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GD Deckard
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 10:50 AM
Joined: 7/23/2014
Posts: 159

Writer's Cafe

Which to Lucy Silag, looks just like Central Perk on Friends  But I'm older and prefer to imagine cafes from Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. So imagine if you will, a cafe that you like. People it with the writers here and talk about anything.

I heard something this morning that has to have a deeper story in it. Sadly, it is a true story. But it's not the kind I write. So I thought, we need an open thread where we can talk about anything at all because where writers gather and talk, some will find inspiration.


     MBA is a property management company whose office is as Mom & Pop as it gets. Theirs is a family run business. Visitors are greeted by the dog and taken care of by Mom, Pop, or grown Daughter. Kids are a common sight in the office.

     I met a charming eight year old girl there the other day. Her name is Kaylee and she is a delight to talk with. When I was there again this morning, Mom, or Mary Ann, informed me that she had been watching Kaylee because the girl's father had just died and her mother was busy taking care of things. The kid seems to be taking it pretty well, but ....

     Kaylee had piped up, "Mary Ann! There's dust in your office!" Mom told me with a grin, "I said, how dare you say my office is dusty! But she pointed at the window. You know, how when the light comes in right, you can see dust lines in the air? That's what Kaylee was seeing. Dust lines in the air. So I told her - I didn't think about it until I told her - those are dust angels. And she asked me, 'Is my daddy there?'"

     Mom went silent a moment, remembering. "I told her, I'm sure your daddy is here, Kaylee, he will always be with you.  And he will always watch over you." With difficulty, Mom continued, "I went back to my work. When I looked up a few minutes later, she was kissing the dust."

Charles J. Barone
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 1:26 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120

I've got a true story that still annoys and bothers me decades after it happened.


Many years ago, a buddy and I were investigating a ghost town, Valverde, in southern New Mexico. Interesting little town, made of adobe block buildings, many crumbling back into the dirt from which they were born. The homes and such businesses as we could identify were all of flat roof construction. There is little rain, so no need for a sloped roof. It's a real frontier town, looking nothing like those you see in western movies.


Near the town is the cemetery. Some of the graves are still tended by ancestors of those who lie beneath. Others are abandoned and slowly deteriorating back into the desert.


Strung out below Valverde are several other smaller settlements whose names are lost to history. We decided to hike south, following the Rio Grande to try and locate the remains of those settlements.


With full canteens and pistols on our hips we began our hike early next morning after our arrival. Within a quarter mile of Valverde we discovered a lone set of graves protected behind a wrought iron fence, about ten feet long by eight feet wide. In the middle was a tall headboard. To its left, a slightly smaller wooden grave marker and flanking them two small ones of equal size. All were sandblasted clean. No information remained. 


In front of the second headboard, resting against it, was a large dinner plate, white with only the remnant of blue here and there. A smaller plate lay against the wooden board and flanking them cups sitting in saucers. All were the same white with blue designs. I assumed those plates to be the prized possessions of the wife, who probably lay beneath the wooden marker.


My buddy and I looked as closely as we could, trying to find some remnant of a name or date. The boards were weathered gray, blasted by sand, the occasional rain and the brutally hot summer sun. Not even a letter could be found.


We went on to the first little town, found the remains of a few buildings and, near dusk returned to our campsite in the town of Valverde. Next day we headed home, still wondering and talking about the family grave plot we had found, and wishing we had brought a camera with us.


Two weeks later we returned, this time with a camera. We hiked to the graves intending to take pictures. They were gone. The wrought iron fence was ripped down, bent and twisted; the wooden grave markers smashed and of the plates, saucers and cups only pieces and shards were found scattered around the area. 


We took pictures. Not the pictures we hoped to take, but pictures of the vandalism. Later we prowled through Valverde and found similar damage in the town cemetery. 


A month later, after checking several other towns in other parts of the state, we went back to Valverde and found it closed, posted no trespassing. We met a cowboy there. He worked for the ranch on which the town sat and talked with him. The rancher decided that enough was enough. The town was too easily accessed from the Interstate barely five miles away and vandals had been slowly wrecking the place for years. The final 'straw' was the destruction of the town cemetery. We told the puncher about the family plot. He knew about it, but had no idea who was buried there.


For all the other damage, some of which I haven't mentioned, seeing that little family gravesite torn apart bothers me to this day.

Tom Wolosz
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 7:20 PM
Joined: 5/25/2011
Posts: 122

A lovely story, GD.  I don't think you ever read my story "Staircase" which might interest you.  Don't bother with the one on Book Country thought, I've posted the "final" draft on Wattpad under TomWolosz. 

Charles, yours is one of those stories that always invokes the simple question: Why?  I've come across similar small family plots while doing field work in the northeast.  The simple headstones often tell a sad tale of child mortality, or of a person who suffered the agony of burying a spouse and children. The thought of intentionally disturbing such a place is mind numbing.  It could make an interesting character study though, along the lines of Capote's "In Cold Blood."  

GD Deckard
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 8:18 PM
Joined: 7/23/2014
Posts: 159

Charles, Tom:

You both have books on Amazon & I'm thinking of placing The Phoenix Diary there.

If you could give me one piece of advice, what would that be?


& Thanks!

Mimi Speike
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015 11:48 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

OK, GD, it took me a while to find this. I'll start thinking of what I want to say. This is just to let you know I found it.
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 8:02 AM
Joined: 4/28/2014
Posts: 40

I love reading and writing fiction, but some of the best books I ever read were based on real life characters. It's a draw for me to read something that some one actually went through.
Charles J. Barone
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 1:04 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120

GD Deckard wrote:

Charles, Tom:

You both have books on Amazon & I'm thinking of placing The Phoenix Diary there.

If you could give me one piece of advice, what would that be?


& Thanks!


I put mine on Amazon because of the Kindle, figuring they would generate readers if I spread the word far and wide, everywhere. I've posted on Twitter several times, Facebook every couple of months, every forum on which I hang out, told friends and asked them to pass the word, everything short of taking out ads in the newspaper and on TV. Total sales for both books, eleven in the nearly a year they've been available. At the time, being dense or technologically nearly illiterate, I thought only Amazon published books were available on Kindle.


In retrospect the low sales are probably good. One of the books available there is here for review and has undergone considerable change (for the better, I think). Not that it was bad. I've been contacted by a couple of readers who said they loved it. Neither seems interested in posting a review there.


Amazon showcases 'name' writers, which makes sense. I wish they'd feature new writers. Devote a tiny corner of their page to new writers or their books. Others have mentioned it and contacted them as well. I haven't been on the page in ages, so don't know if that's being done.


All things aside, I'd say go for it, or publish here. Amazon is huge, has many hits on their page which could mean something. But, remember, there are an unbelievable number of books available both good and some seemingly written by kids in pre school and, unless someone is willing to dig deep, the odds of finding yours is almost nil. On the other hand, if you have means of generating sales, it's a good place to start. If you're like me and sales only mean somebody else is reading but the money doesn't matter, it's also good.


Once I get things fixed with one of the scripts I have here, I'm putting my next on Book Country. It will be available in the same formats, so why not?

--edited by Charles J. Barone on 1/23/2015, 1:05 PM--

GD Deckard
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 1:24 PM
Joined: 7/23/2014
Posts: 159

Thanks Charles,

Candid information can be hard to come by and your post is very much appreciated.


Does anyone else have feedback to share about their Amazon sales experience, including whatever they did to market their book?


Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 1:58 PM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104

Marlin wrote “I love reading and writing fiction, but some of the best books I ever read were based on real life characters. It's a draw for me to read something that some one actually went through.”

My stories are fiction; they are not accounts of actual events, but they draw from things that have happened to me, or people I have known. I’ve been flattered by readers who assumed my stories are autobiographical. The readers are telling me that the stories were real for them, at least for a little while.

I don’t write about real events, but I use feelings and emotions from real events to inform my fiction. How many of us have laid awake in the woods listening to the howls of a pack of wolves? Been chased by a bear? Been chased by a dairy bull? Been in an auto accident? Fallen deeply in love with someone with no way to act on it? Waited for a family member to come out of surgery? Overcame a near-pathological fear of public speaking? Found the body of a dead man? Watched our own child shine in a musical performance or on a sports team? Been hired for a job we really wanted? Been turned down for a job we really wanted? Been fired from a job unfairly? Taught a horse to drive with a two wheeled cart? Taught a child to ride a bicycle? The list goes on. Apply how you feel during real events in writing fiction, and the story will come alive.

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 2:15 PM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104

I've had two short story collections published by a small traditional publisher. The books are in trade paperback. They are targeted at a particlar and small niche of readers. They are not in any electronic form. The selling of the books has been pretty much on me. I do not have much interest or knowledge or skill in marketing. I've sold a few hundred copies, and could do more if I knew how to do it and took the time.


One of the books is linked on Amazon. Amazon has accounted for five or fewer copies. I think it's easy for a little guy like me to get lost there. Amazon is a tool for filling book orders, but I have to do something else to generate the orders.


I've had some success by writing fiction and creative non-fiction for free for local newspapers, and having the paper mention in the credits that I've written a couple of books. My best days are when I stand up and make a presentation and do a reading wherever members of my target readership gathers. That's tough for someone as shy as me, but I have to do it to sell the books.



Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 4:15 PM
Joined: 4/28/2014
Posts: 40



Marketing is where I wish I had the magic bullet. I'm doing pretty much what every writer is doing on Twitter and FB. It's a readers market. There are literally thousands of writers out there and it's easy to become buried under a slush pile of new authors—some good, some bad. I've been looking for quite some time on how to get to the top so that I can be seen. I'm going to continue to work on that and I'll let you know if I come up with anything different. When I was a Pro Fitness Trainer in Austin I had a very successful client that told me to do the opposite of what everyone else was doing. Sounds easy, but it's not.


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 4:25 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120

My favorite, of those I've done, is Thomas Moody. It's based loosely on a real life case I worked when I was a cop. I've made the bad guy in the book supernatural, because I like that genre. Most of the book is an investigation. Moody is seen at the beginning and the end.


It's loosely based to the point that the main character is me for all intents and purposes. Much of the dialogue is real, as closely as I remember it. The other characters are all detectives I knew with their names and descriptions changed. The locations are real, but not the true locations of the crimes. 


The descriptions of the murders are authentic, except the actual killer didn't drain the bodies of blood although we suspected he had 'sampled' it. Evidence pointed that way.


It's my favorite of those I've done, mainly because of all the above. Writing it was easy, since the events were real. I just changed names, character descriptions, places, the timeline and of course turned the serial killer into a supernatural being similar to, but not quite, a vampire.

GD Deckard
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 11:12 PM
Joined: 7/23/2014
Posts: 159

Perry said:

Amazon is a tool for filling book orders, but I have to do something else to generate the orders.

Now, that is advice that strikes me as truth. Thanks, Perry.

Um, uh,  now what? We can write books. We can get them published. Now we need a professional promoter. Or a genius with the logical skills of Charles J. Barone, the perseverance of Mimi Speike, Tom Wolosz's feeling for what works and that magic bullet Marlin55 mislaid somewhere. That oughta do it. Or maybe we could find someone who is very good at promoting in social media but needs to make a name for themselves and we give them the chance to promote themselves by promoting our books?

I need help here ... anyone have a good idea?


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015 11:35 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120

Short of lying, making fake accounts and going all over the Internet saying what a great, fantastic book I just read, and everyone needs to get it, I have no ideas.


And I've thought of doing the above but, alas, I'm too honest.

Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 5:50 PM
Joined: 8/22/2014
Posts: 9

            The topic sounds very good - a writer’s real life moment.


            I suppose I am lucky; I live in the downtown core of a mega city were all sorts of folks live within, thus they give me a wealth of ideas for my imagination to conjure up different characters in my stories.


Blind Sided

            I sat and stared at one of my sentences on my laptop display.  The right wording I was searching for was eluding me, which made me frown to exaggerate the wrinkles of my age.  To add to my displeasure, the heat of the summer’s afternoon was making me sweat.  Though, I did not want to admit to myself, it was the panic of having writer’s block that caused my perspiration.
            The loud chatter of the two university student adjacent to me were not helping my state of anxiety, since thoughts of telling them to ‘shut-up’ were mumbling on my lips.  I stayed civil and kept my eyes pointed towards the damn screen.  To punish my inaction, I told myself I would not take a sip my creamy ice mochaccino until I finished the sentence.
            As I pondered my demise, from the top of my sight, I saw a young man strolled into our area and sat behind one of the university student. ‘Odd, he had no drink,’ I thought.  ‘No matter’, since people use the terrace to take a minute-breather from a long day of window shopping, in the city of underground shops and towering skyscrapers.
            My fingers hovered over the keyboard and waited for my command to act.  From that focus, I was distracted from the corner of my site once more by the single man who crouched down from his seat and moved his hand towards the ground.  I looked the other way, the ice in the glass on my table tempted my dry mouth and the caffeine taunted my addiction, on this hot day.
            The relentless chatter of two girls continued, about courses and professors, as though they were trying to steal each other’s valuable moment of talk-time.  They annoyed me, like thieves of my peace-of-mind.  From that feeling of needing some compensation, I cheated and drank my ice mocha.  ‘Ah, the cool flavour of burn cereal, coffee, and chocolate swirled my palate.’
            The man got up and left as easily as he had arrived on the terrace.  From his sudden escape for the scene, I found the words that I was searching for and hammered away on my laptop, with a grin of getting my imagination back with thanks to the jolt of caffeine.  While I typed, I noticed that girls look at me a few times, it appeared the sound waves my keyboard clacking was polluting their personal space.  I did not care about their disapproving stares, since a writer must put down their thoughts or forever lose them, like falling snow on memories.  With a huff, the two students stood up and one grab her large hand bag of books and personal things from off the floor and marched off.  I was left by myself at the far end of the terrace.  Oh, the pleasure and sin of a writer being left alone with their thoughts.
            Moments later, as I took another sip of my refreshing drug, the girl with the large handbag return with a frantic examination of the chair and table.  There was a physical violence in her demeanor.  She looked at me with condemning eyes and I look down at my laptop, for I realised that she had been pick-pocketed by the assassin who came by and took her life away - her precious cell phone.  She left me be and ran into the coffee shop to get justice from the minimum-waged cashier – she got none.
            I felt insulted by the thief, who counted on people’s own distractions to get away with his crimes.  I had no conscious, but solving my own problems that day, in a city haunted with millions of stories.


Cheers to all, Erik

EB Solace
Posted: Sunday, February 8, 2015 2:26 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 2


 I like this idea of a writer’s cafe. So pardon me as I pull up a seat and order a vanilla latte – double pump vanilla, and join in.


Can we talk writing mentors?  That person who supports ones muse? I have one, or did, lost him a few months back. But this week, he’s been on my mind a lot as his words are splashed all over the news.


See, my writing mentor told me a secret. A big one. He told me about a book that when it came out, would be the biggest book of the decade.


Wait, you say. How could a girl from Colorado know about a huge book deal years before it was announced?


Ah, right. Let’s step back a decade or two to my first big gig in Corporate America. I was working on a project that was spectacularly failing. Our companies PR agency had found a Broadway producer to fly out and save us. I’m going to stop my story and admit that I did NOT want to work with said producer. I almost quit on the spot. Instead, I’d stayed to see a little old man get out of limo, because hello, a limo in suburban Colorado was something to see. I went to introduce myself and the man had held up his hand.


“No,” he said. “Let me guess.” He pointed to each of my coworkers and from emails he guessed our names. He said he knew me from my “peppy voice.” I liked Michael instantly.


Over the years, I worked with Michael a lot and never enough. He claimed I had the soul of a writer. Even though I never told him I wrote, he would always implore me to keep working on my craft. Out of the blue he sent me a copy of Strunk and White. Michael never read any of my work other than emails and work scripts, but he still encouraged me. He also told me many stories about someone who he called his special friend.


He said I reminded him of this special friend. She once had a critique group, held in his library. He talked about the hard road his special friend had traveled. Even when I visited his brown stone in Manhattan, Michael would laugh that of a room of chairs, I preferred the same one as his special friend.


Michael told me many stories about this mystery person. Even that one Christmas he and his wife, Joy and given the girl a year’s salary to write a famous story—because they believed in her. Michael said his special friend had other stories and he hoped, before his death, the world would know of them.


Well, we lost Michael in 2014. A few years back, from information he’d let slip, I’d done an internet search and found a picture of him, and his special friend--Harper Lee.


This week the world found out what Michael had told me years before. Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mocking Bird has at least one other manuscript. And soon we will all get to hold it.


So Michael, I raise this glass to you, for all the loving support you’ve given struggling authors. And in Michael Brown’s name, I hope ever one finds someone who unquestionable supports their creative dreams.



GD Deckard
Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2015 8:19 AM
Joined: 7/23/2014
Posts: 159

Now that's a good story, EB Solace!


To Kill a Mocking Bird affected the way I looked at other people after I read it in the early 60's. I certainly wish Harper Lee the best with her "new" novel.


Your next drink's on me and while it's being fetched let me add I too have a mentor-slash-editor, a musician and song writer I've never met but who read my book, The Phoenix Diary, when I said it was finally finished and whose comments threw the whole book into revisions. I was stunned by how apropos a song writer's insights could be.


But what's your story, EB? How's your work, Good Gods, doing?