Which Story Would You Want to Read? (and some fun news)

After I complete the trilogy, I’ve decided I’m going to delve into some short fiction and at present have three ideas for stories. Below is the first (few) lines for each story. Would you do me a BIG favor and just let me know which story you would want to read based on those lines? I would really appreciate your input.

Story idea #1

“The truth was that I thought about killing him in his sleep every night—it’s just that somebody else beat me to it.”

Story idea #2

“Suddenly, I was her. The woman who could turn cold at the snap of a finger. Now my rage would do the talking. No more Ms. door mat. That. Was. Over. My need to kill consumed me.”

Story idea #3

“On his way to pick up Angel, Jesus stabbed Jack to death.”

You can tell me your choice in the comments below – and any thoughts you may have had about them as well, if you like.

And now for the FUN news…

I’m very excited to announce my book was just nominated for the 2017 Readers Choice Awards! If you would like to do me the honor of voting for it, you can do so here: https://www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting 

Just look for the slider for the various categories and find the Mysteries section.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Have a lovely and creative weekend.

Annie

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Ten tips to prepare you for Cyber Monday

cyber monday

Okay. So, you’ve had Thanksgiving, Black Monday, Small Biz Saturday and Sunday you got to rest. Next up, Cyber Monday. The online answer to Black Friday (I think) or maybe just a another way of saying Holiday Sale. At any rate, the following tips will help you enjoy Cyber Monday.

1. Call in sick. You’ve already been off work for four days, what’s one more?
2. Make a list of everything you’ve been wanting to get yourself just in case you see some incredible deals. Freelancers, this is a great time to do end of year purchases for equipment, software, office furniture and supplies.
3. Have your Christmas list handy. You may not get everything on your list but having a list will (hopefully) prevent you from buying stuff you dont need.
4. If you’re searching for a specific item and Googling, include ‘free shipping’ in your search terms. This is the time of year that free shipping is a big come on used by retailers. Why shouldn’t you get some of that. Just a cursory search showed me that Harry & David, Best Buy & the Cracker Barrel are all offering free shipping deals.
5. Use PayPal. I suppose there are different schools of thought on this but I personally feel safer using PayPal – you’re not debited until the product ships and they have a no hassle reversal policy if the product is funky. Credit card scammers are out in force this time of year too.
6. Don’t buy things just because they’re a good deal. Of course, logical right? But once you get your bargain hunter buzz on, things can get out of control fast. That’s why #2 and #3 are on the list.
7. Take a break. Or give yourself a time limit. If you stay online all day shopping you will undoubtedly buy things you really don’t need or want, or God forbid, click on the wrong thing. Give yourself a 3 or 4 hour limit, then stop. If you can’t because you want to do all your shopping today, then take a break every hour. Step away from the computer, go outside, take a walk and for heaven’s sake eat something besides cheese doodles. And drink water too.
8. Shop in categories. Divide your list into categories – electronics, clothes, sundries, toys, etc. Then shop by category. It might require going back to a couple of sites but, this will also help to keep things organized and prevent you from being distracted by shiny objects.
9. Consider refurbished, used, vintage, consignment. We often feel that giving others things that were previously used might be tacky but usually if a person wants something and gets what they want, they don’t generally care about that stuff. There are some incredible computer deals on refurbished computers for example. And what fashionista wouldn’t want a vintage handbag that was the real deal? What writer wouldn’t want an original copy of a favorite book?
10. Consider smaller sites and retailers. There are thousands of small artisans and retailers on sites like Etsy and Zazzle for example, who make some very awesome, one of a kind items. And it’s also a cool way to support small businesses, indies and freelancers. For example, this hard working creative gal is offering some very cute tees for writers. Myster Writer Clued In

cover coffee and crime thumbnail

 

And in honor of Cyber Monday (starting at 8 AM Pacific Time), I’m offering Coffee & Crime for 99 cents (Kindle Countdown). Tuesday it goes up to $1.99, Wednesday it goes up to $2.99 and then returns to the normal price on Thursday.

Okay, so go to bed early, lay out your clean jammies for tomorrow and set the coffee pot on brew. And happy shopping. Let the season begin!

Have a great week.

Annie

A funny thing happened on the way to my email

I don’t know about you but I love newsletters, or those email opt-ins that give you lots of tips about topics of interest.  I probably subscribe to 20 newsletters, follow a couple of hundred blogs and have several Google alerts on various topics.  It’s stuff like this that really makes me love the Internet.  You can learn so much, so quickly from so many sources. In a word, it’s awesome.

Naturally, one of my major interests is writing, the craft of it, marketing it, improving it, etc.  So I subscribe to several publications on writing and they land in my inbox regularly.  In particular I subscribed to email tips from a copywriter whom I’d come to admire.

Today’s topic was about something I was pretty familiar with and I felt compelled to respond to the article, which I thought would be fine considering the writer frequently mentions emails he gets from readers.

So I happily responded to his article and sent it off, thinking that he might even respond and how lovely it might be to have a small conversation, via email about the topic.

Well, I got a response but not one I would have ever expected. It was  short and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I haven’t written anything on (the topic) in ages.” Which was awfully strange since the topic was right there in the title of the article. And it maybe it was just my imagination but I really got that he was beyond irritated and maybe even indignant that I had written him. And possibly was saying between the lines that I was some kind of nut.

Suffice to say that I unsubscribed and assured him in my short response to his response that I wouldn’t bother him again.

Okay, so why did I bring this up?

Here’s the thing, we who make our living via the Internet and aren’t dealing with people face-to-face have to realize that a few words splashed on digital page can make or break us. This particular fellow writes regularly about how important it is to know your prospect/customer and that you should use language that speaks to them, that it is the customer/client/prospect who is important, not what you think.  And ironically, his response went against everything he preaches.

Which is unfortunate because now I don’t believe him.  Now I think maybe he is just full of it or possibly himself.  Now, I have no desire for his products or services, nor will I recommend him to anyone for any reason. And a chunk of goodwill that he had worked hard to build with me is now just gone.

You may think, so what?  He lost one person from his email list.  True, maybe I am the only person who has ever emailed him to which he responded that way.  But logic tells me, if he would respond to one person that way, he’d probably respond to others the same way.  Which probably means he is messing up his own goodwill. And I’m one of those people who when they discover someone who I think is great, I recommend them to everyone I know, then there’s also those people who will not hear about him.  So maybe now he’s lost people he could have had.

And the word gets around.  You should never think it doesn’t because it does.  And you never know how much damage you are doing to yourself by one seemingly small incident.

Manners really never do go out of style

Unfortunately, because of the anonymity of the Internet, we feel a little freer to be rude, curt or unkind.  Believing it won’t come back to us, because we’re safe behind our keyboards and monitors.  We believe that manners maybe aren’t as important as they used to be, maybe even that it’s an old-fashioned concept and we have the freedom to be as rude, crude or mean as we feel like being.

And people sure do seem to get away with it.  You see it all the time on social networking sites, forums, comments on articles and blog posts, especially if the topic is even slightly controversial, the mud really slings.

However, if you hope to make a living or even just part of your living (like say with a website) on the Internet, it’s good practice to keep those manners bright and shiny.

Even if someone sends you a lame email.  Even if someone says something you think is stupid or rude.  Even if you really had a bad day and needed to lash out. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.  And it’s really hard if not impossible to take back.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013

When Things Go Wrong

I don’t know about the rest of you but when things go wrong in my life I find it ever so easy to lay the blame elsewhere. Maybe it’s a natural inclination, we don’t like to think of ourselves as less than perfect and so when things don’t act accordingly it must certainly be someone else’s fault. There now, doesn’t that feel good?

Not really. You see, I’ve found that by laying that blame elsewhere it has a number of ill effects on me including:

  • Feeling powerless
  • Feeling victimized
  • Feeling stuck and unable to move on
  • It doesn’t change anything for me

Sure, in most situations there are other people involved. One doesn’t have a falling out with oneself. So, of course there are others to blame or fault or who have more responsibility. It’s easy to believe that your actions were a result of someone’s actions and therefore not really your fault if it goes ass over teacup. However, conflict cannot occur without at least two participants. Even under the best of circumstances both parties are equally responsible. But I’ll go one better – I think in the long run it’s better to just assume it’s all you. That you caused it, it’s your responsibility and others’ participation is irrelevant.

If you can take that view then at the very least you can do something about it. You can change your mind. You can adjust your point of view. You can vent and move on. You can change your approach. You can pretty much do anything when you make yourself in charge. And the truth is, about the only thing anyone is really in charge of is themselves. Because beyond that, there are always others involved. When others are involved, you don’t get to have your own way. You don’t get everything you want. And really even if you did get everything you wanted you might discover that you really didn’t want some of that stuff. Maybe you didn’t really want any of it.

Case in point – some time back I had a relationship that went terribly wrong. It was an utter shock to me and it took months for me to get over it. I was on a merry-go-round of ‘why’ questions that I asked myself daily. Why did he, why didn’t he, why can’t I….blah blah. But you know what, I realized just today that the problem was that I was asking myself the wrong questions. Because the questions I was asking were questions I could never get answered – so they could only be irrelevant. Then I started asking myself the right questions, ones I could answer. The questions centered around my actions and my motivations and I have to say I wasn’t too pleased about the answers. At least at first. But after I got over my self disappointment I just kind of shrugged and thought, ‘oh, I see.’

And I ended up relearning a truth I know and have known all along. The answer begins with you. If you don’t like your life you can change it. If you don’t like a situation, you can change it. If you don’t like anything, it can be different. You just have to ask yourself the right questions and be ready for the answers. And it’s a funny thing, when you change your mind, often magically others do too.

copyright 2011

“Not-there”

How do you explain something that is not? A non…quality, characteristic or state? A thing that should be there and you expect to be there that startles and confuses by it’s absolute absence?

I have grappled with this phenomena for some time now. Trying to discern error, find my mistakes and understand my utter misconceptions.

Through the internet we can find the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. We may encounter the truest of friends and the craftiest of tricksters. Though as a rule I think largely we encounter fair weather friends. Nothing wrong or unusual about that because in normal non-virtual life we encounter such people constantly. That aside, there were a few people of whom I was absolutely certain were the stuff of profound friendship. And it was these people after literally hundreds of hours of phone talk, thousands of emails and regular exchanges of gifts and cards, I ventured to meet in the real world.

Not much of a risk really because it seemed we all knew each other so very well that in fact we were all dear old friends. I truly believed that and approached the meeting with great enthusiasm. However, within moments of meeting the first ‘old friend’ something told me I was terribly mistaken. The not-there was so not there that I felt disoriented and incredulous at once. Which was immediately followed by copious amounts of denial. I had to be imagining the lack of warmth, the indifference and lightly veiled antagonism. It was travel day after all and we were tired and not ourselves, right?

And so planes were boarded and eventually landed. And baggage problems greeted us at the airport which served as a useful distraction for a time… And then onto the next friend – the one whom I’d known the longest and the best and once again the not-there appeared and that void left me scratching my head in wonder. And then the next and …. And after everyone settled in, got rest, food and sunshine the not-there did not relent.

What made it worse for me was that I could see there were connections between the others – making me wonder what awful thing I’d done to be excluded. To inspire such indifference about my presence on a trip I was encouraged greatly to take.

The week was one of the longest of my life and though I was crammed into a house full of people it seemed I was utterly alone. And I didn’t think of much else than being home among friends. I couldn’t sleep, nor eat – hell I couldn’t even make a phone call because my cell fell into a water trap at the mini golf course – effectively cutting me off from everyone.

And when the big good bye finally came it was little more than a lift to the bus station with a wave and a ‘see ya.’

For weeks afterward I told myself I imagined it or must have misunderstood. Things would soon return to normal – but no, they never did. The void simply kept growing. And eventually I had to accept that the friendship, warmth and love I’d felt simply wasn’t mutual. And that was just the truth it pure and simple. As the saying goes they just ‘weren’t that into me.’ And the reasons and explanations that might have been offered were irrelevant because it wouldn’t change the truth.

For a long time I was hurt, angry and confused and part of me wanted some sort of vindication or validation. But eventually I realized there was no point in that kind of thinking either. You cannot make another person care about you – it cannot be done (and even if it could, what value is there in that?).

So…I let go and walked away. Not an easy thing to do when you feel so invested but under the circumstances certainly the right thing to do. For all of us. I wish them all well and bear them no malice. Perhaps just a tinge of lingering sadness over it all but this is life and life is full of interesting lessons.

And make no mistake, I don’t write this any kind of cautionary tale. I have made many wonderful online friends whom I hope to meet someday too and will approach those meetings in the same way. And even if I never do, my life is better for the presence of these people.

I think I just write this to so I can put it all to rest and finally move on.

As Obamacare gags its last breath?

massachuettes senate race

I don’t know about you, but I await with baited breath to see what the fine citizens of Massachuettes will decide tomorrow. As some may know a special election is being held to determine who will take the Senate seat of the late Senator, Dead Kennedy, er…ah… I mean Ted Kennedy.. . Drudge has the poll numbers here. And they are looking mighty fine from my point of view.

Lots of hoopla as this could upset the balance of power (or should I say unbalance of power?) in the Senate, which could make it a whole new ballgame. I’m buying my peanuts and crackjax now. Don’t want to miss a thing.

Fingers crossed, they’ll be some mighty upset Dems tomorrow. hehe.

Other related articles here, here and here and here too. Oooh, I’m excited as a little girl who in whoville on Christmas Eve. 😉

WC

I Get a Kick Out of Me?

 

Maybe this is wrong but I get a kick out of me. I always have if you want to know the truth. I like having ‘in’ jokes with myself, laughing at things only I find funny, no matter how silly or inane. Perhaps it’s too much time spent alone as a child or maybe I spent too much time alone because of this eccentricity – but I could always amuse and entertain myself no matter what.

Imagination has always been a strong suit and I wear it often – it enables strange new worlds, odd and fanciful dreams and even other beingnesses  that I seem to be able to change like so many party dresses.

It takes nothing more than spying a complete stranger furrowing his brow or donning a jaunty or silly hat to get the wheels turning and the yarn spinning in my head. The story is right there, writing itself in real time as I watch on in wonder. Now that I think of it that way, I wonder if I am actually a writer or merely a stenograher for an odd set of brain cells.

Despite everything in my life that hasn’t been – let’s say an amusement park ride – I still can’t shake that part of me that can find just about anything amusing if not a outright knee slapper. Honestly, even at my lowest points in life, I could still find something to laugh about – of course usually it was some synapse exploding between my ears and issuing the punch line to me and me alone – but still…I just get a kick out of it.

How about you? Do you get a kick out of yourself? Have fun adventures without anyone else there?

Escape

lavender far

Escape

At what point do we need to escape? I’ve been pondering that lately. Is it something everyone does or needs? I wonder.

I tend to have a lot going on in my life, whether good or bad or somewhere in between – no matter what there always seems to be something happening. I guess I like the action, I always have. It makes life interesting and often fun.

On the other hand I do have a saturation point or breaking point or a ceiling for such things. I sometimes just hit a wall and think, ‘shit, that hurt!’ And when that happens I have to escape. Get away. Turn off my brain and get stupid.

Unfortunately, I’m not independently wealthy or even financially independent so I can’t exactly jump on my private jet and go to Tahiti to chill. I can’t call my limo driver and take an impromptu road trip or have my travel agent book a European walking tour for me so I have to come up with other solutions.

When I need to escape I have to do it in my mind (mostly) – I have to sit on the patio and drink iced tea while I watch the resident birds haggle for limb space on the Mimosa. Or find a channel that shows non-stop reruns of my favorite television shows. Or if I’m lucky stumble onto a big dvd blowout sale at Blockbuster and buy up as many movies my budget will allow. Add a little microwave popcorn to the mix, unplug the phone, turn off the computer and the escape is complete.

Usually the need to escape only lasts for a day or so, but sometimes it goes on for weeks. It gets tricky when there is a long bout because I still have to go to work, buy groceries, do the laundry and talk to other human beings – fulfill at least the minimal obligations of human co-existence – but it’s still doable.

It’s dawned on me lately that I’ve been doing a big escape for some time now. So many landmines and so few limbs to give. Head in the sand or up my ass (six of one half dozen of another) and been living in that twilight world of distraction and denial. Weird because I didn’t really notice it. It just sort of happened. Not even the ever growing population of dust bunnies floated me a hint.

I guess the good news is that I’m thinking that being an island may not be such a great idea – at least not for me. That sticking my head out the window could be fun and well shit, there is a great big world out there and somebody’s got to live in it. So, perhaps adventure awaits me.

How about you – what do you do to escape?

WC