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The Dog Days of Summer, Birthdays, and Buttered Noses

August 1, 2017 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley tagged as , , , , , ,

The Dog Days of Summer isn’t just an expression that indicates summer days so hot dogs are driven mad. It’s an actual astronomical event when, Sirius, the dog star rises in conjunction with the sun.  The Dog Days are listed as starting on July 3rd and continuing through August 11th.

In my family, the Dog Days of Summer marked the beginning of birthday season. I have three brothers and three sisters.  Then there are my children, nieces and nephews, in-laws (or as we insist out-laws) and now the grandchildren and grandnieces and grandnephews.  A significant number of them have birthdays in July and August.

Birthdays

Birthdays around our place were always a bit different. With so many relatives we seldom had friends to our birthday celebrations. We rarely severed cake but rather baked from scratch (including the crust) birthday pie. There were favorites – quite a few apple pies, pumpkin (made three days ahead of the feast and refrigerated to the proper coldness), lemon meringue, peach, and rhubarb for my mother.

And when my mémère (French for grandma) was alive, if it was your birthday, you got your nose buttered.  It was supposed to make you side through the year to your next birthday.

Memere and pepere | Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

Mémère and Pépère Hebert 1973

Now Mémère assured us this was an old French custom, but I never met any other family who practiced nose buttering –even the few friend of mine when we were growing up who also had a mémère and pépère.

Buttered Noses

So, a few years ago I googled it. Sure enough, other families butter noses, but the articles I read listed the custom is either Scottish or Irish.  I suspect Mémère would be upset by these claims as she was very proud of her French ancestry even though the family arrived in the New World well before there was a United States. She and Pépère spoke French at home, and my dad and his siblings didn’t learn English until they went to school.

I must admit that she frequently got things wrong.  She was also very proud of being born on June 13th and every year would tell us that she just missed being born on Friday the 13th (it happened to be a Thursday that year).  But when she died my aunts found her birth certificate. She wasn’t born on June 13th, that was the day she was baptized.  She was really born two days earlier and forever celebrated her birthday on the wrong day.

Wrong day

My aunts were upset, but I would like to think Mémère would not have cared if she had ever noticed.  She was happy to have a pie baked by my mom, and she would laugh her head off when we would sneak up and butter her nose so she could slide through another year.

Does your family have different birthday customs? What are they?


Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances, or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.

 

If you want to know more about the Dog Days of Summer here are some links:

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/07/162153/dog-days-of-summer-spiritual-meaning

https://www.almanac.com/content/what-are-dog-days-summer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_days

https://www.space.com/12624-dog-days-summer-sirius-star-skywatching-tips.html

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What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

July 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team, Writing tagged as , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

What is the publisher/agent attitude towards including a prologue in a romance novel? In ALL my writing classes, workshops, etc (other than romance), the prologue is hated and absolutely discouraged, yet it seems routine with romance.  So . . .

What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I started my career I wrote in a genre I had never read, pitched with a partial and made simultaneous submissions to multiple editors and agents.  In other words, I broke every ‘rule’ in the book so I might not be the best one to ask about the prologue rule. That being said, I’m happy to give an opinion – of which I have many if you ask anyone who knows me.

I believe that ‘they’ are not as good a judge of your work as ‘you’. I believe that if there were hard and fast rules about what editors like we wouldn’t have books like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or genres like chic lit. I believe that if a prologue turned off editors/readers the following books would never have been published or become profitable.

  1. “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan
  2. “The Piano Tuner” by Daniel Mason
  3. “Montana 1948” by Larry Watson
  4. “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco
  5. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
  6. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  7. “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham
  8. “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane
  9. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
  10. “The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber

Yes, prologues are often skipped but if an author wishes to write one then it is the author’s job to make it a compelling piece of the whole. The question is not just is it necessary, but is it critical?

P.S. I have used prologues in three out of my 30+ books. All were published with the prologue intact.

P.S.S. Harry Potter also has a prologue.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

 

From a publicity point of view, I care an inordinate amount about the cover of your book and the description of your book; less about whether or not you have a prologue. The only reason the prologue matters to me is if it helps sell the story.

That may sound shallow and even annoying to the craftsman who created the work, but it shouldn’t offend you. The most important part of the PR job depends on the cover and the description…if the first few pages can’t make that cover and description come to life, get rid of it. The first few pages need to pull readers in and keep them engaged in the book. As a creator, if the devise you choose to do that monumental task is a prologue, I support your choice. Just make sure it works and it’s as finely crafted as you can make it. I suspect that somewhere along the way the prologue got a bad name for itself because of shoddy work by writers who didn’t know how to use the device.

If you want to use a prologue, study finely crafted prologues. I want yours to dovetail with your story and with your cover and your book description. It’s all about craftsmanship. In that way, books are like furniture…I only want drawers in furniture if the drawers are constructed properly with joints that dovetail, instead of joints that are cheaply glued or tacked together and fall apart. Books or desks with drawers, If they are made well and work, they do exactly what I need for them to do.

 

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Prolog: Greek -before, Logos – word

Prologs are out of vogue. Maybe that’s because we want to jump right into a story, not mess about with seemingly extraneous details. More likely it’s because
Prologs have been abused. So often they’re just an info dump – more of a distraction than a component necessary to enjoying the story. I suspect that’s why publishers and editors dislike and discourage Prologs.

Contemporary Romances are stories in the here and now. That’s an aspect of the genre I really love. I want to walk right in and meet the players and watch the love story as it plays out. There really isn’t any need for a set up, a prolog, an information dump. I want to be living the story as it unfolds for the protagonists and the details should be woven into dialog and narrative and keep the story in the active present.

If you must include a prolog first ask yourself:
•Can the reader understand and enjoy the story without this info
•Is it compelling
•Can the info included in the Prolog be conveyed throughout the story in dialog or narrative
•And the question I think is most important for a Prolog: is the information contained so important that the reader must keep that in mind as the narrative unfolds if we are to understand the story. That’s the only reason I can see for a prolog.

But you are the author and this is your story. If a prolog will strengthen the work, then by all means include one. The creative process should not be subject to the whims of fashion. Just be absolutely certain that prolog is necessary.

Let us know what you think about prologues. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you read them?

This month’s extra squeeze topic was suggested by APRYL MOHAJERRAHBARI. Thank you Apryl, we hope we answered your question. 

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle, please use this contact form.

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Visual Content Marketing for the Confused and Terrified Writer

July 17, 2017 by in category Writing Classes tagged as , , ,

Visual Content Marketing | Elena Dillon | A Slice of Orange

 

Visual Content Marketing for the Confused and Terrified Writer

Instructor: Elena Dillon

Cost: $79

Dates: On Demand

What is visual content and why do you need it for your marketing strategy? And how does this apply to your author business?

 

The answer is simple.

Visual content is anything that uses pictures, graphics, video, etc. When you see a GIF of cats falling off tables? That’s visual content. A pretty graphic with a quote from a book? Visual Content. Those fabulous cooking videos where they make a cinnamon roll apple pie in twenty seconds? Visual content.

It’s what will get your content seen. As a matter of fact, statistically your readers are 44% more likely to engage with visual content. Hmmm. 44%? Hard to ignore. We all want to work smarter not harder, right? In this class, you will learn:

  • How to decide what kind of visuals will work for you and your business
  • How to create all kinds of visuals
  • How to make one piece of content work in many different ways
  • Drive traffic where you want it to go (your website, lead page, Amazon or other retailer page)
  • Save time and effort in your marketing efforts

Who should take this class?

This class for you if you’ve never created any kind of graphics on your own. It’s for authors who need to learn how to create visual content for their author business and are unsure about using new technology. We will go over:

  • Strategies for smarter marketing
  • Tools that make visual content easier to create and more manageable
  • How to plan out your content and marketing so it takes up less precious writing time.

And believe it or not? I’ll make it fun. I’ll teach you how to create a graphic while you’re standing in line for coffee. =)

About the instructor:

 

Visual Content | A Slice of Orange 

 
Who Am I?

I’m Elena Dillon, an author of the award winning Young Adult Breathe series. When I’m not writing, I love to help my author friends with technology and social media. I’ve taught Social Media for the Confused and Terrified, Pinterest for the Confused and Terrified, Visual Content for Authors and spoken at numerous conferences, chapters, and groups about social media and indie publishing.

Most of the time, I’m a wife to my husband of twenty-six years, mom to my two grown kids and servant to my high-maintenance English bulldog, Brutus, while I wait, not so patiently, for grandbabies.

 

Visual Content Marketing for the Confused and Terrified Writer

Instructor: Elena Dillon

Cost: $79

Dates: On Demand

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Send Us Your Questions

July 14, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as ,

The Extra Squeeze Team Wants Your Questions

We're Taking Questions | A Slice of Orange

 

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send The Extra Squeeze Team your Questions.

Your questions and their answers will be posted on the last day of each month.

If you have a topic or question for the Extra Squeeze Team,  contact the Extra Squeeze online producer Marianne Donley by using the form below.

The Extra Squeeze Team

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange
H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange
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The Case of the Missing Elizabeth Boyle Novels

July 8, 2017 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as , ,

The Case of the Missing Elizabeth Boyle Novels | Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

I lend books to just about anyone who wants them. Sometime even to people who don’t. I never worry about getting the books back because I have a handy-dandy book embosser. I stamp From The Library of MH Donley right on the title page. Most people returned embossed books.

Oddly, I never get back my Elizabeth Boyle novels.

It took a lot of detective work, but I think I’ve figured out why.

Many years ago, I volunteered to collect books from published authors for a charity function.  A few authors handed me books at our local writers’ meeting, but most mailed them.

Bertha, my mail lady, being kind and gentle instead of a soulless bureaucrat, walked the book bundles up to my door rather than leaving them stuffed inside my tiny mail box.  On the fourth day of lugging books, Bertha asked, “Why are you getting mail from people I know?”

I was startled. I had never been questioned by my mail carrier before.  Did receiving mail from friends of postal workers violated some obscure government code?  Curious, I asked, “Who do you . . .”

“Elizabeth Boyle,” Bertha interrupted.

“You know Elizabeth Boyle?” I asked.

“I love her books,” she said ignoring me. “I’ve read every one.”

“She’s an excellent storyteller,” I said, “I always enjoy her books.”

Bertha narrowed her eyes and handed me another parcel of books.  “But why is she sending YOU books? And all these other authors.  I recognize all of them.”

I explained about the charity function.  But she kept staring at the packages of books in my arms as if I were hiding some evil secret for getting, authors in general and  Elizabeth Boyle, in particular, to send me five copies of their latest book.  With a frown on her face, Bertha stepped down from my front porch and walked back to her mail truck.  Just before she got in, she turned back to me and asked, “So are you an author?”

“I’m working on it,” I answered.

“What exactly are you writing?”

“Right now, a murder mystery,” I said.

Bertha backed up so fast she bumped into her truck.  “Dead people?  You write about dead people?”

I laughed. “Not real dead people.  I do make them up.”

“How do you do that?  Are there research books on how to kill people?”

“Well,” I said, “I do have Deadly Doses: a writer’s guide to poisons.”

“What?” Bertha’s voice squeaked. “Do the poisons work?”

“Haven’t tried any . . .yet,” I said.  I thought she would laugh, but she hopped into her truck and zoomed off to the next set of mailboxes without even waving good bye. I lugged my armful of books through the front door and didn’t think much more about her until I caught her hugging my husband in front of our mailbox two days later.

Now seriously, Dennis gets hugged by everyone.  Checkers at the grocery store. Tellers at the bank.  The principal at a local school who turned out to be his mother’s Avon Lady’s second daughter.  So I didn’t think the hugging part was all that unusual.

“Hi, Bertha,” I said.   “Any more packages for me?”

She leaped into her vehicle, did a quick u-turn and took off down the street.

“That was weird,” Dennis said as he walked up the driveway to where I was standing.  “She jumped out, hugged me, said she was so glad to see I was still alive. Then started quizzing me about your cooking and a book on poison.”

“Hummm,” I said.

“You wouldn’t happen to know what she was talking about?” he asked when he put his arm around my shoulder and we strolled into the house together.

“Not a clue,” I said.

“If anything happens to me, Bertha will testify,” he said.

“Maybe,” I said.

“What do you mean by maybe?”

“I’m pretty sure Bertha could be bought for a few Elizabeth Boyle novels.”

“Indeed,” he said.

We have a new mail carrier these days, but I have noticed that Elizabeth’ novels seem to disappear from this house the second I finish reading them. No one I lend books to admits having them. And they are never in the returned book pile.


Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of Orange

Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances, or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.

No husbands, mail carriers, or authors were harmed in the writing of this blog.

You will find Marianne’s short romantic story “The Widow Next Door” in:

 


 

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