About Marcha's Two-Cents Worth

I'm a science fiction author of the Star Trails Tetralogy, retired after two decades working at NASA, defected from my physics training to become a professional astrologer, and various other acts of rebellion.

A Heartwarming Texas Love Story with a Bonus: It’s True!

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There is only one thing better than a good love story and that’s a love story that’s true, which is the case with this endearing tale. Clearly, the title alone is a spoiler alert, and while it is definitely a tear-jerker at the end, what leads up to it is an inspiring, heart-warming chronicle of the love and devotion between two very special people.

If you’re a music fan, more specifically a country music fan, you’ll enjoy it even more as it recounts the journey of someone who’d been a star in the past making a comeback and bringing his wife and daughters along for the ride, their talents developing and blossoming as well.

The story is pure Texas, which I particularly enjoyed because I live there as well. So much of the culture of the Lone Star State is captured, including parties were anyone who shows up is welcome as well as the vast distances that often lie between where a person lives and the services they need.  A fifty mile drive is often required, which in smaller, more condensed states or many metropolitan areas, would be incomprehensible.  For example, from one end of Houston to the other is also fifty miles and that is how far I live from a full-size shopping center with the usual big stores, with it even farther to an actual mall. A fifty mile drive is almost what you could call “business as usual” in this state.

I loved this heartwarming story. It shows that there are some couples in the real world who truly do love each other, come what may. Unfortunately, it seems that often such pairs must endure many heart-wrenching hardships. Life is truly filled with opposition, but sharing the burden with someone you truly love only makes the bond stronger. The photos bring the story even more to life, even though the names in the book are different from their real-life counterparts, the reason for which the author explains.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who needs a reminder that true love does happen and is something to celebrate. Its rarity makes it all the more precious. Note, also, that this is only part of their story. Be sure to check out the story’s prequels, perhaps in order, though this is a standalone book that doesn’t require that. Any stories or books by this talented author are outstanding.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

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New Release from Annie Douglass Lima!

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Thanks for stopping by! Take a look at this brand-new fantasy adventure story with a hint of romance by author Annie Douglass Lima.

You can download a copy of the ebook for free between July 9th and 11th!

Book Description:

Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.

Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.

Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.

But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?

Click here to download your copy of King of Malorn on Amazon now! 

Click here to see King of Malorn on Goodreads.

Annals of AlasiaSeries Information:

King of Malorn is book 5 in the Annals of Alasia. But don’t worry if you haven’t read the others; it will still make sense on its own.

Each of the first four books can stand on its own as well. They each deal with events surrounding the same major political incident: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn.

Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life.

In the Enemy’s Service features a girl as the protagonist and tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded.

Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion.

The Nameless Soldier shows how a young Alasian soldier lives through the Invasion but then has to survive and make a name for himself in enemy-occupied Alasia.
In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the timeframes and settings overlap. 

I also have a short ebook of “interviews” that I conducted with the characters in the other three books. Annals of Alasia: The Collected Interviews is not available on Amazon, but I send a free copy to anyone who signs up for my mailing list (to receive updates when I release new books or occasionally offer them for free).

Annie Douglass LimaAuthor Biography:

Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and Bible verse coloring and activity books. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Author Contact Info:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/letters-from-annie-douglass-lima-6275229

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annie-douglass-lima

 

 

Today’s Writing Tip

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There are various pros, cons, and opinions with regard to how many characters to include in your story. I’m not going to go into that argument here, especially since I’m probably unqualified to do so in a fair and unbiased manner. By stories tend to be highly populated, though they will all serve a purpose somewhere along the plot line.

This tip is about how to manage a huge cast of characters, assuming they’re justified being there in the first place. Major characters who appear regularly throughout the story are well-established enough that reminding your reader who they are will be annoying. However, they may need a reminder about the minor ones from time to time so they can keep them straight. Placing them in a scene that fits their role sometimes will suffice. Otherwise a word of two about who they are (such as “police captain, doctor, or grocery clerk so-and-so, blah blah blah”) is helpful.

Having a dramatis personae is also highly recommended, though they are more difficult to refer back to in an ebook..

Today’s Writing Tip

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This tip is an offshoot of yesterday’s, which related to maintaining a strong sense of space and time. Flashbacks are often important to your story. They provide background, either to events or  the character’s experience base as it relates to the plot. Entering and exiting a flashback properly is important, again so you don’t lose your reader.

Thus, if you end a chapter or section with a flashback, be sure to take the reader back to the present so they’re not lost when the story returns to its normal time frame. This can be done at the flashback’s conclusion or at the beginning of the next section, whichever works better. It goes without saying you should do this clearly if it’s mid-section or mid-chapter as well.

Today’s Writing Tip

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This is another tip that makes sure you keep your reader engaged and thus avoid any confusion that throws them out of the story. When you start a new chapter or section, if a significant amount of time has passed, be sure to tell the reader so s/he doesn’t think something was missed or lost.

A sense of time and place is important to a story. It’s one of the things that grounds your reader. If this is unclear and they feel lost, you may lose them entirely. If they have to go back and reread something, or conversely, keep reading while scratching their head until it’s more clear, you have failed in your execution.  Frustration or not feeling comfortably entrenched in a story does not contribute to a positive reading experience.

As an author, such things may be perfectly clear to you, but make sure your transitions are such you don’t leave your reader behind, eating your dust.

Today’s Writing Tip

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As you’ve probably noticed if you’re a regular reader of these short blogs, poor formatting is one of my pet peeves. This is one I consider a fairly minor faux pas, but shows a bit of savvy when employed. You may have never noticed; I didn’t until I had to format my first book. Like most formatting conventions, it’s noted in reliable sources, but can be easily overlooked or missed.

In traditional fiction publishing, the first paragraph in a chapter or section is not indented, but flush with the margin. What’s the point? There are two main ones. First, it helps set the stage, even subconsciously, that what follows is not a direct continuation of the previous scene, but something new. Second, if only spaces are used to show section breaks, this may be the only clue that a new section has begun. This is particularly true for ebooks, where extra spaces are often lost.

This is not a “big deal” as some formatting issues goes. However, it is one more way to show consideration to your reader by including subtle clues to what’s going on with your story.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Be familiar with the archetypal “Hero’s Journey”. It resonates with humanity and has been a literary vehicle for millennia. I have to admit that what follows is not my original material, it is something I had on file with no attribution. If I knew who the originator was I would gladly give credit, but I’m afraid I don’t know. However, since the information is so valuable, I’m passing it along. If anyone knows where it came from, feel free to enlighten us all in the comments.

The Hero’s Journey describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.

Its stages are:

  1. THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
  2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change.
  3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly. Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.
  4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.
  5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.
  6. TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.
  7. APPROACH. The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.
  8. THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life.
  9. THE REWARD. The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death. There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.
  10. THE ROAD BACK. About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.
  11. THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level. By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.
  12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Remember your main character needs to have a fatal flaw. This is what allows your reader to relate to them. It’s also what makes them seem real. Flaws don’t make a person weak, only human.

Often when we think of flaws, we think of some disposition to do evil or propensity to fall prey to some horrible temptation. While this can definitely work, it’s not always necessary. A fatal flaw’s primary function is to stand between your character and what he wants.

Any number of character traits can fill the bill. It could be something as simple as being too honest, outspoken, having too much pride, lack of confidence, too impulsive, hot temper, doesn’t know when to quit, guilt over past mistakes, too idealistic, stubborn, easily distracted, too emotional, perfectionist, indecisive, spiteful, knows everything, control freak, unrealistic, etc.

If you don’t know, you need to figure it out. What do they have to overcome to grow as a person so they can get what they want?

Today’s Writing Tip

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Other than a chosen few authors, the people making the most money are those that provide promotion services and author classes. I would bet dollars to donuts that most authors put out more money than they take in, no matter how diligently they work at their craft. Some of these are well-worth it, others, not so much.

Thus, it’s essential to choose them wisely to make sure you get your money’s worth. Here are a few ways to help you decide.

  1. Does the service have a favorable reputation,  i.e. good reviews or recommendation from a fellow author?
  2. How many books will you have to sell as a result to cover the service’s cost?
  3. If it’s a class, would it be less expensive to hire someone to do that for you versus learning to do it yourself? (One way to counter this expense is to perform that service yourself once you’ve mastered it, such as making promotional videos.)
  4. If it’s a skill, could you teach yourself via online blogs or other information available for free?
  5. Is the service or class relevant to your particular genre? Will it help you reach your target audience?

Those selling these services tend to be masters of promotion themselves. They will make you believe that writing a best seller is within reach if you take their class or employ their services. Hope springs eternal, but don’t be a fool.

Today’s Writing Tip

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No matter how you feel about it, social media presence is important for readers and fans to connect. This is one thing that has made being an independent author possible beside ebooks and print on demand publishers. Having a lot of followers helps find your audience, though quality is important. Whatever you do, don’t waste your money buying followers. First of all, in most cases the people aren’t real and second of all, even if they are real, there’s a good chance they are not your audience.

One way to connect with those who will like your work is to post engaging content to draw them in. Selling yourself as an interesting person is another way to draw them in. Some authors seem to think that if they send out a daily email or dozens of daily tweets promoting their books that they’ll eventually connect. This could not be farther from the truth. Spamming doesn’t work any better for authors than anyone else out there.

Personal connections are best. The very best by far is face to face, such as at book signings or local clubs where you volunteer to speak. These are not always possible, however, if you live in a remote area or are too much of an introvert to get out there and promote yourself.

That would be me….