Tag Archives: publish

Two Little Girls – An Essay

TWO LITTLE GIRLS – Another Essay

By Donna Jean McDunn Author

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mine was great. All three of our daughters and their families came, so it was a busy four-day weekend. Our oldest grandson celebrated his 13th birthday on November 7th. (That gives us three teenage grandkids with five more to go.) He lives to far away so we weren’t able to celebrate with him on that day and while they were visiting, he enjoyed another birthday party with us.

We also attended a party for my husband’s brother’s 70th birthday and a surprise birthday party our son-in-law planned for our youngest daughter. By the time the weekend ended, I needed another four days to recuperate.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted since November. I’ve been busy editing my novel Nightmares. As soon as all the editing is done, I will share an excerpt of the story here. I just finished working with the content editor who suggested I consider turning the book into a series based on the characters in the book, so I have begun a new story I have tentatively named Visions. I’m still waiting to hear from the line editor and get her opinion of the idea.

I’m also working on another story I began for a writing course a few months ago. The course has ended, but the writing goes on and I really want to finish it. It is tentatively named The Rose Stalker. It is geared to a much older reader than my Nightmares books and is a romance/mystery about a stalker who leaves roses.

Now I would like to share with you an essay I wrote in 2008. It’s not very long, just under 650 words. It’s about something that happened in my childhood that has always bothered me. It still does whenever I think about it and that year, I thought about it a lot, just as I have during this one. Some of the words I used for descriptions may not be politically correct today and I don’t wish to offend anyone, but in the 1950’s these terms were accurate. It’s called:

TWO LITTLE GIRLS

I grew up in a small town in Iowa during the 1950’s. During those early years of my life, I remember seeing only two people of African American decent at my school. It happened when I was in the third grade.

The teacher had just let us outside for recess. It was early spring and I had on my blue winter coat I’d gotten for Christmas. The day had turned out so sunny and warm; I felt I no longer needed it. So, like several other kids, I took my coat off and threw it on top of a pile of coats already lying on the ground.

My friends and I ran to the jungle gym to play. When I happened to look in the direction of my coat, I saw two African American girls. I naturally assumed they were sisters and the older one was holding my blue coat.

“Hey, this can’t be mine,” I heard the girl say to the younger one as she slipped it on. She held her arms out in front of her. “Look, it’s to small.”

Concerned I was about to lose my coat to a stranger, I jumped off the jungle gym and ran to her. “I think that’s my coat.”

Looking down at the pile still on the ground, I could see the arm of a blue coat just like mine. I pulled it out and slipped it on. The sleeves hung down past my fingertips. “Maybe this one is yours.”

We exchanged coats, giggling about the mix up, until her younger sister poked her in the ribs. “Come on. We’re going to get into trouble.”

“Thanks,” the older one said to me and the two girls ran toward the school.

I wanted to talk to them and find out if they were sisters, where they came from and why I hadn’t I seen them before. I didn’t even know their names. Why did they leave in such a hurry?

I watched as they ran to a door, the rest of us weren’t supposed to use, but before going inside, the older girl turned and smiled in my direction.

I wondered where they were going. Recess had just started.

I rejoined my friends on the jungle gym. “Who are those girls,” I asked my friend, Mary. “I’ve never seen them before.”

“I don’t know their names,” she said. “I heard they go to school upstairs.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Upstairs? Why?”

She stared at me like I must be really dumb. “Because they’re Negro.”

I was eight years old at the time, but even I could see sending those two girls upstairs was wrong.  I knew about prejudice and the riots happening in other parts of the country. I just never expected to see it in my town.

Several years ago, the upstairs in the school had been condemned and considered unsafe for anyone. I had heard rumors that there were bats up there, too. If it was unsafe for us, how could anyone make two little girls use it as a classroom? Did they even have a teacher?

I never saw either of the girls after that day, not in the hallways or during recess or even after school. I asked about them everyday for a long time, but no one seemed to know if they moved away or what happened to them.

I’d like to think situations like that don’t happen in this country today, but I know I’d only be deceiving myself. Even so I still have hope for us and I pray the girls are still alive and well and see how things have changed. It only took forty-nine years! The sad part is we have only just begun to make real progress.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released, according to the Amazon site, on December 7, 2012. The book went to press November 29th. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. The publisher, Buddhapuss Ink is located in New Jersey and there was a delay thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie

Pack Leader

The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

 

 

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

When I started writing at a very young age, I did it for myself because I had something I wanted to say. I never thought about getting published or who might want to read my stories. I just knew I loved to write.

Looking back at that time, I didn’t have a fear of being laughed at or criticized at least not until someone said, “I thought you had a better imagination than that”. Those words were spoken by my older sister, who is nine years older than I am, after I foolishly let her read a short story I had written. I was fifteen.

I put that short story away and didn’t look at it again for many years, but those words echoed in my brain for a long time whenever I was writing and I’d feel that same squeezing pain in my heart and wonder if I could ever be good enough.

I continued to write back then though, but my readers consisted only of my close friends, who I knew would love my stories, because they usually had the leading roles.

Of course I finally grew up and would write sometimes, but with a husband, three growing daughters, a full time job as a short order cook and livestock and gardening, I didn’t have much time or energy for much writing. But as the saying goes, “Nothing ever stays the same”.

Our daughters grew up too and finally moved out of the house. I still work full time, but now I work in an office that allows me to use my free time for whatever I want. We no longer have livestock, but we do still garden. I just don’t freeze and “can” produce as much as I used to.

By the time 2008 rolled around, we had six grandkids and I began thinking about writing a story for the two oldest granddaughters. They both loved to read, but then while reading a storybook to two of my grandsons, I suddenly saw something in my grandkids I hadn’t seen in anyone in many years; a safe audience. I could count on them to like what I wrote and not criticize.

I pulled out my old stories. I hadn’t read any of them in years and now I could see how lame they were. As for the story I had my sister read, well it wasn’t the gem I had thought it was all those years ago. My reaction wasn’t even as nice as what my sister had said to me. I didn’t know why I felt that way. I just knew they sucked and I needed help.

I decided right then, I had to write a story all the grandkids would love, starring the feral mother of five new kittens we found in the woodpile a few weeks before. I already thought of a title, “Wild and Free”.

But first, I had to take a writing class and boy did it open my eyes. I had the answer to why my sister thought I had no imagination and why I knew all the stories I had written as a kid sucked.

I had made the same mistakes almost all new writers make. I used a lot of dreams and the protagonist’s memories to fill in back story I felt my readers needed to know. But in the story my sister read, I had made the biggest mistake of all, I had my protagonist wake up and realize the entire story had only been a nightmare.

At the time, I thought it was clever and original and maybe it was when the first few hundred writers used a dream to end their stories back when they first invented the alphabet, but even in 1965, an ending like that was pretty lame.

All the new knowledge about “how” to write led me on a new mission. I wanted to fix the mistakes I had made in that short story my sister read. I worked on it for over two years. The story grew from a short story, to a young adult paranormal/mystery novel. The story changed so much it doesn’t resemble the original at all. The title, “Nightmares” and the fact my protagonist has nightmares are the only things I didn’t change. In fact I can guarantee Emily the protagonist, will not wake up and find she’s only had a nightmare.

Muse It Up Publishing will release my book “Nightmares” in May 2013. I’ve started working on the sequel.

I look back now and realize, even though it hurt, my sister did me a huge favor by telling me what she really thought. It was something I needed to hear. It’s true she could have done it in a kinder way. I’m still grateful though because it turned out to be the worst and the best critique ever for me. It sparked the motivation to take those writing classes forty-six years later just so I could finally prove her wrong and write a great story for my grandkids.

 

 My grandkids benefited too. In the picture above, all six of them received the story “Wild and Free” for Christmas that year. It has pictures of the real animals the story is about and there are pictures of them in it too. They loved it or at least that’s what they said. Now I have two more grandkids. I guess it’s time for a new story for them.How about you, what was the best and/or worst thing someone has said about your writing?As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

Twitter is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

The Many Blogs and Facebook Pages I’ve Visited

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It’s definitely not Iowa!

The Many Blogs and Facebook Pages I’ve Visited

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time on social networks. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are places I used to be afraid to explore. I don’t know why or even what I thought could happen if I did. Steal my identity I suppose or make fun of what I had to say. But then someone encouraged me to try and I have met some very nice people.

The one thing I couldn’t quite understand about some of these sites is why so many don’t want to have their names on the site or if they do, I still had to spend a lot of time figuring out where it was. What are they hiding or trying to hide?

Many are promoting their books on their blogs, websites, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Well, okay, I don’t mind, I’ll be doing the same when I have a book to promote, but it’s still nice to know whom I’m talking too. Are you a real person or a clever machine? Without a name or a picture of a human face, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Of course, there are certain personal things I would never put on any of the sites. My home address is one and I would never give out any of my phone numbers. The closest I would come to saying where I live is in Iowa. I know that’s not exactly an exotic place to live, but I like it.

I am a writer. An author. I write short stories and books. Someday, I even hope to get paid for writing my stories. So that means I’ll need readers, people who know my name. If they like me as a person, they’ll be more willing to read what I write. If, as a writer, I stayed anonymous and no one had ever heard of me, how could I ever expect to have anyone searching for me or my stories? If I wanted to stay anonymous I’d use a pen name, but at least it would be a name people can relate too.

I started this blog to let people know what kind of person I am. I hope in doing so, they will like me (and I don’t mean only on my Facebook page “like”) and hopefully they’ll be willing to at least check out my books when (notice I said when, not if) they are published.

Something else I’ve noticed about many of the sites I’ve visited, is the branding of the book titles. Some of the stories haven’t even been published and that’s okay if I’m self-publishing. But what if I want to find a brick and mortar publisher? Many times a publisher will change the name from the original one the author gave it and then what?

I’d have to either refuse letting them change it and possibly lose a contract or I’d have to start all over with a new blog. If I had branded my name instead of the title and gave the domain my name or a variation of it, I wouldn’t have to worry. I could add as many books as I could write to that one blog and promote them right there.

I also started wondering if I did brand just my book and story titles, how would anyone searching on any of the search engines know they’ve found the author who wrote the book they wanted to read.

Titles are not protected. Domain names are. There could be a thousand books with the same title. My name could be the difference between the reader giving up and settling for someone else’s book or blog with the same name or finding me.

Another problem I could see with branding only the book title is; how many books am I going to write. What if I write 20 books or more, am I going to brand each book separate and have a blog or author page for each one. The truth is, I couldn’t keep up with that many promotions. I’d go crazy trying. I do have a life I want to keep along with my writing.

And what if I’m lucky enough to find a traditional publisher to do the marketing for me, all I’d have to do is sit back and rake in the money. Yeah! Right! The traditional publisher is no longer so traditional. Many of them expect the author to have a presence on the social media sites, just as the not so traditional publishers do and self-publishing is an option now too. It’s becoming more and more accepted, but who’s going to take a chance and buy my book if no one has ever heard of me and the only image of me is of an avatar? They probably won’t because they will go to the person they feel they know and have a connection with.

That’s why politicians spend so much time and money on letting the people meet and greet them. If the potential voters feel they know and like the candidate, they are more likely to vote for them.

Here’s someone else’s opinion on this subject. Explore Kristen Lamb’s blog and read what she says about branding. She’s a best selling author. She’s also very honest about how she first started out and what her expectations were. She’s funny, smart, a great teacher on writing and she says she learned the hard way and felt very alone and that’s why she wrote these two best selling books. Her website: http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com

Her books: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media

Are You There Blog? It’s Me Writer

As always, I appreciate your opinions or questions. Please, leave a comment. If you leave your blog or website address or where you can be found on Facebook or Twitter I will follow you, leave a comment, like, or Tweet in return and do my best to get to know you.

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

I was recently chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at:

(13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update you then.

My first adult short story, “Saving Katie” has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story “Pack Leader” can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

In May 2012, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between 4-10, it might be worth it.