Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Story About A Story

You might not be aware that Linda S. Browning won first place in the Mystery Times Ten 2013 short story competition  Why do I mention this? Well, I'm Linda S. Browning. I wrote a short story entitled No Wake about two widows who let their curiosity run rampant and windup embroiled in a murder mystery. The characters, Leslie and Belinda, and their antics are sort of like “Murder She Wrote” meets “Laverne and Shirley.”

I'm immensely proud to have my work published by Buddhapuss Ink, as the lead-in story in their compilation: Mystery Times Ten 2013. Heck, I'm ecstatic to have my work published period. Put it on the back of a cereal box - I'm happy! So how did I wind up writing that short story?  Well, that's another short story . . .

When I was 15 (a long time go) I wrote a short story that was sappy and filled to the brim with torchy relationships. I had never experienced a torchy relationship so I made them up. My best friend at the time, Lynne--a tall, gentle, kind, and feminine girl to my short, herky-jerky, manic self--listened to all my sappy short stories and thought every one of them was brilliant.

So, at the age of 15, I mailed my sappy story to a teen magazine, confident that I would soon be published and on my way to fame and fortune. I waited for what seemed like forever for their response to arrive. When it finally did, I tore it open in feverish excitement. It was a letter of rejection. The rejection letter itself wasn't nearly as devastating as the salutation: “Dear Leslie”.  

They hadn’t even bothered to get my name right. I was as devastated as only an emotional, dramatic 15-year-old girl in the late 1960’s could be. (I told you it was a long time ago!)

Obviously life went on. I grew up, married, and worked in office management positions, transitioning to social work after earning my college degree. I played around with writing from time to time, but never again pursued publication. That “Dear Leslie” letter haunted me.

Thanks to my husband’s success, I was able to retire before the age of 60. That's when I started to hound him for my own laptop. I had a novel in my head and it needed to get out. After writing the novel I started fooling around with short stories and discovered the world of short story competitions courtesy of a string of Google searches. One of the first stories I wrote and entered into competition was No Wake. The heroine’s name is Leslie. Leslie is short and herky-jerky manic. Her best friend, Belinda, is tall, gentle, kind, and feminine. You may have noticed the similarities between Linda and Lynne and Leslie and Belinda; they're completely intentional I assure you. 

That's when it happened. I got an email from Buddhapuss Ink's publisher, MaryChris Bradley: “Linda, You took First Place – Congrats!” Not only had I won first place, but I was to be published! She even got my name right! 
The best part is that Lynne is still my best friend in the whole world. We can go years between get togethers, yet when we do, we pick up right where we left off. It doesn’t matter whether we are 15 or 50, or 61 (well, I am. Truth is Lynne isn’t quite 61 yet.) I had to put that in here because she will undoubtedly be reading this and wouldn't want me to make her older than she is. Our ages don't matter, we turn right back into those two best friends who always had a ball together. Girls will be girls . . . fortunately, forever.

Are there more published stories in my future? I certainly hope so. But if not, well, at least my dream of publication has come true. What's the moral of this story you ask? Never let your dream, or your friendships, fade. It may take longer than you thought it would for your dreams to come true, but when they do, they are all the sweeter when you can share them with a friend who "knew you when."

Now, I think I'm going to create my own BLOG, and call it “DEAR LESLIE.”  It seems fitting.
 © 2014 Linda S. Browning

Linda Browning found her love of creative writing again after requesting a laptop for Christmas in 2011. She'd dallied in various crafty endeavors like quilting and painting, but it was her thirst for storytelling that really stuck. In her own words, "Life is good and at 62 years of age…I’m finally getting going." Her short story, No Wake, was a winning entry in Buddhapuss Ink's 2013 Mystery Times Ten collection. You can follow Linda at her blog, Dear Leslie, here. She is also on Twitter

And yes gentle reader, and Lynne, Linda's crazy senior citizen sleuths will soon be starring in their own series of cozy mysteries. Watch for the first one, Dare Devil, in 2015 from Buddhapuss Ink! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Love, Lust, and Family Secrets


June 23, 2014

Love, Lust, and Family Secrets
Buddhapuss Ink LLC signs Linda K. Sienkiewicz

Is it ever too late to find your path in life—to leave your past and the secrets that haunt you behind? Can a first love, once lost, then found again, become true and lasting? These are the questions at the heart of Linda Sienkiewicz's In The Context of Love

Angelica Schirrick is all grown up and wondering how her life could have gotten so far off track. Recently divorced from her felon husband, their two children in tow, Angelica begins a journey of self-discovery that leads her back home to Ohio.

Jacquelyn Mitchard, best-selling author of Deep End of the Ocean, says: “With humor and tenderness, but without blinking, Linda K. Sienkiewicz turns her eye on the predator-prey savannah of the young and still somehow hopeful.”A Midwesterner herself, Sienkiewicz easily transports the reader to the land of kielbasa and pierogies, the Great Lakes, ever-changing weather, and its residents who like to believe their emotions are always under control.

Buddhapuss Ink is a press that values and nurtures writers through personal attention and support, and that effort translates into books that readers want to read." Said Sienkiewicz. "I can't tell you how proud I am to be one of their authors.

“Linda's writing is arresting. She grabs you on page one and pulls you through the story with speed, never once losing her grip on your attention." said MaryChris Bradley, Publisher at Buddhapuss Ink. "Her work is a worthy addition to our rapidly growing list and we're delighted to have her with us.”

Sienkiewicz is a writer and artist who is always searching for a good story. Her poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in over fifty literary journals in print and online, and among her awards are a poetry chapbook and Pushcart Prize Nomination. She has an MFA in Fiction from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine.

BUDDHAPUSS INK LLC is based in Edison, NJ. Founded in 2009, it is led by Publisher MaryChris Bradley, a thirty-year veteran in the book industry. “Our company mission is to put readers first. We are committed to finding and growing new authors at a time when the major houses have turned their backs on writers without an already well-established track record or movie credits to their name.”
Bradley can be contacted at - Website - Company blog
@Buddhapuss on twitter
Buddhapuss Ink on Facebook

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

7 Quick Tips to Get Your Novel Started

The New Year started out so brightly. You resolved to get that novel written this year! You were going to write EVERY day. Oh, and you were going to finally lose those last ten pounds, too . . .  Now it's JUNE, and you've gotten exactly ten words on the page, and somehow managed to gain three pounds!
  Well, I can't help you with the weight thing---I'm fighting my own valiant Battle of the Pudge. But if you still want to get that novel written, maybe I can help.
  Can you see the story in your head, but find it impossible to get it on paper?
  Do you begin writing excitedly, then burnout almost immediately?
  The following suggestions should help:

1.Outline, Outline, Outline
Some people say they can just start writing and it all flows smoothly and evenly to become the perfect piece. If you can write your novel this way, great! You can probably stop reading this article now, and we may have a contract for you!
  The rest of the world needs to put their ideas into some kind of order and that’s where an outline comes into the picture. Keep it simple, it shouldn't include every detail, just the framework. You will add and modify as you go along.

2. Point-of-View
Decide what point of view you are going to use in a scene and stick with it. Please, don't jump back and forth, it's too confusing to your reader. Use the "omniscient" viewpoint sparingly and have a limited number of POV characters. Never tell the POV of an insignificant character.

3. Dialogue
Read the conversations aloud. Better yet, have someone else read them aloud for you. Now ask yourself: Do they sound natural? Do the conversations flow? Do people really talk like that?

4. Dramatic Concept
Imagine you are writing the blurb for your novel. Can you sum it all up in just a few sentences? If not, you need a stronger dramatic concept.

5. Tension & Escalation
A good story needs conflict but it is equally as important that your conflict escalate. It should gradually build up to a critical level.

6. Show me, don't tell me
If a character is angry, don't just tell me she is mad. Put her in a situation that will make her mad and SHOW ME how she reacts.

7. It's all about the presentation!
This is is sometimes the most important tip of all. No matter how great your spellcheck or grammar check program is, or how many times you proofread your manuscript yourself, you will likely miss some spelling, grammatical, or punctuation mistakes.
   Once you've written, edited, revised, re-written and  polished your story like a jewel, you should have someone (READ:  a professional editor) proofread your work. If you don't know an editor personally, you can hire someone. It is well worth the price. Nothing will get your manuscript tossed into the reject pile faster, than a lot of errors.

Now, good luck, and as I tell our authors at Buddhapuss Ink, "Get to work! Butt in chair. WRITE!"

©2013 MaryChris Bradley

Originally Posted 20th January 2013 on AmWriting 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding Time to Write

Our guest post today is by Mystery Times contributor, Addie J. King, who answers the question: 

Where Do I Find the Time to Write?

It always amazes me when people ask this question; because I’m absurdly busy, and I still write. 

I’m a full time lawyer for a government agency. I write sentencing reports for a judge on the side. I write books and short stories (and have book contracts and deadlines). I do some (limited) private practice. I’m a wife. I’m a stepmom. 

I’m tired.

But I make time to write. How do I do that?

1.)   I have an incredibly awesome, supportive husband.

I met my husband two weeks after signing the publishing contract for my first novel. He’s always known me as an author. I guess he didn’t really have much choice in that (grin).

He’s helped me set up for book events and conferences. He’s cooked dinner and run the dishwasher while I stare at the computer screen. Of course, I try to do my fair share when I’m not facing a deadline of some kind. He has helped out with all kinds of things, not just around the house, but lets me bounce ideas off him, listens as I read passages to him, and he lets me roll when I get the little glint in my eye that signals that I’ve gotten an IDEA, and I’m suddenly distracted from whatever it was we were talking about. He’s used to it by now.

2.)   I’m someone who multitasks all the time, but I make time to squeeze in the writing because it’s important to me.

I listen to audiobooks and writing podcasts in the car or while I’m working in the garden or the flowerbeds or crocheting. I take a notebook with me everywhere to make notes of ideas, even at soccer games. I'm one of those people who has to have noise or distraction going on around me to completely concentrate; if I’ve got dead silence, I don’t know what to do with it. 

Of course, this might not work for you. You have to figure out whether you can do this, or not. It’s okay, you’ve got to find your own groove.
I’ve written a grand total of six novels, three of which are published. I’ve got three short stories published, as well as essays and blog posts, and other projects in various stages of completion. I know what I need to do to get those things written, because I’ve figured out what works for me. You have to figure out what works for you. Get up early, stay up late, use your lunch hour, use the twenty minutes you have before the kids get off the bus. If that doesn’t work, try something different. 

3.)   If you’re just starting out; write every day, set goals, and reward yourself for meeting them.

I did start out writing every single day. I started with NaNoWriMo. ( It gave me a structure and a schedule. I went to write-ins, met people with whom I formed a writing group, and used the writer’s group meetings as a way to keep setting goals. Having a writing group with a schedule meant that I could set myself a goal of 5,000 words a week. Those little goals earned something small, like a cookie or a glass of wine. If I hit a goal of 30,000 in a month, then I’d reward myself with an evening at another author’s book signing/reading. An awesome reward because other than the cost of a book, it’s free, and you get to hear an author talk, and, hey, a new book). 

These days, I reward myself with dinner out with my husband when I finish a book.

If writing’s important, no matter what you have going on in your life, you have to make room for it. If you don’t make room for it, it’s not important. Start by giving yourself permission to work on it for twenty minutes after dinner, with a notebook and a piece of paper. No Facebook, no Twitter, no TV, no movies, maybe some music in the background, and that’s it. See if you still love it after wrestling with a blank page for that long. You don’t have to actually be drafting prose; you could be outlining, or brainstorming ideas. You could be working on a character. Then do it again tomorrow, and add to what you did the day before. Give it a week, and see what you think, and then make changes to find out what works for you.

Addie J. King is an attorney by day and author by nights, evenings, weekends, and whenever else she can find a spare moment. Her short story “Poltergeist on Aisle Fourteen” was published in Mystery Times Ten 2011 by Buddhapuss Ink, and an essay entitled, “Building Believable Legal Systems in Science Fiction and Fantasy” was published in Eighth Day Genesis; A Worldbuilding Codex for Writers and Creatives by Alliteration Ink. Her novels, The Grimm Legacy, The Andersen Ancestry, and The Wonderland Woes are available now from Musa Publishing. Her website is