Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Remembering our heroes on Memorial Day*

cj Sez:  Because I think this information needs repeating . . .

It wasn't always Memorial Day — it used to be known as Decoration Day. Whatever the name, it's a day of remembrance for all those who have died in service of the United States of America.

Born of the Civil War, Memorial Day began as a holiday honoring Union soldiers, and some states still have separate Confederate observances. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on Jan. 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day. (In this era of intolerance and kowtowing to cries to erase visible traces of our history, the memorials respecting Confederate soldiers who died fighting for what they believed in may not continue much longer.)

The first Decoration Day, the 30th of May, 1868, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution passed in Dec. 2000 asks 
that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans “Voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”

Red poppies are known as a symbol of remembrance, and it's a tradition to wear them on Memorial Day to honor those who died in war.  

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. 
(cj Sez: When I was little, we called it Poppy Day instead of Decoration Day.)

Following is a tabulation of the casualties of U.S. wars (The list is not all inclusive, and the reported numbers exclude wounded and/or missing):

©Jeff D. Johnston
Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.
World War I: 116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.
World War II: 405,399 Americans died.
Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.
Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died. More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 148 U.S. battle deaths and 145 non-battle deaths.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,489 U.S. service members died.
Operation New Dawn: 66 U.S. service members died.
Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,318 U.S. service members have died as of May 12, 2014.

cj Sez: I am in awe of their sacrifice, and it is with deep reverence and gratitude, I humbly say thank you to the families that America’s heroes left behind. May God Bless you.

COMING ATTRACTIONS . . . Arriving July 10:  A new Crimson Romance bundle about athletes and the sports they love, Bodies in Motion, includes Choosing Carter (rafting and off-roading)     Watch for it on Amazon.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same


Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
California Kisses 10-book publishers bundle on Amazon 99 cents
Bad Day at Round Rock” a historical fiction short story in  The Posse, a Western anthology.   
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*Data from multiple on-line sources.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

So, how important are opening lines?

cj Sez: I want to stress again the importance of a good, inviting opening line, opening paragraph, or opening chapter.

There’s a lot of advice that says start a story in the middle of a drama, some captivating situation. This is the hook with which a writer can snag the reader’s, or agent’s, interest.

Ken Follet, in The Pillars of the Earth, starts off with “The small boys came early to the hanging.” Wouldn’t you want to find out more?

This one from Toni Morrison’s Paradise doesn't just pull the reader in, it yanks them in:  “They shoot the white girl first.”

One of my personal favorites is from Prison Letters, Corrie ten Boom’s memoir of her time in a WWII concentration camp: “From time to time, I wrote short sketches on scraps of paper.”

In a 2013 interview with Joe Fassler, Stephen King said: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story.” He goes on to say, “For me a good opening sentence really begins with voice.” He thinks readers are drawn to the story because of the voice of the writer.

In each of the opening-line examples above, you get a good sense of the author’s voice and how the rest of the story is going to be told.

Authors know (for sure) that introductory lines are hard to write. They are also generally fluid; that is, they change as the writer gets further into the story. King, himself, said it used to take him months or even years to settle on an opening line. (I doubt it takes him years now, considering how prolific and masterful a writer he is.) He also said, “A really bad first line can convince me not to buy a book—because, god, I’ve got plenty of books already—and an unappealing style in the first moments is reason enough to scurry off.”

Wow, would I hate that. All those hours and months that turned into years wasted because I blew the first line. I try to develop first lines that fit both the story and the genre.

Here’s my first line for my romantic suspense (ala Jane Bond-style) Deadly Star:  
“I am not going to die; I am not going to die.”

And for Choosing Carter:  
Bryn McKay’s body ricocheted off the passenger door as the pickup, engine roaring, veered from one side of the Colorado mountain road to the other.

For the untitled detective mystery I’ve just finished:
            “We bury our dead alive, don’t we?”

Do you start your stories in an active scene? Or are you in narrative voice? Please make sure it’s not in backstory.

People Magazine had the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology Best Mom Ever! 101 Stories of Gratitude, Love and Wisdom on their Mother’s Day Must haves . . . and my friend and fellow Mobile Writers’ Guild author, Candice Marley Conner, has a story, “Cracks in the Clay,” in the anthology. Yay.  This anthology is not just for Mothers’ Day…a special gift for a special woman in your life for any occasion. Buy it now here:

Got a story that would work for Chicken Soup for the Soul?  The following anthologies have approaching deadlines:
Positively Happy / May 31, 2017
My Crazy Family / June 30, 2017
Miracles and More / August 31 2017
Stories of Redemption / August 31, 2017
Christmas and Holiday Collection – 2018 / October 31 2017

For more info:

Ten Rules for Happier Living

1.) Give something away – no strings attached.
2.) Do a kindness – and forget it.
3.) Spend a few minutes with the aged – their experience is priceless guidance.
4.) Look intently into the face of a baby – and marvel.
5.) Laugh often – it is life’s lubricant.
6.) Give thanks – a thousand times a day is not enough.
7.) Pray – or you will lose your way.
8.) Work – with vim and vigor.
9.) Plan as though you will live forever – because you will.
10.) Live as though you will die tomorrow – because you will, on some tomorrow.

COMING ATTRACTIONS . . . Arriving July 10:  A new Crimson Romance bundle about athletes and the sports they love, Bodies in Motion, includes Choosing Carter (rafting and off-roading). Watch for it on Amazon.

Okay, all you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same
PS:  Re the opening toon: It really is a dark and stormy night here in Mobile as I try to get this post online before the lightning storm forces me to disconnect the computer. 
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
California Kisses 10-book publishers bundle on Amazon 99 cents
Bad Day at Round Rock” a historical fiction short story in  The Posse, a Western anthology.  
Newsletter sign-up:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

cj Sez . . .

To all the moms out there….Happy Mother’s Day.

To all those who’ve lost their moms, I share your loss.

To my sons who have made me a very happy and proud mom, 
never forget that I love you.


And  Congratulations to my grandson, Jeff, who graduated from law school on May 13 with a juris doctorate with magna cum laude honors. 

Numbers 6:24-26  “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

“Bad Day at Round Rock” short story in The Posse anthology @
newsletter sign-up at

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Easy ways to support your local author . . .

cj Sez: What follows is a stream of consciousness post about how to Support Your Local Writers, whether you’re a writer or a reader.
From my Facebook page

If you’re a writer . . .
If you have your own blog, invite guest bloggers. Lyrical Pens does do that, though we haven’t been graced with a guest for a few weeks. (Time to send out some more invitations.) When you have a guest, send out “Coming Attractions” promotions on Facebook, Twitter, et al. Be sure to give your guest bloggers space to say something about their own books.

Join a critique group and be willing to give your fellow authors’ work a fair critique. Be kind but be honest.

If a writer-friend wants to just sit and talk, grab a chair and listen. Writing is a lonely occupation, and most other people don't understand.

Encourage each other. Writing is not a competition; everyone can be successful.

If you’re a yet-to-be-published writer and don’t have a business card, get one. Hand it out to agents, workshop instructors, fellow writers, wherever you have an opportunity to network. Get your name out there as early as possible so they can watch for your new release. It’s a way to build a platform and gain a fan following. Some variation of the one that follows is my suggestion:

Name  Jane Doe, Author
Writer of XXX (genre fiction, non-fiction, YA, romance, whatever)
eMail address
website address
Facebook / Twitteraddress (if you have room)

Now, if you’re a reader (and since writers are also readers, this applies to everyone) . . .
If you’ve read one of their books, post a review…please. Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, Twitter, and wherever you can. Even a few words are helpful.

Like and comment on authors' posts on their Facebook pages. Facebook's algorithms only show posts that FB thinks other members would like to see. That means the more likes and comments a post gets, the more people will see it. 

Go to book signings, even if you can’t afford to buy the book at that time. Your attendance is encouraging. I’ve been to book signings where the author and I were the only two people there. I’ve been the author at signings where...well, never mind. With a little planning, you can keep that from happening to another author, and if you’re in Mobile, AL with a new book, I’ll do my best to come to your signing. Just let me know when and where.

Now for some memories . . . 
On July 26, 2014, I wrote this post:
Next week, my grandson leaves home to begin his first year of law school, and I am awash with melancholy. The event reminds me how fast time really does fly when you’re having a good time. I moved to Alabama to be near my grandkids and don't you know, they grew up. (sigh) Too soon, I say. Not soon enough, says he. I miss the hugs, giggles, and piano concerts already.

Doesn't matter where the future takes him. To me, he will always be the dark-eyed cutie ready to save the world

Today’s update:

Next week, my grandson graduates law school with a juris doctorate degree, and I am awash with pride.

Everything else in that post is as true today as it was then.

And the picture still fits how I feel about him:

cj Sez:  Thanks for stopping by. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.
Now a word from my sponsors:
“Bad Day at Round Rock” short story in The Posse, an anthology of 8 Western short stories . . . @ (Still 99 cents)
California Kisses—10 book publisher bundle (incl Deadly Star) @99 cents
The Great Outdoors8 book publisher bundle (incl Choosing Carter) @99 cents
Newsletter sign-up at  …