Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

 

CHEESMAN PARK

     THE TALE

“I’m enjoying this picnic very much,” Tom said to Mary, after she finally accepted his invitation to a date. “But may I ask why you chose a picnic? We could be sitting in a movie theater eating popcorn, looking forward a romantic dinner. And picnics usually take place on a sunny Saturday afternoon.” He cinched his windbreaker, and then looked at the sky as dusk settled. Looking back at Mary, he shrugged. “This is everything a picnic is not.”

Mary looked at Tom and smiled, although Tom sensed her eyes were looking through him instead of at him. Her mind and focus seemed a million miles away, anywhere but on Denver’s Cheesman Park.

She raised her finger towards no place in particular, as though she fancied herself a professor preparing to argue a point.

“Can’t you feel it, Tom?” she asked. “They’re all around us.”

Creases formed on Tom’s forehead and his mouth slackened. “Don’t tell me you believe that crap about ghosts and spirits?”

Now it was Mary’s turn to frown. “I thought you’re an educated man, Tom. Don’t you know the history behind the park?”

“Educated, yes, but I’m also skeptical. If I don’t see it, or someone shows me proof, I’m not buying what they’re selling.”

“But, all those bodies . . .,”

“Yes, I know all about it,” Tom interrupted. “They converted a cemetery into a park but didn’t remove all the bodies.”

Without answering, Mary slid her palms on the moist grass next to the blanket, and then looked around the park as though examining the treetops. “We might be sitting on the grave of Abraham Kay.”

“Who the hell is Abraham Kay?”

“He’s the first one buried on these grounds in 1859, after dying from a lung infection. Oh, sure, they’ll tell you the first body was a man hanged for murder, but Abraham, he was the first. Most of the bodies were outlaws and paupers. Imagine, directly under us might be the restless ghost of a murderer.”

Tom shook his head. “And to think, I asked you out six times before you accepted. If I’d known you were so obsessed with the supernatural . . .,”

Mary sat back and folded her arms across her chest, narrowing her eyes to slits. “Tom Evans, wasn’t it you who said you like living on the edge, taking risks? Where’s your sense of adventure? You come across as macho, yet the presence of spirits scares you?”

“Hey,” Tom said, putting a hand to his chest, “I’m not scared. I just don’t believe in that stuff. No matter how you slice it, dead is dead. And yes, I know, I probably read the same things you read. There are still two thousand bodies buried here. People report spirits knocking at their doors at night, and moans coming from the park. People walking around the park at night and suddenly feel as though someone is watching, and feelings of sadness come over them for no reason; strange shadows floating among the trees.” He waved his hand. “So then, tell me, given your bizarre choice and time for a date, why don’t I see any shadows? Why don’t I feel a hand on my shoulder? Why don’t I feel sad or hear moaning or strange voices beckoning me to enter another world? I’ll tell you why, Mary, because it’s all hogwash.”

He stopped and stared at her, expecting a number of possible reactions, none good, but she simply widened her eyes and smiled.

“You’re forgetting about the singing woman.”

“Singing woman?”

“Yes, people reported seeing a woman singing to herself while walking through the park. When they approach, she disappears. Do you know she is the daughter of John Astor?”

“Okay, I’ll bite. Who’s John Astor?”

“He was a gravedigger. In 1893, he was stealing from the open graves when he felt a ghost land upon his shoulders. He took off and never returned.”

Tom’s mouth curled into a smile. “Astor, huh? That’s your last name. Any relation?” he asked, and chuckled.

Mary straightened her back and beamed. “He’s my father.”

Tom burst into laughter and turned away. “Yeah, right, of course, your father. That would make you, what . . .,” he counted on his fingers, “about one-hundred twenty years old.” He turned back and said, “I must say, Mary Astor, you’ve really taken care of yourself. You don’t look over . . .,” He stopped when she started softly singing a tune with words he didn’t recognize. With every note, her form grew dimmer, until eventually she vanished from sight.

Tom put his hands on the blanket and inched back, sliding on the ground onto the moist grass, soiling his pants. He looked around the park and swallowed, unable to move for several moments.

Finally, he scrambled to his feet and dashed away from the park, without stopping to gather up the blanket or leftover food. He never returned to Cheesman Park.


CHEESMAN PARK

                                                                     THE FACTS         

Cheesman Park was once Prospect Hill Cemetery, converted to a park in 1907, named such in 1908 for Walter Cheesman, a Denver pioneer.

The cemetery opened in 1858, with the first “customer” the following year. In 1872, the U.S. Government determined the property was federal land, deeded in 1860 by a treaty with the Arapaho.

The cemetery was split into various areas to represent different religions, ethnic groups, and fraternal organizations. Eventually the cemetery fell into a state of disrepair, rarely used by the late 1880’s, becoming more of an eyesore. Before it became Cheesman Park, in 1890, named Congress Park.

To prepare for the park, families had 90 days to remove the bodies of their loved one. The Roman Catholic area was sold to the Archdiocese and named Mount Calvary Cemetery, although the Catholic Church eventually sold the land back to the city in 1950. The Chinese section was handed to the large population of Chinese living in a Denver district known as “Hop Alley.” Eventually, most of the bodies were shipped to their homeland China.

The majority of the bodies were vagrants, criminals, and paupers, the main reason why more than 5,000 bodies remained unclaimed. In 1893, the City of Denver paid undertaker E.P. McGovern $1.90 per body to remove the remains, provide a new coffin, and then transfer to the Riverside Cemetery. McGovern, an unscrupulous sort, saw an opportunity to increase his profits by using child-sized caskets one foot by 3 ½ fee long for the adults. Naturally, due to “space constraints,” McGovern needed to hack up the bodies, often using as many as three caskets for one body. Sloppy and hurried work resulted in body parts and bones strewn in a disorganized mess, enticing souvenir hunters to steal items from the caskets.

Once the city learned of McGovern’s travesties, they canceled the contract and launched an investigation, although a new contract to finish the removal was never awarded.

In 1894, work started to prepare for the park, completed in 2007, although a number of bodies remained. In November, 2008, while building a parking structure to serve the Denver Botanic Gardens, human bones and coffins were unearthed and moved to another cemetery.

Today, Cheesman Park is considered a gathering spot for Denver’s gay community.

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Every writer develops their stories in different ways. Some outline, some write from scratch and let the characters develop and the plot emerge as they write. Others might draft three or four chapters before they decide it’s time to step back and determine the flow of the story.

I’ve tried all of the above and other approaches, but always come back to, and finally settled on outlining. My “ideal” story will be mapped out with all questions and issues resolved before I write the draft. Of course, that’s in a perfect world.

Regardless of the approach you use, at some point the chronology of the events in the lives of your characters will need to be validated. Most, if not all stories involve background events for your main characters, which may or may not be included in the final version. But these events are important because you want to ensure, for example, that your antagonist (let’s say he or she is a serial killer), was in a certain location at a certain time when he or she claimed their first victim. You also want to make sure he or she was not six months old at the time of the murder.

Here is where a timeline is most useful and I believe must be part of the writing process at some point of story development. What you use to create a timeline is a matter of choice.

In the past I’ve used a Word document in the standard outline form and even used Post-It notes on a whiteboard, but a template I created (and am always “tweaking”) in Excel has proven its worth and stood the test of time. If you’ve ever ‘Googled’ the phrase ‘Timeline in Excel,’ you’ll find more examples than you’ll know what to do with. The truth is, figuring out which one best fits your needs can consume a lot of time.

I’m hoping to spare you that research time.

I’m a proponent on providing examples because I believe giving advice without suggesting how to implement that advice falls well short of being effective. It’s like your doctor telling you to lose weight then sending you on your way without recommending the best approach.

For the moment and the sake of this blog, consider me a caring doctor.

Here is my prescription – my timeline template in Excel in column listing form.

  • Event Month
  • Event Day
  • Event Year
  • Time of day (Estimate)
  • Time of day (Precise)
  • Event Character
  • Event Character birthdate
  • Event Character Age
  • Details (a short summary of the event)
  • Event Location
  • Where does the event become known?
  • Notes (a free form column to expound on event details, ask questions, or brainstorm

If you’ve used Excel for any amount of time, you’re aware of its flexibility and power. Using drop-down lists, tables, and calculations, I’ve saved considerable time filling in the columns in my template.

For instance, I created a character table in a separate sheet and use a drop-down to select the Event Character. This keeps me from having to refer to a separate source of characters.

I use drop-down lists to select Event Month, Day, and Year.

You’ll notice I listed two Time of Day columns. In the Estimate column, I use a drop down list of 24 values corresponding to the hours of the day. This is a ball park time for when the event might occur. In the Precise column I enter the actual time the event occurred, because multiple events are likely to occur within a given hour and it’s essential to list them chronologically. Are both necessary? Perhaps, perhaps not, but to each his own, and in the words of actor Fred Dryer who starred in the TV series, Hunter, “works for me.” I’m probably dating myself but you get what I mean.

The character name table includes birthdate which allows me to set up the calculated column to show the character’s age at the time of an event. This allows me to verify that the CEO of a company is not four years old, for example.

Hopefully before I progress too far into the story development phase, I’m able to create a drop down list for my scenes or chapters, allowing me to select from the list to enter it into the column where does the event become known? For instance, the event date and time our serial killer won’t become known until later in the story, after the protagonist investigates (and hopefully finds and stops the dude).

The Data –> Filter tool in Excel is a powerful and valuable assistant.

Once I fill in as much of the timeline sheet as I can, I can display by a certain value or values by selecting that value or values from the column.

  • I filter by character to track the events in their life.
  • I filter by date to see what events occurred on that date.
  • I filter by scene or chapter to isolate the events that will become known at that time, which allows me to start drafting that particular scene or chapter.
  • I validate that my character’s age jibes with the event, and check the time to ensure the facts of the story are presented as they occur in the story.

. . . All at the touch of a button!

Another benefit to this timeline manifests itself during the brainstorming phase. By filtering on an event for a certain character, I can create previous and/or subsequent events for any character I believe will contribute to the plot. This determines the flow of the story.

For example, I might have an event, ‘John discovers a dead body.

From this I can brainstorm and create previous and subsequent events for John as well as other characters. Who is the person? Who killed them? How did they get there? When did they kill this person? Did anyone witness the murder? Placing characters in a location and time will help to determine hints, clues, and witnesses.

I’ve discovered the best thing about this timeline approach to developing story is it’s more fun than writing the actual story.

Isn’t it “time” for your timeline?

 

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The State of the World

“Please give me your report, Agent 302,” The Supervisor said.

“Sir, you assigned me to follow an average man on an average day while he completed his tasks.”

“I trust you found it interesting as well as productive.”

“Somewhat. I followed him to the grocery store. He dodged and weaved through the aisles as if in a death-race, sometimes bumping into other carts, raising his voice at others to make way, as though there was nothing more important than the gathering of his food and supplies.”

“He sounds like an impatient fellow.”

“Indeed. On more than one occasion, he encountered someone who left a cart in the center of the aisle and wandered off, leaving him little choice but to knock the cart out of the way, sometimes a little more forceful than I believed necessary. The look on his face spoke volumes, and if he chose to vocalize his thoughts, I’d expect he’d say, ‘not everyone has all day to read the labels of every single solitary package in the store without consideration of other shoppers!’”

“Your man seems on a mission,” The Supervisor observed.

“Yes, not made any easier by the reactions of the label readers.”

“How so?”

“Responses ranged from an idle shrug, a blatant display of apathy, more often a dirty look, or in a few cases, a nasty comment which often included profanity. The more of these types our man encountered, the more impatient he became, and impatience breeds frustration, which I feared might have led to anger and perhaps violence.”

“That would not be good.”

“In another aisle, he encountered two women with carts facing opposite directions, standing next to each other, making conversation without regard to other shoppers, as though that particular aisle was designed specifically for them. This left the man with no choice but to turn the cart around in a huff. He certainly could have made a scene, but thankfully chose a path of lesser resistance.”

“Your man possesses a degree of self-control.”

“Yes, but he continued to be tested while speeding through the remaining aisles. Some shoppers lingered, appearing to analyze every possible brand of a particular food product to perhaps determine the best choice.”

“Finally the man arrived at the checkout area and chose the 20-items-or-less line, but when he counted the number in the cart, there were 25. His face once again betrayed his thoughts. What if he stayed in the line? Would the clerk actually count the number of items and ask him to choose another line? The person ahead clearly had in excess of thirty items and if they could flaunt the sign and disregard others, why couldn’t he?”

“It seems it is one thing after another.”

“I agree, and at this point he probably felt like a higher power had singled him out for a life of frustration. He stood there for a time, lips pressed together, knuckles turning white, but to his credit, he finally turned the cart around the chose a different line.”

“I expect by this time you gained a measure of respect, perhaps even admiration for him,” The Supervisor noted.

“Most certainly, but his burdensome journey was far from over.”

“Please explain, Agent 302.”

“When he found a line with only two people in front of him, each with carts no more than half full, his face clearly brightened and his shoulders relaxed. Less than a minute later the light above the register flashed and the clerk called for a price check. His eyes closed, his head dropped. He appeared defeated and deflated. He turned and looked behind him at two more shoppers who joined him in line and apparently realized at this point it’s futile to try another line. With the way the day was going, it would most assuredly be worse, so he remained and waited his turn.”

“Some days it is not worth going out of the house.”

“Or getting out of bed which for him would have been a better choice. Fifteen minutes later, he paid for his items and walked out to the parking lot, his jaw tight as he muttered under his breath.”

“I get the distinct feeling his day of frustration is yet to end.”

“You are right. He walked outside and stopped for a moment and looked around the parking lot, which at this point contained rows of vehicles as far as the eye could see. He seemed to struggle with recalling where he parked and threw up his hands in disgust. Finally he decided he’d better start searching, because it certainly wouldn’t come to him. He walked down the aisles with purpose and was fortunate to find his car in the first row he selected.”

“Things are improving and the future looks bright.”

“Not for long. When he arrived at his car, he noticed someone parked their pickup truck in the space next to him who either didn’t see the freshly-painted white lines or didn’t understand their meaning.”

“What do you mean?” The Supervisor asked.

The pickup truck parked too close to the driver side of his car to allow him to open the door wide enough to enter.”

“So much for a bright future.”

“He cursed aloud and kicked the fender of the pickup truck with his foot.”

“It would seem he approached the breaking point.”

“It would appear so, because he brandished his keys while looking in every direction. I believe he planned to deface the pickup truck in some manner, but he saw me and changed his mind.”

“What happened then?” The Supervisor asked.

“He opened the trunk of his car and put in the packages, then went around and entered through the passenger side door. I noticed he struggled a little with maneuvering over the console in the middle, perhaps wondering if he should have purchased a car with a bench seat.”

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

“Truly it is. I wondered whether he planned to wait for the owner of the pickup truck to return, but the ice cream was melting, the milk was getting warm, and given the attitudes of others to this point, what good would it do? He decided on discretion and started his car.”

“It sounds like a wise decision.”

“I believe so. He needed to back up and pull forward a number of times before clearing the space without inflicting damage on the pickup truck. What happened next bordered on the ridiculous.”

“Oh?”

“He needed to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision with a car coming straight at him.”

“I don’t understand.”

“The rows in the parking lot are all one-way and large white arrows painted on the ground clearly indicate right-of-way, not to mention anyone with a speck of common sense would notice the cars pointed at an angle and even if one missed seeing the arrow, it should be obvious they were going the wrong way.”

“What did he do?”

“First, he pounded on his steering wheel, then put the car into gear with the engine still running. He got out of his car and walked over to the car in front. The driver rolled down the window and they engaged in a shouting match. He asked whether the man was blind or stupid or both. The other driver simply told him to ‘get a life, what’s the big deal, and can’t he just move to the side because there is room enough for two cars.’ He threw up his hands and walked away before turning and said, “you know, I don’t think blind people should be allowed to drive.”

The Supervisor chuckled. “It would seem our man is prone to sarcasm with a dry sense of humor.”

“After what he endured to that point, I expect he wanted to buy a gun and blow his brains out.”

“Indeed. Please continue.”

“He returned to his car and by this time several cars were behind him waiting for the situation to either escalate or resolve. One driver beeped his horn but it might have been directed at the oncoming car going the wrong way. Our man got into his car and moved to the right to allow the “blind driver” to pass, not bothering to look in his direction. I mean, what else could he do?”

“A sign of surrender, perhaps.”

“Perhaps, but it doesn’t end there.”

“I find it hard to believe he could endure much more.”

“At the end of the street he stopped at a red light. There were three lanes. The ones on the outside were left-turn and right-turn only, while the middle lane offered the option of turning right or going straight. Our man waited in the middle lane with his right turn signal flashing, and a red sports car driven by a young man with a young girl in the passenger seat pulled up to the right-turn only lane. The window was down and music blared from the car radio. Our man didn’t so much as acknowledge their presence, keeping his eyes focused straight ahead. When the light turned green . . .,”

The Supervisor raised a palm. “Don’t tell me, the red sports car drove straight ahead and cut off our man before he made his turn.”

“Naturally. He slammed on the brakes and laid on the horn for a good ten seconds. The response from the other driver was a one-finger salute out the window.”

“More apathy and blatant disregard for others.”

“Yes, but by this time I expect our man felt too tired and defeated to do much else, so he continued on his way. He arrived at a four-way stop sign in a subdivision. I learned later his house was two hundred yards down the street. His car was the only one waiting at this time and when he pulled ahead, a car from the left drove through the intersection with clearly no intent of slowing down, much less stopping. Our man slammed on the brakes and turned his car to the right in an attempt to avoid a collision but in my opinion, it was not possible. The other driver slammed into the back door on the driver’s side, which was fortunate. Otherwise, lives might have been lost.”

“This is very sad, especially since he was close to his home.”

“Most certainly. The noise of the crash attracted a number of homeowners, which turned fortunate for the offending driver.”

“How do you mean?” The Supervisor asked.

“Our man was bleeding from a head wound but otherwise his injuries didn’t appear life-threatening. He flung open the door to his car and jumped out and ran over to the other car. The driver was a young man, probably no more than eighteen or nineteen years old. Our man dragged him out by the shirt collar and threw him to the ground. Two men who came out to respond to the accident stopped him before he inflicted harm upon the young man.”

The Supervisor sat back and tented his fingers in front of his mouth. “Our man had a quite a harrowing day and it sounds as if everyone he encountered couldn’t have cared less.”

Agent 302 took a deep breath. “I don’t know whether this average day in an average man’s life is typical, but it seems these people all have their heads stuck in a dark and foreboding place very offensive to the olfactory nerve.”

The Supervisor smiled. “You do have a way with words, Agent 302, and I must tell you, your report coincides with that of our agents around the world.”

“Thank you, sir. The people all seem to be in a hurry and won’t take a few seconds to obey the laws decreed by the powers on the planet, and from what I’ve learned these laws do not seem overly restrictive or demanding. Like most laws I suppose, they exist to keep the planet safe, but most people appear too focused on themselves.”

“I see. What is your recommendation?”

“I believe we need to abandon our plan to insert ourselves into this society and find a different planet to harvest. These earthlings will most certainly be more trouble than they are worth.”

“I agree. You have done well, Agent 302. We will leave this decaying world.”

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I am proud to present an interview with Callie Taylor, main character from Waking Up Dead, a unique and interesting novel written by author Margo Bond Collins.

 Thank you for coming to chat with us today. Why do you think Margo Bond Collins chose  you to represent her/him?

Margo was driving to work one day and caught a glimpse of me as I drifted across the Civil War statue in the middle of downtown. Of course, I just looked like fog to her at the time. I had to expend some pretty serious energy to get her to hear me! But once she did, I was able to get my story out.

Tell us a little about yourself?

When I was alive, I was a technical writer in Dallas, Texas. But then I died—I was murdered, actually; I’ll spare you the gory details—and I ended up as a ghost haunting someplace I’d never even been. I’m now a ghost in Abramsville, Alabama. It’s the weirdest damn afterlife. . . and I’m apparently destined to spend it fighting crime.

What is your birth date?

None of your business.

Where do you live? What is it about that area that drew you?

I don’t live. I haunt. And I’m not sure what it is that drew me here. I just woke up dead in Alabama! But I do spend a lot of time with my friend Ashara and her grandmother, Maw-Maw. They’re two of the very few people who can see me!

 What’s your favorite music?

Right now? My favorite kind of music is whatever makes Ashara crazy. I like to change her music over when she’s driving. It’s easier to manipulate electronic objects than anything else, so it’s something I can do.

 Will we be seeing more of you or are you stepping out of the lime light?

Hardly anyone can see me. But my story isn’t done yet! I know I have things left to do; I just don’t know what, yet.

 What do you do to relax?

I drift. It’s kind of like sleeping, but it’s apparently what ghosts do. And when I’m not drifting, I watch a lot of television. Crime shows, mostly. Luckily I found Ashara and Maw-Maw and can interact with them. Until I found them, my afterlife was boring. BORING.

What’s your biggest turn on?

Now? Watching out for the people I care about. I’m no guardian angel—just the thought of all that responsibility gives me the creeps—but I do what I can to care for the people in my life . . . um. Afterlife. .

 What your favorite ice cream flavor, chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Oh. If only I could taste food again. I can kind of smell it, which is nice. But not as nice as eating it was.

 Do you believe in ghosts?

I kind of have to, now, though I’m the only one I’ve seen so far!

 Do you feel the cover accurately represents you?

Sure. It’s a shadowy woman who disappears into nothing. That’s me these days, though when I look at myself, I still see just me, wearing the clothes I wore the day I died. Black slacks, gray button-down shirt, black leather jacket, medium-heel black boots. Casual professional. When I manage to cast a reflection in the mirror, I still look like me. Medium-toned skin, green eyes, dark wavy hair to my shoulders. But some people see me as a shadowy figure.

Waking Up Dead

Callie Taylor expected Heaven or Hell. She got Alabama. . . .

 When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, when she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex, she went to Alabama. Now she’s witnessed another murder, and she’s not about to let this one go. She’s determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up dead in Alabama?

 Here is an excerpt from Waking Up Dead

When I died, I expected to go to heaven.

Okay. Maybe hell. It’s not like I was perfect or anything. But I was sort of hoping for heaven.

Instead, I went to Alabama.

Yeah. I know. It’s weird.

I died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a knife–and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was, I’d go haunt his ass.

At any rate, by the time death came, I was ready for it–ready to stop hurting, ready to let go. I didn’t even fight it.

And then I woke up dead in Alabama. Talk about pissed off.

You know, even reincarnation would have been fine with me–I could have started over, clean slate and all that. Human, cow, bug. Whatever. But no. I ended up haunting someplace I’d never even been.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, right? Ghosts are supposed to be the tortured spirits of those who cannot let go of their earthly existence. If they could be convinced to follow the light, they’d leave behind said earthly existence and quit scaring the bejesus out of the poor folks who run across them. That’s what all those “ghost hunter” shows on television tell us.

Let me tell you something. The living don’t know jack about the dead.

Not this dead chick, anyway.

 About the Author

 Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.

 Buy Waking Up Dead on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Waking-Up-Dead-ebook/dp/B00FOXWLM8/

 Connect with Margo

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/margobondcollins

Email: MargoBondCollins@gmail.com

Website: http://www.MargoBondCollins.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin  @MargoBondCollin

Google+: https://plus.google.com/116484555448104519902

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins

Facebook Novel Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waking-Up-Dead/502076076537575

Tumblr: http://vampirarchybooks.tumblr.com/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/

Be sure to add Waking Up Dead to your Goodreads bookshelves: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18428064-waking-up-dead

Book Trailers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j_TmvpxxBw

http://youtu.be/KUBg83s4BOU 100%

My Author website:

http://jstrandburg.wordpress.com

Seventeen authors offer their books for only $.99 starting tomorrow!

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 ‘Obstacles’ by Chris Reardon:
‘Lost Through Time’ (sequel) by Jessica Tornese:
‘Due Date’ by Nancy Wood:
‘Her Cracked Heart’ P.A. Estelle:
‘Yours, Mine, and Ours’ by Jackqueline Diamond :
‘September Wind’ by Kathleen Janz Anderson:
‘Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback’ by Michael L. Thal:
‘Invisible’ by Jeanne Bannon:
‘Nadia’s House’ by Mary H. Collins:
‘Waking Up Dead’ by Margo Bond Collins:
‘Hustle Henry and the Cue Ball Kid’ by Jack B. Strandburg:
‘Sinking Ships’ by Michelle Knowldon:
‘A Pride of Lions’ by Mark Iles:
‘The Four Kings’ by Scott Spotson:
‘Take Chances’ by K.C. Sprayberry:
‘Tidal Surge’: by Francene Stanley:
‘Eden’s Mark‘ by D.M. Sears:

Show v. Tell – Be Specific

 Fiction writers continually strive to make their words more powerful by studying creative writing books and articles, enrolling in college or on-line courses, reading articles on the Internet, seeking suggestions from other authors, or reading other published authors.

In my more than 20 years of writing, much of which has been allocated to seeking such advice, one piece of advice I’ve seen many times is to Show v. Tell. In my opinion, this should be at or near the top of every fiction writer’s revision checklist.

For example, rather than tell the reader, “Larry was angry,” show his anger in this manner, “Larry’s face turned bright red as he bared his teeth and slammed the door.”

One way to show v. tell is to be specific. This technique not only “admits” the reader entry into the story setting but is a simple and non-evasive method to make the characters come alive.

Creative writing suggestions are best illustrated by examples and are themselves a “show v. tell” approach. Below are a few examples.

Tell: After Frank finished his chores, he got into his car and went shopping.

Show: After Frank mowed and edged the yard, he jumped into his 2010 blue Ford 150 and drove to the local mall to shop for new clothes at Macy’s.

In the “tell” example, the reader doesn’t know what chores Frank finished, what make and model of car he drives, or where he shops.

In the “show” example, the reader can (hopefully) picture the trimmed yard, his truck, which characterizes Frank as to what vehicle he likes to drive, can picture a mall setting and a Macy’s department store, which reveals Frank’s spending habits and taste in clothing, even the fact he might prefer shopping at a mall v. a strip center.

Tell: After the death of his parents, William left home and went off to college.

Show: One month following the tragic death of his parents in a violent car accident, William left Tulsa to attend the University of Southern California.

In the “tell” example, the reader doesn’t know how William’s parents died, where he left from and where he went, or which college he attended.

In the “show” example, the reader knows how William’s parents died, where he lived and what college he planned to attend.

Tell: John prepared a bowl of cereal and sat down at the kitchen table, reading the paper as he ate.

Show: John prepared a healthy-sized bowl of Raisin Bran and sat down at the kitchen table, reading the sports section of the Chicago Tribune as he ate. It was the cereal of choice growing up in Chicago. He still remembered his late mother’s words, “Johnny, eat a bowl of Raisin Bran every day. It will keep you regular.”

In the “tell” example, the reader doesn’t know what John is eating or why, or what he is reading.

In the “show” example, the reader can see the box of Raisin Bran, knows John is interested in sports, lives in Chicago (or has ties to Chicago), and lets the writer expound on John’s background and the fact he listened to his mother.

Specificity can be applied to anything and everything the writer wants – think people (characters), places and location (setting), and things (objects). Most fiction writers have some form of a character profile or can find tons of examples on the Internet. My character profile in in Excel format and contains over 100 columns of information, from grade school to career, friendships, what they like to eat, how they talk, how they walk . . . you get the picture.

The next time you fill out your character profile, be at least aware of the specificity you can apply and include in the setting and locations of your story. It is guaranteed to improve the quality of your writing.

My Author website:

http://jstrandburg.wordpress.com

Order Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid here:

http://www.amazon.com/Hustle-Henry-Cue-Ball-Jack-Strandburg-ebook/dp/B00BJ83O5K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385144732&sr=8-1&keywords=hustle+henry+and+the+cue-ball+kid

Order An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s Journey to Faith Through Prayer here:

http://www.amazon.com/Appointment-Ordinary-Journey-Through-Prayer-ebook/dp/B00CWRZ5GI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385144792&sr=8-1&keywords=an+appointment+with+god%3A+one+man%27s