I’m fascinated

Today my book Live from the Road can be downloaded for free from amazon on Kindle. I thought I’d be casual about it today. On my last free day June 15, approximately 7,000 folks downloaded the book. And since then I’ve been waiting for  a multitude of things to happen either separately or simultaneously. In no particular order except how they’re popping out of my brain onto this computer screen, here they are:

  1. A Hollywood producer is one of the downloads and exclaims, to his/her significant other while reading in bed one night, “This book must be made into a movie.” (Picture Ron Howard here or until two days ago Nora Ephron)
  2. An editor at a big publishing house is one of the downloaders because she is a big fan of women’s fiction and Jack Kerouac (these women do exist – I’m living proof) and she goes to my author page on amazon and follows the link to my blog and well, the rest you can probably well imagine.
  3. After the free day, the reviews – all 5-star – begin inundating my amazon page until there are hundreds, and amazon contacts me to say my reviews have been cut off but it doesn’t matter because by then I’ll have made the Huffington Post and then #1 and #2 happen simultaneously.
  4. The book becomes No. 1 in the Kindle Contemporary Fiction list, knocking Shades of Gray right off the pedestal, and I’m being called to Good Morning America.
  5. I don’t even think about Oprah, but she’ll be there when the day arrives.

But alas, three of my free days  passed and nothing has transpired. Today is my fourth (I get a total of five) day, and I didn’t expect much, but I just checked my numbers and more than 1,000 more folks have downloaded Live from the Road. I wonder who they are and imagine them reading the book and hopefully smiling. Today I know better than to celebrate. I’ll wait to do that.

But still I wonder, who’s reading my book?

 

Live from the Road

June 28 – Live is Free!

Live from the RoadLive from the Road is free today, Thursday, June 28, until midnight. This promotional day is offered by the Kindle Direct Select program and gives me the chance to broaden the distribution of the e-book. Live from the Road is also available in print for $12.99.

How can you go wrong? Here’s your chance to get your kicks on Route 66 for free and from the comfort of your easy chair. So far the book has received eight reviews and all of them are 5-star. I’d love more reviews and “likes” for the book and for my author page on amazon.

Enjoy traveling down the Mother Road from Chicago to L.A. Jack Kerouac would be proud.

Thanks!

 

An Interview with P.C. Zick

Here’s a nice interview by Rachelle Ayala on her blog Rachelle’s Window about my writing life. Thanks to Rachelle for making me sound interesting!

My Inspiration to Write

“The Earth laughs in flowers” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever I need to take a break from the computer, or I need inspiration to work on the next chapter or scene of my novel, I get up out of my chair and walk outside and adore the flowers growing abundantly this time of year. I walked around my yard this morning before the rain came snapping photos of all the flowers in bloom right now. Some were planted by us and grown from seed. Others we inherited from the previous owners. But all make me smile. I have a plaque with Emerson’s quote sitting in the middle of one of the flower beds. So true – the Earth around here is hysterical with laughter right now.

Can anyone tell me what the tall white flowers are? We have several of them around the yard. They look like yucca plants that I had in Florida, but I never saw them bloom like this.I love the morning glories – so beautiful for that brief moment of the day.Up until two months ago this spot was a pond – but a pond we couldn’t see anywhere from the house or porches. It became a mosquito breeding grounds so we filled it in. I planted these annuals for now, but in the fall I plan to sow wildflower seeds and hopefully have a nice start on growing some native plants.

I love our sunflowers. These become our bird feeders later in the summer. We have a great variety of them all around the yard and garden.And finally our front yard where we planted marigolds, dahlias, and cosmos all grown from seed.

Now that I’ve shared my little bit of beauty this morning, it’s time I settled down to write. The next chapter awaits and the flowers are quenching their thirst outside my window.

What inspires you to write?

 

Writing Dialogue that Sings

 

By P.C. Zick @PCZick

Dialogue in fiction is essential. Good dialogue is crucial. Nothing kills a book for me like poor dialogue. The plot might be intriguing, the characters worth getting to know, and the setting gorgeous, but if the dialogue is stilted and poorly executed, I’m ready to put the book down. I want to read and write dialogue that sings.

Here’s my best advice on dialogue: Use it, but do not abuse it. All writing benefits from strong dialogue. It moves the plot along, and it develops character better than any other technique in the writer’s toolbox. However, many novice writers abuse it by not understanding how to write it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about writing dialogue.

Learn the mechanics of dialogue. This helps the reader understand. Some contemporary authors are trying new techniques for displaying dialogue with novels, but it only confuses me and causes me to pay more attention to the punctuation or lack of it than to the pleasure of reading a story. Here is a correctly punctuated line of dialogue:

“Leave me alone,” she said.

Avoid dialect to characterize characters. It only detracts from the reader’s understanding. It’s been done superbly, but  unless you know you can do it, leave it alone. I attended a writer’s workshop several years ago with Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek, a book set in the Appalachian Mountains one hundred years ago. He said rather than use the dialect of the time and setting, he had the characters use certain words that gave their speech distinction rather than using gonna, goin’, ‘bout. For instance, the character would most likely use the word “fetch” instead of “get.”

Do not put a “he said” or “she said” after every line. If two people are speaking, it becomes clear to the reader which character is speaking the alternating lines. Interject after several lines to remind the reader. Here’s an example of two characters, Simon and Caroline, in conversation:

“No easy days in sight,” Simon said.

            “That’s very true, but we’ve weathered worse,” Caroline said.

            “Like the time we capsized the canoe and lost our oars?”

            “I have never been so cold in my life.”

            “You should try ice fishing in Pennsylvania in January. Then tell me about cold.”

            “That’s just unnatural and the very reason I live in Florida.”

            “So you wouldn’t move back to Pennsylvania with me?” Simon asked.

            “Not on your life,” Caroline said.

You can go for a bit without using the names and “he said/she said,” but don’t go too long without injecting it or the reader becomes lost. I read a novel recently where they didn’t use any designations about who was speaking. The reader was left to guess who was speaking. It guessed me right out of continuing to read the book

“He said” and “she said” are the best to use, if not overused. Do not add qualifiers, such as “he said with a smile on his face.” Also, don’t use adverbs to describe how it was said: “Leave me alone,” she said sternly. Write the dialogue so it is clear that the speaker is smiling or speaking sternly. Let your words show the story without you telling the reader.

Leave out interrupters such as “Well,” “uh,” “um,” etc. It slows down the reading.

Listen to others speak. We rarely speak in complete sentences. Listen to the differences in speech patterns with different speakers. Try to distinguish your characters by their speech. Perhaps there is a phrase they use or a way of speaking that not only distinguishes their speech, but also creates characterization. However, be careful with this technique. If it’s overused, you’ll surely annoy the reader.

Read your dialogue aloud. Would real people speak in the way that you have written it? Using the dialogue of real people is certainly easier than fictional characters, if you really listen to them. We usually create characters that come from composites of real people, so why not create dialogue that comes from real people as well?

Your goal in writing is to make the reader forget they’re reading. You want them lost in the story and if your dialogue sings, they won’t even notice the agonizing pains you took to make it so.

I know there are many other techniques out there. I learn every day I write, and I’d like to learn from you as well. What makes dialogue sing for you?

 

Living Lightly

What an incredible week I had last week. I am grateful to fellow blogger, lightningpen, for nominating me for my second award in one week for my blog, Living Lightly on this Earth. These awards are a wonderful way to find out about my other fellow nominees because part of the rules for accepting the award are to thank the blog that made the nomination, reveal seven random things about myself, and recommend fifteen more blogs for The Versatile Blogger Award.

Seven random things about myself – Why this past week rocked more than most:

  1. My e-book Live from the Road was downloaded by more than 7,000 folks on June 15, 2012. I’m stunned.
  2. The print edition of Live from the Road went live last week through create space.com.
  3. I saw the sunset over Lake Michigan on Saturday night with two dear friends and the love of my life.

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Living Lightly

Here’s the third award nomination I’ve received this week. I particularly love this one because of it’s title and it’s image of the Gerber daisy. Thank you My Botanical Garden for the nomination. Your blog rocks!

The award requires expression of gratitude (thank you again, My Botanical Garden), ten things about me, and my ten nominees for the Sunshine Award.

Ten Things I Like To Do:

  1. sing at the top of my lungs in my car
  2. dance at zumba class as if no one is watching
  3. sit on our patio with my husband
  4. kayak
  5. cruise down the Beaver River in our small motorboat
  6. watch the sunset from a boat on Lake Michigan
  7. make homebrew
  8. drink homebrew
  9. watch my flowers grow
  10. write

Ten Blogs that bring SUNSHINE to my life – please check them out!

  1. Thoughts from the Outdoors
  2. seasongirl.wordpress.com
  3. horsepowerfarms.blogspot.com
  4. Brecon Nomand
  5. naturestimeline.com
  6. photosbotos.com
  7. A Modern Christian Woman
  8. Lightning Droplets

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The Rowboat

I want to welcome Evie McAdoo to my blog. Evie recently came to one of my writing workshops with an idea of what she wanted to write despite my instructions to come with open minds. She found soon enough why I said that because before she knew it, the muse had taken her someplace she couldn’t image she would go. Evie was born in New Jersey, moved to California, and for the last five years she’s lived in western Pennsylvania, “married to the most wonderful and unique Kenny McAdoo.” She works as an Integration Consultant  from home. And she writes.

It’s fitting that I publish her essay on her father today because this essay is a tribute to her father. Those of us who have lost a parent know how difficult it is, but with time we come to forget the death and remember the life lived. It is with pleasure I present Evie’s experience with both. Patricia – @PCZick

The Rowboat

By Evie M. McAdoo

I sat at his bedside. His body gaunt, thin, no weight to him it seemed. His eyes were closed, his skin yellowish. The salt and pepper hair was still salt and pepper, and I knew if I looked at the top of his head that same bald spot would be there – the one that hadn’t changed in shape or size for as long as I could remember.

He smelled not like Daddy. He had a dry arid smell about him like old yellowed paper. So I leaned over and put a drop of Brut on his wrist. Brut was the smell of Daddy. He was in a coma, but I knew he knew I was there with him. My love blanketed him and covered him with the love only a daughter can feel for her father, her daddy.

I grabbed the small visitor’s chair and moved it closer to his bedside, the bars on the side of the bed clanking against it. And I settled back in the gray plastic and metal chair in his hospital room. I can still see the murky white-tiled floor streaked with manufactured brownish and grayish streaks – the kind of floor that looks dirty even when it’s spotless. I took his hand in mine and started talking to him about the summerhouse, the lake, and the rowboat. I asked him to squeeze my hand if he knew I was there. Me, always needing reassurance, always needing to know I was present and mattering to someone. And he squeezed ever so slightly. Screw mom for telling me it was just my imagination. Screw her for trying to tell me it didn’t happen.

Ah, but the boat. That glorious ten-foot piece of aluminum with three seats! It was in that rowboat we made our escape from the world and all troubles that plagued us. Nothing existed but Daddy and me gliding across the brown cedar lake waters on a summer day. The thick sweet odor of cedar melting into my nose replaced the smell of death in the hospital room as I began to speak with Daddy of times many years before.

We are transported to the summerhouse on Sommers Lane in Country Lakes. It seemed so big, but it was always the focus of happy times in a childhood awash with dysfunction and pain for me. It was always a place full of joy and play and freedom. It didn’t carry bad thoughts or harbor any demons. It was just “The Lake House.” And the lake house was laughter, warmth, love, and the rowboat.

As I sat in the hospital room, I spoke to Daddy of the times he’d tie the blue blowup raft behind the boat for me to lie on. I reminded him of me sailing through the waters on my belly tied behind the boat with Daddy in his bathing suit rowing away. Being carefree was an attitude rarely associated with my daddy, except with me. I wanted nothing from him but his love. And love was a rowboat on a lake on a summer’s day. Cool waves lapped at my toes. A giggling redheaded girl, pulled along on a raft, listening to the occasional gull interrupting my father as he sang, “There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was awful.” Yes, that was me, to a tee. Daddy’s girl with schizophrenic behavior patterns alternating between the very, very good and the very, very bad.

Daddy rowed the boat singing softly on a brown lake with blue skies and a yellow sun. Nothing was ever better. No one can tell me any differently. And as I talked to Daddy in that hospital room, in his coma, I knew we were both on that lake again.

“I’ve told him he should go to G_d. I don’t know what he’s waiting for,” said a nurse who popped her head inside the door.

“He was waiting for me,” I said. “He was waiting for me to come from California and be with him. He knew I would come. “

I was as sure of that as I was that he would leave me that night. So I held his hand tighter and rubbed my cheek against it and pictured his soft brown eyes gazing at me as I lay on the raft behind the boat, with my homegrown chopped up pixie haircut, thanks to my mom, fiery red against the blue of the raft and brown of the lake. We passed Treasure Island, and Daddy was lost in his strokes. The dip of the oars made ripples on the lake surface that danced past my raft. I often wondered what he was thinking about during those times. Perhaps he just was enjoying the moment. Taking in every microsecond’s worth of peace and beauty on that lake and just living it.

He smiled as the ducks swam past us. I called out to them: “beep beep beep.” Their shiny green heads perked up and looked at my father and me. We are the perfect twosome with no wings or webbed feet but navigating and swimming swiftly through the lake as well as they. They began to swim toward us in responses to my call until they realized they’d been duped, and we had no bread to give them. They tossed their heads, put their aloof airs back on, and swam away from us. We circled the lake for what seemed like hours to my eight-year-old child’s brain.

I stopped my storytelling and asked my comatose father, “Did I ever tell you about the Boy Scout jamboree raid?” The corner of his mouth twitched, and I took that for a no.

I began to tell the tale. One of the times my friend Ruthie was staying over at the lake house, we took the rowboat out with plans to go to the big island for an afternoon of exploring. As we approached, we noticed figures on the island, many of them…and tents! What were people doing on our island, I wondered? When we got closer, I could see Boy Scout uniforms. We went into stealth mode and tried to row to the side of the island covered in thick pine trees. Cold water started to splash up around us.

Abruptly, I was yanked off the lake by a male voice and found myself back in the hospital room once again. Two doctors entered the room. I let go of my father’s cool hand as I stood and turned to face them. They were wearing the uniform of their kind, white coats with stethoscopes hung around their necks. The one told me he was Dr. So-and-So. I don’t remember his name or his face. I do remember the dry feel of his hand as he shook mine. I could only imagine the gallons of instant sanitizer that he must have poured over his hands to give them that sort of texture. He told me I might want to leave the room as he was going to examine Daddy. I couldn’t imagine why I should have to leave, and I told the doctor I was staying. He pulled back the covers from the foot of the bed exposing my father’s legs to the knee. The odor hit me before the vision, the stench of rotting flesh. Bolting from the room, I saw the black color of his feet leading to the greenish yellow of his shins – gangrene. Untreated diabetes ravaged his legs. I went to the hospital chapel and decided to have a talk with G_d.

“Daddy’s coming to you. Be kind to him, he’s had a rough life. He only ever wanted the best for us. He may not have known how to show us all the time but he loves us. So dear G_d, please take him in your arms and have his spirit sit with you.”

At this point, I burst out laughing and quickly had to cover my mouth with my hands. I pictured my father sitting with G_d arguing with him over the way things on earth should be run. Eyes were staring at me from the two other sad people in the chapel, so still giggling to myself, I lit a candle and left.

I went to the cafeteria and drank some lousy hospital coffee. I figured Dr. Dry Hands and Dr. Nervous should be done in my dad’s room by then so I took the elevator two floors up and walked the long walk to his room. Yep, they were gone. I took my seat back at his bedside and told him the hospital coffee tasted like shit. “Hasn’t Starbucks come to New Jersey yet?” I asked him.

My oldest brother walked into the room just then and told me my other brother was waiting outside to take me home. Looking out the window, I discovered night had come while I sat talking with Daddy. I didn’t want to leave my father. I wanted to stay the night with him. I wanted to curl up in bed with him and lay my head on his chest as I did as a little girl. I wanted to be with him when he passed. But I wasn’t woman enough to stand firm for what I wanted, and I let my brother push me into going home to my parent’s house. I leaned over and kissed my father’s razor stubbly cheek, then kissed forehead. I told him how much I loved him and felt him squeeze my hand once again. I rubbed his hand against my cheek, and then gently put it down on the bed. Without glancing back, I turned and left his hospital room.

That night I slept with my mother in the queen-size bed my parents shared, dreaming of lakes and rowboats and my father when I woke with a start. We were on the lake when my father stood up in the boat and told me he had to go now. I cried hysterically, and I screamed, “Don’t leave me!”

He said “I’ll never leave you; I just have to go right now.” As I was reaching for him from the back of the boat, I woke up with wet eyes.

I went downstairs to get a drink of cold water. I looked around and realized the orange Formica countered ‘70’s style kitchen just didn’t feel like home to me anymore. I was sitting at the table for about ten minutes when the phone rang. I knew who it was, and I knew what the message would be. I picked up the phone to my brother’s voice telling me Daddy died about ten minutes ago, about five minutes after midnight. Strangely, I felt calm and at peace.

It’s been many years and a husband ago since my father passed on. True to his word, he never left me. We have met many times in the realm of dreams. One time when I was in turmoil over my divorce, we walked hand in hand through the pine barrens of New Jersey. He told me not to despair; much better things were coming for me. And when I had a tough decision to make about leaving my job and venturing out to start my own business, we sat on the green paisley couch in the lake house piano room as he sternly lectured me about my strengths and need to believe in my abilities and myself. Sometimes he joins me in this realm of reality, standing silently behind me on my left, beaming and smiling proudly as he did when I married the greatest joy and love of my life, my husband Kenny.

And sometimes we meet on the lake, in that ten-foot aluminum rowboat, for no reason at all. Me sitting back trailing a lazy hand in the cool brown waters; Daddy rowing the boat in his plaid swimsuit eternally in his fifties. Both of us soaking up the sun, laughing, talking, and enjoying each other. We celebrate a connection, a love that is, and always will be, alive.

Live from the Road – Free Friday, June 15

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How can you go wrong?  Live from the Road has received six 5-star reviews so far and today, June 15, it’s free to download to your Kindle or desktop. Take a trip down Route 66 with four wild and wacky women out to find the true meaning of their lives.

Nice things happening today ever since I opened my email and discovered I’d been nominated for Most Inspiring Blog Award.

Hazy Shades of Me

It’s a cozy little place, this blogosphere. At first, I was tentative, holding out. Afraid of scrutiny and criticism yes, but exposure…now that was the scary, no…terrifying, Walking Dead zombie, trapped in a sinking car, hanging off a ledge clinging to a loose rock kind of fear I had of this place…this place, that I now think of as home.

Inhibitions on the back burner, I feel excited to cast out my thoughts and words. My heart pounds as I click my stats and wait for views to appear. It skips a beat when that icon turns orange showing I have a new comment, like or follow. Yes, I admit it. I post. I wait. I hope.

But, like everyone else, I was once unsure. It’s a very bizarre conundrum; loving… longing to write but scared shitless someone might read it.

I’ve come a long…

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