Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway One More Day by L.S. Murphy, Anna Simpson, J. Keller Ford, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, Erika Beebe, Danielle E. Shipley

Published: December 2nd, 2013


Back of the Book: What if today never ends?

What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens?

Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying ... that's where you’d be ... forever.

Unless ...

In One More Day, Erika Beebe, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, J. Keller Ford, Danielle E. Shipley and Anna Simpson join L.S. Murphy to give us their twists, surprising us with answers to two big questions, all from the perspective of characters under the age of eighteen.

How do we restart time?

How do we make everything go back to normal?
The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today.
Right now.
What would you do if this happened ... to you?

by J. Keller Ford
This December 2, my new short story, Dragon Flight, will release in J. Taylor Publishing’s anthology of YA short stories, ONE MORE DAY. I am super excited about this release as I loved writing this story and I’m happy to see a publisher pick it up to share with the world.

One of the biggest questions I get asked is why write short stories when I could devote my time to a full-fledge novel? First, I am working on three novels at the moment, a YA fantasy trilogy which I hope to complete over the next year or so. To fill in the time when not working on the novels, I like to hone my skills by writing short stories. 

Short stories, I think, take a little more discipline to write and the writer has to learn ways to compact a story and still make it interesting. It’s not as easy as it seems, especially for an author like me who likes to draw out scenes and set the stage and world-build. Writing short stories helps me to figure out how to get the best bang for the least amount of words. With novels, an author can take pages to set a scene. With a short story, sometimes the author only has two or three paragraphs. In my own experience, I’ve had editors send back line edits on my novels with the following notes: “Tighten your prose.”; “Too much telling. Compact your words and show me.”; and “Too much description. Be concise. Wow me. Keep me interested.” I think writing short stories helps authors learn how to do all these things. Think about it. If you can write an engaging short story and keep your readers from closing the book, odds are, you’re on your way to writing a captivating novel.

Sadly, unless you have tons of short stories and want to self-publish them in a collection, anthologies are really the only place you can showcase them. For the author, this is actually a great venue. It gives publishing credits, it gets your work out there to your target audience and you can begin to build a following, and you get your feet wet as to how to market your work. Let’s face it. Publishing in the 21st century isn’t what it was when the Big 6 were the hot ticket in publishing. Even if your novel is picked up by Random House or Scholastic, etc., you are still going to have to do a great deal of marketing on your own. Promoting your short stories in an anthology is a great way to learn the nuances of Marketing 101. How does the author reach his or her audience? How does one promote? How does Goodreads work? How important is it to participate in social media? For an author, anthologies are a great way to learn how to do all these things because you are not only promoting yourself, but your helping other authors get noticed, too. There’s something comforting going into a group effort; knowing you’re not alone in the ‘how-tos’ and ‘what fors’.

For readers, anthologies introduce an array of authors with different writing styles. Most anthologies have a central theme. For instance, ONE MORE DAY features YA stories centered around the theme, What if time stopped in the middle of what you were doing? What happens, how do you react, and what do you do to start time again? Every one of the seven stories that appears approaches this theme in a completely different way. Readers experience the theme on multiple levels. There are stories that will appeal to a variety of readers, and if readers like what they’ve read, they are more likely to go in search of other stories the author has written. That’s how the fan base begins. Combine that with social media like blogs, Twitter, Facebook – wel, the author soon has a following. All authors want a following. We want to know our words have touched someone. We love when we get e-mails from complete strangers telling us how much they loved our stories. It makes all the hours we toiled over making our ‘babies’ perfect that much more worthwhile. 

Most of all, writing short stories is an exercise in plain fun, and one that I will continue to do until the fun becomes dull and boring. As a writer, author and weaver of magical tales, I doubt that will ever happen.

from “Dragon Flight” by J. Keller Ford 

I grip the handles of the harness and squeeze my eyes tight as the coaster tops the three-hundred foot lift.

Oh, geez. What was I thinking? I hate heights. I hate things that go fast. Not a great combo for rollercoaster riding.

My pulse thumps in my throat as the metal beast curves to the left. I squeeze my eyes so tight they hurt. Oh, no. Here we go. Here we go. The scream hangs in my throat, waiting for the drop.

It doesn’t come. The steel dragon jerks to a halt, with me in the front row and nowhere to look but out and down.

What? No, no, no. We’re not supposed to stop! I’ve watched this ride a gazillion times. It never stops. I picture the track in my mind. Up, around, down, flip, corkscrew, insanity, heart attack. One and a half minutes of terrifying scream time. No. This can’t be happening! Why? Why now? Why did I get on this ride?

The answer sits in the seat next to me. Dean McCall. Damn his tall, dark-haired good looks and jewel-blue eyes. I’ve crushed on him since sophomore year, ever since he showed up in Mr. Wilkins’ history class wearing a pair of oh-my-God-nice-butt jeans and a Halo game T-shirt. I tried then not to salivate like Pavlov’s dog, but it was useless. Not much has changed since, as I’m pretty sure I just about melted out of my skin when he cornered me by the popcorn stand and asked if I wanted to ride Dragon Flight with him. Me! Book nerd extraordinaire.

So what if he waited for Grad night to notice me ? No one’s perfect, right? I gulped, mesmerized by his hypnotic eyes and charming, spearmint smile, and uttered something intelligent like, “Uh-huh.” Of course, my insides turned all gooey, and my heart struck up a crazy fast Congo beat because I’m such a feet-on-the-ground kind of gal. My brain shouted, Speak, you dolt! Tell him no. Tell him you’re afraid of heights. He’ll understand. Instead, I shook my head and said, “I-I ... okay.”

Major face palm, but really, I had no choice. It was Dean McCall, and if I turned him down, I’d look like a moron in front of everyone who was anyone. Besides, who better to face my fears with than the cutest guy to ever walk the halls of Newbury High? Now, as I sit stranded at the top of this freaking ride, I’m beginning to question that logic.

I press my head back against the coaster’s seat. Get a grip, Amber. Breathe deep. You’re okay. You’re strapped in. You’re not going anywhere.

Clunk. Clunk.

My eyes spring open.

What was that?

I fight back the urge to scream.

The harness releases and lifts off my shoulders, its movement stopped by the belt latched to the seat. I squeak like a frightened mouse and clutch the restraint tight to my chest, my knuckles as white as the moon staring down at me. Oh, God, I’m gonna die.

About the author J. Keller Ford:
As a young Army brat, Reader's Choice award winner J. (Jenny) Keller Ford, traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles hoping to find the dragons, knights and magic that haunted her imagination. Though she never found them, she continues to keep their legends alive. Her story, The Amulet of Ormisez, is available as part of the MAKE BELIEVE anthology. Dragon Flight, is slated for publication in December 2013. When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and reading. She works as a paralegal by day and lives on the west coast of Florida with her family, three dogs, and a pretentious orange cat who she’s pretty sure was a dragon in his previous life.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having me today on your blog. :-)

giorgiana said...

Cred ca este o mare bucurie pentru vou sa fiti in contact cu atatia scriitori buni-felicitari pentru blog,investiti mult timp si pasiune in el

Unknown said...

Tema sună bine, ne dă mult de gândit ;).

Catalina Mihaela said...

Interesanta conceptia cartii.Felicitari autorilor!

Bianca said...

Gosh, what a beautiful cover! Thank you for the awesome giveaway! <3

Roxi. said...

Imi place foarte mult coperta! :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I understood some of these comments. :-) thank you all for stopping by and I hope you entered for your chance to win a copy!