Tag: Adams Media

WHAT DO YOU PREFER? SHORT STORIES OR NOVELS? (AND A GIVEAWAY!) by CHERYL PIERSON

I had never thought of myself as a short story writer.  But if it hadn’t been for short stories, I never would have “broken in” to this business.  I’d always wanted to write longer projects, and in fact, had written a huge saga-type western novel that I still have hopes of someday revamping (and it will take a LOT of revamping) and getting out there. That was the true book of my heart that set me on this path.  But I had a lot to learn about writing.

After sending the query and first three chapters out to several agents, I did land one. But after a year of nothing happening, I couldn’t see anything changing. I was getting very depressed, to say the least.

A friend of mine found a call for submissions from Adams Media for their Rocking Chair Reader series.  This series was somewhat akin to the Chicken Soup For the Soul books, and my friend and I had already missed the deadline for the first of the series! But there was another anthology coming out as a follow up to the first one.  The second one was called, ROCKING CHAIR READER—MEMORIES FROM THE ATTIC.  These stories were true stories about something the writer had found years later that brought back memories of something that happened in childhood.  I had the perfect tale! I wrote it and submitted it, and thankfully, the editor liked it, as well. That led to several more publications with Adams Media through these anthologies, and then a few stories with Chicken Soup.

 

But these stories were all based in truth, and I wanted to write fiction.  Western romance fiction.  It was shortly after that when I sold my first book, FIRE EYES, to The Wild Rose Press, and then branched out into contemporary romantic suspense with SWEET DANGER.  While writing these novels, I had been approached by a couple of publishing companies asking for fictional short stories.  But did I really want to go back to short stories?  The answer was YES.

Writing those short stories in the beginning helped me realize that while I was adding to my portfolio of credits, I was also proving to myself that I could write compactly, in short story form.  Writing a short story is a totally different breed of cat than writing a novel. Making each word or scene count and not seeming to rush the story while doing it is something I will forever be working on, just to improve the telling of the story even more.

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. This is what he wrote:  “Baby shoes for sale.  Never worn.”  If that doesn’t tell a story, I don’t know what does.

 

I’ve written many Christmas-themed short stories–most of them with a western historical holiday setting. A Night for Miracles, Homecoming, Meant to Be,  and The Gunfighter’s Girl are all included in my single author collection, A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS

One of my favorite Christmas short stories is Outlaw’s Kiss–because I love stories that give the hero his redemption!

 

I have two other single author anthologies of short stories. WINTER MAGIC is  a set of three stories about three brothers and how they meet the woman of their dreams–under less than ideal circumstances!

And DARK TRAIL RISING is a collection of western short stories, containing my Western Fictioneer Peacemaker nominated stories HIDDEN TRAILS and THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT, as well as two other stories, SHOT FOR A DOG and THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.

All of these stories are available at my Amazon page:

    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE/a /strong/em?tag=pettpist-20

Here’s a bit about some of these stories.

HOMECOMING:

A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission for a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier’s final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he’s suffered because of the War, including his fiance, Sarah. Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?

THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL:

Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.

When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing.

Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the scarlet ribbons set Miguel on a new path?

THESE ROUGH DREAMS:

When Southern socialite Gabrielle Mason discovers she’s pregnant, she takes her future into her own hands. She has her family name to consider, and a husband is what she needs. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride in Indian Territory. But the man who proposes isn’t the man she ends up marrying.

Johnny Rainbolt is not a family man by any stretch of the imagination…but Fate is about to give him no choice. His late sister’s three children will be arriving on the next stage, and he has no idea what to do with them. When cultured Gabby Mason is left waiting for her prospective groom at the stage station, Johnny sees a way to solve everyone’s problems.

Some dreams get off to a rough start. A mail-order marriage is only the beginning. When one of the children is stolen, Johnny and Gabby are forced to depend on one another in an unimaginable circumstance that could turn tragic… or show them what might become of THESE ROUGH DREAMS. ** SENSUAL

OUTLAW’S KISS:

Talia Delano has been humiliated before the entire town of Rock Creek by Jake Morgan. A known gunman, Jake has bid an outrageous sum for Talia’s “boxed supper”, a kiss, and the gift of her time for the rest of the Independence Day celebration. But, as always, Jake changes the rules and takes more than he should—especially with the whole town watching. Talia’s chance of happiness is dashed, along with her reputation, when Jake leaves Rock Creek suddenly.

When he shows up five months later at her farmhouse, wounded, and in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, she can’t turn him away—even though she knows being alone with him will cause tongues to wag once more. But with Christmas only two days away, how can she harden her heart against the handsome outlaw who has no place else to go—even if he is being trailed by someone just as dangerous? Magic and danger are woven together in the OUTLAW’S KISS.

WINTER MAGIC:

The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.

HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!

SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.

LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE DRAWING OF A DIGITAL COPY OF OUTLAW’S KISS OR THESE ROUGH DREAMS! I WILL PICK TWO WINNERS AFTER 8:00 P.M. THIS EVENING.

SILVER MAGIC by CHERYL PIERSON

Classic Christmas True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill

Several years ago, I had just sold my first short story to Adams Media’s Rocking Chair Reader series. I was on Cloud 9! This story, SILVER MAGIC, was the 2nd story I sold to them and would appear in their first Christmas collection, Classic Christmas: True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill. I want to share it with you here. This story is true, and is one of the most poignant tales I could ever tell about my grandfather–he died when I was eleven. I never saw this side of him, and I don’t think very many people did–that’s what makes this Christmas story so special.

 

 

SILVER MAGIC by Cheryl Pierson

Did you know that there is a proper way to hang tinsel on the Christmas tree?

Growing up in the small town of Seminole, Oklahoma, I was made aware of this from my earliest memories of Christmas. Being the youngest in our family, there was never a shortage of people always wanting to show me the right way to do—well, practically everything! When it came to hanging the metallic strands on the Christmas tree, my mother made it a holiday art form.

“The cardboard holder should be barely bent,” she said, “forming a kind of hook for the tinsel.”   No more than three strands of the silver magic should be pulled from this hook at one time. And, we were cautioned, the strands should be draped over the boughs of the tree gently, so as to avoid damage to the fragile greenery.

Once the icicles had been carefully added to the already-lit-and-decorated tree, we would complete our “pine princess” with a can of spray snow. Never would we have considered hanging the icicles in blobs, as my mother called them, or tossing them haphazardly to land where they would on the upper, unreachable branches. Hanging them on the higher branches was my father’s job, since he was the tallest person I knew—as tall as Superman, for sure. He, too, could do anything—even put the serenely blinking golden star with the blonde angel on the very highest limb—without a ladder!

Once Christmas was over, I learned that there was also a right way to save the icicles before setting the tree out to the roadside for the garbage man. The cardboard holders were never thrown out. We kept them each year, tucked away with the rest of the re-useable Christmas decorations. Their shiny treasure lay untangled and protected within the corrugated Bekins Moving and Storage boxes that my mother had renamed “CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS” in bold letters with a black magic marker.

At the end of the Christmas season, I would help my sisters undress the tree and get it ready for its lonely curbside vigil. We would remove the glass balls, the plastic bells, and the homemade keepsake decorations we’d made in school. These were all gently placed in small boxes. The icicles came next, a chore we all detested.

We removed the silver tinsel and meticulously hung it back around the little cardboard hook. Those icicles were much heavier then, being made of real metal and not synthetic plastic. They were easier to handle and, if you were careful, didn’t snarl or tangle. It was a long, slow process—one that my young, impatient hands and mind dreaded.

For many years, I couldn’t understand why everyone—even my friends’ parents’—insisted on saving the tinsel from year to year. Then one night, in late December, while Mom and I gazed at the Christmas tree, I learned why.

As she began to tell the story of her first Christmas tree, her eyes looked back through time. She was a child in southeastern Oklahoma, during the dustbowl days of the Depression. She and her siblings had gotten the idea that they needed a Christmas tree. The trekked into the nearby woods, cut down an evergreen, and dragged it home. While my grandfather made a wooden stand for it, the rest of the family popped and strung corn for garland. The smaller children made decorations from paper and glue.

“What about a star?” one of the younger boys had asked.

My grandfather thought for a moment, then said, “I’ve got an old battery out there in the shed. I’ll cut one from that.”

The kids were tickled just to have the tree, but a star, too! It was almost too good to be true.

Grandfather went outside. He disappeared around the side of the old tool shed and didn’t return for a long time. Grandma glanced out the window a few times, wondering what was taking so long, but the children were occupied with stringing the popcorn and making paper chains. They were so excited that they hardly noticed when he came back inside.

Grandmother turned to him as he shut the door against the wintry blast of air. “What took you so long?” she asked. “I was beginning to get worried.”

Grandfather smiled apologetically, and held up the star he’d fashioned.   “It took me awhile. I wanted it to be just right.” He slowly held up his other hand, and Grandmother clapped her hands over her mouth in wonder. Thin strands of silver magic cascaded in a shimmering waterfall from his loosely clenched fist. “It’s a kind of a gift, you know. For the kids.”

“I found some foil in the battery,” he explained. “It just didn’t seem right, not to have icicles.”

In our modern world of disposable commodities, can any of us imagine being so poor that we would recycle an old battery for the metal and foil, in order to hand-cut a shiny star and tinsel for our children’s Christmas tree?

A metal star and cut-foil tinsel—bits of Christmas joy, silver magic wrapped in a father’s love for his family.

I know Christmas is over, but this is a fantastic little anthology you might enjoy any time of year. If you’d like to read the wonderful stories in this collection, here’s the link at Amazon. This is a true “bargain” at only $5.18 for a new copy!

AMAZON LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Christmas-Stories-Holiday-Goodwill/dp/B001QCX1NO/ref=la_B002JV8GUE_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416118651&sr=1-3

Christmas horses

I NEED TO WRITE THAT DOWN

Every so often, I teach a class called “Writing Your Life Story.” Most of the people who are there for classes are senior citizens, who, for the most part, have been urged by family members to come.

As they introduce themselves, it goes something like this:  “I’m Jane Doe, and I’m here because my children keep telling me I need to write this all down—but I don’t know where to begin.”

My first assurance to them all is that they don’t need to write like Laura Ingalls Wilder—their families will be thrilled with anything they put down on paper.  It’s amazing to me how many people don’t feel they have anything of interest to tell their descendants!

I want to tell you about my parents, because they were the epitome of opposites when it came to this. My mother told stories from the time I can remember about her family, about her friends, the small town she grew up in. These were details of an ordinary life that gave me insight into the way times were during the Dustbowl days in Oklahoma. It told me about her life in particular and life in general, and it also brought people I never knew to reality for me through her memories.

Mom had a dear friend, just her age, named Mary. They were both the eldest of their respective families, each with many younger siblings that they were responsible for. Mom mentioned how she and Mary both longed for an d cherished the few times when they could be alone to talk “girl talk” without each having two or three little ones they had to look after.

One of their favorite places to go was the cemetery. They’d both been born in Albany, so they knew the stories of everyone buried there in the small cemetery: The Taylor family, whose six children went berry picking, only to take shelter under an oak tree when a storm blew up suddenly. Lightning struck the tree and killed all by tow of them. The oldest boy crawled to a nearby farmhouse for help, but died later. Out of the six, only one survived. There were no markers on their graves, but Mom showed me where each was buried.

Another grave she showed me was that of a young child who, at eighteen months, crawled under the porch and drank tree poison his father had believed was well-hidden. Mom told me how his lips were stained purple She and Mary had gone to the funeral and it was imprinted in her mind forever.

Christmases were sparse in that time. It was a good Christmas if they each received and apple, and orange, and some hard candy in their stockings, and maybe a doll, in addition, in the better-then-most years. I wrote a story called SILVER MAGIC for an Adams Media Christmas anthology about something she told me. They’d brought home a Christmas tree that particular year, and one of her younger brothers had suggested maybe then could have some tinsel…My grandfather went into the shed and hand-cut tinsel and a star from the foil covering of an old battery. What a thrill that was for them! Yet, who would ever dream that was something that could be done, now, in our world of buy-it-already made?

From Mom I learned about our family ancestors—where they’d come from and who they were. As a child, I thought of them as a story she told, but as I grew older, they became real people to me.

I learned about her, too—how, as a teen, she’d pool her hard-earned money with her younger sister, Joyce, to buy the newest Hit Parade Magazine with all the lyrics to the latest songs. They had sung together from the time they knew how, adding more harmonies as more sisters came along.

My dad never talked about his adolescence much. Even though he and Mom grew up together in the same small community, he never had much to add to the conversations. What I know of his family, I learned mostly from my aunt, his younger sister.

Why write it all down now? Because most people never believe they’ll run out of time. “Someday” never comes. My mom had such fascinating stories, filled with tenderness, charged with emotion—stories that made it seem as if I was there along with her as she spoke. She was a painter, an artist, and she could paint pictures with her words, as well.

Mom always had good intentions, but like so many, never found the time before it was too late, and Altzheimer’s took away that ability.

I will write it all down…all that I can remember of it. But I can’t help thinking how I wish she had written her story, with all the vivid details and description she used in telling about it. There is so much I won’t know. So much will be lost, simply because this was her life.

The memories are hers: the hard times, as well as the good—the days in an everyday life…and, the nights, when entertainment was nothing more than the beautiful harmonies of the four little girls, floating in the summer stillness for miles as they sang on the front porch…in a much simpler, slower time.

If you are interested in getting started on writing your life story, or know someone who is, I will be glad to e-mail you some questions that I use in my classes to help you get started. Just contact me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page: 

 

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