBM, Visa and Merck Pharmaceutical. In 1999 she accepted a job offer from Bozell, an Omaha based ad agency. In late 2001, she and three colleagues purchased Bozell from its New York-based parent company, where she is currently the president.

She has served on the boards of the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Omaha YWCA, and she was chairman of the Alzheimer’s of the Midlands board for two years, serving a total of six years on the board. She is currently the membership director for Kick for the Cure, an organization that raises funds for breast cancer through soccer tournaments.

Donovan lives with her husband and three bulldogs; Roxi, Frank and Sadie (Sweet Pea).

Be sure to visit Donna’s website and Facebook page.  Check out her book trailer, book page, books for sale on Amazon.

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Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

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Guest Post: Silently Watching by Coral McCallum, Part 1

Pulling the laces tight on his well-worn running shoes, he glanced out of the patio doors at the reddening sky. Another beautiful summer evening for a long training run. With a nod to his wife, who was curled up on the opposite couch engrossed in a trashy TV soap opera, he slipped out of the front door, closing it quietly behind him so as not to disturb their sleeping children. Nestling his earphones into place, he pressed play on his iPod and set off down the hill at a leisurely pace. No sense in heading off too fast too soon since he had his sights set on at least twelve miles. As the hill began to level off he had a choice – go straight through more houses or take the right fork down a narrow single track road. The sight of a group of kids playing football in the middle of the road ahead made the decision an easy one and he turned off to his right into the immediate shade of the overhanging trees and into a cloud of midgies.

In front of him an elderly woman was walking an equally elderly looking terrier. He regularly ran passed them on his evening training runs and knew the dog wouldn’t give him a second glance, unlike the dog at the house next to the church. It would dearly love to sink its teeth into his tattooed calf! The old woman gave him a smile and a nod as he loped passed her towards the cemetery. Surrounded by crumbling dry stone walls, the village’s crowded cemetery lay a few yards further down the road to his left. At the first sight of the walls, he picked up his pace. Something about that short stretch of road sent icy chills to his very core, despite the warmth of the summer evening.

On the aged stone steps opposite the graveyard, the fallen angel sat hidden by the long evening shadows. She had heard his footsteps the moment he turned down the narrow road and had slipped out from the cool sanctuary of the ruined mausoleum that lay forgotten far back in the trees, to watch for him. For weeks she had observed him as he ran up and down the hill. It was the rich metallic scent of his blood mingled with sweat that had first attracted her. Resisting was becoming more of a challenge each time he was within her range. Once she had followed him as he ran down through the village and along the coast road towards the next town. Soundlessly she had flown just above the tree line until his route had reached the lighthouse. With no trees to shelter her and the risk that the lighthouse’s lamp would expose her, she had reluctantly flown home, tasting his scent in air as she retraced her path.

Tonight the air was perfectly still, no wind to rustle the leaves, and his musk was strong. It had been three days since she had last fed and the mere sight of the ripe veins pulsing in his neck as he ran passed her was almost too much. Licking her lips, she slipped further back into the shadows, deciding to wait for his return journey. She was patient; she could wait….for now.

Two hours later in the last dusky light of the day, he turned off the main street to run back up the hill, safe in the knowledge that a hot shower and a clean bed were waiting at the top. His muscles were screaming at him as he dug deep into the last of his reserves and powered his way passed the church. Loud rock music filled his head, keeping his mind from lingering on the hot pain that had crept into his right foot. Another blister was not what he needed.

The turn off to the single track cemetery road was just up ahead. If he took it the route was shorter but steeper; if he took the longer route he had to make it safely passed that nippy dog. Short and steep won. He turned off and was level with the gates of the cemetery when he spotted the old woman’s little dog sitting at the side of the road. There was no sign of its mistress. He paused to rub its ears, glancing round trying to spot the old woman in the fading light. A rustling from behind the walls of the cemetery suggested to him, in his tired state, that she may be on the far side paying her respects to a long gone loved one. Without a backward glance he picked up his pace once more and headed home.

In the graveyard the angel stood up, spreading her magnificent black purple tinged wings out behind her. Carefully she dabbed at her mouth with her long pale fingers, removing the last traces of blood from her full red lips. She had resisted the temptation of him for now. At her feet lay the drained corpse of the old woman, eyes vacantly staring up into the night sky.

Find Part 2 here.

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From author Coral McCallum:

I live on the West Coast of Scotland and am married with two student age children and am the human slave of four cats. I still work full time for a retail bank as a manager and write in my spare time. It’s my escape and my “me time.”

I’ve been writing stories/poems for a long as I can remember but only sat down to attempt to write my first novel 5 years ago. I write my first drafts long hand then use typing them up as my first re-draft.  My biggest fear as a writer is letting people read what I write so I started my blog at the tale end of 2013 to try to help me overcome that crippling fear. I set myself the challenge to post one “blog” a week for every week of 2014. I managed it and have been posting once a week ever since. I am still very nervous hitting “publish” on each blog though! I use my blog as a playground to try out short fiction pieces or to introduce characters that I am thinking of adding to my books. I’ve interviewed some of my characters to give insight into the books too. The blog is a good medium to connect with readers and give them an update on “book baby” progress.
Currently I am typing/editing/proofreading Book Baby 4 with the aim of publishing it in September. It is a standalone spin off from the Silver Lake series and features the band that appear as a “support act” for Silver Lake called After Life.  I’ve also included a few cameo appearances from other characters in the Silver Lake series so my readers will meet a few “old friends” in the pages.
Silently Watching as a short fiction series has been ongoing for 4 years. I let my dark angel out to play a couple of times a year and hope to add another installment at the end of the summer. I try to tie them into Pagan festivals.
So apart from working full time, writing and blogging, I love my rock music and run two social media fanpages supporting Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. I also write a music blog on occasion covering gig reviews and album releases –  The 525 to Glasgow. I use my own photos in my concert reviews and am a keen amateur photographer.
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Interested in having your work featured on this blog?  Contact me.

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Writing Exercise – Titles

Writing Exercise #2: Come up with as many titles as you can. You don’t have to know the story behind them (although that can be a fun extension of this idea), but just find some phrases that you think would make great book titles.

  • Not Here, Not Now
  • Like Falling Asleep
  • You Said You Would
  • Let Me Down (I like the duality here of disappointment and physically being put down…could be interesting.)
  • Vibrations of Panic (Poem or band name? You decide.)
  • Parts of Speech
  • Balance
  • Tuesday, 10 a.m.
  • Never Born, Simply Was
  • Do No Harm
  • Dark Threads (I really like this one.)
  • Aren’t You Glad You Let Me Go?
  • You, Too
brain exercising

Work that creativity muscle!

I think another aspect of this exercise could be to list titles of current works by other authors that you absolutely love. These could be book titles, but also the titles of chapters, albums, or poems. The point is to find phrases that you love and see where your creativity goes from there. You may end up with a new story idea, or you may find something that will help out with a piece you’re working on.

What are your favorite titles? Let me know in the comments!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Guest Flash Fiction: A Father by Scono Sciuto

Here’s a piece of flash fiction from fellow author Scono Sciuto.  Please note that it is a bit heavy and it may not be suited for all readers.  

© 2017

A Father

by Scono Sciuto

All rights reserved. 

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

Printed in the United States of America.

 

Contact the author: SaviorSatin@icloud.com or authorsconosciuto@gmail.com

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s extremely vivid, and at time disturbing, imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

A Father

by Scono Sciuto

It is so close to the date, yet, your desire will not be denied. We make love, unbridled is our passion. To unimagined climax, we bring each other.

Behind closed lids, your beautiful eyes are now hidden. I lay next to you. My hand, upon the outline of our child. Eager to see the world, he presses against your belly. I kiss your cheek. My love, I proclaim. I am with my family.

We are not asleep long.

A contraction wakes you.

You feel a pop, then a trickle.

It is time. We rush to your house. When we are near, you phone your sister. Within the hour, she will be there.

I am like a kid on Christmas morning. I have never felt such joy. I have never been so happy. A life, one created by our love, will soon be here.

My breathing is rapid.

Our son is coming.

My heart races.

We near your home. Your contractions continue. Less than ten minutes after the last, arrives the next.

Your face turns sad.  As you place the next call, you tell me you love me. My excitation dims. At his work, your husband’s phone rings.

Of paternity, he is unaware. I am the father. However, he remains, your husband. My joy is gone, in its place, despair.

It is he, who will witness the birth of my son.

It is he, who will hold him when our son breathes his first.

It is he, who will sit next to you, to share the advent of the life which we created.

I stop in front of your house. There is little time. You aren’t sure when next we will speak. I reassure you, all is fine. Before darting from the car, you tell me you love me and kiss me. As I pull away, the headlights of your sister’s car greet me.

To the hospital, I hurry. I observe you arrive, close behind, so does he. Blissfully blind to the truth, in he rushes.

I leave. For hours, I drive. I am not by your side. I am not there to hold your hand. I am not there to tell you to push. I am not there to wipe the sweat from your brow or tears from your cheek.

I don’t know how you are doing. I don’t know if you have yet given birth. I don’t know if our son has seen his first sight.

What I do know —

It is he, who our son will cry out for in the night.

It is he, who our son will consider his father.

It is he, who my son will call daddy.

Unexpected and unplanned, but not unwelcomed, was his conception. You attempted to leave, but each time you tried, unforeseen events prevented you. Tears fill my eyes.

I will never know my son.

It is that truth, which leads me to the revolver.

It is that truth, I mutter as I press the barrel to my head

It is that truth, I repeat over and over, as I cock the hammer.

It is that truth, the last words I speak, before the explosion echoes.

The End

 

 Keep an eye on Scono’s Amazon Author Page for new releases.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your flash fiction or poetry featured here?  Contact me.

 

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