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Appearances by Neetu

November 26, 2023 by in category Poet's Day by Neetu Malik tagged as , , ,


I hear a knock at the door . . .
but no one appears

I sigh with relief
because I don’t need
an audience
when I am dressed
in my pajamas at noon
couldn’t care less
to impress
or to pretend
I’m a sophisticate
just waking up late
having exhausted
my intellect solving
climate change
or something still undefined
but to be expected
at the crack of dawn
one day in the future
if I am still alive

when all I did
was stare at my coffee
until it was cold . . .

but the relief!
Oh why must I apologize
for what I wear
or what I believe
even if someone appears
uninvited at my door?

The thought troubles–
I go inside
myself . . . feeling
like a hypocrite
disenchanted by
the force of habit
to seem nice

(c) Neetu Malik

Some of Neetu’s Books

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How do you balance meeting your reader’s expectations with also surprising them?

August 31, 2018 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , ,
Balance | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Dear Extra Squeeze Team,

How do you balance meeting your reader’s expectations with also surprising them?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

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


Think of it this way:

Instead of writing a book, you’re making a movie. You put a lot of hard work into it and you think it’s pretty good so you’re kind of proud of the film. It turns out that all the people who see the movie think it’s SPECTACULAR and they want more. So you make more movies and you work hard to make each one a little better, more creative, more surprising. But people think that each movie is A LOT better.  They LOVE your movies.

They can’t get enough of your movies.

You’re nominated for an academy award!

You’re going to walk the red carpet. But what to wear? You don’t want to disappoint anyone. Do you pick a neon pink, crystal-covered number because you are a star? Do you go for a classic cut gown because you want your audience knows you’re in it for the craft? Or, as the big night approaches, are you paralyzed by indecision and opt for the black, wide legged pants and a white blouse that you’ve worn to every wedding you attended in the last ten years? The latter choice, while sincerely attractive, will bore your audience to tears.

Just now I am trying to decide ‘what to wear; as I write book eight of The Witness Series. I had no intention of writing another Witness Series book until fans started asking why I left one beloved character out in the (literal) wilderness and I am paralyzed. One thing I know for sure is that my readers want me to answer the question of what happened to Billy but they want me to answer it in a way that pleases them.  The problem is that I don’t know what I think. Should I give them a real crystal covered ending? A sober, long dress ending or do I play it safe in those palazzo pants and shirt and be done with it all.

I am driving myself crazy with what ifs and indecision. The last thing I want is to disappoint. But when this question was asked of the Extra Squeeze team, I realized there was one thing I hadn’t considered. It could be that my readers are telling me that what they really want is a natural end to the journey they have been on with me.  Maybe they are gently pushing me to the neon pink dress shimmering with crystals because these characters deserve a conclusion that is spectacular and satisfying and true to the people they have become. Not characters, people who have a their own reality to live.

I guess there is nothing I can do but write. In the end, when this book is reviewed I will know if I was true to everyone: myself, my readers and these wonderful characters.

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.

Writers always want to satisfy their fan base, gain new readers and at the same time, not lose sight of their own creative core. It’s a balancing act but I don’t think it’s always necessary. “Reader expectations” vary from writer to writer and from reader to reader but I think those expectations generally concern character; motivations, future plotting, desired outcomes. Successful series characters become dear friends — I’d have Miss Marple or Kinsey Millhone over to dinner anytime!  The reader becomes invested.


I have clients who take reader input very seriously and I respect that.  When reader’s express expectations that are at odds with what the author has in mind my response is to remind her that she is the one writing the story. Unless the fan suggestion is far better than what the writer had in mind — and that has happened, more than once! —  I suggest that the writer bear the fan concerns in mind but not stray from her creative stream. Again, she is the creator of this work. It isn’t a collaborative effort.


If your work has garnered fans so engaged with your characters that they have developed their own expectations (or wishful ideas for story direction) then it is a blazing sign that your work is successful.  A huge part of that success is the authenticity and originality of your voice. You write what your creative brain directs and the quality and truth of that is what appeals to readers. To consider fan input and to find you can accommodate some if not all of that input makes sense, but if it does not fit, gently reject it. There is nothing more jarring than a story that takes a discordant trajectory. You, as the author, know and feel when the story hits an off note — or you should!


Surprising readers is your job and you must be doing it right if your fan base is developing expectations. Inherent in that ‘surprise’ is often a trajectory that goes against reader expectations. That’s why it’s a surprise. Scarlett doesn’t wind up with Rhett. And that famous ending rings true to the original, authentic voice of the proceeding 960 pages. It’s still surprising readers 82 years later.


The best genre writing follows a formula of sorts and that formula contains some reader expectations; romance will have a successful love match, crime novels will vanquish the bad guy etc. Within that genre formula is a lot of room to play with character development and plot surprise. How each writer uniquely handles that is what keeps us genre readers coming back. Accommodate reader expectations if they work; write a gentle personal note when they don’t.

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.

Robin is again, out of the loop. We have a suspicion she’s somewhere having a lot of fun without us.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

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

Well, I managed to miss meeting my readers’ expectations in my desire to surprise them recently! In that instance, I had to go back and change the ending to give them pretty much what they wanted. It meant a more predictable ending, but happier readers. For an end-of-series ending, that was more important than my own ego.
As for the middle bits… I dunno. Some reviewers say my writing is predictable while others find it very twisty-turny. My advice would be to write something that pleases you, but be prepared for the fact that some will be impressed and others won’t. You cannot please everyone.

Do you have a question for The Extra Squeeze Team?  Click here.

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A Slice of Nature

April 13, 2017 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , ,

Cabin in the woods | Sally ParadyszMy first post for A Slice of Orange comes with A Slice of Nature. As I sit here in my writing cabin in the woods, I watch my favorite buck tip the flat bird feeder to his advantage. He is taking care of his own needs, much as we do in our own lives. Nature shows me each day how the trees, birds, and animals do not try to be anything else but who they are in any given moment. A deer is not trying to be turkey, a fox is not trying to be a bunny, nor is a songbird trying to be a hawk. They are who they are and that is the gift.


Often, in our own lives, we are concerned with trying to become someone or something we are not. It doesn’t work very well and we find in the end that we are just perfect as we are. Favorit Buck | Sally Paradysz We all have talents, but sometimes we must dig deep to find them. Finding our strengths and taking responsibility for own lives is key. Each of us has a path to walk, find yours and live the challenges and experiences that we are given.

I’ve learned not to have expectations, and that life is all about effort. Live in a space of letting go and work hard. Nature is my teacher and shows me that only we hold responsibility for the energy we give, along with the energy we bring to everywhere we go. If our intentions are good, our outcome is usually in sync as well. All of us have remarkable stories of finding ourselves in places we never expected, but that is an authentic and compelling life. Like nature, no two moments are the same.

Sally Paradysz






Sally Paradysz writes from a book-lined cabin in the woods beside the home she built from scratch. She is an ordained minister of the Assembly of the Word, founded in 1975. For two decades, she has provided spiritual counseling and ministerial assistance. Sally has completed undergraduate and graduate courses in business and journalism. She took courses at NOVA, and served as a hotline, hospital, and police interview volunteer in Bucks County, PA. She is definitely owned by her two Maine Coon cats, Kiva and Kodi.


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