Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And the winner is...Marianne Evans

Congratulations to Marianne Evans for winning a copy of my book! The names were randomly drawn from those who left comments by completely objective third parties.

Marianne, I will be e-mailing you for your snail mail address. However, if you'd rather download an electronic copy, let me know and we'll take care of it....

...everyone else, thanks for playing, you will get a consolation prize of a year's supply of Ramen Noodles and the Jeopardy home edition game...just kidding, you don't get anything but my love and gratitude, which many consider only slightly better than the Ramen noodles...

Seriously though, I really do appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog. I welcome any
Wild Rose Press authors who would like to do guest columns, and for all the readers, keep tuning in for the free writer resource o' the week and other goodies.

Take care, and thanks for stopping to smell the roses!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES -- Wild Rose Press Author Blog Event

Relax. Take off your coat. Stay a while. Have a cup of coffee. Well, okay, there's no coffee, but there are some wonderful literary musings awaiting you as a part of the Stop and Smell the Roses event.

Here's how the event works. Several authors from The Wild Rose Press will post excerpts on their blogs on June 29 as a part of an all day blog event. Some authors may offer a chance to win prizes for the participants who leave comments.

What am I offering? If you leave a comment at any of my blog entries related to Leaving the Comfort Cafe, I will enter your name in a drawing for a chance to win a printed copy of my book.
One important note: On June 29, the day this event is scheduled, I will be on a volunteer project, and may have sporadic access to e-mail (which is why I'm posting this earlier). But I WILL post the winner on this blog the next day, and I WILL get in contact and respond to comments that day---though perhaps not in as timely a fashion as I normally would.

I called my blog Novel Trails because my blog is FUNCTIONAL --- this is much more than about what's going on with me (though you'll no doubt find some information on that) but my blog has information and resources that will be of interest to readers and provide some useful resources for writers or anyone who wants to improve his or her writing. If you're not into writing, that's fine, you'll find information on great reads, reader loops---and of course, all the insight into the quirky world of a Southern writer. So take time to wander throughout my blog. Heck, go ahead and follow it. I promise I don't write down every minute thing I do. I won't post blogs on going to Wal-Mart or getting my tires rotated...unless of course, a story happens to spring forth from those events (and in the South, that frequently, frequently, happens).

I have two pieces with the Wild Rose Press -- my novella, Leaving the Comfort Cafe (which is the main thrust of this blog) and a short story called "Cousin of the Bride." I'm also working on a Christian romance short story to submit to the Wild Rose Press that has the working title "Make it So" (I know, I'm not crazy over that title, either). You may also find links to some of my other short stories that have been published online on the left.

There is also a link to The Wild Rose Press if you want to order my book (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

If you are interested in writing a guest column for this blog, just contact me through this blog, or visit my website at www.dawnwilson.net

Below you will find:
1) An excerpt from Leaving the Comfort Cafe
2) A video of a live reading featuring a different excerpt from Leaving the Comfort Cafe (and please note, I don't charge extra for the Eastern North Carolina accent. I'm glad to throw that in for free)
3) Links to the other great, great, blogs and writers with The Wild Rose Press. Enjoy!

So relax. Please keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times. I hope you enjoy reading about Blythe as much as I have enjoyed writing about her.

Excerpt from "Leaving the Comfort Cafe"

Leaving the Comfort Cafe centers around the adventures of Blythe Shelley, a redneck who has had one curly perm too many, who earned 1600 on her SAT, a full scholarship to Cornell, but never went. Instead, she decided to wait tables at the Comfort Cafe, a small "mom and pop" restaurant in Eastern North Carolina. Austin, the fresh-out-school, newly hired town manager, is determined to learn why Blythe turned down her scholarship and gave up on her dreams.

--Following is a scene where Austin first meets Blythe while she's waiting tables at the Comfort Cafe...

“Mercy, children!” A frizzled, bright red perm slathered into sight, connected to a young woman with bright blue eye shadow and even brighter blue fingernails. With a smooth, almost disturbing movement of her wrist, she slammed a huge tray of food directly in front of him. She shook her head, shut her eyes and let out a low groan.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, hon. It’s just my stomach. I’m on my period.”

“Oh.” Austin tried not to stare. Dear God, please don’t let this be my waitress.

“Here you go, sir,” she said. “One plate eggs over easy with the decorative parsley carefully stacked to the side and not touching the food. Grits and hash browns, bacon and a side of sausage. Don’t you love places that serve breakfast all day? They were out of fresh blueberries for the pancakes, but we do have some of the canned stuff, though grandma over there won’t tell you it’s canned, so I wanted to hold off because I know the canned stuff makes you irregular. Here’s your

check. Comes to five seventy-five and I took the liberty of already adding in my tip—since you obviously never do—and an extra fifty cents for a pretty smile.”

Her bright pink lips parted to reveal well-kept, surprisingly straight, teeth.

“Now, if there’s nothing else you’ll be needing, I’ll take that whenever you’re—”

“Uh, miss...I’m sorry, but this is not my order.”

Whadaya mean it’s not…” Her pale fingers darted into her apron pocket, pulled out a small, black notebook, and scurried through the pages, searching for the culprit. “Then if this isn’t yours, you must have ordered the tenderloin steak?”


“The ham hocks?”


“Barbecue? Caesar salad?”

“No and no. I ordered—”

“You ordered the fifth of vodka.”

“I wha—”

“Just foolin’. I remember now. Grandma over there told me. One slice of pecan pie. Coffee.”

“Decaf.” Austin gently reminded her.

“Decaf coffee. That’s like saying I want to spend the night with you, I just don’t want to have sex.’”

“Excuse me?” He raised his eyebrows.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to say ‘sex’ before two o’ clock.”

Austin wondered why the time made any difference.

“And I guess this delectable feast was for…ooo….” Her eyes curved into narrow slits, looking through the window and pulverizing the mayor with what Austin could assume would be a felony assault. “I always thought that man would skip out on his bill one day. I don’t care who he is. I don’t care if his grandfather fought in the such-and-such war. I don’t care if his ancestry dates back to Stonewall Jackson. I don’t care if he helped tie up the Mayflower when they put it in dry dock. I even don’t care if he’s related to Jesus. That man is not skipping out on his bill.”

“I think he’s just outside talking to some folks. He’ll probably come right back.”

“That sonofabitch.” She hauled the overloaded tray up on her shoulder as if she were burping a baby and darted out the front door.

Austin couldn’t hear the conversation that followed, but he could tell by the mayor’s startled expression and the animated bobbing of the waitress’s head that the discussion was definitely, and enthusiastically, one-sided. She pushed the entire tray into the mayor’s arms. As he struggled to balance the tray, a few biscuits tumbled onto the pavement where a constituent’s beagle was more than happy to help himself to a free sample. The waitress then reached into the mayor’s back pocket, pulled out his wallet and removed funds to pay the bill.

She returned into the café casually, confidently, totally unaware of the stares and whispers beginning to sizzle from the background. Some country music station was playing on the kitchen radio, and she seemed to walk in easy rhythm to the music.

“Sorry about that, dear. I always knew he was going to slip out on me.”

“I think that was actually my fault.” Austin was almost afraid to volunteer who he was. “You see, I’m the new town manager and I don’t think he was pleased with—”

“Town manager?” Her bosom was uncomfortably close to Austin’s eye level. “I didn’t know we had a town manager. I thought the town just managed itself.”

“Believe me, I wish it did.”

She brought out a cup and poured his coffee.

Austin noticed the handle on the coffeepot was black, not the bright orange that signified decaf. She also brought him the pie a la mode, though he didn’t ask for it that way. But after seeing what she did to the mayor, he decided not to argue

LIVE -- author presentation of Leaving the Comfort Cafe

Why simply read an excerpt from Leaving the Comfort Cafe when you can hear it with an Eastern North Carolina accent?

I love doing readings. Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a "drama queen" but I enjoy the sound and rhythm of words, phrases, and the regional dialogue quirks that make things particularly lively (especially if the story takes place in the South).

If you'd like me to give a reading at your book club, etc., just let me know. I absolutely love interacting with readers. I'm even willing to travel and incorporate it as a "working vacation"---but point me in the direction of the nearest Holiday Inn and I'm set....

Other Wild Rose Press Author Blogs

The Wild Rose Press is a traditional electronic and print publisher of romance stories. Let me just say the folks there are awesome to work with--they did such a great job with Leaving the Comfort Cafe. Please take time to visit the other Wild Rose Press author blogs during this Stop and Smell the Roses event.

Here are the links to the blogs....enjoy!




www.christineclemet son.blogspot.com

www.findagreatroman ce.blogspot.com


www.freewebs.com/teriwilson/ apps/blog/


www.hywelalyn blogspot.com






www.plotsandthoughts.blogspot. com




www.willtravelforromance.blogspot. com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blog-o-rama and a chance to win!

On June 29, myself and other authors with the Wild Rose Press will be participating in our publisher's all day blogging event. Several WRP authors (including myself) will be posting excerpts from their books, blogging items about writing, etc. A link to all the authors participating will be available on each blog.

Now, the part you've been waiting for----leave a comment and your name is put in a hat for a drawing to win a FREE copy of my novel Leaving the Comfort Cafe. But you have to leave a comment...

What I like about "The River"

There is something about Flannery O'Connor's "The River" that gives you the same sinking feeling you get when you crest the highest hill of a roller coaster---you see the twisted mangled mass of tracks out before you, and you know that you're going to dive headfirst into it, and there' s nothing you can do to stop it; you are at the mercy of the laws of physics.

For me, "The River" is something like that. I refuse to post any spoilers on this blog, but what I will say, is that Flannery sets us up so well for the ending, that we're not 100 percent sure we even see it coming. We're still enjoying the few little dips and turns of the gentle roller coaster weaving as it prepares for the big climb. When I got a hint of what was to come, I felt so helpless, I so wanted to dive into the story and among the characters to effect a change, but I felt like I was at the top of the roller coaster, and I got that same sinking feeling in my stomach.

Powerful stuff. Read it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Writer Resource of the Week---IT'S BACK

After a long hiatus, welcome back the writer resource of the week. This week's resource is:

The Association of Authors' Representatives

Need an agent? Don't know where to start? Just what's up with this agent thing anyway? Check it out, particularly the FAQ section.

Life, interrupted

Strange how things can transform dramatically and then as soon as they start they are resolved, leaving you relieved but at the same time kind of wondering what just happened.

I went for my first mammogram and got the dreaded "call back" meaning they found something that was an "area of interest." An ultrasound revealed a mass that had some suspicious qualities. Long story short, a biopsy revealed a benign (thank you, Jesus) tumor. The tumor, a fibroademona for any of those of you who would like to look it up on wikipedia, can just hang out indefinitely because they do not become cancer---sometimes these things do grow, but that's not usually the case (once again, based on my "professional-no-medical-training-whatsoever opinion.")

I wanted to thank all of those friends of mine who prayed for me. I can't imagine the intense emotional and physical struggle for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, but I can say that being called back for a biopsy was scary enough...

However, this whole experience reminded me of something cool that St. Paul said in the book of Romans, that nothing--nothing in heaven, or in earth or seen or unseen---can separate us from the love of God.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Short stories that have influenced me as a writer

Ever so often we read a short story and we are like, man, I wish I had thought of that, or we are so bowled over by the writer who has such a distinct command of the craft, or ...well, you get the point.

Following are ten of the short stories that have influenced me as a writer. I've picked these because I felt that I've learned something fairly profound as a writer from each one. These aren't necessarily my favorite short stories, but something about them resonated with me. Over the next couple of days, I'll be deconstructing these stories, and examining what makes it work, and what influenced me.

I'd love to hear from my writer friends, old and new, about this. Please feel free to post in the comments section, and I really, really will respond. Seriously.

In addition, if I can find online links to the stories, I would love to post them and maybe even have a commentary / discussion on them through the comments section.

Here they are, in no particular order:

"The River" by: Flannery O'Connor

"Happy Endings" by: Margaret Atwood

"The Veldt" by: Ray Bradbury

"Bigfoot Stole My Wife" by: Ron Carlson

"The Birthmark" by: Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Scrabble With God" by: John M. Ford

"Fat" by: Raymond Carver

"Hills Like White Elephants" by: Ernest Hemingway

"The School" by: Donald Barthelme

"It Had Wings" by: Alan Gurganus (from Rocky Mount, btw. I got to meet him. Cool guy. Great writer. Gorgeous voice.)

"Charles" by: Shirley Jackson (of course, "The Lottery" is up there too, but because you always see that listed, I'm listing this one....)

"Nipple" by: Wendy Brenner

BONUS: This next one is a bonus because it is a recent "aha"moment I had as a writer. My friend Nathan Ballingrud won the Shirley Jackson Award for his short story, "The Monsters of Heaven." Knowing Nathan since seventh grade (geez, Nathan, has it been that long?) I've always known he could write, but ---dang! I'm not just putting this up here because he's my friend, but because I seriously, seriously, learned something about the craft from this short story, which we can discuss with later comments these upcoming weeks.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cool writing article

Check this out from Writer's Digest --the link is below.

I thought it was really interesting...

Michael Crichton's Top 5 Writing Lessons.


Did I ever understand how this blog thing worked anyway?

It’s good to at least try to get back into the blog writing thing.
I’ve found that I’ve been so obsessed with trying to get things out, that I’ve neglected a few of my short stories that I’ve been meaning to rewrite and polish.

It’s strange, but I seem to have the opposite problem of many other writers; many are hesitant or rarely send things out---they would rather just write. I seem to be getting a little OCD about sending things out. If I don’t have at least 5 short stories circulating around, I feel like I’m really backing myself into a corner and missing out on something.