Sunday, March 31, 2013

This Week on Books Direct - 31 March 2013

This Week on Books Direct

Here is a list of the articles you may have missed this week:

"Self-Publishing Tool Kit: A Free Resource For Writers" - Free tips and strategies for self-publishing writers from Writer's Relief.

"A Map to Get Out of Writer's Block" - Article by NY Book Editors.
If you're a writer, chances are you've experienced writer's block. Well, now there's a map to help you find your way out of it

"Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future" - Article by Evan Hughes for Wired.
How have the digital revolution, the rise of Amazon as an online bookseller, and the decline of the physical bookstore affected traditional publishers?"

"Goodreads – the #1 Choice for Authors" - Article by Doris-Maria Heilmann as guest of The Linden Chronicles.
Goodreads is an often under-estimated social network marketing tool. Authors can increase their discoverability tremendously – and subsequently their book’s success, with all the tools that Goodreads has to offer.

"How to Format Your Book for Kindle Using Microsoft Word in 6 Easy Steps" - Article by Kristen Ecktstein for Ultimate Book Coach.
Anyone who’s tried formatting their eBook themselves will tell you it’s no small feat. If your Kindle book has bullet points, graphics, tables, block quotes or any other special formatting issues, this tutorial may not work for you. However, if your eBook does not contain these formatting issues, here are 6 Easy Steps to turn your Microsoft Word document into a Kindle book.

There’s no denying it: These days, just having an author website isn’t enough to get you noticed as a writer. Social media has become a huge part of everyday life. Industry experts all over the Web constantly tout the benefits of blogging, tweeting, liking, pinning, stumbling, tumbling… For many writers, social media is one of the most daunting aspects of launching a successful online author platform. Where do you even start?

Writing dialogue in memoirs or nonfiction books makes people nervous. And with good reason! Novelists base their work on fabrications of varying extents; memoirists and writers of narrative nonfiction have to be prepared to stand behind their every word as fact. So, if nonfiction is about fact, then what should a writer do about writing dialogue in nonfiction if he/she doesn’t know or remember exactly what was said?

"Thoughts on Killing Off a Character" - Article by Sophie Schiller for Indies Unlimited.
Under what circumstances is it acceptable to kill off a character?

"How Authors Should Work With A Book Publicist" - Article by Brian Feinblum for Book Marketing Buzz Blog.
The keys to a good publicity campaign rest in the establishment of a good relationship between the author and the publicist. Find out how to establish and maintain this relationship.

"Codebreaking for Beginners" - Article by Carol E. Wyer for Indies Unlimited.
The QR Code is a valuable tool for writers. If you can put a code on your business card, the cover of your latest book or even your website, savvy iphone users will be able to be directed immediately to where you want them – where you sell your books.

"89 Book Marketing Ideas That Will Change Your Life" - Article by Caitlin Muir: Writing & Editing for Author Media.
Fresh out of ideas on how to help your writing take off? You’re in luck. Caitlin has compiled a list of 89 book marketing ideas that will change your life, build your brand, and sell your book. There’s something for everyone on the list.

"The First Draft Blues" - Article by Melissa Pearl for Indies Unlimited.
Do you ever suffer from self-doubt in your writing? How do you overcome it?

Writing encompasses not just novel writing – and all the genres of it – but also short story writing (a different skill set), essays, science papers, journalism – feature writing in particular – non-fiction in its many forms. Even blogging, which is a slight variant on the feature writing skill set.

"Formula for a Bestselling Young Adult Paranormal Romance" - Article by K. S. Brooks for Indies Unlimited.
Here it is – the long-awaited formula for that explosive young adult paranormal romance!

"Amazon Buys Goodreads: The Hidden Impact On An Author’s Book Sales" - Article by Jonathan Gunson for Bestseller Labs.
The inevitable has finally happened, but… it’s still something of a shock. What do you think of this 'publishing' marriage? Great idea? Awful? Do you already use Goodreads? Do you have any tips for other authors?

"The Fishing Widow" by Amy K. Marshall

The Fishing Widow
by Amy K. Marshall

You can read my earlier blog post to find out more about Amy Marshall's book, The Fishing Widow. It is available as a FREE download from Smashwords. Today we're lucky enough to be talking to Amy herself. Amy has also generously donated some wonderful prizes to our giveaway. Make sure you enter below!

Interview With the Author
Hi Amy, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book The Fishing Widow.

Which writers have influenced you the most?
I’ve always been a fan of C.S. Forester (The Hornblower Series), William Hope Hodgson (The Ghost Pirates, and The Boats of ‘Glen Carrig’), and, of course Lovecraft. After I wrote the first three drafts of The Fishing Widow, I picked up Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard, and fell in love with his twisted-history style. Lately, I’ve added Haruki Murakami to my list of favorite authors.

What age group do you recommend your book for?
I think seventeen and up is a good fit. I mean, some of the language is a little rough (they are fishermen), but with the ages of the crew and all, it almost is a Young Adult type of story. When it opens, Ethan, the main character, is 19, and in Chapter 1, he’s only 23. Even the crew aboard the 1835 whaler, The Covenant, is mainly comprised from ordinaries and mates in their early to mid-20s.

What sparked the idea for this book?
I wrote a book (still in edits) in 2009 with a character who, before the book opened, had been a commercial fisherman out in Bristol Bay - at least, that was his backstory. A group of writers I played writing prompt games with knew of this character’s terror of being “put on a shelf”. The joke was that this character sent his buddy Colin, the Captain in the story, over to tell me another story. This is the story Colin told.

Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Colin came first. Well, Ethan likes to think he was there first, but Colin really was the first one to show up and start talking. I write like Robert E. Howard - of Conan fame. Howard said that he never really wrote anything, it was just these characters who would show up, so he’d sit down with them and say, “Okay, tell me a story.” And they would. There was nothing planned at all in The Fishing Widow. Where my readers tell me they were “surprised” by unexpected twists is where I was surprised by unexpected twists. It’s enjoyable for me to “sit down” with the characters and talk about their “experiences” with the story; and when you can get a good debate going about what really happened? That’s the best part of the fun.

What was the hardest part to write in this book?
1835 because Priam Hartt scared the bejabbers out of me. He was a character who I found most difficult to allow a “voice” because that voice was so dark. In the end, who you might think the villains are, may not be the villains at all. That’s one of the twist-iest parts of the book for me. Oh, and the ending. The ending was difficult because it was the ending. I think the ending changed at least six times in the revisions (there were 17 revisions of the book based on beta reader feedback and because it needed it). There’s nothing quite like typing THE END only to have Brett (the most insistent of the “inner editors” on the crew) mutter, “Lindgren, you are so full of shit.” And I would stare at the page and say, “What? He’s lying??” Yes. Other writers will understand that bit of the process.

How to you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope they love the adventure. I hope they care about what happens to the crews - both in 1835 and 2010. My favorite feedback involves fishermen and fisherwomen who have read it and remark that they’re either glad to not be on a boat at the moment, or wonder how in the world they’re going to face a midnight wheel-watch after reading it. But, it’s not just fishermen and it’s not just people on boats. I also hope people look at the mythical creatures and want to find out more about them. Oh, and I hope parts of it scare you silly and other parts make you cheer.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Colin showed up in December 2009. I started character sketches at that time. I started writing scenes in February 2010 and did not feel comfortable that it was done until December 2012.

What is your writing routine?
I’m a mom. So, my writing routine involves staying up late after the kids have gone to bed and writing. I usually begin around 10pm and keep going until 2am. It means I don’t get much sleep, but it’s amazing how much sleep you don’t need when you hit your 40s. When I was doing the first draft, Ethan would “wake me up” consistently at 4am with new ideas. That, or surprise me in the shower when I didn’t have a pen handy. Sometimes I get to write on the weekends - especially on my son’s wrestling weekends because there’s so much time between his matches.
How did you get your book published?
I initially got nibbles from some high powered publishing houses and several agents, but what it came down to in the end is that it’s a suspenseful, supernatural story that revolves around … fishing. Specifically seining. How does someone in New York City sell something like that? And, that’s why I thought, well, I’ll show you how you sell something like that. I started Alaskan Gothic Press to get The Fishing Widow out there. I know where my market is, and I think, as an indie press, I have a good chance of carving out a good niche for the boys.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
If you believe you have a good, viable story, if you’ve done your research, have consulted with betas (beyond your family and friends), but have hit a wall with traditional publishing, you should consider (if you have the right combination of sense and insanity) going out on your own. Get to know other writers, make any and all the connections you can. Sell YOURSELF as well as your story. It’s hard. I know it’s difficult because writers tend to be a solitary type of animal, but that’s what you have to do to get the fire lit. Blog and get involved in blog hops. Read EVERYTHING and review for people. Better yet, become a beta for someone you don’t know. Keep learning.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to fish (really), read, hike, travel, sail, hang out with my awesome family, and walk the dog. She’s a border collie. I walk my dog. A LOT.

What does your family think of your writing?
The kids think it’s cool, but wonder why they have to be 30 to read it. My husband is my biggest fan - he’s the one who named me “A Diamond in the Dark” and tells me we just need to find someone to shine a light on me. My parents? Well, I wrote A LOT as a teenager (I submitted a fantasy novel to Ballantine back when I was 14), and my dad never understood me. The thing is, my writing is the only thing my dad and I ever fought about when I was a teenager (he doesn’t remember this, he’s 82 now); we fought so much that I stopped writing. About a year ago, I had a mockup paperback made of The Fishing Widow and I sent it to my dad. He read it. He LOVED it. Now, my dad was never a reader, but, guess what? Because of my book, he’s started reading. My dad. READING. Even if I never sold a single book - that my dad now reads makes writing The Fishing Widow worth every head-banging-on-the-desk moment.

Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
It was a rough start. I mean, I used to joke, until a few weeks ago, that I could NEVER be a writer because there was never any major trauma in my childhood. My parents are awesome and there was nothing beyond the normal hormones-running-amok stuff in my teenage years…. But then, I did find out there WAS a bit a drama back there. I’m adopted. I suppose I should have led with that. I was born and abandoned in the restroom of a launderette in Lawrence, Kansas in 1964. I found this out on Christmas Eve 2012, so it’s not like that episode ever influenced my writing (yet). At four months, I was adopted, lived six years in Derby, Kansas, and then moved to New York State (about 80 miles north of NYC). When I was in sixth grade, my mother said she had had enough of the school system and I found myself at The Hackley Preparatory School in Tarrytown, New York. Like I said, my parents are great and we’re still close. There were just those first few hours on the cold floor of the bathroom at the launderette in Lawrence ….

Did you enjoy school?
I loved school. I didn’t so much enjoy the social aspects of it, but I love learning new things. After high school, I went on to get a B.A. in Medieval Archaeology and an M.A. in Maritime History & Nautical Archaeology (which goes a long way in explaining the whole boat-thing).

Did you like reading?
Yes and no. I love reading, but I’m dyslexic and it doesn’t come particularly easy to me. Writing has always been easy, but reading … well, not so much. I love good stories, though, and read whenever I can. I just wish I could read faster.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was seven when I banged out my first short story “The Witch’s Window” on my mom’s old Royal typewriter. And, like I said, I never enjoyed the social aspects of the school experience, and found myself bullied more than once because I walked to a slightly different drumbeat. One day, when I was 10, my mom put up her hand and said, “I don’t want to hear it. Put it in a story.” Now, that may sound cruel, but trust me, wiser words were never spoken; that gave me the tools to not only write but to codify my feelings and begin to form strategies for dealing with what was going on.

Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
They have in other stories, but not so much in this one.

What was your favorite book growing up?
Robin Hood by Howard Pyle and a retelling of Cinderella that I still have in a trunk somewhere; I can’t remember the author, but it was from about 1966.

Who were your favorite authors as a child?
Judy Blume, Dr. Seuss (if you go back that far), and I got into C.S. Forester really early, Tolkien, too.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
My readers are helpful. They have no problem telling me what they think works and what they think doesn’t work. I’m glad they do that. One thing people in town and on the island have let me know is that there’s a feeling that they are also invested in the book - that they know these characters from crews they’ve worked with. It makes me smile when readers come into the library where I work and stand around the circulation desk and tell me stories of this person who’s so much like Danny, or the time when the guy who’s like Mike did such and such. They’re also surprisingly protective of the story, too. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but it’s almost like I told THEIR story.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
In the near future, I have an undead retelling of the Old Peter’s Russian Folktale Salt coming out (April 2013). In October 2013, my short story Salmon in the Trees is being published as part of The Dead End Drive-In Anthology that will be raising money for a literacy charity. 
I have several other Alaska-based projects: In Dark Places, which is set in a copper mine in 1913, Music Wood, set in the 1980s on a Southeast Alaskan island that may be Prince of Wales, and Lost At Sea, which is set in the present-day around Haida G’waii to the south of us. I’ve also started working on several non-Alaskan projects, none of which are thrillers or are scary in any way (at least as far as I can tell so far): Reading Nietzsche at the Taco Bell (sort of a love story) and The Gardener of Eden (a historical fiction with some non-fiction thrown in for good measure). Strangely enough, this is the first time I’ve ever had a projects list.

Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Amy. I certainly look forward to reading more of your work in the future. And thank you so much for you kind donations to our Giveaway.

Amy had been kind enough to donate two gift packs for our giveaway. They each consist of a paperback copy of The Fishing Widow and a Raven's Brew Giftpack (consisting of Whole Bean Deadman's Reach coffee and a Deadman's Reach Travel Tumbler).

Paperback copy of The Fishing Widow
Raven's Brew Giftpack

The Giveaway is open internationally. Please show Amy your appreciation by entering.
To explain the Deadman's Reach connection, Amy states, "Raven's Brew loved it when I sent them Josh's story of The Reach in the book. It's a fictionalized homage to the REAL Deadman's Reach story wherein the Tlingit women used shellfish to take out a Russian garrison (in mine, they take out Spanish monks in a mission). Anyway, Raven's Brew has been INCREDIBLY supportive of everything I'm doing (and have even volunteered to help me with a Kickstarter campaign)."

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway now.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Falling Over the Finish Line" by Carrie Ann Watson

Falling Over the Finish Line
by Carrie Ann Watson

For a small town in Kentucky in the 1940s, horse racing is a way of life and the Weldons are considered royalty in the Sport of Kings. Raymond Weldon made himself a rich man through breeding and racing horses. Although his winning record is about to face the impending threat of the Reed family as they strive to take over the races with the highest stakes and go after The Triple Crown. However, as the 1947 racing season approaches, both families are dealing with internal scandals that could ruin them both.
Gloria Weldon and Ben Reed, the youngest members of each family, try to find a way of surviving it all. At the same time they also try to find their own way in life, love, and the world of horse racing.

Chapter 28: Gloria

The next day, Gloria thought about how much she detested when Earl drove her and her mother places as the three of them rode in the truck. She couldn’t let her parents know that she had learned to drive. Her mother had never learned to drive because her husband wouldn’t let her. Once Gloria had forced Earl to try to teach her, but he quickly became frustrated with the task and they ended up arguing. She had been determined to learn though and repeatedly took the truck out on her own at least one or two days a week before everyone was awake in order to master the skill. She wasn’t quite a master yet, but she would do it.
Gloria sat in the middle of the bench seat of the truck. Earl was driving her and her mother into town. Earl parked the car on Main Street and ran around to open the door and assist Gloria and her mother out of the vehicle.
“Make sure you come back at four o’clock sharp to pick us up.” Her mother said to Earl.
“I will be waiting right here, Aunt Faye. You ladies have fun.” Earl said and Gloria shot him a nasty look, since Earl knew that she was dreading the afternoon in town and all that it would entail. It only frustrated her more when he smiled and stuck his tongue out at her.
They had left the house at noon. Gloria wasn’t sure of the exact time when they arrived in town, but knew that she had at least three and a half hours of torture ahead of her.
“Come along, Gloria. We have to go and get you a dress before we go to the beauty salon. We’ll go to the boutique on Farrell Street.”
Gloria reluctantly followed her mother into the elegant boutique filled with expensive dresses, wraps, and lingerie. The store owner instantly came over to Gloria’s mother with a warm and friendly greeting. Behind her fake smile and flattery, Gloria could almost see the dollar signs in her eyes when she looked at Faye Weldon standing in her store.
After showering her mother with compliments, the owner turned to Gloria and made a fuss over what a beautiful woman she had become. Then added how naturally of course she would be a beautiful woman just like her mother. It was quite a shameless display, but Gloria’s mother ate up every word of it.
“We’re actually here to buy Gloria a new dress. She has a very big date this evening.” Her mother said with an excited smile.
“I have a lot of new designs that I just put on display this month. Let me show you some of them. They are quite elegant, I assure you.”
“Wonderful, we would love to see them, wouldn’t we, Gloria?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“You look to be about a size six, so why don’t you go back to the dressing room and bring some dresses back for you to try.”
“No, Gloria has never been anything but a size four, so please bring us some in that size.”
“Of course.”
Gloria went into the dressing room and tried on several dresses, all of which were uncomfortably snug. She asked her mother if she could try on a size six, but her mother protested, telling her that it was probably just from her woman troubles and that she needed a tighter dress to pull everything in and make her appear to be slimmer.
Gloria stepped back into the dressing room to try on dress number eleven, but as she changed she thought about what her mother had said. She tried to remember when she last had her “Woman troubles,” as her mother had always referred to it. It had been quite a while. The last time had been the week before the foal Shoreline Sunset was born. She had missed two times having it since she had started seeing Ben behind her parents' backs.
Gloria’s breath caught in her chest and she started to feel faint. She turned and examined herself in the mirror. The dress she was wearing, which was her usual size, was tight and her bosom was almost spilling out of the top of it. She watched the color wash out of her face.
“Gloria, what is taking you so long? How does the dress look? Come out and let me see it on you.”
Gloria tried to bring some color back to her face by pinching her cheeks. Then she stepped out from behind the curtain.
“That one is perfect! Oh Gloria, you look beautiful.”
The store owner looked at Gloria and then turned to Gloria’s mother. “Ma’am, I do have to tell you that the sizes of some of the new dresses run a bit small. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try the next size?”
“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. Look at her. It’s probably because she has an ample bosom. I’ve always had the same problem with dresses.”
The store owner brought the next size and handed it to Gloria who gave her a grateful look. She was able to breathe much more freely in the size six, which to her mother’s content still enhanced her bosom. Her mother then asked that the owner show them a few matching wraps in case it was going to be a chilly evening and she quickly obliged.
As Gloria’s mother paid for the incredibly overpriced merchandise, she looked at the clock on the wall. “Gloria, it’s almost two-thirty. Hurry over to the beauty salon so that you’re not late and I’ll be right there.”
“Yes, Mother.”
For an hour and a half Gloria let a woman wash, set, dry, and style her hair as many women from around town exchanged the latest news and gossip. Gloria didn’t notice it. In fact, it just combined into a swirling fog around her. There was only one thing she kept thinking about.
Earl was waiting with the truck when Gloria’s mother rushed her out of the salon at ten after four and they got into the truck so Earl could get them home. At six o’clock the doorbell rang and Gloria heard her father give Jimmy a warm and boisterous greeting.
Gloria sat at her vanity looking in the mirror. She then understood what Ben had said the night before and she also wondered if there could ever come a time when Ben would be as welcomed into their home. Her mother stepped through the doorway to her room and told her that Jimmy had arrived.
“I’ll be right down, Mama.”
Gloria walked out of her room, and down the grand staircase. She forced herself to smile at her parents and Jimmy who were all watching her.
“Hello Jimmy.”
“Good evening, Gloria. You look very beautiful.”
“Thank you.”
Jimmy turned to Gloria’s father. “Mr. Weldon, if it’s ok with you, Sir, I’d like to take Gloria to dinner and then to a picture show in town. Would it be alright if I brought her home at eleven o’clock?”
“Of course you can, Son. We trust that you will bring her safely home, so we won’t be waiting up.”
“Have a good time.” Gloria’s mother chimed in.
Gloria was annoyed that Jimmy didn’t bother to ask her if she was interested in going to see a picture show before he asked her father. She was 19 years old. She did love picture shows and at least they wouldn’t have to force conversation during that time, but that wasn’t the point. Plus the part about her parents not waiting up for her to come home almost made her laugh out loud since her father was already half in the bag. She would be surprised if he didn’t pass out in an hour or two.
“Shall we?” Jimmy asked her as he stepped aside to open the door for her.
“Yes, thank you.” She said before turning and wishing her parents a good night as well.
Jimmy opened the car door for her and she got in. He went around to the driver’s side and slid in behind the steering wheel.
“This is a beautiful car. It was nice of your parents to let you use it for the evening.”
“This isn’t my parents’ car.” Jimmy laughed. “They bought this for me as an early graduation gift when I got accepted to Princeton. Ever since the day I got it, almost every girl in town has asked me to take them for a ride in it. I usually say no though. You’re one of the few lucky ones.”
“I guess I am.” Gloria said through a fake smile. “Congratulations on getting into Princeton. That’s wonderful.”
“Yeah they practically begged me to pick their school. They knew Yale and Penn wanted me too, but I’ve always wanted to go to Princeton.”
“You received offers from Yale and Penn?”
Jimmy was taken aback by her question and Gloria already knew why. “Well, they didn’t have a chance to make offers because I already committed to Princeton, but they were going to.”
Throughout the car ride and dinner Jimmy talked about himself, college, and his new car. Jimmy had a flask in the car with God knew what in it. Gloria thought it smelled like whiskey. He also had two drinks with dinner. Having a drink probably would have made Jimmy’s chattering more interesting, but Gloria was afraid she couldn’t have one.
During pauses in the conversation, Gloria tried several times to change the subject. She brought up the upcoming Bluegrass Stakes and how exciting it was going to be this year.
“Does your father ever let you ride the horses?”
“Not usually, but I do every once in a while anyway. Any work I do is usually in the stable office, but I would really love to be able to assist in training the horses. Then I would be able to own my own horse, train it, and race it.”
“Why would you do that? It’s not a business for women to be in. Plus there is no need for you to work. I’m sure your father takes good care of you with how well he does in the racing and stud business.”
“I didn’t say there would be a need to do it, but I want to do it. I love it. I love working with the horses and being a part of running the stables. My only problem is that my father only allows me to do a little bit here and there and doesn’t consider me part of his business.”
“Well, I would guess not. You’re his daughter. You’ve been going to the races since you were young. Have you ever seen women grooms or women trainers? It was only during the war that you saw women owners accompanying their husbands’ horses to races by themselves.”
“I remember. The women had to take their husbands’ places while they were overseas. I remember some of them doing quite a fine job of it too.”
Jimmy picked up drink number three. “I still didn’t agree with it. I don’t want my future wife to ever work. It’s just not right. If I was going to have a woman helping me bring money home then what would be the point of me even going to college. And what am I going to do, stay at home and do the laundry, cook dinner, and change the diapers? Forget it.”
Gloria was furious. Her insides burned with every continuing word. She counted her blessings that they would be arriving at the picture show in just a little while and Jimmy wouldn’t be able to continue with his asinine opinions. At least she would be able to enjoy a dessert if she just held her patience a little longer.
The waiter walked over to their table. “Would you care for any dessert this evening?”
Gloria looked up at the waiter. “I’ve heard that you have the most divine chocolate cake here, is that true?”
“It’s our most popular dessert, Ma’am.”
“You can just bring the bill. Thank you.” Jimmy told the waiter without looking at Gloria.
“Actually Sir, please bring us the bill after you bring me a piece of chocolate cake if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Of course, I’ll be right back, Ma’am.”
Gloria smiled at the waiter and then smiled at Jimmy. He looked as furious as she was feeling inside.
“Since it seems we will be here a little while longer, I’ll have another.” Jimmy said in a frustrated tone and then held his glass up gesturing to the waiter. The waiter nodded and walked away. Then after a minute of sitting quietly, deep in thought, Jimmy took a deep breath and smiled at Gloria. “I apologize. That was rude of me. With my father being a doctor, I was only concerned about your health, but what could one little piece of cake hurt?”
Gloria was still angry with him, but since he had apologized, she thought it best to also excuse herself for her rudeness. “I’m sorry. I acted rudely as well. It was very nice of you to ask me to dinner this evening at this quaint little restaurant.”
The waiter put her dessert in front of her and Jimmy’s drink in front of him. As the waiter walked away, Jimmy reached over and took Gloria’s hands in his. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I wanted to show you a nice time tonight, so you should get whatever you want. I want this to be a very special evening for both of us, don’t you?”
“Yes, I think we could become very good friends.” Gloria said before taking a bite of cake. She wanted to reiterate that she wasn’t looking to begin a romantic relationship with him and hoped that he would understand what she was getting at.
“I agree. I think we could become very close.”
The waiter brought the bill to the table and Jimmy pulled out his billfold. He looked at the bill and counted his money as he placed it with the slip on the table. When the waiter came back, he handed him cash, and told him to keep the change left over. The waiter thanked him and walked away. Gloria finished her dessert and Jimmy finished his drink. When they got up from the table, Jimmy helped her with her coat before they walked out of the restaurant.
Once again Jimmy opened Gloria’s door and then got into the car. Gloria noticed he was staring at her, so she asked him if everything was alright.
“I was going to ask you the same thing. You seem nervous. You should have ordered a drink with dinner. Are you sure you don’t want some of this?” He asked pulling the flask back out. “It will help you relax and I want us both to have a good time.”
“No, thank you though. I’m fine.”
Jimmy pulled the car out of the parking lot and got onto the road leading back out of town.
Gloria looked over at Jimmy with a confused look on her face. “I thought we were going to the picture show?”
Jimmy laughed. “They don’t show them on Thursday nights! I just told your father that so I would have an excuse to bring you home a little later. I thought we could take a drive out past Franklin Farms and park by the creek. This way we would have more time to talk and get to know each other.” As he said it, he reached over and put his hand on her knee. She was startled and her leg flinched at his touch.
“Jimmy, you don’t want to go and park down by the creek to just sit and talk.”
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know you this evening and I would just like us to get to know each other a little better.”
“But I hope you know that I would only like us to be friends.”
“I want us to be more than friends, Gloria. It’s ok that you’re nervous. I know you probably don’t have much experience, but we can take things real slow if you want.”
“No Jimmy, you have had a lot to drink and I think it would be best if you just took me home. You can turn down this road coming up.”
“I know where I’m going. I don’t need you to tell me.” He turned and looked at her very sternly. “I tried to show you a nice time tonight. I think you could show a little more appreciation.”
“I thanked you for dinner.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. There are a lot of girls that I could have taken out tonight who would have been more than happy to…”
“Then you should have taken one of them out.”
“I ought to pull over right here and make you walk the rest of the way home.”
“I suppose Princeton doesn’t examine the amount of class the students have before they decide to let them in. Or should I say… let their daddy pull some strings for them.”
Jimmy pulled the car over to the side of the road, put it in park, and turned towards Gloria. “You got a smart mouth on you and I don’t like it one bit. Maybe a nice brisk walk home will take you down a peg or two. You can get out and walk from here after you kiss me good night.”
“Kiss you good night? I’ll just get out and start my walk home. Thank you.”
He lurched across the front seat and pinned Gloria against the passenger door. All she could taste was stale whiskey as his tongue protruded her mouth. She turned her face away from him as he pulled back away from her. “I don’t pay twenty dollars for dinner without getting at least a kiss good night. In fact, first date or not, any other girl in town would have probably gladly let me under her skirt. I’m sorry I wasted a night on you, Gloria Weldon.”
“Not as sorry as I am.” Gloria said as she got out of the car and slammed the door.
Gloria didn’t look back once as she heard him turn his car around and head back down the road. She was only about a half mile from her house. She could still taste the whiskey in her mouth. It was nauseating. Luckily it wasn’t very cold out, but as she stepped up onto the porch, she could feel redness in her nose and cheeks from the slight chill of the wind hitting her face as she walked.
She was glad to be home after such an awful evening. She opened the front door and stepped into the foyer. As she walked into the sitting room she saw her mother and father sitting on the edge of the loveseat staring at her.
“What’s wrong?”
“Your mother just got off of the phone with Fran Callahan.”
“Did she tell you that her son made me walk home?”
“Don’t you dare interrupt me! She called your mother to say how surprised she was that you weren’t a better-behaved young lady. That she was disappointed to hear how rude you were to her son. That you were very uninteresting to talk to and that you were very cold to him all night.”
As her father scolded her, she could tell he had had more to drink after she left the house earlier. She knew it would be better not to argue, so she tried to approach the subject in a different way. “Daddy, he lied to you. He didn’t want to take me to see a picture show after dinner. He just told you that so he could take me off somewhere to park.”
“I know they don’t show those things on Thursday nights. Do you think I’m stupid?” Raymond got up and walked up to Gloria.
Gloria was so angry with her father. She couldn’t believe that he would encourage a boy to take advantage of his only daughter. She was too infuriated to even think of a response, so her father continued on his rant.
“Besides, I’m sure he wasn’t planning on taking you anywhere to park since you wouldn’t even kiss him good night.”
“I didn’t think I had to!”
“When you accept an invitation from a gentleman and he takes you out to a fancy dinner, it is only polite that a lady kisses him goodnight.”
“I didn’t accept the invitation. YOU did. You should have gone out with him and kissed him goodnight yourself.”
Her father slapped her face hard. She looked past him to her mother who got up from the loveseat and walked out of the room. Then her father brought his face close to hers. “You don’t speak to me that way. You will show me respect.” He stopped and smelled her breath. “Have you been drinking? No wonder you acted the way you did tonight, you ungrateful little shit!”
“No Daddy, listen… He was drinking and…”
This time her father’s closed fist struck the other side of her face. The pain seared and her eye felt as if it were about to explode.
“He forced me to kiss him good night and the alcohol was on his breath! Please, I didn’t do anything wrong!” But her father hit her again and then again once more. She stumbled backwards, but luckily landed on the couch.
“I have spoiled you! I’ve given you everything! And this is how you act! What do you have to say for yourself?”
She could barely see straight, but she looked up at her father. She knew it would be best for her not to respond, but she was so angry with him. She refused to give him the complete satisfaction of knowing how much he was hurting her. “Is that all you got?”
He hit her once more in the mouth. The taste of blood slowly became stronger, but she swallowed and tried to ignore it.
“You will never get married if you can’t find a man and make him happy. You disgust me. Now get out of my sight!”

By Grace
Falling Over the Finish Line is a wonderful book, full of real characters with natural flaws that will make you either love or despise them! Despite its length, it is a quick read because of its suspense and excitement; Carrie set an impressive pace in Chapter 1 and eloquently carried it through her entire novel. Each of Carrie's characters comes to life and plays a very pivotal role in her plot. It is a page turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat with multiple plot twists; nobody could guess what would happen next! Falling Over the Finish Line has left me chomping at the bit in anticipation of its sequel...make sure you're caught up before the sequel hits Amazon!

About the Author
Carrie Ann Watson is from Oaklyn, NJ. She attended Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She earned her Associate’s Degree from Camden County College and then went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Writing Arts from Rowan University. Carrie began her writing career in college when she published a poem in the literary magazine Bridges in 2004. She later published another poem in the poetry anthology Poetry Vibes in 2005. Carrie published her first piece of literary fiction with her novella At Low Tide, which was released in September 2012. Falling Over the Finish Line is the first of her full length novels to be published.
Carrie states, "I want to be a writer, but not a starving artist. I want to excel in more than one aspect of life because I want my life to be well-rounded as well as successful ... and everyone has their own definition of 'success'."