Monday, November 21, 2016

Guess Who?

by Bruce Carroll

The following is a biographical piece about a real person. I did take liberties with some of the minor details. Still, you should be able to figure it out. Think you know who she is? Leave your guess in the comments.

It was a short walk from the greenroom to the stage, but the excitement in the air always made it seem to take an interminable amount of time. She could hear the audience chanting, as if summoning the trio to make their appearance.

Taking that seemingly endless walk, she thought back to how she had gotten here.

*     *     *

“We don’t know what it is,” the doctor said. The young girl wrapped her arms around her aunt, not wanting to hear what the doctor said, but knowing she must. “But it is taking a toll on their bodies.” He looked right at the young girl. “There is a very good chance you could loose both of them.”

The girl buried her face in her aunt’s side. She was not yet ten years old, and already she was facing the loss of both her parents. To a disease the doctors didn’t even have a name for.

That very night, her aunt came to live with her in her home. Her parents’ home. And every day, her aunt and several family members would go to the hospital to be with her parents. She herself was too young to visit patients in intensive care, so she would sit with her aunt in the waiting room. There was nothing for a young girl to do there. The few magazines there were all about fashion or finance.

“Here,” her aunt said one day, holding out an iPod with a pair of earbuds. “Listen to this.”

The young girl pressed the earbuds into place. It was a pop song. A trio of girls sang happily. The young girl smiled. She began to dance in the waiting room, but not so much that she disturbed the others there.

By the time they left the hospital, the young girl had listened to each song at least six times.

“I want to be a singer,” she said to her aunt, her dark eyes sparkling. “I want to join that group!”

Her aunt smiled. “It will take a lot of work,” her aunt told her. “But if you’re willing to work, I’m sure you will be.”

And now, seven years later, she was walking onto this very stage. The trio she had danced to in the waiting room had disbanded, but a new one had formed, and she was a member. One of that first trio’s members was also a member of this newer group.

Both of her parents had miraculously recovered. Her trio had already taken multiple world tours. They sold out Wembly Arena, and ended their last tour by performing for a sold-out audience of 50,000 in her home country. How lucky she felt. She couldn’t help but smile.

The three girls walked onto the darkened stage and took their places silently. She counted her heartbeats as she waited for the explosive chord that would launch them into their first number.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

The Day I Gutted Everybody

I was fed up, the day I gutted everybody. Fed up with the sick hypocrisy that is part of the human condition.

So I snapped. I gutted everybody.

I laid their entrails out for them to see. Racism. Greed. Hatred. Fear. Sins too loathsome to name. I kept nothing hidden. Not even the things that poured from my own heart and bowels.

They were shocked and appalled. Some of them threw up.

I rejoiced. I danced with glee, knowing the vile, abominable creatures had finally been exposed for the appalling things they were.

And then I wept, knowing none of them would ever breathe or walk again.

And I wept again, knowing that even as they read my words, they would not change, or even understand.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Meeting of the Mustangs

by Cathy Kennedy
Review by Bruce Carroll

This is a clever and uplifting story about a wild mustang. It is an easy read, but it may not be suitable for young children as it does include heartbreak, hardship, and death.

The story is somewhat episodic, but some events do connect as the story progresses. It does not have chapters as such, but the narrative does include many divisions for easy reading. I finished it in about a day and a half, and that was with my busy schedule.

While the description of the horses and their perceptions are well executed, the descriptions of the humans and their perceptions are sometimes lacking. At one point two characters decide to “stop at their favorite restaurant for lunch.” We are told “they ordered and ate,” but no details of either the restaurant or the meal are given. It would be nice to know what kind of restaurant it was, what the decor was like, what they ordered and how it smelled and tasted. Then we readers could decide for ourselves if it was “their favorite.”

The eBook itself could use some additional formatting, as I found some paragraph breaks mid-sentence. Still, the story was enjoyable, and the ending most satisfying. I look forward to more from Cathy Kennedy.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

An Interview With Me

by Bruce Carroll

From time to time I publish interviews with authors and others. Today I decided it was time to post an interview with me. I've answered the same kinds of questions I ask others. I hope you enjoy it.

Describe your childhood home. Does your childhood influence your work? If so, how?
I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Well, I had a childhood in Baton Rouge. Some people would take exception to the phrase “grew up.”

I got into acting in High School and my first book was Acting: From First Audition to Final Bow, so my childhood clearly influenced that. Beyond that I really haven’t thought about it. In my current work-in-progress, the main character travels across the U.S. I’ve outlined her journey, but she doesn’t even pass through Louisiana. This may change as I write more. Who knows?

How did you first get into writing?
I’m not sure how I first got into writing. It just seemed natural. I remember in about second grade I wrote a nonsense piece that the teachers at my school absolutely loved. I kept getting called out of class to read it to other classes. I didn’t think it was anything spectacular, but the teachers apparently thought otherwise.

Many years later I did some writing on Fiverr and realized people were compiling my short stories and selling them as eBooks. I decided to learn how to publish for myself so I could be the one earning the royalties. That was how I decided to write professionally.

What is your writing process?
I sit down with my laptop and start typing.

Actually, I have found my writing process for my first novel to be very different from my how-to book. Acting: From First Audition to Final Bow started as notes for an acting workshop. I came to a point at which I realized I had enough material for a book.

Akiko has been very different. The character came first, literally in a dream. Then I came up with a story for her. I kept it mysterious, so I could fill in a lot of the details as I write. That’s why Akiko can’t remember her past: I don’t know it myself, until I write it. I did plan out some major events for her story, but a lot of it is written by the seat of my pants. Astute readers will notice the book is actually a series of short stories rather than one continuous story. That makes writing much easier, and, I hope, holds the reader’s interest better.

Sometimes I just start writing, and sometimes I need some sort of warm-up. That warm-up may be as simple as making a list of words as they come to mind, or it may be a specific writing exercise.

What has contributed to your success?
What success? I mean, it was nice when Inkspired selected Akiko for #StoryOfTheDay. That helped me get some views. But I still struggle to pay my bills.

Who inspires you?
Nearly everyone I meet inspires me in some way. I am particularly inspired by my fans. It seems strange to me that people I have never met like my writing and want to read more.

What do you love most about writing?
More than the writing itself, I love when people respond positively to my writing. That is the greatest joy for me as a writer.

Do you prefer print books or eBooks?
It doesn’t matter to me. Ebooks are cheaper and take up less space. On the other hand, I already spend a lot of time looking at a screen. Also, print books make better gifts, and as an author I can’t autograph an eBook.

Are you traditionally published or self-published? Do you prefer one over the other?
I am self-published. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Self-publishing gives the author freedom. The self-published author can literally write anything. That is a strength, but it is also a weakness. There are a lot of poorly-written (and poorly thought-out) books out there. Add to that the fact that the self-published author is ultimately responsible for everything – the book cover, the editing, filling all the plot holes. Sure, a self-published author can hire people to do these things; but that costs money and the author is still responsible in the end.

A traditional author has a team of people working on the book. There are editors, book cover designers, etc. Much less responsibility falls on the author’s shoulders, and the author is free to write. But it is much more difficult to get published. And in the end, both require about the same work as far as marketing goes.

No, I don’t prefer one to the other.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, Angie, and our daughter, Heather. We love libraries, museums, parks; almost anywhere, as long as we’re together.

Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
No. There was the nonsense piece in second grade I mentioned earlier. Prior to that I wrote a short story called “The Monster Who Ate Carrots.” I don’t recall anything about it, other than the title. I probably wrote something earlier than that, but I don’t remember what it was.

What are you working on now?
Akiko, the young adult action/adventure story about a blind martial artist with a mysterious past. Sample chapters go out in my newsletter, and right now you can get a free copy of Acting: From First Audition toFinal Bow just for subscribing!

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