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Halloween Reading Sale–Melinda’s Chillingly Fun Ghost Stories

Just in time for Halloween, my two award-winning ghost story ebooks are on sale for the next three days at Amazon.com. Hurry and pick them both up for .99 each for the next 24 hours because the price will increase $1.00 each day until they reach the full price. It’s a special promotion on Kindle Countdown Deals. 

Chill Halloween Tale–GHOSTLY ACTS

My award-winning and chillingly fun ghost romance for all ages GHOSTLY ACTS is now available on Amazon.com. This is my favorite YA novel that I’ve written–so far. There might be a bit of Mmmmmmmm “experience” in the book that I put the crazy O’Neill family through. My favorite character may be the rotten little brother Eugene, though the cowboy ghost boyfriend is to die for. Don’t think the heroine, Ele O’Neill, the Seattle teen queen I move to ghost town hell Montana, is anyone I know but is a composite character. However, the situation may be kinda reflective of moving a kid I do know in the middle of his junior year to a new high school.  Eeeeeek. I shall ever endeavor to atone for that one. Do have a read of GHOSTLY ACTS because I laughed and loved that family all the way through the story. Hope you do too!

INDIE AUTHORS LIBRARY SERVICES SURVEY

The Arizona Library Association has chosen my workshop, Don’t Be a Dream-Killer, Help Indie Authors Help You,  to be presented at the annual conference in Mesa, Arizona on October 26. I’ll be speaking to librarians from all over the state on the subject of better serving their Indie Author patrons. If you’re an Indie Author, this is your opportunity to have input on the subject. Please use the survey below and your experience with your library as a basis for your input. Please send your completed survey directly to Melinda.

Indie Authors Library Services Survey

Please use the survey questions below and your personal experience with your library as a basis for your suggestions of how libraries may better serve their Indie Author patrons.

  1. How do I get my book in the library catalog system? Will the library buy my book? Or should I donate it?
  2. Can the library help me promote my book with book talks, signings and other events at the library?
  3. Who in my library has been the most help to me in providing information and support for my Indie Author publishing and promotions? What could the library do better?
  4. How can I help the librarians “help” me—what do I need from librarians in terms of information and support that will save me and the library time and money?
  5. What do I believe I can do to better support my library/librarians?

Please list any other questions and concerns you may have that you wish Arizona librarians to address regarding serving their Indie Author patrons.

The Haunting of Josh Weston Wins Another Award

The Haunting of Josh Weston Wins PNWA Cover Contest

My young adult novel, The Haunting of Josh Weston, has won several literary awards and now the cover has won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s (PNWA) Book Cover Contest at their annual conference in Seattle, WA last Saturday night, July 22, 2017. This picture shows me accepting the award and prize, a free PNWA 2018 conference, which I as the YA Category Sponsor of the PNWA Literary Contest donated to the first place winner in the YA Category. That was so much fun and the winner was so excited!

I love attending the PNWA conference and seeing old friends, meeting new YA writers. This year’s conference was attended by over 500 writers, editors, agents, and writing services vendors. There is always an excellent lineup of workshop tracks of craft, marketing, and genre writing. I presented a workshop in the YA track,  Crafting the YA Novel: The Four Cs of Characterization.

Presenting workshops is one of my favorite things. My next workshop is at the Arizona Library Association’s Annual Conference in Mesa in November entitled, Don’t Be A Dream-Killer: Help Indie Authors Help You.

More good news: The Haunting of Josh Weston received a 5 Star review from Melinda Hill for Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews. “Magical and moving, The Haunting of Josh Weston by Melinda Rucker Haynes is a powerful YA paranormal tale that offers lots of emotional insights and a message of hope to anyone who is suffering from insecurities and bad memories. The action is quick-paced as the tension between Josh and the bully builds, but the relationship between Josh and Pete provides a timeless feeling and a sense of love and support that Josh’s mother just can’t provide by herself. With a subtle romantic element, there is just the right balance between the paranormal and the every day to make the story quite believable and uplifting. Excellent story – kept me glued to the pages! The Haunting of Josh Weston is certainly well worth reading.”

Fighting the Urge to Nest

When we bought our Tucson house four years ago, the large entry courtyard was rocky dirt with a few succulents and cactus. Since the front of the house faces east to the beautiful Catalina Mountains, there was an inspiring view to reclaim. We wanted to create an inviting oasis to enjoy sunrise coffee or evening cocktails in the shade, surrounded by flowers. And we’re accomplishing that.

Now that the planters’ flowers and bushes are mature and it’s Spring, the quail are determined to move in and prepare their nests in our cool, secure courtyard. They don’t seem to care about the size of the pot. They’ll simply kick everything out they can and settle in. My sister-in-law, Susan Gunn, has shared stories of raising chickens and that after they put them to bed in the evening, she and Sherm toiled in the chicken yard filling holes. This morning I found my fairy garden thoroughly excavated, soil, cottage, and fairies ejected onto the pavers. Now it seems I’m tending a chickenyard. But instead of a shovel and rake, I use stones, larger fairies, and weighty whimsical stuff to fill the prospective quail nest foundations. I had to relocate the frog pond away from the fairy garden because the quail fished the tiny resin frogs out of the pond, only to toss them onto the pavers when they discovered fake frogs weren’t very tasty.

The only pot in the courtyard the quail haven’t yet tried to terraform and move into is a kalanchoe guarded by my pet metal javelina, Pig Iron. However, perhaps one of these mornings I’ll take my coffee to the courtyard to watch the sunrise and find Pig Iron on his side on the floor. A quail couple will explode out of the yellow pot, complaining loudly, laying a dark cloud of soil behind them, only to return after the sun sets on the back garden. And there it is—Clang! Pig Iron hits the bricks, sparking the eternal question—can a dedicated fairy garden horticulturist win against live quails’ urge to nest? Or can she reach detente with both flora and fauna, real and imagined, and declare peace in our garden? Perhaps we’re getting there, if this happy little garden is any indication . . . .

 

 

A Literary Disneyland–Tucson Festival of Books

This weekend I’m doing one of the things I enjoy most–meeting readers and writers promenading by the thousands at the University of Arizona’s annual Tucson Festival of Books event. This will be my third year to play at the Festival. The first year I signed at the Friends of Oro Valley Library’s booth with other Oro Valley writers. Last year as the YA category winner of the Arizona State Library’s OneBookAZ 2016 literary contest, my book tour started at the Tucson Festival where I appeared in the State Library’s booth and signed books. It was a great launch for my Arizona novel, The Haunting of Josh Weston, and I look forward to doing the Festival again this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Mmmmmelinda

The Eyes-Closed Perspective and a Decent Chardonnay

On the way home from the Arizona Library Association’s YA Summit in Prescott, AZ last week, I was invited to my niece Jenna’s birthday party at Art Therapy in Phoenix. As you can see from the photo, they had a great . . . something. My niece and her mother, my sister, are super achievers and take their “doing” very seriously. I, however, do not so much. I tend to fall in love with the idea of making something interesting and so experiment with these kinds of crafty, arty and music-making experiences. I learned long ago that I’m good for maybe a series of classes worth of said experience, then I move along, move along. One reason being–what the heck do I do with the end product of that experience? How many poorly crocheted bikinis (yes, I actually did one of those back in the early 70s) or sloppily knitted potholders does one need?

 

Jenna and Rhonda  Find Birthday Joy at Art Therapy.

Jenna and Rhonda Find Birthday Joy at Art Therapy.

I love doing the painting BYOB (and snacks) events with fun people. So far I have “done” three such parties. I’d like to say that each painting I turn out is better than the last . . . but truth be told, NAW.  I’m not interested in getting better at painting these studies in standardized acrylics, but I’m all about going to hang out with artistic hopefuls who like to play, drink wine and graze on really good snacks–which ARE getting better each time I go.

The Process. There is a process to this artistic creating. In fact, it’s so standardized and easy everyone’s paintings look pretty much the same. About thirty minutes into the teaching and our putting paint to canvas, I begin to feel kinda bored. I know what the end product in front of me is going to look like. That observational power isn’t born of second sight or prescient ability. I’ve simply looked at the paintings-in-progress around me. And if I continue to follow directions my picture will look like that, too.

Enter snacks and Chardonnay, yay! I wander over to the goodie table where we’ve laid out our extensive display of tastiness and indulge as I consider my artistic options concerning the Old Door in a Wall project. Full glass in hand and a plate of yummy in the other, I return to my seat to sip and snack and think. Then it hits me–my individual artistic interpretation. I paint the door dark blue, paint in lighted windows at the top and on the plate beside the door the number eleven. Tah Dah! The TARDIS and my favorite Doctor, Number 11 just landed in my painting. It’s brilliant! And as is the way with such endeavors, no one gets it. No one! Except after the class, the instructor/shop owner came round and exclaimed, “It’s a TARDIS! We’ve never had anyone do a TARDIS.” Turns out her husband is British and began to tell me all about his watching very early Doctor Who back in the 1960s. Personally, I wasn’t a fan then, not until 2005 and Doctor #10, when the show was retooled.

As you can see from my photo on the right, my painting looks perfect in my closed-eyes perspective apres Chardonnay. But then what doesn’t?

Mmmmelinda Closes Her Eyes and Gains Perspective

Mmmmelinda Closes Her Eyes and Gains Perspective

Speculating On The Best of Times

I enjoy speculating that rather than a being fixed position along a continuum, Time might be a fluid subjective awareness. Besides being fun, that kind of conjecture may keep me open to the possibilities of NOW.

A concept of Time can be expressed in context, such as I keep reminding myself that now is the best time in the history of publishing for a writer with a story to tell and sell directly to the reader. As such a writer, I’ve been serving as a facilitator of a Promotional CoOp of writers that is a subsection of the Oro Valley Writers Workshop in Tucson. We combine the best of past publishing experience of our members with emerging publishing alternatives and promotional opportunities in cooperative marketing operations.

The idea of a promotional cooperative occurred to me as I attended the OV Writers Workshop meetings.  I and one other author are usually the only ones with experience in traditional publishing. Most of the attending writers want to publish and are eager to learn how they can get their work to the readers, only to find that publishing the book may be the easiest part. Actually attracting readers or finding an audience can be daunting if almost a mysterious dark art. I’ve long heard, “I hate promoting. I just want to write” from multi-published authors throughout my career.

After our Promotional CoOp’s last meeting, I expressed the following to the CoOp members: As authors seeking publication today, either traditional or Indie, we’re all in business. More than any other time in the history of publishing, we authors have vast choices in how we can reach our readers. It’s my intention at Promo CoOp to demonstrate some of those options which I’ve experienced as a traditionally published, small press and now a self-published author of my backlist. As an Indie publisher, I continue to study the evolving market, the many publishing opportunities and new promotional venues going live every day. It’s a very exciting time for all of us as we each choose how we will participate in this new market. To that end, let us, as Captain Picard of the starship Enterprise (my husband Bob is often mistakenly for Sir Patrick Stewart who plays Captain Picard) says, “Make it so!”

Consequently, concerning the concept of Time in the context of Indie publishing today, let’s go with, “It was the best of times . . . .”

Mmmmmm NEWS

haunting-josh-westonHeading north to Prescott, AZ where it’s been snowing big time. Going to play with the librarians at the Arizona State Library YA Summit. I’ve just entered the PNWA 2017 Nancy Pearl Literary Award contest for published books. Hope my award-winning YA, The Haunting of Josh Weston, does well. I’m also the Sponsor of the YA Category of the PNWA 2017 Literary Contest.

 

 

Chasing Horny Toads–Christmas Magic

cht-xmasChristmas Magic

There were no bell-ringing Santas on downtown Kingman sidewalks and none in stores. Santa Claus didn’t show up until early evening on Christmas Eve at the Elks Club.

The guy in the red suit and white beard stood at one end of the hall by a huge tree with lots of lights and decorations. Kids and parents entered the front doors and formed a line to chat with Santa. My sister was too shy to talk to him and hung back with Mother and Dad. My conversation with Santa Claus was brief because I figured by this late date what was done was indeed done. Nothing I said at that moment would influence what showed up under the tree in the morning.

We headed to the table where the Elks handed out Christmas stockings made of red netting to each child and took ours. The disappointment began on the way to the car when I opened the top of my stocking. The unshelled nuts were okay, especially the walnuts, but the orange and the ribbon hard candy were heartbreaking. What I would have given for one of our chocolates or a piece of fruitcake, but those goodies were all gone.

Bedtime was 8 o’clock for the little kids. I was five years older, so mine was at 8:30, giving me alone time with the gifts under the tree. But Mother announced she and Dad were going to bed and that I should, too. I felt cheated, even a little mad. I’d show them. When they went to bed, I’d sneak into the living room and hide behind the overstuffed chair. Then I could play with the presents all I wanted and maybe catch a glimpse of Santa making his deliveries. I’d discover how he really got in the house, probably through our front door because it wasn’t locked. We didn’t have a fireplace, just a single 220 space heater.

I waited a couple of minutes and tucked in behind the chair. When I woke up it was too dark in the room to see anything, not even the tree. Had Santa come and gone? I was too sleepy to investigate and dragged myself back to bed.

Gift previewing began before sunup. I crept into the living room and began to feel my way around. Couldn’t really see, but my fingers interpreted most soft lumps and hard things as probably mine. I went back to bed and waited for dawn, or for the little kids to wake up so I could direct their explorations and blame them for waking Mother and Dad. After several more single and accompanied trips to the tree, I called out, “Mother, come see what Santa brought us.”

Mother wandered out in her robe, turning on lights and bringing order to Christmas chaos. Then Dad appeared barefoot in Levis and a white t-shirt, wielding his new movie camera with a light bar as bright as the sun. All Dad’s Christmas movies featured smiling, red-faced, squinting children and his wife making silent joyful noises and go-away-don’t-film-me gestures.

Paper and ribbon heaped high, opened gifts spilling out of boxes, as laughter and happy chatter filled our little house. Then it was time to get dressed and arrange our gifts on our beds, while Mother started the turkey baking in the electric roaster oven.

We grabbed our gifts and hurried to the bedroom to get dressed, make our beds and lay our gifts out for all to admire. We had to make it fast because Dad was in the living room un-decorating the tree. That meant he would soon be gathering the mountain of paper, boxes and any presents left on the floor to haul out to the trash with the tree. We absolutely knew we lost great gifts in Dad’s Christmas Day decorations purge but couldn’t prove it.

Mother prepared Christmas dinner pretty much singlehandedly, and it made her a bit cranky. As I got older I was allowed to stuff celery with pimento cheese from a jar, slide jelled cranberry sauce onto a plate, put black olives on a relish tray and set the table.

There were seldom guests or other relatives invited, except for my grandmother who breezed in fifteen minutes before dinner was served at 2:00, dress to impress. She always looked and acted so regal, which encouraged our best table manners, such as they were. Granny probably thought she’d dined with coyote pups, as she breezed out the door shortly after pie.

Leftovers put away for later feasting, we girls would wash the dishes afterward, which I thought terribly unfair because Mother used every pan in the kitchen. After the kitchen was cleaned, we’d show off our gifts to Mom and Dad and play with each other’s new toys.

Another Rucker Christmas would slip into memory as we climbed into bed to dream of sand wash sledding, perfect Christmas trees and six Hershey bars.

Chasing Horny Toads Christmas Tale–Sandwash Sledding

cht-xmasSand Wash Sledding

 The Sunday two weeks before Christmas, Dad hooked up his hunting buggy, Sputnik, to the back of the pickup. Mother packed a lunch of tuna salad sandwiches made with lots of mayonnaise and chopped onion, Fig Newton cookies, fruit and a jug of instant iced tea or lemonade. She didn’t buy soda pop.

Dad always maintained a sort of chuck box in his vehicle that held survival essentials for a picnic or stranding. The rectangular metal box usually contained a loaf of Rainbow bread, a bottle of French’s yellow mustard, an onion, a couple of cans of Spam and Hershey bars. And a pint of Canadian Club whiskey for warming emergencies. He also threw in a machete, a length of heavy tow chain with hooks on the ends and the giant jack. We would need them all at some point on our Christmas tree hunting party.

The weather was usually sunny, windy and the temperature in the fifties.

The five of us piled into the pickup’s cab and drove up to the Hualapai Mountains foothills. Dad turned off on a rutted dirt road and drove about a mile through the scruffy junipers, cactus, and scrub oak. He parked off the road and unhitched Sputnik. We loaded the gear in Sputnik’s small bed. My sister Rhonda and I rode on top of the spare tire. Dad and Mother sat on the front seat with my little brother because he got carsick in the back.

Maybe it was my praying that saved me from that miserable mal de auto my sister and brother suffered on these thrill rides. More likely I didn’t get sick because I didn’t like running behind the car. Which was my dad’s cure for car sickness. My brother could have been a marathon star for all the training miles he put in behind various vehicles during his childhood.

Dad loved driving Sputnik off road, over boulder fields and side-hilling in steep terrain, taking us where no wheeled vehicle had gone before. I preferred easing down sand washes that flowed through rock-walled canyons. The smooth ride over the sand was what I imagined riding in a horse-drawn sleigh over snow was like. I asked Dad if that were so because he knew pretty much everything.

“I don’t know. Haven’t been sledding in the snow. But I have an idea.” He stopped beside a big clump of cat’s claw bushes and ordered everyone out. Dad pulled the tow chain from the back, hooked one end to Sputnik’s spring shackle and dragged the other end to the bushes. “Stand back,” he yelled and climbed in the driver’s seat. The engine revved, wheels spun sand, the chain snapped taut and Sputnik leaped forward. A rusty boat-looking thing popped out of the cat’s claw on the chain’s hook.

“Hop on, kids,” Dad called, grinning. “Let’s go sand wash sledding.”

“No, Raymond,” Mother cried, spreading her arms to hold us back. “What is that thing? It looks dangerous!”

“It’s a 1939 DeSoto car hood,” he said proudly. “A great car.” His smile faded at her worried expression and he added, “Perfectly safe. I’ll go slow.”

And away we went on our first desert sleigh ride to the tune of Jingle Bells . . .

Big sister

Little sister,

Baby brother, too

Dashing through a desert sand wash

On an upside down car hood

Behind a 65 horse V-8 open sleigh

On an Arizona December day.