Meet My Author Friend, L M Heath!

Hi All! You may not know that authors like to share with their readers books and authors that truly inspire them. I would love to introduce you to my friend and former classmate, L M Heath! Check out the blurb from her debut novel, Estelle!

“I felt so angry as I was singing; all the self-control inside of me had to be unleashed so I wouldn’t yell at the Emperor…” 


The empire had taken away enough; they weren’t taking away her brother. Even though Estelle and her brother are forced to learn how to serve the emperor, they are forbidden to see each other. The emperor was also the very man who killed their parents. In order to survive their new world, they must forget everything they have ever known.

To learn more and get your own copy, click here!

“An Angel in the Distance” Sequel in the Works

Hello All!

I hope you are all well and reading until your hearts are content.  In 2008, I began working on a story that started as a rewrite of one of me and my mom’s favorite movies: Andy Tennant’s Ever After.  After a little research, I found the story hidden in history, and I let the words flow.  Seven years later, in 2015, it was polished and published as An Angel in the Distance, a rags-to-riches story with humor, history, a classic humanism characteristic of the time, and a hint of romance.  About a year ago, as I was thinking about the end of the novel, I found myself wondering, What happens to Piero after the end of the book?  Does he meet his demise?  Considering his arc as a sympathetic character turned villain, I wanted to give his a second chance to redeem himself.  Knowing the he destructive path he began in the first novel, I knew it would take something catastrophic to redeem him.

Suddenly, catastrophic was exactly what I intended to do.

As we all know, sometimes we get caught up in our own plans and forget that there is someone who knows what the best plan is, the best option, and sometimes the only option.  If we would only seek it out, and ask for guidance, we would find more than we could have ever hoped for.

A cryptic preview, yes, but I am looking forward to introducing all of you to the woman who will be the catalyst for Piero’s redemption: Carita Del Cuore.

More to come!

In the mean time, here is the new video meme for An Angel in the Distance

Happy Reading!

– A. R. Conti Fulwell ><>

10 Things You Learn After Being a Published Author for a Year

Many of you have reached out to me with questions about editing and publishing.  I do my best to give advice, and learn the tricks of the trade.  On August 11th of 2015, my first book, An Angel in the Distance, was published through CleanReads.  (Check them out at cleanreads.com they’re doing some amazing things!)  Since then, there are a few things that I have gleaned, and compiled in this list for all of you up-and-coming authors and authoresses.

10. PATIENCE

Okay, go ahead and laugh, or scowl, or throw something at the screen.  It is true.  We’ve all heard the cliché, “Rome wasn’t built-in a day,” well, your book won’t be published in a day, or a month, or a year, or maybe not a decade.  In this business, you have to be willing to stick it out, through the highs and lows, no matter what happens, or what people think or say.  Remember, God made you a writer – and NO ONE can take that way from you.

9. THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY

Most of us heard the song and dance in college or high school about how to get published.  Unfortunately, no one tells you what happens AFTER you get published.  The publishing market is changing, and it certainly isn’t what it was 30 years ago.  If you’re lucky enough to get published, be prepared to do some promotional leg work.  If nothing else, it looks REALLY good to potential agents/publishers.

8. PAY ATTENTION TO THE COMPETITION

Most of us have heard that in order to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader.  I’ve lived by that for years.  (In fact I have more books that my two shelves can hold…. maybe I should do something about that).  However, it is so much more than that.  How do other authors do what they do?  Pay attention.  I can’t stress it enough!

7. MAKE AUTHOR FRIENDS

Do you have a friend who wrote a book?  Now you do 😉  Authors are a part of this secret pact that is kind of like, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”  Okay, so I’m oversimplifying, but remember, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and always expect to give long before you ask for something.  And always, always, ALWAYS be gracious!!  Nobody likes a snobby author!!

6. IT’S OKAY TO WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

It never really occurred to me until after I had published something that there was a possibility that someone would read my book and go, “Oh, I know who she based that character on.”  If you look at your characters and see the reflection of someone you know, don’t panic.  That is actually a GOOD thing.  Before you tell me I’m crazy, here is why: sometimes the most real characters are the ones we know.  If you’re really worried about this, talk to the person you based your character on, and see what they think.  You may have to change a few things about your character, but in the long run, you’ll know who they are and no one can take that from you.  Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so I hear.

5. PRAY. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

If you don’t know the Lord and I just made you wrinkle your nose, calm down.  I’m a Christian.  I know Jesus Christ.  He’s taking me to where I’m going, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.  Faith, (in any form), has A LOT to do with starting any endeavor, so if you don’t believe, you’ll never receive.

4. READ AS MUCH AS YOU CAN

I thought it was nuts when my high school English teacher suggested that we read in order to become better writers, and imitate techniques.  How wrong I was.  By reading, you GET ideas, you GET insight, you GET the chance to experience something different.  So what if you’ve never read a Star Wars spin-off novel – PICK ONE UP.  Different authors have different techniques, and that can be a game changer.

3. KNOW THAT THIS WILL BE A FULL TIME JOB

As I stated above, being an author isn’t like sending your dog to the kennel for a week while you’re in Fresno.  It’s more like sending your kid off to college – you’ll be checking in, holding on, and chatting them up every chance you get.  If you get published, this will be a full-time job promoting and building your brand as long as you want to have an audience.

2. BRING BRAG SWAG WITH YOU – EVERYWHERE!

Okay, so we all detest that chick who is handing out her business cards in an overtly opulent way to the cashier at the Burger King.  We all know who she is.  You don’t have to be over the top, but having something physical to hand to someone who hasn’t heard of you, is a great way to network and gain opportunities to grow your brand and your audience.

1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TELL THE WORLD

Probably the biggest mistake I’ve made in the last year was not shouting it from the rooftops that I got something published.  I’m a private person, and that just wasn’t me.  DON’T BE LIKE ME.  Build your brand NOW.  You’re a writer.  It is going to be your profession (at least one of them) so be PROUD OF IT.  Anyone can scribble, but few people can write something and endure the pain of rejection long enough to make it in the publishing world.

Shout out to Meg Cabot for inspiring the list writer in me though her best-selling young adult series, The Princess Diaries.  

If you have questions, feel free to comment.  At the risk of being redundant I will add a lyric from High School Musical – “We’re all in this together.”

#ShortFictionSunday : The Matriarchs of the Ravenna Porch Society

The Matriarchs of the Ravenna Porch Society

“Bring me some sugar, will you?”  Ethel Flannigan, a tall, Scottish-complected lady in her late 60s, smiled sweetly at the new waitress at Cuddy’s Diner.  The poor girl, no more than seventeen, skinny as a rail, looked like she had just seen a train coming head on.

“Are you new?”  Ethel asked.

“Oh,” she snapped out of it.  “Yes, I’m Matilda, but everyone calls me ‘Tilly’.”

“Everyone except your employer,” Ethel pointed a perfectly manicured finger at Tilly’s name tag.

“Oh, right,” Tilly nodded.  “Sugar?”

“Yes, Tilly, the others will be here soon.”

“Others?”

“Yes, Tilly.  Others. Don’t worry, we’ll each leave you a tip.  Now scoot!”  Ethel shook her head.  Youngsters.

At the sound of the bell on the entrance door, Ethel saw one of the ‘others’ had arrived.

Yolanda Fairway, an African-American lady in her early 70s, sporting a short, natural pixie cut in a distinguished grayish white color, pursed her lips at the sight of her dear friend.  Ethel swore Yolanda was somehow related to Hallie Berry.  “Ethel Flannigan!”  Yolanda let her purse drop into the seat of the booth across from Ethel.  “One of these days I’m going to make it here before you.”

Ethel snickered.  “Oh, Landa, you’re just upset because I took your parking space.  Sit down, Tilly is coming back with sugar.”

Yolanda sat down across from Ethel. “There’s only one handicapped spot in the whole parking lot, and you got to take it every time!”

“Landa,”

“What?”

“I let you have it last week.”

Yolanda let her shoulders sink.  “Honey, I can’t remember my own name most of the time – you think I can remember what happened last week?”

Ethel stifled a laugh.

“And who is Tilly?”  Yolanda asked.

“She’s the new waitress.”  Ethel explained.

“New waitress?  Who left?  Wait!  Was it that girl,”  Yolanda paused, searching for words.  “You know, little white girl, mid-twenties, dark hair, always smiling?”

Tilly appeared with a small container of sweetener packets, and quickly scampered away.  The bell on the front door rang again as the last and final member of the group descended upon Cuddy’s Diner: Angela Tolini.  Angela was tall, blonde (thanks to Madame Clairol), and in her late sixties.  With the legs of someone twenty years younger, (all the Zumba had definitely paid off), anyone could hear her coming a mile away with her heavy-heeled canter.  “Darlings!  How are you?  Sorry I’m late.”  Angela slid into the booth next to Yolanda.

“Well, my dear, fashion is never on time is it?”  Yolanda laughed.

Ethel took a sip of her tea.  “Alex?”

“Alex who?”  Yolanda raised an eyebrow.

“The girl you were just describing.”  Ethel explained.

“Oh, you guys are talking about Alexandra Mezzo!  She put in her notice at Cuddy’s, and she has already left.”  Angela poured herself a cup of tea.

“Yes!  That’s her!  Where did she go?”

“To work for her cousin, Vinny, at his transmission shop downtown.”

“How do you know this?”  Ethel asked.

“I just got off the phone with her aunt before I left for Cuddy’s.”  Angela explained.  “Vinny needed some extra help.”

Yolanda shook her head.  “I don’t know about the two of you, but I don’t think it is right for a little girl like that to working with all those men.”

Angela let out an exhausted sigh.

“I understand what you’re saying, Landa,” Ethel said.  “This just wouldn’t have happened thirty years ago.”

“Maybe,” Angela paused, her painted pink lips curving into a wry smile, “all she needs is the right guy.”

Ethel laughed.  “You think she could benefit -”

The bell on the door sounded.  Yolanda glanced back at the door, and instantly turned around to hush the group.  “Here she comes!”

The three matriarchs casually turned to assess their next subject.  Alexandra Mezzo stood just over five foot seven, had shoulder length dark hair, a pale complexion, and greenish-hazel eyes.  Her dark hair was stuffed in a bun up under a black baseball cap, and taking no time to change, she stood in the middle of Cuddy’s Diner in over-sized coveralls.

All of the matriarchs turned back to their cups of tea.  “You’re right,” Ethel said.  “She needs our help.”

“Right,” Yolanda whispered.  “Let’s watch.”

Tilly came to the counter where Alexandra stood.  “Can I help you?”

“Yes,” Alex said with a pleasant, distinctly female voice.  “Carry-out order for Miselli.”

“One second,”  Tilly disappeared into the back of the restaurant.

As if on cue, the bell on the front door rang again.  This time, a man came in wearing a look of disgust, giving the three matriarchs flashbacks of Marlon Brando’s character from A Streetcar Named Desire.  At the sight of Alexandra at the counter, his jaw tightened.  “Hey!  You work for Vinny?”

The matriarchs watched as Alexandra swallowed, and slowly turned to face him.  “Who wants to know?”

“I do,” Brando took a step closer.  “Tell your dad that he should stick to domestics, or fold up shop.”

Alexandra’s jaw tightened, and she raised an eyebrow, folding her arms as she did.  “I know you,”

“Oh, do you?”  Brando looked amused.

“Yeah, 2005 Toyota Celica, red,” Alexandra walked a circle around him like a piranha circling its prey.  “Landfill in the backseat – yeah, that’s you.  Oh, he’s not my dad.  He’s my cousin, F.Y.I.”

“Man,” Brando stifled a laugh.  “If you knew transmissions as well as you knew trash, you might actually be able to help me.”

“If you got your facts straight, and acted like a human being, I might be willing to help you.”

“Nah,” Brando folded his arms.  “Don’t want your help.  I’ve got your number sweetheart.  The only reason you knew I drove a Celica is because you read it on the deck lid.”  He turned to the door.  “Deliver the message, kid.”  Brando hit the front door, sending it sailing, the bell ringing ferociously.

The matriarchs sipped their tea nonchalantly, watching Alexandra clench her teeth, pay Tilly, and storm out of the restaurant.

There was nothing but the hum of the meat slicer in Cuddy’s restaurant for a minute or two.

“Well?”  Angela asked her friends.  “What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” Yolanda looked to Ethel.

Ethel folded her hands beside her cup of tea.  “It is obvious, ladies.  They’re perfect for each other.”

 

#ShortFictionSunday : “Just What You Ordered”

Just What You Ordered

Potatoes.  Mashed Potatoes.  Every Friday at four o’clock, Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont would wander into Doris’ Restaurant dressed like this place was the Ritz, just to order Swiss Steak and mashed potatoes.

Rita, the hostess, who boasted more than 30 years of loyal service, showed the Beaumonts to their favorite booth in the corner by the window.  It didn’t matter that the teal vinyl on the booth benches was split down the middle.  The little old couple would sit across from each other, smiling like they were on their first date.

“Can I get you folks something to drink?” Rita asked, handing them menus.

“Two un-sweet teas, Rita.”  Mr. Beaumont held up two stubby fingers in emphasis.  “Is Amora here tonight?”

Rita gave him a knowing look.  “She’ll be right out.”

Just like that, as fast as you could snap your fingers, Amora came out of the kitchen with two glasses of iced tea.  She was tall, around five foot ten, bright blue eyes, and black hair coiffed to curl in at her ear lobes.

“My two favorite people,”  Amora smiled, putting the teas on the table.  “How are we tonight?”

“Fine now. Just fine.”  Mr. Beaumont waved a shaky hand in dismissal.  “Have you heard from him?”

Amora froze, feeling the blood drain from her face.  “From whom, Mr. Beaumont?”

Mr. Beaumont gave her a fatherly, knowing look over his bifocals.  “That young man you were going with.”

There it was, like the dolly zoom effect in film, the focus comes right at you and nothing can stop it.  She should have seen this coming.  It was the same question every week.  How could she tell them the truth?

“No, I haven’t heard from him.  He’s pretty busy with work.” Amora pretended to erase a pencil mark on her order pad.  She couldn’t tell them.

“Then he’s a schmuck.”  The last word whistled through his false teeth.

“That he is,” Mrs. Beaumont agreed.  “Honey, you deserve better.”

For a minute, it looked like Mrs. Beaumont might take Amora’s hand.

She didn’t.

The Beaumonts placed their order, and the evening continued in ordinary fashion.  Amora stood behind the counter, rolling silverware into paper napkins, tucking the contents away inside the machined paper bundle.

“‘Mora,” Rita said.  “I hate to ask,”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Amora laughed, knowing full well what was coming next.

“My husband is sick at home.  My daughter was watching him, but now she’s come down with it.”

“You need me to close for you.”  Amora finished Rita’s thought for her.

Rita nodded.

“Sure, no problem.  What are friends for?”  Amora lifted the blue plastic bin full of silverware rolls onto the counter.  She turned, passing the deepfryer, and like a frog snaps flies out of the air, Amora snatched three french fries from the basket.

“Hey!”  Rita threw her hands up.  “What do you think you’re doing?”

Amora laughed like she had just played the grandest joke.

Rita tossed her hands in the air in dismissal.  “This is the price I pay.”

Amora went back out into the dining room to check on the Beaumonts one last time before handing them their check.

“Now, Amora,” Mr. Beaumont began.  “If I ever meet this boy, he and I are going to have a stern talk.”

Amora laughed, knowing that even if Mr. Beaumont spent the rest of eternity giving her ex a stern lecture, at the end of time, it wouldn’t change a thing.  “Get in line, Mr. Beaumont.”  Amora laughed.  “By now there is quite the queue, and I’m at the front.”

Both of the Beaumonts chuckled.

“Take care of yourself,” Mrs. Beaumont said when Amora brought their change.

“Thank you, and have a good evening.”  Amora watched them leave.  When the bell on the door chimed, resonating for the last time, Amora felt her spirit sink, wishing she could melt into the ketchup-and-salt-crusted, beige tile floor.  She glanced back at Louie, the cook, back in the kitchen, swaying back and forth to his favorite Todd Lundgren hits playing though his white ear buds.

Suddenly, the door burst open.  Amora watched as a man came in, and sat down at a booth by the window with a distant look in his eye, like he hadn’t even known she was there.

She stood there by the counter, just staring at him, as if there was nothing she could do to make her feet move toward him.  I have to move forward.  She thought.  It is my job.  She took a deep breath, standing up straight to her full five foot ten inches, but she couldn’t ignore the uneasy feeling in her stomach.  She glanced back at Louie, and he was still bobbing away packaging up left over food.  Her eyes darted to the clock by the door: 8:55PM.

Her jaw dropped.  How long had she been standing here?  Had time really passed her by that quickly?

She looked at the man sitting in the corner booth, staring longingly out the window, and smiled.  There was something . . . familiar about him.

“Hello,”  she came over to the table, pencil and order pad in hand.  “Can I get you something to drink?”

His gaze jerked over to her, like she had truly broken whatever bond had sucked him into the windowed booth.  Just when the look of bewilderment had settled on his face, he answered.  “I don’t know.  Can you?”

Figures.  She thought.  A wise guy.  “I have two legs, and I’m on the clock, so I think I’m able.”  Amora unconsciously folded her arms.  “Now what will it be?”

Half of a smile appeared on his face.  “Do you have iced tea?”

“Yes, we do.  Sweet.  Unsweet.  Raspberry.”

He shook his head like she had overwhelmed him, then looked her square in the eyes.  “Unsweetened.”

There it was. Like a magnet, Amora started staring again.  He had the darkest eyes she had ever seen.

“Unsweetened?”  She asked, trying not to look like an imbecile.

A rumble of tenor-pitched laughter escaped from his mouth.  “Yes.  Has anyone ever told you look like Elizabeth Taylor?”

Amora closed her eyes, feeling herself blush.  “Yes, I hear that at least once a day.  I don’t believe it.”

“Don’t.  Don’t believe them.”

Amora felt the blow, and remembered her place.  “I’ll go get your tea.”

“You’re prettier than she is, was, she’s gone now isn’t she?”

Amora shook her head, trotting to the back to fill a glass with tea.  She brought it back to the table, setting it down in front of him.  She studied him, noticing how much he looked like an actor from a fairy tale spin-off show she used to love.  “Can I ask you one question?”

He grinned like a Cheshire cat, sitting back in his seat.  “I think you’re entitled, after I almost insulted you.”

“No, you did insult me, then you turned it around.”

“What’s you’re question?”  He took a sip of his tea and nodded.  “This is really good.”

“No it’s not.  It’s made from powder.”  She gritted her teeth.  “Do I know you?”

“Nope.”

“What’s your name?”

“Jack Beaumont.”