Waking Up in the 21st Century

BOW & ARROW -- QUIVER COVER FOR KINDLE - beige - NARROWEDI don’t like to think of myself as old-fashioned or boring. I enjoy the fact that 21st-century technology has made our lives a lot easier and made communication a lot richer. On the other hand, I do begrudge the quiet time, face-to-face interaction, and just plain good manners in the company of others that were thrown out the window with the adoption of some of that technology.

However, I have faced the fact that the world has changed dramatically during my lifetime. Life is now digital with a capital ‘D.’ So I have finally come to the place that I am eager — okay maybe not eager — but I’m very WILLING —  to get involved in making all of my written work available for the readers out there whose lives are now 90% digital.

And there are so many of them. I’m completely outnumbered. I’ll never forget the day one of my editors (considerably younger than I) said, “Just e-mail me the manuscript.” I looked at him, shocked, and said, but then you’ll have to print it all out yourself.”  He looked back at me with what I’m sure was a mixture of impatience and pity, and said, “We read from the screen now.” I’m sure the words that were really going through his young mind were something like, “You poor, old-fashioned little thing. The world is passing you by, and you don’t even know it.” Now, about 10 years later, I’m finally used to the fact that people love reading words that are not delivered in the form of ink on paper.

That being the case, my publisher and I finally set up shop in the Amazon Kindle store this past week. And several of my books will be available through that market by the end of the month.

Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not going overboard technologically.  I still have my little flip phone rather than a smart phone or an Android. And I still use my trusty old desktop PC with a tower that weighs nearly a ton. So I’m not going super modern here. But I do want all those folks out there who have been asking me for the past couple years if my books are available for e-readers yet to finally hear me say, “Yes, you can get them from Amazon.”

So, there we have it. You’ve heard it here first — well, almost. One or two other people who are excited about the fact that they can FINALLY read my books while they travel have been spreading the news around. But, other than those few, you readers and my Facebook followers are the first to know.

One of the novels that went up this week is A Quiver Full of Arrows, and many of you who were following me last year will remember it. I had written only half of it about three years ago, and I decided to write the rest of it in serialized form right here on the blog — one chapter a day — until I had made myself finish it. You were very gracious in your response to it, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It will no longer be posted here for a free read, however, since it is now in the Kindle store.

If you’re one the folks who read it and enjoyed it, I hope you encourage friends to buy it. And if you were not following at the time I posted it, then that’s a good reason for you to visit the Kindle store and take a peak.

Hint:  If you click on the picture of the book cover above, it will take you to the page where three of the books are already listed in the store.  There should be at least four more in the store by the end of May. You’ll also find the link to my Amazon author’s page in my right sidebar.

Progress is a good thing, generally, but it can also be just a tad poignant. I came close to shedding a tear or two when I said goodbye to my trusty old Canon typewriter several years ago. But I do like the ease with which I can edit and correct text with a computer document program instead. And I’m sure I’m going to enjoy the world of electronic books just as much  — now that I’ve finally gotten myself in gear. So look out, 21st Century: here I come!

~~~

Writing Challenge: Anybody Got a Story to Go With This Picture?

ABSTRACT WHITE CHRISTMAS POND-B & W

If you have a story — or poem — to go with
this picture, post it on your blog and put the
link to it into the “Comments” section below.

No word limit.  No time limit.
Let your imagination run wild.

`
(Something fit for general audiences please.)

~~~

Friday Fictioneers – 2/27/15 — ‘Adoption’

Friday Fictioneers, for those who are not aware, is a writing challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog. She gives us a picture prompt each week, and challenges us to write a 100-word story based on that picture. It’s great discipline and lots of fun. So if you’d like to join in, just follow the link to her site for the details.

This week’s picture prompt is courtesy of Dawn Q. Landau. My story is below the picture.

c2a9dawn_landau

ADOPTION

Hair bristled on my neck. I was bein’ followed. I whirled ’round and found Zanzibar ploddin’ behind me, head down, tail draggin’.

“Hey, boy,” I said, squattin’ down. “Where’s ol’ Toby?”

Zanzibar whined, licked my hand, whined again. Somethin’ was wrong. Zanzibar and Toby were thicker’n fam’ly. They came through here first week of ever month. Stayed ’till the coal train came through and stopped at the crossin’. But this weren’t the first week. Where was that ol’ hobo?

I hunted three days for Toby; no luck. Reckon that lung problem finally got ‘im. Zanzibar’s tail’s still draggin’, and he won’t let me out of ‘is sight. Reckon I got me a dog.

~~~

 

Friday Fictioneers – 2/6/15 — ‘The Call of the Chitwood’

Friday Fictioneers is a fun way to interact with other writers around the world and also to hone and discipline your writing skill by forcing yourself to tell a whole story in just 100 words.  Hop over and check out the details for participating in the challenge.  My story is below the picture.

MAZE -- MELANIE GREENWOODPhoto prompt is from Melanie Greenwood.

 

THE CALL OF THE CHITWOOD

Nora woke. Was it? … Yes … the call of the Chitwood bird: silver-sweet; compelling.

Rising swiftly, she ran to the maze leading to the gazebo, which harbored the locked door to the ‘other side.’ She knew the legend: Only a young virgin could hear the Chitwood’s call; if she obeyed instantly, she’d find the rainbow light bursting through the keyhole. Then, for only three minutes, she could gain entrance.

Her breath caught at the brilliant light. She hurried through the familiar maze, her eyes on the door. Stopping once, she looked back. But light engulfed her, sang to her, pulled her into itself. She lifted the door latch and stepped through.

 

~~~

 

You’re Invited to Visit My Storybook

 

 

BOOKS WITH STORYBOOK TEXT FOR BLOG

Just a reminder that you always have an open invitation to visit my ‘STORYBOOK’ on Facebook. It’s a page of stories – nothing but stories. Uninterrupted free reading of my original short stories – and even an occasional excerpt from a novel – along with the link to read the rest of the story free as well.

~

 

The Trial of Marybell Westmoreland — a short, short story

MAN SHOVELING - FULL YARDMarybell Westmoreland was, at the delicate age of 82, a soft, pink-cheeked, quiet woman. Standing merely five feet, one inch tall, she nevertheless commanded total respect from rich and poor, elite and scoundrel.

No one really knew for sure if she was rich or just extremely smart and thrifty. Very few people ever saw her actually spend money, but she always seemed to have a well-stocked larder, immaculate gardens, late-model vehicles, elegant gowns, and hoards of priceless jewelry.

She seldom entertained these days, but when she did, the party was one for the society columns to slobber over. She nearly always had a guest list that included several members of royalty – from half a dozen different countries – as well as homeland celebrities and scores of friends. They ate; they danced; they gossiped; they groveled where necessary; and they had an all-round rollicking good time.

That’s why, when the Thursday morning papers reported that Marybell Westmoreland had been arrested and charged with poisoning her gardener, citizens from all around the world were in shock.

I just do not believe it!” one duchess was heard to exclaim to her husband as she slammed down the paper. “Why, we’ve known Marybell for decades! She hasn’t an evil bone in her little body!”

Mmmm,” replied her hubby. “Well, my dear, these things generally do take one by surprise, you know.”

Nonsense! They have the wrong person; that’s all! You’ll see!”

“Well … time will tell, my love,” hubby replied, as he finished his coffee and rose to gather his hat and briefcase, preparing to head out for a meeting.

I must send her a telegram to encourage her!” he heard his wife add as the butler let him out the front door.

And so the duchess sent her telegram – as did scores of other friends and family from all echelons of society.

Having been released on an exceedingly large bail, Marybell Westmoreland, chose to go straight to her home and refused to see anyone or go out in public for any reason. News reporters swarmed the area just outside the boundaries of her property, hoping to get a tiny glimpse that would allow a chance at a photo that would, no doubt, at least triple the sales of their particular newspaper.

One enterprising young woman reporter did manage to talk one of the maids into speaking with her, and when asked how Miss Westmoreland was behaving, the maid answered, “Oh, she’s the same as ever, Lord love her. She goes about the house hummin’ to herself just like usual, and she has her meals at the right time, and eats like a horse. It’s a sure bet she ain’t worried about gettin’ a death sentence.”

By the time a month had passed – and the scheduled trial was still three more weeks away — the reporters went back to ordinary stories and let the old lady go on about her life uninterrupted. Gossip seemed to die down. There just wasn’t enough activity taking place in Marybell’s day-to-day life to add any fuel to the fire.

Finally, the trial began. Each side presented various forms of what they considered evidence, but everything was so circumstantial that most of the people following the proceedings had made up their minds within three days that there would be nothing to convict the old bird.

They were all the more shocked then, when the defense attorney put Marybell on the stand herself. Naturally, the judge asked her publicly if she understood that she did not have to testify against herself, and she replied that she did understand. “But I don’t mind, Your Honor,” she told him. “I’ll be glad to testify. After all, it’s my own trial, is it not? How ill-mannered would I be to expect people to come to my trial if I don’t even act like a good hostess and talk to them!”

The judge rolled his eyes and turned to her attorney. “Do you agree with this decision, Mr. Withers?”

“No, Your Honor, but my client has insisted.”

“Very well. Proceed then.”

Thank you, Your Honor,” he said and cleared his throat for the coming interrogation. After asking Marybell to verify her name and other identifying information, he went right to his first shocking question.

Now, Miss Westmoreland, will you tell us, please, did you poison your own gardener, Mr. Samuel Trustbody?”

Yes, I did,” she replied, looking him directly in the eye.

The audience in the courtroom – including both attorneys and the judge – sucked in an audible breath.

I beg your pardon?” said Mr. Withers. And days later, one reporter made the comment that the look on the  poor defense attorney’s face at that moment was one for the history books.

Very calmly, as if she did that sort of thing every day, Marybell replied, “I said, yes, I did.”

Mr. Withers cleared his throat again. “You are saying that you poisoned your gardener, Mr. Samuel Trustbody, in order to kill him?”

She nodded her head, her soft pink cheeks looking just a little pinker than usual, but with no other sign of any agitation. “Yes, that is correct.”

Poor Mr. Withers had never lost a case so quickly, and he just did not know how to deal with the situation.  He cleared his throat again, but when he began to ask the next question, his voice came out so squeaky that he had to start again. “And … may I ask why you killed your gardener, Miss Westmoreland?”

Well, you see I had to.”

Go on, please. Why did you have to kill him?”

Because he just insisted on digging up the whole yard behind the greenhouse to plant a new garden. Naturally, I couldn’t let him do it. I tried to talk him out of it. I even ordered him not to do it. But all he would say was that his contract with me said that he had free rein to plant anywhere he saw fit, and he was convinced no other place would be right for that kind of garden.”

But … surely … madam … that was not sufficient reason to take his life!”

Oh, I had to! Don’t you see? If I had let him go back there and dig up all that area, why … he would have discovered all the other bodies I’ve buried back there.”


THE END

~
© 2013 Sandra Conner

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sea # 1

When I think of the sea, I think of my novel Racing Toward the Light, primarily because it was a painting of the sea by internationally renowned artist Steven Sundram that inspired the story. A print of his painting was a gift to me from some friends, and the very day I received it, I was so drawn into the aura and mystery of that painting that I couldn’t resist putting my feelings into words. Those words became the setting for the novel, and I virtually lived in that painting for the whole three months that it took to write the book.

Steven’s painting is the focus of both the front and back covers of the book. You can find many more examples of his excellent and inspiring work on his website.

You can find the book at the publisher’s website: St. Ellen Press.

RACING FRONT COVER - ALTERED FONT~

Take part in the fun. Get directions HERE.

 

Experimental Writing Challenge

Okay, I just can’t resist this. I love writing challenges, even though I don’t get to keep up with all of them.  A couple weeks ago, I began thinking about one particular piece of graphic art done by a friend that should spark several good ideas for stories. But, of course, no one else is going to use that photo for a challenge, so I decided I might as well do it myself.

Now, many of my blogging friends are involved in so many of these kinds of activities, they may not have time to add another — and that’s okay. Believe me, I do understand. However, for any of you out there who are looking for one more little adventure in the world of cyberspace writing, I’m going to offer this challenge.

For this time around, I’m suggesting you post your story on your own blog and then come to my comments section and post the link to it — with any other comments you want to make. If this should develop into something regular with a lot of people taking part, and it starts to get too crowded, I’ll FORCE myself to get more sophisticated and sign up for the “inlinkz” system or something similar. But for now, if you want to share your story, just post the link in the ‘Comments’ section below the challenge post.

Now for rules:  Uhhggg!

Only two rules:
1. Write a story inspired by the picture — 100-500 words in length.
2. I host a “G” rated blog, so please be sure your story is clean and wholesome enough to be read by any audience — in other words — Rated G.

And if it should transpire that no one is eager to take up this challenge, there’s no harm done. I’m just feeling a little whimsical this evening, and this is the result. Come to think of it, that’s the way I felt when I posted the “Thursday’s Windows” challenge originally — and look where that led!  If we do have a good turnout of stories, perhaps I’ll post a new challenge each month, but I’ll wait and see how this one goes.

Now for the picture: Some of you will recognize this work from a previous post on this site. It is by Terry Valley, a professional photographer and graphic artist friend in the U. S.  It clearly lends itself to a science fiction theme, but please don’t feel constrained to stick with that. I don’t doubt that many will be inspired to go a different route all together.

TERRY'S GREEN PLANET 2 - resized, credits

Of course, I guess this means I’ll have to write a story inspired by the picture as well. Hmmm. I don’t have any ideas yet, but I’ll work on it, and when I get one, I’ll post my link on here as well.

No time limit. If you’re inclined to take part, take your time and have fun.

~

Friday Fictioneers 100-Word Challenge – ‘Love’s Song’

I wanted to join in with the other Friday Fictioneer participants this week, but I have to admit that my contribution is ‘illegal’ — being closer to 180 words. However, since this is the little story that kept nagging at me from the very first moment I saw the picture below, I have written it anyway and edited it down as far as possible in the time I had available.

The challenge is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to take part, hop over to see her at this link:

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/

The prompt is the following picture, which comes to us courtesy of Roger Cohen at http://betarules.blogspot.com.au/

TWO BASS VIOLINS - CELLOS

LOVE’S SONG

They’d met at a rehearsal in this very theater. He, with his polished coat of dark walnut, was instantly captivated by her honey-maple coloring – but even more so by the sweet voice she gave to every note assigned her in the performances. Bravely, he’d professed his love, and she’d responded. They had made exquisite music together for 74 years.

Now, with their respective masters in their graves, the two aging instruments rested against the wall of an old closet behind the stage. His coat was battered and marred significantly. But her luster still had the power to draw music from him every time he looked at her. They sighed quietly. They still had each other – and the music that lived within them. He kissed her gently. She kissed him back. They embraced.

Outside, people slowed their stride as they passed the old theater. “There it is again,” said one. Others nodded in agreement.

“Strange,” said a young woman. “Every night, I’m just sure I hear music coming from inside, but there is never anyone there ….”

 

 

So You Want To Be A Writer, Huh???

So you want to be a writer, huh? Then DO IT!

Mystery author Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

You know, you don’t have to live a weird life — or even a particularly exciting life — to be a great author. In fact you can live a very ordinary, chicken-frying, auto-repairing, laundry-washing, diaper-changing kind of life and still write books that will lift people OUT OF the ordinary and into a place where imaginations rise to peak places, where new dreams are ignited, and where hope and faith bring victory into life’s struggles.

So pick up that pen, sit down to that computer keyboard, or start dictating into that recorder — whatever method works for you.  If you’re sure you WANT to write, START WRITING.  Your life will never be the same.