Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Bad End

My job of 38 years came to a bad end Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at 4:30. My boss called me in and said this would hurt both of us. Then he said we knew this day would happen.

Oh, we did? I always thought it would be the other way around, and I'd be the one leaving to retire in a few years.

He went on to tell me they're restructuring the firm and hiring paralegals. Interesting concept - these paralegals will be doing all the s**t work I was doing as an assistant (fancy word for secretary). Well, maybe they'll  be part-time with no insurance, or a lot younger with a smaller salary. That way the  boss and his cronies can keep even more money for themselves. Whatever the case, since my old boss retired 6 years ago, the firm has not been the same.

So, my many years of dedication, coming to work sick and working hard to keep the clients apparently meant nothing in the long run. It has all come to a Bad End. To add insult to injury, the present boss followed me to my desk and watched me pack up my stuff, as if I were some crazed criminal who'd grab a stapler or  something silly as a souvenir. Not likely. I guess I sound bitter, but I have to tell it like it is.

Actually I'm looking forward to a new beginning. How fitting, to start a new adventure in the New Year!
I plan on getting some projects done while on unemployment, also plenty of writing. Now I have no excuse to let my WIPS languish. I'll pretend I'm going to work, but instead to into the other room and sit myself down at my desk and write on, and on, and on...

PS Some of my Facebook friends have recommended killing him off in one of my manuscripts - tempting idea. I wonder if it will fit in somewhere or if I can make room for it somehow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Card List by Morgan Mandel

I wrote this short story in 2009 for my friend, Hagelrat's blog at Un:Bound, but since it's one of my favorites, I'd like to share it with you here. Although this is a work of fiction, some of the aspects of this story ring true for me and many others who send out Christmas cards each year. I hope you enjoy it.

Abby frowned, as she set the box of Christmas cards on the kitchen counter and reached for her pen in the junk drawer. What used to give her joy now filled her with sadness. Once she’d groaned at the money she’d spent on cards and stamps. She wished that were still true.

Time marches on. Many of the people who’d touched her life were gone. Some had moved on and left no forwarding addresses, but the majority resided where no mail could reach them.

I miss you,” she said aloud to the empty kitchen.

A wintry afternoon snow/sleet mix pelted the windows. The wind howled, reinforcing Abby's feelings of abandonment.

Christmastime was supposed to be a happy season, but she couldn’t shake off her melancholy. She should be grateful for those who were left, and she was. Still, she longed for the one’s she’d never see again. Mom and Dad, sis, her niece, Nancy, her good friends, Judy and Maureen, and so many others were not around anymore. At times like this, she regretted not finding someone to share her life. Then again, maybe he’d have gone the way of the others.

She padded on her fuzzy slippers to the wooden table, pulled out the matching chair and began penning notes inside the cards. It was hard to make her stiff fingers move right, with the arthritis taking over, not to mention she was more used to typing than writing in cursive. Forty years as an administrative assistant, first on a typewriter, then a computer, did that to a person. Five years after retirement, she still hardly wrote, choosing to use a keyboard instead.

That reminded her. She hadn’t checked her e-mail and blogs. She’d do it after she finished the cards. Her heart lifted at the thought.

Soon she’d stamped the few cards, placed Christmas seals on their backs, and secured them with a rubber band. She’d mail them tomorrow. For now, she’d switch on the laptop computer on her kitchen desk and see what everybody was up to.

The usual mass of e-mails awaited her from e-groups she’d joined over the years. Also, she hadn’t gone through her blog roll yet today, not to mention the Facebook and Twitter posts.

Smiling, she entered the worlds of her cyber friends, commiserated and/or cheered them, according to what was appropriate. Janet had had a baby girl and both were doing fine, Sue’s dog was eating chair legs, John wanted suggestions for an inexpensive, caring Christmas gift for his girlfriend.

When she started to get hungry, a glance at the computer clock surprisingly told her two hours had already passed. The time had been well spent. Though she’d only met one or two of them in person, her online friends were real and important to her. Every day they shared secrets, triumphs and sorrows with each other. Wasn’t that what friendship was about?

She wasn’t so alone after all. A feeling of warmth stole over her, kind of like when she drank a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. Her snail mail list may have diminished, but her Internet friends had grown. 

She was truly blessed. Smile widening, she got up to fix dinner.

Merry Christmas, Cyber Friends!

From Morgan Mandel

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Please Welcome My Guest, Chris Redding

Chris will give away a cute purple tote of goodies to one lucky commenter, so be sure to comment and leave your e-mail address.

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids and various animals.  She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works part time for her local hospital.

INCENDIARY By Chris Redding

A firefighter and an EMT must stop an arsonist before they go up in flames. Someone is burning buildings in Biggin Hill, NJ, and framing Jake Sweeney. He enlists the aid of his old flame. Too bad their fiery past may get in the way of bringing someone to justice.

Buy Link: 

The following is an excerpt from Chris's workshop, Show Up Naked: Writing the Male POV, which she will be giving in February at

Communication is about independence and intimacy.

Men tend to focus on independence. They give orders and tell people what to do. Women crave intimacy. For instance. a man will make plans without consulting his wife. (Not all men) He will see no reason to “ask permission” of his wife. He actually views it that way. He would see it as not being able to act independently of her. He sees at as being the underling if he has to ask permission. Even though is isn't really asking permission, but consulting the wife about her plans. (Which is how she would see it.)

Here you can add conflict. The hero makes a unilateral decision be it about a social event or in the heat of running from the bad guys. He doesn’t see why he needs to clear it with the heroine. Of course she wants to be in on the decision-making process so we have conflict between the two. He doesn’t understand why she needs to be part of making the decision.

It is the same mindset when men go out and spend money. They don't feel they need to “ask permission.” My husband once bought a car without any input from me. He was going through a rough time and I think he needed to assert his independence not so much from me, but from his job. I didn't make a big deal about it, but the next time he bought I car I mentioned it. And of course he had no idea that I would feel that way. Until I told him.

Intimacy says we're close and connected. Women bond with each other, especially through talking. In feeling connected, two women feel symmetry. They are equals.

Independence is connected to status. Men like independence and their lives are about status. So status and independence are asymmetrical. Both people in a contest cannot have the upper hand.

Imagine someone other than the hero interested in the heroine. There would be an automatic competition between the two men. Conflict! Not huge conflict, but enough to show another side of your hero.

In ancient societies, men protected women. It is still in their biology to do that. There aren't man-eating animals that women face on a daily basis so they do it other ways. (Quick story: In a bar recently with a mixed group. Someone else we knew asked one of the guys in the groups to help her get this guy off of her. Now he doesn’t even like her, but she was clearly scared of this other guy hanging on her. So my friend asked the guy to leave. Twice, nicely. The guy, of course, gave him a hard time, and they almost came to blows. My friend was willing to protect this woman merely because she was a woman.)

A mother naturally protects her children. But when a woman extends her protection to a man he bristles at it. He sees himself as a lower rank, a child. Since I was a kid in the age before widespread seatbelt use, if my father had to brake suddenly he would put his hand out to protect whoever was in the front passenger seat. I developed the same habit driving.

Fast forward a few years. I begin delivering pizza and using a seatbelt on a regular basis. I'm driving with my boyfriend (the one who convinced me to wear a seatbelt.) and I have to break suddenly. My arm goes out. He thought that was the most ridiculous thing. He made fun of me for it for awhile. Looking back, it wasn't about me. It was about him feeling as if I'd lowered him in the hierarchy of our relationship.

Here's Where You Can Find Chris Redding:

Please leave a comment to welcome, Chris. You may be lucky enough to get that cute purple tote!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How to Get a Bestseller

One way to get a bestseller is to write about what everyone's thinking. The trick is to figure what that is. What is everyone thinking?

Another way to get a bestseller is to make everyone think about what you've written.

Another way is to think up something new and different and get the word out before someone else thinks about it.

Yet another way to get a bestseller is to write something shocking.

One more way to get a bestseller is to do lots of promotion.

Another way is to have a really great cover.

Don't forget great reviews and back cover blurbs.

Or, if you're a celebrity, you could write just about anything, or hire a ghostwriter, and you'd get a bestseller.

These are some ways, which can be done alone or in combination.

Any other ideas about how to get a bestseller?  Or, maybe you can tell us of some instances where one of these methods worked for yourself or someone else. If so, I and the rest of us would like to hear about it.

Here's hoping at least one of these ideas will work. (g)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Check Out These Books

On Wednesday at Acme Authors Link I asked for Elevator Pitches, and I sure got them. Lots of wonderful descriptions of great books. We have no shortage of great authors on the web. With so many choices, there's no excuse for not finding something to read.

If you haven't gone over there yet, here's the link to read and/or add yours: