Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Number 45!!! YAY!!!

SweetTale Books has a new family member!  It's number 45 in the group (what a large family!)  And yes, this is book number five for this year--one per month so far.  Fingers crossed that it'll continue!

This one is by Andie Alexander and entitled, 'Please Don't Blow Up the Neighbors.'  Enjoy!




Blurb:

*** Book 4 in the Extreme Travel Series ***

Since Kes and James are now agents, they travel to the Philippines with their team to save kidnapped businessmen. Due to the nature of the missions, the situations get very personal for Kes in more than one way.


Chapter 1:

"Kes!"

I all but jumped out of my seat when I heard my name yelled from far away. I must have dozed off or something, because the boring first speaker in the lecture hall was gone. My friend and coworker, Ben, stood in front of the entire auditorium with a microphone, looking right at me. I slinked down into my seat and he laughed. I hated working for CIA just then. This was a required seminar for new recruits, entitled, 'The Magic of Distraction.' If I'd known Ben was speaking, I'd have faked a headache.

"No, Kes," Ben said. "I need you, right now."

It figured we'd be stuck with model-adorable Ben. He was a gorgeous agent, blond hair, blue eyes, and a killer white smile. He also liked to flirt a lot, especially with me.

Every face in the giant filled auditorium turned toward me. I hated Ben for this. He was going to buy me the biggest and most expensive dinner for making me die in front of everyone.

My cheeks heated up. "Where?"

"Up here, Kes. Now."

I stood up and gave my best 'save me' look to my husband, James, who sat beside me. He shrugged as if to say, 'you're on your own and I'm glad it's not me.' So, I straightened my outfit and walked the plank to the stage. As soon as I got there, I gave Ben the 'don't mess with me' glare and stood with my arms folded.

"See this?" Ben picked up my long, wavy, dark red hair in his hand. "Huge distraction, especially in places where they don't normally have red hair." He turned me slightly and held my face toward the crowd. "Green eyes. Not normal."

I shot him the dirtiest look possible, making him chuckle. He stood back and held his chin as he checked me out. "Nice body, too. A little flat-chested, but you can't have it all."

I put my hands on my hips and watched him with my mouth agape. That little…

Ben stifled a laugh and talked to the huge chuckling audience again. "This lady has done amazing things with distraction. She has it down to a science and has proven it time and time again, even before she'd trained to be an agent. She was the inspiration for my book and I'd love to have her demonstrate some of the things she's done in the past. You might want to take notes, because she's a natural."

I looked toward James, who'd hidden far down in his chair with his face covered. He probably felt like I did, terrified for what was to come.

Standing about five or six inches taller than my height, James Hamilton was very handsome, with compassionate and sexy light blue eyes and medium brown hair framing his face. His beautiful white smile and high cheekbones gave his face a model-like glow. With his sexy slightly British accent, his muscular six-pack abs, and his very caring personality added into the mix, I'd married someone who should've been in the movies or on the front cover of a magazine. It didn't hurt that James was independently wealthy from all the businesses he'd started or inherited, including the biggest newspaper in Denver. Even so, we got along really well, but also knew how to push each other's buttons. With his newly obtained doctoral degree in psychology, he thought he could counsel anyone. I think I was his only failure, because I played with his head. Even though we'd only been married for four months, I figured it was my right to play with his head a bit. It kept things interesting.

"James," Ben yelled. "Bring Kes her purse."

James took a deep breath and grabbed my purse. He walked up to the stage, handed me the purse, and headed back for the stairs.

Ben ran to James' side and directed him back to center stage, right beside me. "Oh, no, my friend. You're up here with us."

I turned toward James. "Do you want to kill him now or later?" I said it loudly enough for everyone to hear. The audience laughed. I even saw our big boss, Wilson, hiding a grin.

"Now, Kes, dear, relax," Ben said into the microphone. "I promise this won't hurt." He looked out to the audience and put his hand to the side of his mouth. "We're actually really good friends."

"Not for long," I said. There was laughter again.

Ben shot me a dirty look. "Anyway, here's how this works. Distraction is like the magician who can fool you into seeing one thing when they're doing something else behind your back. Let's take an example here. Kes, I need a sleazy woman."

I raised my eyebrows and lowered my gaze down over him. "Sounds like a personal problem."

Laughter rang throughout the auditorium. I was pushing my luck, but so was my good old buddy Ben.

Ben shook his head while clutching the mic with white knuckles. I guessed he was probably trying to control his anger, but he smiled anyway.

"No, Kes," he said. "I need you to look sleazy and I need it in less than five minutes."

Of all things to choose for me to do. I hung my head.

"What's wrong?" Ben asked me.

I looked up slightly. "This is really embarrassing. Do you know that?"

"That's funny. You weren't embarrassed when you did it before on various occasions. Should I name a few?"

I couldn't believe he'd tell my secrets. I wasn't proud of some things I'd done in the past, but knew I'd gotten the job done and saved a few lives. "Ben…"

He laughed. He was such a joker but I wasn't amused.

"Fine," I murmured. "Are you ready to time me?"

"Sure." He pulled a stopwatch out of his pocket and I waited until he set it to zero. "Go."

I removed my jacket and unbuttoned part of my blouse, and then pulled the blouse up and tied it in a knot under my bust line. I raised my hem by turning under the top of my skirt, and then opened my purse and pulled out a mirror. I applied blush, mascara, and lipstick to the max, so it would be very apparent. I fluffed up my hair and looked at Ben. "Done."

"No, you're not. I want the bra off, too."

"Ben. No," I whined, my hands falling to my side.

James, my dutiful husband, stood back, smiled, and crossed his arms. "Do what the man says."

"Oh, man." I pulled my arms out of my sleeves and took the straps off from my bra, under my blouse. I put my arms back in, and undid the bra in the back. I laid it on the table with my jacket, and turned to Ben. "Do you want anything else off, too?"

"Well, now that you say it…" He glanced at my annoyed face, and then checked his stopwatch. "No, that was great. Doesn't she look sleazy? And in only two minutes and twelve seconds, too."

The men in the audience clapped while the women took notes, like this was something special.

Oh, brother.


Web page with buy links (as they become available):  $1.99!!!


Curb Appeal for Your Book

What?  Curb appeal?  I thought that was only in real estate, when selling a house.

Curb appeal for a book, in my mind, is how the book looks from the front.  If it's good, the reader will open it to read the book, and buy it.  If the front's not good, forget about it.

So what determines curb appeal?  The title and the cover.  There's no magic formula that I've found to make your book have better curb appeal, but there are some hints of things that might help.

Here's what I've found:

The cover:

  • Keep the font easy to read and large.
  • Keep the cover uncluttered.
  • Use images that are easy to see.
  • Use a light cover for light books--comedies, chick lit, etc.  Use dark covers for thrillers, mysteries, and dark topics.
  • Covers that sell seem to go through phases based on best sellers.
  • People or pets on the cover make it easier for the reader to relate to.
The title:
  • Short titles seem to sell well.
  • Alliteration works for a title.
  • Unique titles are great.
  • The title should relate to the subject and genre.
So work on the curb appeal and your book will sell more copies.   It's like selling a house...pull the weeds in the front flower bed (keep it uncluttered), paint the front (get a great cover), and make sure the address is clearly visible (give yourself a wonderful title).

Personally, I like simple covers, because to me, that means a book that's not so complex that it'll be hard to follow the plot.  Just keep that in mind when you're thinking of what you'd like to see.  A book IS judged by the cover.

Have a great week!
Markee

Friday, May 22, 2015

When Is Enough Enough?

Now, before you think I'm upset, I'm not.  This isn't that type of post.

I read a blog a while back about this author who had over a hundred titles in print--all indie published.  They made a nice amount of money every month, but none of the books were top sellers for Amazon or any publisher.  However, with a hundred titles, they were making enough to stay at home and write for a living.

Now, you're probably wondering why I'm writing this.  I have 44 book titles in print and should be making a bundle.  WRONG.  The timing for my books is all wrong.  There are so many books in print these days, the competition is tremendous, just to get readers.  Throw in the incentive programs by Amazon (like free books, Kindle KDP Select, and things of that nature), and gaining readers is almost impossible.  I also am at a disadvantage of my own making--I have too many pen names to have repeat readers find my books fast.  Yes, I do, and I know it.  But each of my pen names is for a different genre, so it makes sense.

Thus, I don't have 44 titles per name.  I have, at most, 14 titles (for Eryn Grace).  So to get to 100 and have the type of success like that author has will take me a while.

Back to the title.  When is enough enough?  When will the number of titles for a pen name be enough to bring in more readers?  I think it used to be eight or nine titles.  The more you had, the more readers you'd get because the readers would say, 'I like this book...what else does that author have to offer?'

But with the glut of books out there, I don't think eight or nine titles is enough anymore.  I think it has to be in the twenties, at least.  I may be way off, but readers see what's in front of them at that moment for new authors.  It makes sense.

Thus, 44 isn't enough yet, nor is 14.  Some people will have more success with fewer books than that and some will have to write more.

I need to get writing more.  Stay tuned...I'm still on track for a book a month.

Have a great weekend!
Markee

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pacing and Attention Span

I entered a contest this year, to see how my book would fare.  It was free, so I figured, why not.  Well, I got the results back and they gave it high marks except for pacing.

Pacing?  HUH?  My books are fast paced, to keep up with the changing market.  According to this article, readers don't have a long attention span.  You have to keep the plot moving or you'll lose your audience.  You also have to write shorter books, or your readers will be gone.

I kept reading that part about pacing in that contest, over and over again, obsessing over it.  I have a feeling that newer readers might want faster pacing, but people who've been reading for a while don't want that roller coaster feeling.  So who do you write for?  The people who've been reading for a while and savor each word and each scene like a fine wine, or the readers who want their books to move to come alive in their minds?

Personally, I like books that move.  If there's too much narrative, I skip it and miss that whole part of the book.  I couldn't care less whether the doilies in a room are handstitched or bought from a store, nor do I care about the intricate coloring of each strand in a carpet.  Tell me the doilies are there and the carpet's brown, and my mind will take care of the rest.  That narrative slows down the plot, and makes the story come to a crawl or a standstill.

I like books that have a lot of 'white space' on the page.  I've seen them called 'loud' books, because there's usually a lot of dialogue going on.  Books with little white space have more narrative, and are 'quieter.'

Here's a description of that white space: http://writeitsideways.com/how-and-when-to-use-white-space-in-writing/

If you're interested, here's more on white space, for writing and for the Internet:
http://twopens.com/how-to-use-whitespace/
http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/Spacing.htm
http://www.wattpad.com/50963705-paper-hearts-some-writing-advice-white-space


So, in writing books, more white space is better, because it keeps the reader moving.  It doesn't bog them down with minor details or narrative.

Pacing.  Love it or hate it, it's what can make or break a book.

Have a great week!
Markee

Friday, May 8, 2015

Indie Writers Do It All

If you have a goal to be an Indie writer (you are independent and don't have a 'publisher' to answer to), then you're in for a fun ride.

Not only do you write the book, you're in charge of the following:

* editing
* creating a book cover
* formatting the book
* posting the book on various selling websites
* marketing
* paying taxes on any income you get
* registering any pen name (depending on where you live--most writers don't have to do this)
* social media for advertising

You also have to set the price, write up a blurb for the book, have a web site or a presence online for fans to see more of your work, and even get an ISBN and deal with reviews--bad and good.

These are the main items you have to be able to do.  Now, most writers contract these jobs out, so they don't have to do it all by themselves.

Now, for me, I do it all.  Every once in a while I contract out for a book cover, but the rest--it's all mine.

How can someone do all of this and still write a book?  Beats me--because it's not easy.  When I first started writing, I worked twelve hours a day most days, writing books.  Fortunately, I haven't published some of those books, so I have books waiting to be published.  I just have to do the list above (edit, create a book cover, format the book, and market/advertise) and the book comes out fast.  That's how I can put a book out a month.  The things are already written.  But some of the ones I'm putting out are new books, that I finish writing a week before they're published.

Thus, the next time you think an indie author doesn't work as hard as someone who's traditionally published (with a publisher), realize that traditionally published author only has to write the book.  That's it.  The rest is done for them.

Hats off to all indie writers.  You're entrepreneurs.  I liken indies to people who flip homes--they're in charge of doing it all, and succeed.

Have a great week!
Markee

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Newsletter

YAY for MAY!


May is a great month!  To me, that's the beginning of summer (I know...that's in June, but May feels like summer).  Not only do we have Mother's day (Happy Mother's Day to all women, because chances are, you have to care for someone or something, even if it's a pet or a plant), but May means my kids' semesters are over at college, Memorial Day means no work for my husband or son, and the dogs can run in and out all day long and be happy chasing things in our backyard (even leaves).  Plants are in bloom and it's finally sunny up here in Wisconsin.  I love May!!!

Have a wonderful month!
SweetTale Books





What Happened 
At SweetTale Books
in April?


This past month, I put out a book by Eryn Grace.



Blurb:

*** BASED ON CHRISTIAN MORALS--CHRISTIAN ROMANTIC ADVENTURE ***

When Destiny McNeill asks a secret Christian organization called the Rescuers In Action (RIA) to save her missionary relatives in Indonesia, she doesn't realize she's going to have to tag along.

On the trip to the foreign land, she's trained in the way to rescue someone under the guidance of Dr. Adam Jones. She's also taught more about her faith and the Bible.

Faced with unusual trials, Destiny's heart changes to embrace her newly-discovered faith. But because of that faith, she also risks her own life, the lives of her RIA companions, and the lives of the people they were sent to save—her sister, brother-in-law, and their young son.



~~~~~

Chapter 1:

A man stood in the front of the small auditorium. "We welcome our newest members." He seemed to be the leader. From where I sat, I couldn't make out his features other than figuring out that he was older.

People clapped all around me, but I had no idea why. I was just glad to be inside from the cold January Kansas City air. However, I wasn't feeling that great, so I was still chilled.

As I closed my coat tighter, I pulled my purse up onto my shoulder and turned to Troy, the man sitting beside me. "What are we doing here?"

"I'm introducing you to my group. Why?"

"Group?" I whispered. "But when I met you at the diner, you told me you wanted to take me to a show at your church. What is this, exactly?"

He grinned and turned back to the speaker, not giving me any answer.

I studied the rest of the people in the room, filled with men and women mostly dressed in conservative outfits. The women wore long skirts with bonnets on their heads while the men were dressed in suits and ties. 

Two men sat in the back, who didn't really fit in. They seemed to be observers, dressed in white polo shirts and blue jeans. Very odd, for sure. I wanted to go talk to them, because they seemed more normal.

The man standing at the front of the auditorium caught my attention once again. "We'd like to bring our newest members into the fold," he said. "They'll be joining our clan, living with us, and becoming part of the chosen."

The people in the congregation hooted and hollered, then danced around the room while forming a circle on the perimeter. They all joined arms.

The men dressed in the white polo shirts and jeans remained seated in the back with their arms crossed in irritation.

Troy pulled me to my feet and dragged me to the front of the stage. Others ushered their guests to the front as well, all appearing as if they'd been drugged. I felt kind of woozy, but kept my balance. When I got closer to the stage, I smelled something like incense, making me sick to my stomach.

"I don't feel very well," I said. "What do you think it is?"

He leaned toward my ear. "Something to make you compliant. Don't worry, it's safe."

"Compliant?" I couldn't believe my ears. "You slipped me something?"

He ignored me as we stepped onto the stage. He addressed the man in the front, but I still stared at Troy. I still couldn't get over the fact that he'd drugged me. I had to think fast, but my brain was a bit fuzzy.

"This is Destiny McNeill," Troy said to the leader. "She's my date. I'd like to make her my wife."

Uh-oh. Red flags filled my head. "But I just met you. I was out talking to your sister at a diner and you just happened to show up. I'm not your date—I'm dating someone else."

He thrust his hand over my mouth then turned his grinning face toward me. "She's compliant."

There was that word again. Compliant. I suddenly hated him and everything he stood for.

I tried to remove his hand from my mouth, but my arms felt heavy. He grabbed both of my wrists with his other hand and held them down in front of me.

"And a virgin," Troy said.

I tried to bite his hand. He knew nothing about my past and had no right to tell anyone that I hadn't found someone worthwhile yet—not even my current boyfriend.

Troy laughed. "Once she knows our ways, she'll produce many babies for our clan. She can join my other wives and make my life fuller."

Babies? Other wives? My eyes must've been as big as saucers. This was a cult group? My brain raced. I'd been set up by his sister, Lori. I was in over my head. I was raised a Christian, not a cultist.

I gathered all my energy and struggled to get free, but Troy held onto my arms, joined by three other huge men who stood behind me. I wasn't getting out of this warehouse anytime soon. But I also wasn't about to let myself become a member of their clan. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. Besides, wasn't this considered kidnapping and against the law?

The leader stood in front of me where I could get a better look. However, as soon as I stared at the guy, I wished I hadn't seen him. Scary was an understatement for how this guy looked. I knew his face would haunt my dreams. He had dark wavy hair with eyes as black as coal. I couldn't turn away from him because his stare pierced through me, seeming to make me agree with him.

However, that was the furthest thing from my mind.

"I'm Pastor Jacob," he said. "I'm the leader of the November Order of the Stars Clan. With our brothers and sisters, we'll protect you and save your soul. Only our groups around the world will be recognized as true believers. We will prevail as the chosen few. Do you agree?"

I tried to shake my head to disagree, but someone grabbed the hair on the back of my head and made me nod. What was happening? How could I make it known that I wasn't part of this group? Troy's hand still covered my mouth, so I couldn't even yell. Struggling got me nowhere. With all the men holding onto me, it wasn't going to be easy to get away. Besides, I didn't feel well. I was stuck.

The crowd broke out in cheers and my coat was yanked off.

I bit down on Troy's hand, hard, making him let go. I yelled for all I was worth. "No! I won't agree to this! Leave me alone!"

The sound of a gunshot rang out behind me and I heard a shuffle in the back of the auditorium. "This is a raid. Everyone on the floor!"

A fight broke out in the warehouse as I struggled to get away. The men held me with such force, I couldn't move. The evil bad guys pulled me toward Pastor Jacob, who took my arm and dragged me with him. I kicked him in the legs with all my might, making him fall to his knees. If only I wasn't so tired, I'd have this guy on the floor.

"Satan is among us!" he screamed, trying to get to his feet. "We have to cleanse her of her evil sins!"

Cleanse me? Look who was talking, Mr. Evil. 

The men dressed in the white polo shirts and jeans ran to the stage and grabbed Pastor Jacob and the other men surrounding me. Cops followed behind them. The cops and the white polo shirt guys took the evil bad guys into custody, with handcuffs and all.

But I could only watch. My head hurt and I fell down, sitting on the stage with a thud. I was so tired.

"You would've been my special one." Troy's voice was quiet as two men handcuffed him behind his back. He continued speaking to me anyway, even though he did have the right to remain silent. "You have the most spunk and would've given me the best children."

I wished he would've remained silent, actually.

"Shouldn't it be my choice?" I looked up at him with one eye shut from the glare of the lights.

He chuckled. "Women aren't allowed to choose."

I lowered my head. "Lori's going to hear about this one."

"She's already gone elsewhere to find me another wife." 

The cops took him out the back door.

A touch on my shoulder made me stand up and spin around. For some reason, I got a second wind. I punched and blocked, fighting for my life once again. I had the guy in a headlock before he spoke.

"No, Destiny," he managed to say. "I'm one of the good guys. I'm here to rescue you."

"Doesn't look like it from my viewpoint," I said into his ear. I didn't even care that I felt awful. I had to fight for my life, and my sickness had to take a back seat. "Looks like I'm the winner and I'm not going to let you touch me."

"I have a gun. Check my pocket. These people don't carry guns to their services."

I pulled up on his neck even more, staring into his bright blue eyes while he winced. "How do you know they don't carry guns?" I asked.

He was very handsome, with medium blond hair, very blue eyes, high cheekbones and the softest looking skin. Because he wore a white polo and jeans, he definitely wasn't part of this group. But since he was so handsome, I had to keep reminding myself I was taken.

The man didn't fight back. "We've infiltrated this group and were working to take it down, with the help of the local cops and the FBI. How do you think we knew they were having a harvest today?"

"A harvest?"

He sighed. "When they add people to their group."

I thought it over for a bit, found the gun in his pocket, and let the man go.

He straightened up and dusted off his white polo. "I'm glad you did that. It shows they haven't given you the drug yet."

"Do you care to explain this to me?" I looked around the room. "I can't even believe I'm here."

He took my hand with a grin. "Want to get out of here?"

"What's your name?"

"Adam Jones. I'm a leader in the RIA."

I must've looked confused because he almost laughed at me. "RIA? What's the RIA?"

"Rescuers in Action. We save persecuted or bullied people around the world. Think CIA, but with an 'R.'"

I didn't take his hand, but sat back on the stage and lowered my head to stop the room from spinning. "I don't feel that great."

Adam knelt beside me, lifted my chin, and stared into my eyes. "I see that." He nodded to someone in the back. "Barry, we have a victim here."

A big man with a dark military haircut, wearing a white polo shirt and jeans, ran to the front with a medical bag in his hand and a stethoscope around his neck. As soon as he got to where I sat, he checked my heart and pulse, and then turned to Adam. "We'll take her in and check her over. Something's not right."

"I'll meet you at the hospital," Adam said. "Check all her vitals along the way. I think we might need to talk privately."

Barry chuckled. "We need more recruits." He searched in his bag, pulled out a flashlight, and directed the light into my eyes. "Did they hurt you?"

"No. You guys stopped them from kidnapping me. Thank you." I looked up at Adam. "I'm sorry I thought you were one of them."

"No problem."

Barry put his flashlight away. "They would've married you to the man beside you with some weird ritual. Be thankful it didn't happen." He paused. "Now, can you walk to the ambulance?"

I looked down at my feet. "I hope so. Troy said he drugged me to make me compliant but I'm not sure what it was. I'm ready to pummel him for it, too." I looked up at the two men in front of me. "How dare he? Who does he think he is, anyway? Can I have a gun to take care of him right now?"

Barry glanced over at Adam. "You're right. We do need to have that discussion."

As soon as I grabbed my purse, Barry put his arm around me and helped me toward the front door, talking the whole time. "You're very lucky we'd been watching the N-O for a while."

I leaned against him for support. "The N-O?"

"November Order. If we'd have waited a minute more, they'd have brainwashed you and you wouldn't be the same person you are now."

I looked up at him. "How can they brainwash someone that fast?"

"They shoot you with a drug from behind to make you believe what you're being told. It takes months to get the victim back to normal, then months after that to make their fear disappear."

"How do you know that?"

He was silent for a moment while taking me out the door. "My wife was kidnapped and forced into their slavery in New Mexico."

"But we're in Missouri. They kidnapped her and took her across state lines? Why wasn't the FBI contacted?"

"We didn't know where she was," he said. "We found her body a year later, after she'd given birth to a child who died at birth. They killed her for a stillbirth, according to our investigation. That's how I learned all about their ways."

"I'm so sorry." I lowered my head to make sure I wouldn't pass out. "What's being done about this?" I looked up, feeling the cold night air on my face. It helped a little bit, but whatever I'd been given wasn't nice. I was ready to sue Troy for damages.

Barry looked over at me as we approached the ambulance. "We're working on it and we've done internal investigations." He glanced into the back of the vehicle. "Can you step up?"

"I'll try." I climbed into the ambulance and sat on the gurney, lowering my head. "What can I do to help?"

Barry joined me. "I'm so glad you asked." 

~~~~~

Buy links:

   Amazon




Where to keep up with me

I have five blogs, posting them over six days out of the week.  See all the feeds here: http://sweettalebooks.com/mybloglist.html.

Come visit me!  You can also see pictures and videos of our dogs.  They're hilarious!



Have a wonderful month!!!
SweetTale Books

A Plot Around Every Corner...

Everywhere I go, there seems to be a plot waiting to attack me.  For example, this one could be a wonderful horror story:

I was walking my dogs the other day, like usual, and a guy pulled up to the curb.  He opened the side window and asked if he could take a picture of my dogs with his phone, because his sister-in-law LOVES Bostons.  I said, sure...but the dogs wouldn't even turn the right way, so he got out of his vehicle (a pickup, by the way...never trust trucks or vans), and my dogs lunged toward him.  He got the picture, thanked me, got back into his truck, and drove away.  It freaked me out a bit, thinking 'what if...' but realized it was on a busy road, and if the guy wanted to kidnap me or the dogs, or kill us, someone would notice the blood, at least.

Here's another one...back when our youngest (who's now turning 20 this year) was about 2, I took her to the store with me.  Now this store was a bit hidden with trees, so people wouldn't notice if anything bad happened.  I took her inside and when we came out, I put her in the back of the minivan before I unloaded my groceries (notice, a van-type vehicle, which is a lot like a pickup with a place to hide bodies).  I was just finishing up putting my groceries away and ready to get into the minivan when a guy--not an evil looking guy, but average (the worst kind because they're unidentifiable)--approached me.  He wanted to see my van.  Since they weren't that popular yet, I said, 'sure.'  He wanted to get into the driver's seat.  I, stupidly, said, 'sure.'  Now, my daughter was in the backseat in her car seat, and if that guy pulled a weapon and demanded my keys, what would I do?  He didn't.  He saw the car, got out of the car, thanked me, and left.  Afterward, I thought I was so stupid.  I should've said, 'no,' but he may have pulled a weapon anyway.  I don't know if there was a right thing to do, other than never go to that hidden store again.

These are the things horror stories are made of, in my mind.  They were both a seemingly simple situation, where I was in charge of a helpless being (yes, my dogs aren't even close to being watchdogs).  Someone could've really taken advantage of that fact.  The second story took place in NC, and a while after that happened, a woman in a park, watching over her two boys around noon, was raped in front of her kids.  It, also, was in a wooded section.  That could've been me.  It was within a mile of that grocery store, too.

Every day, I have visions of plots happening with every little thing I do, every place I go.  Even staying at home can make my mind race.  Here's an example.  I swear our house is haunted.  I hear noises that aren't normal all day long as I spend my days at home.  One day, I heard a dog bark in our living room.  All our dogs were asleep at the time and not near the living room.  I heard someone cough upstairs the other day...and I was alone.  We're not close enough to the street to hear people, but I tell myself it's coming in from outside.  Our daughter saw a ghost in her room when we first moved in and told me, in detail, what it looked like.  She knew the color of the guy's flannel shirt, his face, etc...even though it was dark.  She ran through the ghost to get to our room to tell me.  I told her it was a dream (I'm still sure it was, because she could discern colors in the dark.)  But that's another plot waiting to be told.

So if you're stuck on what to write about, just sit back and watch life go by.  Take notes.  Consider the 'what if's' in your day and see where that takes you.  Who knows...that ghost could've been the love of her life back a few centuries (and no, I don't believe in reincarnation, but time travel...who knows!).  LOL!

Have a wonderful week!
Markee