Monday, March 25, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

Brown Eggs (a short ghost story)



I awoke to the aches and pains of a cold as I made my way to the bathroom. The cat lay in front of the wood stove my husband had stoked before he left, and in the darkness I almost stepped on her. She purred a ‘good morning’ to me and I purred back. It was a dark and snowy morning, and the wind whipped around the old farmhouse like a cloak and dagger. Despite the many layers of plastic on the windows, we never could completely get rid of the drafts.

The clock on the wall said 8:30. It was one of those bird-call clocks, the kind that chirped on the hour. I hadn't heard it go off yet, and was glad because it meant I was able to sleep in. The past few weeks had been hard on me, what with my daughter and the grand kids all having the flu, and I being the main caregiver. It was time for Mama to get some rest.

I washed my hands in the bathroom sink with the warmest water I could stand. The body aches responded, and I longed to lie in a tub of hot water to ease my suffering. As I filled the tub, I poured in some lavender and eucalyptus oils. The steam smelled heavenly and instantly cleared my stuffy nose. 

I slipped into the hot, steamy water up to my chin, took a deep breath and allowed my body to completely relax; finally, a reprieve. I lay there for a long time, thoroughly enjoying this moment. It had been weeks since I took any time for myself, much less had any time alone with my husband. He whispered to me just last night that he missed me right before we both drifted off to sleep. I knew what he meant. I lay there smiling, thinking of the warmth and strength of his arms, when suddenly I heard the front door; my husband had forgotten something? I couldn’t muster the strength to holler out to him, and figured he would stop in when he was finished doing whatever it was he was doing. I waited. After about ten minutes, I began to worry that the front door had blew open with the howling north winds. Either that, or an intruder was in the house. 

I forced myself out of the tub, donning my terry cloth bath robe. I’d had that robe forever, my husband having bought it for me back in 1998 at a ski resort in New Hampshire. It was during our after-Thanksgiving-vacation when we decided to go north to seek out snow, only to find it to be the warmest November on record there! We eventually did find snow up in the mountains, specifically near the Old Man on the Mountain range. I was sad to hear that that mountain face had collapsed a few years ago, and the Old Man was gone now. 

Walking into the living room, I saw the front door closed tightly. No husband. No nobody. The front door had jingle bells on it, the kind that horses wore on their harnesses and people hang at Christmastime. I hung them up the year I bought them and never took them down after reading an article about Feng Shui; bells on the door was supposed to clear negative energy and stimulate positive energy. Besides that, I just liked the way it sounded when the door opened and closed, and I KNEW I heard those bells while I lay in the tub. I looked around the room and noticed the lamp was on. Had I turned that on? No, I distinctly remember how dark the room was when I came through on my way to the bathroom. 

I padded down the hallway and peered into the bedroom; dark and chilly. I made my way to the kitchen and it was empty, as well. The strong smell of coffee that my husband had poured into his thermos still hung in the air. 

I was stumped. No one was here. I plodded back towards the bedroom. Might as well get dressed, I thought. As I passed the wood stove, I noticed the pan of water we always kept on top was empty, so I refilled it, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water. My grandmother had always kept a pan of water on her stove, and I always had one on mine, too. It helped keep some humidity in the house, and with this cold hanging on weather wise as well as health-wise, I could use all the help I could get. It also reminded me of Mamaw. The wood stove was the only heat source in the house, so I added another log to the fire and shut the door with a clang. I rose and turned towards the hallway, and that’s when I saw someone standing there... 

“Do you need eggs?” 

The room grew deathly cold. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t answer. The shock of the apparition had me frozen to the spot. Now, I love watching those ghost shows on T.V., and I’ve been privy to Indian ceremonies where I have seen things that those ghost hunters chase with veracity, but I have NEVER seen a ghost in broad daylight hours, much less had one speak to me.

I instantly remembered a story my friend Bev told me one time after she’d spent the night. She awoke about four in the morning after hearing someone knock on the door. She’d said she heard me get up and answer the door to a woman asking if I needed eggs. It was a dark, cold and windy night. A wind warning had been issued, and it howled til we thought the whole house was coming down. Anyway, I invited the woman in, but she said she couldn’t stay, that there were neighbors waiting for her eggs. I asked if she were sure, she replied, “Yes, but thank you,” and then she left. We concluded then that the woman Bev had dreamt about was the original owner of this house, Mrs. Shelton. She and her husband Earl had built the place in 1904, and were the only people who had ever lived here, well, besides us, of course. 

I knew I was looking at the ghost of Mrs. Shelton, dressed in an old-lady housecoat, the kind patterned with tiny flowers and ivy tendrils, a light blue sweater, and a scarf on her head, tied under her chin. She was short and chubby, with a wrinkled, grandmotherly face, and she held a basket with a blue and white checkered cloth thrown over it. She was transparent white, the type of apparition I had seen many times before, but the details of her dress and other features were clear. The spirits I saw were usually shadows or this white transparent color, but none had ever actually spoken to me. 

Intrigued, I said, “Why yes, I do need eggs. Do you have some for sale?” 

She smiled, “Yes, child, right here. The biggest and best brown eggs you’ve ever seen! But they’re not for sale, I don’t sell my eggs.” She smiled. “I’ll just sit the basket down here.” She placed the basket on the coffee table, and floated toward the front door. “Thank you and your husband so much for taking care of this place. Earl and I just love visiting and seeing all the improvements.” With that, she disappeared through the front door. Yes, you read that right, THROUGH the front door. I stood there in shock, not able to move. The house was silent, with only the crackling of the fire in the wood stove and the incessant howl of the wind outside. 

Suddenly, I was choking and spitting, half drowned in the tub. I sat up and shivered; I had fallen asleep. Mrs. Shelton was only a dream. As the fog began to lift in my mind, I realized I had been in the bathtub for a long while. Disappointed, I pulled the plug and stepped from the now-cold water, dragged on the terrycloth robe and opened the bathroom door. 

I mumbled to myself how real the dream felt, as I walked to warm my bones by the wood stove. There, on the coffee table sat a basket with a blue and white checkered cloth draped over it. As I stood there staring at it, I knew it contained the biggest and best brown eggs I had ever seen.  
Monday, March 18, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

A Few Writing Guidelines


I am way behind on the books I should have already completed, but this past year has been a whirlwind that did not leave much time to write. I am home now, and have been for weeks, but still the words do not come.


While going through my Kindle and all the ebooks I have downloaded, I am revisiting a few that I hope will help me with my writing.

I have collected a good amount of writing books, and one in particular seems to have a good handle on the process of novel writing.

I was thrilled to read the following entries from the book "The 90 day Novel" by Alan Watt. Hope it helps you, too. 

  •  There are no rules. 
  • We cannot make a mistake. 
  • The story lives fully and completely within us.  
  • We are uniquely qualified to tell our story. 
  • This is a process of learning to trust our inner voice. It's not about being a good student. 
  • Our idea of the story is not the whole story. It's not that our ideas are wrong, but rather that through inquiry, a more fully realized story emerges. 
  • The desire to write is connected to the desire to evolve. Our fears are a way into our story.
  •  What our hero wants is connected to an idea of what it will give him. Example: "When I win the marathon I will gain respect." 
  • Story is about transformation. 
  • As writers, our job is to track the beats in a compelling and believable way that leads to a transformation. 
  • There is a dilemma for our hero at the heart of our story. This is where the tension lies. 
  • Character suggests plot. 
  • The thrill of creation must be its own reward. 
  • This process is like a developing Polaroid photo. Over time, through inquiry, our story comes into focus.

    Watt, Alan (2010-10-07). The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the story within (p. 28). The 90-Day Novel Press. Kindle Edition.


Check out his ebook and let me know how your writing is progressing, or techniques you use when you write!

Til next time,

LP


Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

Oh No, You Don't Want to Edit Yourself!

In the grand scheme of writing, editing is THE MOST important aspect; having an editor is by far your best asset. Even if what you write sucks, a good editor will tell you that, and hopefully she will also guide you along the way to a fabulous writing career, or at least make your book better.

Above all, DO NOT edit yourself, or even get a trusted friend or family member to do it for you. If you want to be taken seriously, take yourself seriously first.

Read on for more tips:

http://www.indieauthornews.com/2012/08/Editing-Do-Not-Do-It-Yourself.html
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

Three Self- Published Author Mistakes

From my favorite book coach, Judy Cullins, come these tips that every self-published author MUST read!

While we can learn from our mistakes, we don’t have to. In life, we don’t know what we don’t know, and most authors do not know the book business in order to make their books attract a strong fan club and sell well. If an author just writes without a strategy, without professional help at the beginning instead of an edit at the very end, she’ll miss out on getting fan help and the sales she really expects.
It’s such a disappointment to go to all that work and then not make more than 150 sales.

Take this Reality Check and Avoid These 3 Mistakes

Mistake 1. You don’t know your book’s “9 hot selling points.”

Before you write your book, your blog, your website, your higher cost home study courses, and your trainings.
Pre-marketing strategies (9 Hot-Selling Points) make your book financially successful the minute you publish. This part of your book almost guarantees your book sales. Authors need to know them and write them before they write the book.

They include your…

  • book title
  • book thesis
  • preferred audience
  • testimonials
  • and 5-10 benefits of your book or other products or services
For every book and email promotion to your subscribers and fans, you need to include 5-7 benefit statements. Not just two words, like “save money, “, but start with a command verb such as “discover,” “see,” or “feel.” Engage your readers and give them enough information that they’ll want to buy your book. Give them reasons to buy – much more powerful than features such – tips, stories, # of pages, and quotes.

Mistake 2. You don’t know your primary audience before your write your book.

Most book coaching clients come with a laundry list of all their interests and projects. My job is to get them to let go on the non money makers and focus on what will bring them the fans and sales they deserve. Even when a client swears he is committed, you’d be surprised at the stories I hear so they won’t have to move forward, finish, and make money. With gentle persuasions, they see the “light” and trust that a 25-year book coach knows. What makes a great book and what strategies one needs to market it and create themselves as a leader in their field – even with big competition.
One recent client said in meeting one, “But I have a lot of different audiences, not just one!”
Yes, and you need to focus on one at a time, the best primary audience, and after you establish sales with this one, you create marketing for the other groups. Most authors don’t realize that it’s the kiss of death when you write a general book aimed at several audiences. They won’t appreciate it because they don’t think you really care about them individually. That was tough even with the Chicken Soup series. Their specific titles sold better than the original one over the years.
My advice, “Write a Series of Short Books aimed at one audience per book.”
The short ebook is the answer! You can now write an ebook for each audience and sell a lot more books this way too. Write a series of them and blog about each one – giving useful information in both the book and the blog. The ebook and the blog are a marriage made in heaven. Each markets the other.

Mistake 3. You didn’t do a reality check on your book before you wrote it.

You have an idea you love, you start writing what you know, maybe an outline.
Yes, have fun writing, yet…
Think what do my readers want? Do they have concerns, challenges, or problems about a topic? Yes, like me, you know too much about your topic and your writing shows it. You tell; you lecture; you report. Your audience just wants answers and solutions to their problems!
If you don’t consider your audience’s wants, your chapters will be dull, ordinary, and not engage them. The consequence of this is that they won’t finish your chapters. If they don’t finish your chapters, they won’t become your 24/7 fans and sales team. Remember, you also want strong testimonials and reviews for your book. Word of mouth still accounts for a lot for a book’s success.


Judy's column can be found here: JUDY CULLINS
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

Is Loving Yourself the Real Answer to Happiness?

We are all on the never-ending quest for acceptance...that love that threatens to consume us when a love affair ends...or the unrequited love that makes a stalker out of an ordinary person. Oh! To have that love returned! To be filled with it and consumed by it....to have that special someone look into your eyes deeply, passionately...to look at us as though they could eat us for lunch!

Every one of us wants that. Right?

We are all on that quest....and when we think we've found it, we revel in it, and wallow ourselves in that newness of it...that all-consuming passion that channels through the two of you until it threatens to overtake your very breath. Do you want that? Love, devotion, feeling, passion, completeness...do we really want that?

Or do we want someone to love us like we wish we could? Are you capable of unconditional love? Are the things you want out of your relationship simple? Do you want too much? Are you high maintenance or do you just require the simple things?  These are certainly questions worth asking yourself, don't you think?

I am a simple person myself; just love me and show me that you do. I think I speak for most women when I say that a little goes a long way. Show up at the door after a long day at work and have a single flower that you picked yourself, just for me. One you picked from the side of the road, for all I care. Take me in your arms and kiss me hello with passion, like you missed me, then watch me drop to my knees to say thank you in ways you only dreamed about. It really is that simple. Am I wrong here? Ladies, feel free to chime in anytime.

Are you willing to give up everything for that lover who is the end all/be all for you? Will you actively look for that passion if it lacks in your relationship? Are you still longing for that feeling that has gone away or was never there to start with?

All in all, if we chose to live our lives with someone forever, and if the love is dying, we must do all we can to save it. My mother wrote me a note one time that I still have to this day. She told me "your marriage is like a diamond...keep it shined and never let it rust...." That's what I do. And if I have to say the same things to him over and over again to remind him of what I need, so be it. Those who love our relationship take heed: It takes WORK to have what we have. If you have it, polish it, never let it rust. After all, diamonds are a girl's best friend <3

Lynny Prince writes literary fiction and is a published author and poet. 
Write to her here: lynnyprince@gmail.com 
Amazon link: Amazon Author Page