Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Snippets with Ginger Simpson #sundaysnips

This week, I'm sharing a little of my best-seller, First Degree Innocence.  This story was inspired by working as a Correctional Officer for a year, and I really took personal issue when a reviewer remarked that the story didn't seem real.  I lived among inmates for 12 hour days, so I know what I wrote is real and believable.

  The following scene is Carrie's experience when she's shown to her own personal cell for the first time.  Oh, and by the way...everyone in jail will tell you that they are innocent.  *lol*  In this case, Carrie really is, the problem:  no one believes her.


Cover by Michelle Lee at BWL
“Welcome to Hell.” A voice came from behind her.
Carrie’s heart jumped into her throat. She jerked around to see a prone form on the bottom bunk and struggled to find her voice. “I… I thought I was alone.”
“No such luck. They prefer to keep the cells full. Sharing space makes serving meals and head counts a lot easier for the coven of witches who work here. My name’s Susanna Crane.” A tall blonde with bright brown eyes and full lips stood and offered her hand, then chuckled. “Oh, sorry, I see you have your arms full. The good news is, it’s nice to have company, and the bad news is you get the top bunk. The bottom one is the only perk around here, and it’s first-come-first-served.” Her pleasant giggle was a welcome sound.
Carrie stood on tiptoes and dumped her issued items on the bare mattress. Marks of age crinkled the cold plastic. In a few ripped places, the cotton filling poked through—like her, it sought escape from a hellish confinement. A quiet chuckle bubbled to her lips until she tried picturing what type of people had slept on the bedding before her. She cringed.
At home, her downy mattress was practically new, still bearing the tags that threatened penalties if they were removed. How ironic. You couldn’t be more law-abiding than that.
She turned back to her cellmate. “Don’t we even get pillows?”
Susanna shook her head. “Not anymore. I hear they used to issue them, but some idiot tried flushing one and backed up the whole sewer system, so now…”
“I don’t think I can sleep without one.”
“You’ll learn.”
“So… we all get punished for what one person did?” Carrie hoped she misunderstood.
“That’s the way it works. It’s an incentive program.”
“Incentive for what?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet. I think they expect us to police one another, yet fighting isn’t tolerated. That seems pretty stupid, considering the best way to stop someone from doing something that’s gonna screw us all, is to beat the livin’ shit out of ’em. Go figure.” Susanna’s lips practically disappeared into a thin line.
Carrie was taken aback by Susanna’s language. At first sight, with her shoulder-length hair and big eyes, she looked like the all-American girl. The one you’d find in church or at the Red Cross. Carrie figured her for twenty-five at the most. She glanced around the cell, pondering Susanna’s last statement.
“I’m not sure I understand. How can they expect us to prevent things from happening if we’re all separately caged… like animals?”
“Oh, we get recreation time… a whopping two hours a day. You’ll love it. You get to socialize with the cream of the crop.” Susanna’s voice held a teasing tone, as she sat back on her bunk, pulled out a netted laundry bag and held it in the air.
“Here’s the answer to your pillow.” She plumped the contents. “Just add your clean clothes and, voila!” She ducked her head, plopping onto her back, and rested against her makeshift cushion. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to get some sleep. I work in the kitchen and have to get up at three a.m.” She pulled her scratchy woolen blanket up and rolled to face the wall, leaving Carrie with questions still begging for answers.
Susanna glanced over her shoulder. “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
Carrie massaged the headache looming above one eye. “Carrie…Carrie Lang. Good night.”
An eerie silence filled the cell. She glanced at the top bunk, knowing sleep would be elusive. The sleeping accommodations offered no appeal, and her mind raced far too fast to rest. She glanced around, taking in the harsh reality of her new home. Tears clouded her vision and frustration gnawed at her gut. This had to be a nightmare, the worst in all her twenty-four years. She prayed someone would wake her soon.

http://amzn.com/B004A90CXM

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Monday, January 25, 2016

MOZART AND THE WRITERS

Written a very long time ago, but something to say on the occasion of another  notable January Birthday, that of Wolfgang A. Mozart, a fellow I liked so well he appears in three of my books.


Mozart sends telepathic messages!
 
I saw this headline in the '90's, in one of those papers where Bill Clinton could be seen  shaking hands with a friendly alien.

 
As a Mozart fan, however, I understood it to be true. After Amadeus, there were legions of us, out of the classical closet. We saw the play, then the movie. We began to collect Mozart music. CD and videotape were still new, and so we had to buy those and the new, and, in those early days, expensive, equipment. My poor vinyl collection took a back seat to digital perfection. I searched in for small businesses that would carry opera tapes. I volunteered constantly at my public radio station because they were kind enough to feed my Mozart frenzy on a daily basis.

 
I was not alone, however, in this mad Mozart revival. Every opera singer with a recording contract put out a Mozart album. Neighbors in posh NYC apartments sued neighbors after hours and hours and days and weeks and months of The Requiem played continuously and at full volume. Like so many phenoms, Mozart had surged over the top, infecting the planetary consciousness.
 

Love me! Love me! Listen to me! Do what those 18th Century fools did not!
 


  
The single party I gave every year was to honor his birthday. My writer and poet friends, all of us struggling with manuscripts, attempting to find agents and publishers, to hold onto  day jobs, were loyal attendees. We could share our woes with that mostly impractical, humiliating, and perilous passion for writing.
 
I will always be grateful to those brave souls who drove through snowstorms from other states because they wanted to be in my kitchen, share their woes and then find a way to laugh about them.  It was a fun fellowship in the gray cold January world.
 
There was champagne and 18th Century food of all kinds, steak and kidney pies, syllabub, etc., prepared, over the course of days and after trips to the butcher and the import shop, by the hands of Juliet the Certifiable. The Cake came from a now OOB bakery called Dingledein's, who certainly knew how to make a Mozart's Birthday Party Cake.

 



A warm winter pick-me-up among friends!
 
So, Happy Birthday, creator of musical joy, Wolfgang A!  





~~Juliet Waldron

See All my historical novels at:
http://www.julietwaldron.com
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004HIX4GS
 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sunday Snippets by Ginger Simpson - #sundaysnips


Today, I'm sharing a little from my relationship book, Betrayed.  This story is based on a real-life happenstance, featuring my sister.  The nightmare is over, but the bad taste lingers.  We just discovered a month or so ago that the "antagonist" is now deceased, but there are thousands like him out there, waiting to prey on the innocent.  My book delivers a message you won't want to miss.

The constant buzz of the alarm invaded Cassie’s sleep. She reached to the nightstand and slapped the button atop the clock to silence the annoying noise. Although early, the light from the rising sun filtering into the room forced her to squint until her eyes adjusted to the brightness. If changing the position of her home became humanly possibly, she’d turn the whole dwelling around. The lacy white curtains that matched her down comforter made her bedroom stylishly feminine, but did little to darken the room.
With reluctance, she dropped her legs over the edge of the bed and curled her toes into the plush ecru carpet. It would be so nice to sleep in just one morning, but work beckoned. She grimaced at the thought of another day at the office. What would it be like to be married to a rich man and not have to work?
She covered her mouth to mask a gaping yawn, stood and stretched. Her fingers splayed through a gnarled mass, and she groaned. Going to bed with damp hair had been a bad idea.
Immediately, her thoughts returned to Evan—the reason she stayed up late. There was no use checking for a response this early, besides there was no time and she didn’t dare be late. Her new boss was a real jerk not at all like the wonderful man for whom she had worked for years. What were the odds that when her ideal supervisor retired, she would end up being supervised by a Japanese man? Somehow people of that particular ethnicity kept turning Cassie’s life upside down.
She had never been racially biased, but perceptions from her new boss’ actions indicated anyone of the female gender threatened him. He treated her differently than the male executives, not letting her make decisions as she had in the past, and never soliciting her opinion. In some ways, working for him felt like being married to Greg all over again.
Her new supervisor’s treatment of her set the tone for the other men in the office and made going to work a chore. If there was any possibility of finding a job that paid the same great wages, she’d quit in a flash, but unfortunately, due to unemployment statistics, her chances hovered somewhere between slim and none.
Cassie shuffled into the bathroom and turned on the shower. She shed her nightgown and stood waiting for the water to warm. A mental image of Evan drifted through her mind; he probably looked nothing like it.
She shuddered and peered into the mirror. “Internet dating, are you insane?”
After testing the water, she slipped inside the stall and ducked her head beneath the stream of refreshing liquid to clear her thoughts and hopefully untangle the Frankenstein’s bride look that sleep had created. Starting over with blown-dry hair would make her morning’s toilette a lot easier.

***

Cassie shifted positions, crossing and uncrossing her legs under the boardroom table. Her chair made an embarrassing sound as air escaped the bottom leather cushion; a few eyes turned in her direction. Despite her innocence, a flush crept up her neck. She hoped they didn’t think the rude noise came from her personally.
The business meeting seemed never ending. Mr. Takeda, her boss, had turned what used to be information-sharing workshops into dictatorial seminars. He stood at the head of the table and droned on and on. No longer comfortable with offering opinions, Cassie fidgeted with boredom, wishing the day would end.
How could one man make her feel so insecure? The abundance of confidence she once had at work had slipped away.  No longer boosted by career achievement, her personal life was now an issue. She glanced around the male-dominated room. Did other suffer Takeda’s wrath or was she the only one because she held the sole female position in management?  Between a bum marriage to someone who treated her as though she didn’t exist and a supervisor who operated in the same style, no wonder her self-esteem waned.  Even those in the secretarial pool offered no compassion or empathy.  They disliked her for being successful, too.
Finally, Mr. Takeda barked his last command and dismissed the staff. Cassie released a long breath. The meeting and the workday ended at the same time. She walked back to her desk, switched off her computer and grabbed her purse.
All the way home on the train, she pondered having to keep working under the present conditions. Her vacant stare glimpsed and stayed on the headlines of the newspaper held by a passenger across the aisle: Man Found Slain.
Cassie arched her brow at the thought, but quickly shook her head.
Nope, killing him wasn’t the answer. He wasn’t worth going to prison, but an impish chuckle escaped her lips when she pictured herself standing over Takeda’s body with a bloody knife.
The train’s jolting halt train yanked her back to reality. She gathered her belongings and, feeling slightly claustrophobic, blended in with the throng of people exiting the car. The man behind her slammed into her, pushing her into the woman in front. Cassie devised a new idea for offing Mr. T: let the crowd stampede and trample him. With no shame involved, she took a deep breath and adjusted her carry-on strap so it didn’t bite so hard into her shoulder.  Caught in the throng of bodies, she could only move as fast as the crowd. 

Betrayed is available with all my other books on my Amazon author's page.  Hope you'll check them out.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

When Fate Decides - New Release by Tricia McGill


Just released at Books We Love- When Fate Decides—Challenge the Heart Book 1. Contemporary romance by Tricia McGill
This one is dedicated to all the women out there who dream of having a man like Jack in their lives—and to those who are blessed by having one.

For too long Tessa has seen herself as plain and dowdy, just an ordinary suburban housewife. With her confidence eroded after being married to a bully who humiliated her at every opportunity, why wouldn’t she presume she was unattractive, and someone no man would find the least bit worth bothering with?
    But now Tessa is a widow, and relishing her new state of independence. Her world is turned upside down by Jack Delaney, a man she spent hours fantasizing over when he worked for her husband. A man who gave her a deliciously secret outlet from her miserable marriage. When Jack enters her life again, professing he finds her attractive, why would she believe him? Especially as he is now wealthy, successful, still extremely handsome, and to add to that, years younger than her.

Excerpt:
This thought sent Tessa hurtling back to days in midsummer. Thirty-five that year, and already highly disillusioned with her marriage, the entry of a good-looking young man into her boring existence added some much-needed spice to the dreary days. Jack gave her something to dream about. Heaven knows she’d needed dreams to replace the awful emptiness an unhappy marriage enveloped her in.
She was wearing an ordinary pale pink sundress of washed-out cotton on the day he turned up, looking like an Adonis, rugged and overwhelming. Her hair probably looked a sight too—pulled back in a ponytail, if she remembered correctly. He was so handsome, fit, and full of youthful vitality, that she felt flustered, self-conscious and downright awkward in his presence.
Forgotten him?
It was likely he was forever imprinted on her brain. His brown eyes haunted many of her night time dreams, and daytime fantasies. Jack Delaney, of the black curly hair, muscular body, and easy charm, with the strength and power to make her weak with wanting.
If he was good-looking ten years ago, he was superb now. His hair had been tamed—the curls not quite so unruly, although he still wore it fairly long. It reached his shoulders, whereas it used to be halfway down his back. He seemed larger, broader. Not many men towered over Tessa, but he did. Her height was the bane of her life. Des was always scathing about it, probably because he couldn’t look down his nose at her. Des liked people to feel beneath him. Had loved to talk down to people.
Eyes as dark as chocolate assessed her, and Tessa’s skin quivered beneath their warm scrutiny. He’d always possessed the power to make every nerve ending come alive, and hadn’t lost that power. It was unnerving to know he could still have this effect on her. Tessa wasn’t sure how to deal with this handsome fantasy from her past.
He held out a hand and she stared down at it, in the brief moment aware of his square-tipped fingers and clean nails. There was a dusting of black hairs on the back of his hand, and his white shirt cuff with its gold links contrasted vividly with skin darkened by long hours spent outside.
Tessa put her hand in his, every pulse going into overdrive as he gripped her fingers. It took an effort to drag her hand from his warm clasp. She was achingly aware that her skin was glowing, which had nothing to do with the heat in her house. A strange feeling she couldn’t put a name to was taking her over. No other man ever aroused such a feeling. Not since this one, ten years ago.
When Fate Decides is available at Amazon: http://amzn.com/B01AR9FPSA
Tricia’s Web Page: www.triciamcgill.com


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Stolling Down Memory Lane #memories

About the best thing about not having a life is tripping down Memory Lane.I do a lot of that lately, and today recalled one of  the worst jobs I ever held. I had to share my memory with you.

borrowed from Google.images.com

After moving to Northern California and relocating to Dixon, there was a time during my first marriage that I actually stayed home and was wife and mother. A couple of friends and I became bored and decided that a "seasonal" job that led to unemployment befits the remainder of the year wouldn't be such a bad gig. So...we trouped down to the tomato processing plant and applied. Surprise, we all got hired.

The first thing employees did when they entered, which should have been a negative sign, was don a yellow plastic outfit, a hairnet, rubber boots and headphones. If you're into beauty...this isn't the look you'd want.

I was assigned to the highest rung of the 'catwalk', the unloading table. This was the first stop for the tomatoes coming directly from the field by truck. My mission, should I choose to accept it, was stripping the tomatoes from any vines still attached, weeding out any rubble...which I soon found included snakes, dead rabbits, and other assorted pests. I didn't last long at the task because my screams kept interrupting the flow and I couldn't master the wrist fling that freed the fruit. Instead, I continually pelted those around me with maters. I got moved when, suffering from human contact and humor, I started displaying obscene tomatoes to my neighboring workers.

From there I went to the sorting table, two rungs down. This table held only the roundest, plumpest tomatoes, headed for the steamer. My job was to make sure there were no rotten spots, stems, or other problems. I would have probably been awesome at the task had I not immediately been hit with motion sickness. I felt as though I was moving and the table stood still. My pasty pallor and drunken swagger attested to my nausea and I was relegated to the steam table at the bottom. I'm sure you can see where my career is headed.

You might have heard that steam is good for the complexion. Wrong...especially when it opens your pores to tomato juice splashing from the table onto your skin. I thought I'd finally found my niche, but soon looked forward to a break in the monotony and heat.

Some ten minutes that was. From the top, it took eight and a half to climb down the metal scaffolding, wash off, and find a place to sit. By the time I did that, it was time to get back to work. This is definitely not a career for someone who needs a break from standing.

I finished off the day there, but went home with the worst case of hives ever. I woke up the next morning with a severe head cold, called in sick, and got fired for poor attendance.

As if that wasn't enough...I lost my gold nugget necklace somewhere in the fray. Somebody, some place found a nice reward in their ketchup, soup, or sauce. Believe me, that piece of jewelry was a real prize compared to the other strange things that end up in those products. I couldn't eat anything made from a tomato for over a year. There is no way you can get ever 'dead' thing off that conveyer belt...trust me. So...that was my worst, and shortest job ever. There are just some things I'm not cut out for and that was one of them. :)  Any wonder why I became an author?  You can sample my wares which are a lot safer than tomato products at Amazon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Negative Traits = The Perfect Villain by Connie Vines

Looking for the perfect, or not so perfect, villain for your story?

Finding a hero, well that is perfectly simple.  A dash of Prince Charming, a sprinkle of Albert Einstein, a quarter cup of Fred Astaire, a hint of Hans Solo. . .well, you get my drift. A quick whisk or two and TADA!  You have a hero!

Not so, with a villain, that is an entirely different cup of (hemlock) tea.

Deeply flawed, and driven by: dark forces, questionable morals, a wounded soul, or simply bad fashion sense, villains must connect with readers in some realistic way.  A strong villain forces the hero to step up, demanding more moral fiber than he, the hero, knew that he possessed.  Remember, there is no “Happily Ever After” without the twists and turns supplied compliments of the villain!

Remember unless your villain is a serial killer, or the embodiment of pure Evil, he—the villain, must possession a rich and complex character and past.  He must be a worthy antagonist for protagonist (aka: Our Beloved Hero).  So, how exactly do you plan to come up with the perfect villain?

I like to start with back-story (of course for most of the novel this is known only to me). I pepper hints and drop in a few clumps of info.  Later, the reader will say, “Of course!  I should have guess sooner!” The reader may harbor sympathy (which I like to develop in my Tween stories).  Everyone can relate to an event, which made a profound change is his/her life.  Sometimes this even makes a person better/stronger.  Other times (as in the villain’s case) it drives them to the edge of insanity, or damages them beyond (mental/emotional/physical) recover.  However, in the beginning, the story all about the hero.

It is not until the middle of the story; we appreciate the villain’s ability to set those nasty plot twists into motion.

Your villain can be your hero’s mirror.  Oh, you can go for the classic blonde vs brunette, if you are looking for campy.  Or, you can look to character traits.  The hero may be shy, fearful of horses, and a back-words sort of dresser with a gentle way with those in need.  While the villain is confident, articulate (with a sexy accent), owns a stable of show-horses, wears Armani suits, and (at times the veil slips) he sees gentleness as weakness.  He discovered as a child, only the strongest survive!

Give him quirks, sensitivities (remember the movie “Red Dragon”), an awareness of himself. Your villain must evolve also.  He may escalate into pure Evil, or see the light.  Or, perhaps, reside somewhere in between the two places.

Remember to open his old wounds.  Something, be it a place, event, smell, or sound must trigger his behavior.  Show the villain trying to avoid a situation, event.
I can’t divulge too much about my “villains” due to the manner in which they tie into a story’s plot.  However, I will give you a hint, or two.

Whisper upon the Water, my YA/Tween novel set in the late 1880s in a Native American boarding school deals with the aftermath of the Indian Wars.  The story also addresses the way the children were treated and forced to become “White”.  My villain is Sister Enid.  The reader will discover that Sister Enid as a story of her own.  My romance and romantic suspense novels, Lynx and Brede (Rodeo Romance Book 1 & 2), also have carefully constructed villains.

My next BWL release, is an anthology, Gumbo Ya Ya has five separate stories.  And, a myriad of delightful villains to boo and hiss at!
·        “Marrying off Murphy” my villain is a friend who shoves my hero into an ‘unwelcomed situation’.
·        “Love Potion # 9” brings us two villains: “element of magic” and. .well, that’s enough of a hint.
·        “A Slice of Scandal” is a murder mystery where villains abound.
·        “The Ghost of Gombi Island” we have a pirate, a ghost, and a witch on the high seas (I will let you ponder the villain’s identity.)
·        “1-800-Fortune” (a T.A.R.A. and Fool for Love, finalist). Brings us an unnamed villain (at least until the final pages—remember, no peeking when you purchase the book).

What character traits.

Or what I’ve discovered usually irritate me, and, consequently, my hero the most.  Remember, just like the menu at “Denny’s” you can mix or match your selection.
Abrasive, Antisocial, Catty (one of my personal faves), Confrontational (perfect for a co-worker when combined Catty and Devious).  Or, Obsessive (no wait, that’s me!), Paranoid, Perfectionist, Self-Destructive, Vindictive.  These are just a few traits, I am certain you can name many, many more.

Does you villain need the limelight? Alternatively, does he prefer to hide in the shadows?  Does he have a driving need to belong? To be loved?

Your villain did not just crawl out from beneath a toadstool.

Write that backstory and make certain your villain is the worst that he can be!

Reader, who is favorite villain--the person you love to hate?  Why?


Connie Vines





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