Friday, May 28, 2010

Flickertail & Paint Barnyard Sleuths are now available @ Borders & Amazon

Flickertail & Paint Barnyard Sleuths are now available @ Borders & Amazon


Now you can use those Borders or Amazon gift cards to get Flickertail & Paint.

Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths Amazon link

Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths Borders link

Law of the Garbage Truck

I don't usually share emails but this one spoke to me as I am often guilty of spreading the garbage around. I'm going to frame it and hang it where I can be reminded of it every day. Hopefully, it will help me improve my attitude. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. I wish I knew who wrote it so I could give him or her credit

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport.
We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.
My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly.

So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment.
As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally.

Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.
Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets,

so ... Love the people who treat you right.

Pray for the ones who don't.

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Have a blessed, garbage-free day!

Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Should I Write About?

A common question asked of authors is where they get their inspiration and a common answer seems to be to write about what you know. That can work, if that’s what you are comfortable with writing, and I think it is particularly useful advice if you are writing nonfiction. As a fiction writer, I find it is more exciting to me to write about what I don’t know and always wanted to learn more about.
Researching uncovers many surprises. It’s like a chain reaction. I often discover something intriguing that takes the plot in an unforeseen direction. I love being surprised that way.
One of the novels I am currently writing started in the early 1900s and the intention is to cover 5 generations. I’m old but I’m not that old. I knew very little about the turn of the century before I started researching it. With just the first generation, I have completed about 80 unedited pages. I should probably move on to the next generation but I am having so much fun with this one. And the characters seem to have a lot more they want to say and do. When I started this, I hadn’t intended to write a 500+ page tome. I may have to divide it up into 2 or more books by the time I have finished.
As a result of my research, I have fallen in love with the history as well as my characters. When I move on, I will have to start killing off some of the older characters. It will be like losing old friends.
So my advice to ‘wannabe’ writers would be to follow their passions. If you are passionate about what you already know, that’s great. But it can also be fun and informative to write about what you don’t know as long as you are passionate about the learning and discoveries. There is so much treasure to uncover in the research.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
One night in 1966, when 18 year old Susan was babysitting two youngsters and an infant, she drifted off to sleep on the couch while waiting for the mom to return. She awoke with a start and the feeling someone was watching her. As she opened her eyes she saw a man standing in the glow from the TV. Not wanting to frighten the children, she stifled a scream.
“Who are you and what do you want?” She kept her voice low.
“I’m Tommy’s Dad. I just want to see him. I promise I won’t wake him.”
Susan almost felt sorry for him but she was also afraid for herself and the children. What would he do to her or them if she said no?
“All right, but only if I am in there with you. You can look at him and then you have to leave.”
She had no idea how she was going to enforce those restrictions and there was no phone to call the police if he created any problems. Together, they entered the infant’s bedroom. True to his word, he looked at the baby who was supposedly his son and then left the room without touching him.
“I’ll give you $20 if you let me hide in the living room closet until Kathy gets back home. I want to surprise her.”
Again Susan wondered what he would do if she refused. She decided that it would be safer if she knew where he was than if he was wandering the apartment freely, so she agreed.
About fifteen minutes later her boyfriend, Bill came to pick her up. Kathy was due home any minute. Susan decided not to tell Bill about the man in the closet yet. As she made small talk with Bill, she hid her nervousness. It’s only for a few more moments she kept reminding herself.
She heard Kathy on the stairs.
“I’ll be right back. I need to talk to Kathy a minute. Wait here.”
She met Kathy in the hall and quietly told her about the man in her closet. Kathy turned ashen but kept her composure.
“Will you stay while I go downstairs to use their phone to call the police?”
“Of course.”
Susan went back into the apartment and sat down next to Bill. “Kathy will be right back.”
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing, she’ll just be a minute.”
When Kathy returned, Susan quickly introduced Bill to her and made small talk to buy some time until the cops arrived.
Within a few minutes there was a knock on the door and two burly cops entered.
“Where is he?” one asked.
Susan pointed to the living room closet.
When the three of them walked out of the apartment, the smallest guy was in cuffs.
Bill was shocked. “What was THAT all about?”
“Keep your voice down; the children are still asleep.”
After Susan filled Kathy and Bill in on all of the details and made sure Kathy was alright, she and Bill said goodnight to Kathy.
As Bill drove Susan home, it was obvious that he was upset.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!”
“What would you have done?”
“Dragged his butt out of that closet.”
“That’s what I was afraid of.”
“I could have taken him. He was a skinny, scrawny, sleazebag.”
“What if he had had a knife or a gun?”
“I guess you handled it the right way.”
Susan laughed. “Yeah, too bad I won’t be getting that $20, though.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Marketing Your Book for New Authors

After my publisher submitted a press release to the various local media, I followed up with a press kit.

I am thrilled to see that some of my promotional efforts have paid off.

My college and my high school alma maters have posted articles about my newly released book, "Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths". It would have been nice if they would have also included links to where my book can be obtained. Since they didn't, I did. You can click on my book's title. ;)

Here's what UWO posted. UW Oshkosh Today | May 2010 Class Notes ’88 Margaret Holdorf (LS) is author of the recently published book, “Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths.” She uses the pen name Mary Russel and resides in Fond du Lac.

The article published on Appleton High School's website is here.
Appleton West High School Wisconsin Alumni Wall of Fame

Our local advertiser, Action Advertiser posted a brief article in a Sunday edition last month. They did include contact information. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear on-line, since I wasn't featured.

Maturity Times contacted me about scheduling an interview for the August edition. I'm excited about that and I can't wait for the interview. I hope it goes well.

I have also been informed that an article will be published in the University of Wisconsin's newsletter "Engage".

A review of my book by Sheila Deeth appears on Gather and a transcript from my live chat is also on Gather.

My Zazzle store features characters from Flickertail & Paint on T shirts and mugs.

I have also joined the Fond du Lac Area Writers Group to help me with networking and improving my writing.

Next, I plan to try to schedule some book readings and signings. I have yet to determine the best way to approach the independent bookstores and related organizations. I haven't decided if I even want to talk with the big chain bookstores. I've heard nothing but nightmarish stories about how they react to unknown authors. Maybe I'll wait until I have a few more books out.

If I do have any success in scheduling book signings and readings, I plan to display some pompom pets of the Flickertail & Paint characters to capture the children's interest. I will also inform the local media and my publisher in advance to generate traffic.

Of course, I also post updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Squidoo as well as my blog and on my website.

The members of the Selling Lounge forum have been very helpful in promoting my book too. I am so grateful to them for all of their help and wonderful marketing ideas.

I'm sure I will come up with more ideas as I continue to write books. I would also welcome your ideas in the comments.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Perfect Property Except . . .

This is fiction but it was inspired by our search for a suitable property for a Bed & Breakfast. It is fun and challenging to write a complete story in just 100 words, known as a drabble. Drabbles are usually fiction.

On a Sunday morning drive we noticed a scenic property with an octagon barn and an octagon house.

My heart leapt when I noticed the For Sale sign. It would be a perfect Bed and Breakfast.

We pulled the brass knocker on the substantial wooden door. Upon entering we fell in love with the spiral staircase, leading to a massive master bedroom with a romantic balcony.

We went to lunch to discuss our offer. One of the restaurant’s customers overheard us. “My octogenarian grandfather hung himself in that barn.”

We told the owners we’d decided to look for another property.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

 This is a tribute to my foster mother who died a little over two years ago.

Mother by Love
When we met my heart was barricaded. Love had betrayed me too many times to risk it again so I sought comfort in the characters of the stories that I read. I would have imprisoned myself in my own little world of fiction if it hadn’t been for your patience, persistence, and love.
You knew what was good for me and what to do to help me to find it even as I fought you. You forced me to face life, and to relate to people. It was a long hard journey but you taught me little by little to learn to trust and love again by treating others with the kindness that I longed for.
It couldn’t have been easy to love someone as prickly as I was but you never made me feel like you didn’t.
But that was your way; you treated everyone like that.
I remember the abandoned, terrified dog that hung around the cottage. When everyone else was afraid to approach him, you put out food everyday until little by little he learned to trust you. Each day he would move a bit closer to you until one day you managed to pet him. He licked your hand and melted into your arms. You loved him and he loved you until the day he died.
Everyone and everything you touched thrived under your tender, loving, kindness.
Thank you for breaking through that barricade to help me to love again.
I love you and I miss you.