Bar Fly Away

Women’s Fiction/Romance

By Eileen Slovak

Nadia was no bar fly, but her roommate Tina fit the profile.

Friday nights at Joe’s Tiki bar in Miami, Tina would routinely perch on the edge of a bar stool, pitching forward, revealing her substantial cleavage, while flipping her false blonde locks at some unsuspecting fool. The dim torchlight masked the pockmarked skin and smoke-stained smile that would cause men to recoil in daylight. Nevertheless, some always sought her sort of promiscuity.

In front of the bathroom mirror in the apartment she shared with Tina, Nadia absently brushed her resplendent black hair. “I’m just not up for the bar scene tonight, T. I think I’ll stay in.”

“For cripes sake Nod, you’ll never get a boyfriend hiding in the apartment.”

I wouldn’t call your one-night playthings boyfriends, Nadia thought.“I’m tired, she said, “and I’m just not…like you, T.”

Nadia dreaded the sounds of Tina’s nightly entertainment reverberating through the thin walls.  As a mid-year transfer to The University of Miami, limited housing options had led to her current residence, but as the new school year approached, she had already begun apartment hunting.

“I know,” said Tina, with her hands on her hips, “I get it. You’re not outgoing.  But I can show you how to get noticed.”

What if I don’t want that kind of attention? Nadia thought looking her roommate up and down. Tina’s reptile-print, tube dress, reminded Nadia of a nature program where an anaconda swallowed a Cayman whole.

“Come on, Nod,” Tina pleaded. “You know I hate going out alone.”

“Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt,” Nadia said applying pale pink lip-gloss to her full lips. Brushing mascara on her generous lashes, she accented her chocolate-brown eyes. She dusted her cheeks with blush, although her flawless, olive skin required nothing.  After adjusting the straps of her stunning black sun dress, she slipped on low sandals.

“I’m ready,” Nadia said.

“Show some skin!” Tina bellowed. “Look at me!”

Nadia resisted saying what she was thinking and instead picked up her purse and followed Tina out the door. As they walked two blocks to the Bar, Tina gulped down a liquored concoction from a large, plastic cup while Nadia looked up at the starlit sky, wishing on each burning light.

“Look out boys,” Tina snorted, “here comes trouble with a capital T!”

Steamy nights meant full club capacity with customers spilling into the streets. Jimmy Buffet’s vocals filled the acrid air. Navigating through a blur of Hawaiian shirts and scanty dresses, Nadia reached the bar, but Tina had slipped away, having found her evening’s mark, she was jigging and singing, “Wasted away again in Margaritaville.”

Moments later with a pink, frozen drink in hand, Nadia slipped to the upper deck, away from the crowd to survey it from a distance. She rested her cup on the deck rail thinking, there must be a better way.

A couple staggering toward the stairs bumped the rail sending Nadia’s drink toppling over. She reached up too late to retrieve it. A waterfall of pink slush landed squarely on a young man below.

“I’m so sorry!” Nadia called down, her long hair waving in the breeze.

Dumbfounded, the man looked up. The right shoulder of his white shirt soggy with the pink mixture, he flashed Nadia a brilliant smile.

“Where I come from,” he said, “its good luck when a beautiful woman spills her drink on you.  So, if you don’t let me buy you another, I’ll be ruined.  What do you say?”

“Is that really true?” she asked walking down the stairs toward him.

“No,” he said, looking into her eyes. He took her hand on the last stair. “I’m Santo,” he said. His eyes remained fixed on hers. He wore his dark hair on the long side and the now wet shirt showed off his fit physique.

“I’m Nadia,” she said.

“Well Nadia, I wish it was true. But one look into your eyes tells me I could never tell you a lie.”

“Then, I say yes,” she smiled and that was how Nadia met her future husband.

-The End

Artistic in the District: Part Nine, A Photo Story Prompt

As I’m running in circles this week trying to prepare for my second of three book fairs tomorrow at the Calvert library in Prince Frederick, Maryland, events.html this will be brief! It’s a quick photo essay of my more artistic pictures. I’ve also begun adding cute sayings to some curious photos and some quiz photo’s about Secret Agent of God on my Facebook page. If you are into that sort of thing feel free to Like it. Here’s a preview of some of my photo’s, which total over 5,000. I had to think of something to do with them, didn’t I?

A good photo should elicit some feeling in the viewer, don’t you think? I often wish my eyes could be the camera. I don’t really care to see the world through the lens of a device. It takes something away from the image somehow.

I think what makes a person respond to a photo has as much to with the person as it does the photograph. Our personal view of the world, our experiences, our mood are all factors in how we view what we view.

Each of these photos could be a story prompt. This is what I think when I look at pictures. A single snapshot in time is only part if the story. What else is there? What if? What other? Who was there and what were they doing? Then what happened? Where were they going and why? Who did they meet? Were they running away from something or someone? Or running to something or someone?

So what do you think?

Thanks for reading! And always stay curious!

 

 

 

 

Are You a Facebook Flop?

Facebook F+

Facebook F+

 

If you’re not a Facebook superstar, fear not! You likely have other strengths.

In the scheme of marketing things, my Facebook fan page is NOT growing in leaps and bounds. I opened it, because it was one of the many things marketing experts tell authors we must do to sell more books! Well…I think my personal page was a help in letting my friends know that I did in fact finally finish and publish my novel, SECRET AGENT OF GOD. Much to my surprise, many of my friends purchased the book. I rather expected to give copies away to my nearest and dearest, but they beat me to it. Now if I had thousands of ‘friends’ I can see where this might be a place where people sell tons of books. But does anyone really have thousands of friends?

I actually personally know all the people on my Facebook page and I hang in there because among my small group of good people, I might actually lose touch with some of them if I was not there. Time zone differences and my multiple moves have made Facebook necessary.

As far as fan pages go, I think the successful folks in this arena truly love Facebook and are not like me, suspicious by nature and private to a fault. They like sharing. They like getting personal with just about everybody.

In my Facebook beginnings, five years ago, I was so paranoid I refused friends I didn’t know especially well and deleted people who didn’t communicate with me regularly. Suffice to say, I did not really get it. Most of my very best friends refuse to join Facebook at all. Many of us feel forced to take part.

But to the Facebook lovers, maintaining their pages is not work. To them, it’s fun. Now the new push is to start your own Facebook group. I participate in a few of the groups, but do I want to be responsible for one? Not really. Time is the real factor here. None of us has an infinite amount, so where do you spend yours?

This makes me wonder, is Facebook really for everyone? More importantly, if I feel this strongly about it, Is it even where my fiction audience lives?

I have developed a twitter addiction. Of my 3,113 followers, 80% come from Twitter. Approximately 16% come from WordPress and about 4% come from Facebook. Which means, this is already where I spend my time. Why turn myself inside out trying to be someone else?

While some people may handle both Facebook and Twitter well, most tend to fall into one camp or the other.

Writers love Twitter because we can show off how well we write flash fiction and catch phrases. It’s like Facebook for nerds. I’m sure I’ll catch hell for saying that, but I find a real discrepancy in content between the two sites. Facebook on any given day is ripe with messages about friendship, moms, sisters, confidence boosters, pictures and films about cats, dogs and babies. On Twitter I find news, poetry, art, and quotes from the great thinkers, writers, and historians of our time.

Twitter is not as much of a popularity contest as Facebook. A business person may have as large a following as a celebrity. So, do you spend the bulk of your time Facebooking, WordPressing, Tweeting or Instagraming? Do the math. There’s strength and truth in numbers.

And if you’re feeling charitable, please “Like” my page!

Looking for a fast-paced, thriller with a touch of romance? Uncover the SECRET!

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Artistic in the District: Part Two

The focus for part two of Artistic in the District is the blending of two art forms, writing and photography.

Self Portrait, Arc de Triophe, Paris

Self Portrait, Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Some of my favorite blogs are those featuring poetry or a story combined with an artistic photo or photos. In a sense, almost all bloggers strive to accomplish some form of this. These seem to allow a peek inside the mind of the writer. Perhaps, the poem or story itself begins as inspired the photo. Either way it is a wonderful combination. Here are some I follow and some just recently discovered. If you know of any other artistic blogs you like, please feel free to recommend them.

Hortus ClosusFriendly Fairy TalesSource of InspirationPoesy plus PolemicsBroken LightThe Neophyte PhotographerMr. Modigliani’s Private StudioRadiating BlossomsThe Mirror Obscuramaxada mandalaBjorn Rudbergs writingsthe Book of Pain, and Il mio giornale di bordo

Contemporary art is an evolving art form. In a similar way, the art of blogging evolves. I have seen more and more of these blogs spring up due to the popularity of this form. Perhaps because we readers are all so busy, we seek the quick fix a photograph provides. An excellent photograph will move us to some feeling, sensation, or memory. Adding on verse only makes the photo more appealing in that it gives voice and offers words for contemplation.

I enjoy taking pictures but I am not a photographer. Taken by my husband, the photo I selected above is of me descending the staircase of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris . I love the idea of ordinary things becoming extraordinary because I am looking at them from a different angle. Art is about vision. The beauty is that we all have a unique experience. We all have a story or two to tell.

Looking at this photo, I noticed for the first time, there is someone else on the staircase below me. Who was that person? Where was she going after she finished her sight-seeing tour? Maybe she went to meet a friend in a local café. Maybe for a rendezvous with a lover? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Happy writing all and thanks for reading.

Preview: page 99 of #SAOG, e-book .99 on Amazon

I was reading about the page 99 test on http://www.page99test.com/ and decided to give it a whirl. It’s an interesting concept although I guess it’s not really new, it was new to me. Readers read your page 99 and then offer feedback and or decide based on this page whether or not they would be interested in reading the rest of the book. My husband has a copy of my book on his desk and a co-worker picked it up and read page 99. This is what started me thinking about it. It makes sense, because in my book, this is about the halfway mark, and some pivotal things are happening in the story here. Although, taken out of context, can you judge the book by it;s page 99? Anyway, here’s my page 99 excerpt from Secret Agent of God:

 

“That’s weird,” she said. “I haven’t had a problem all day.”

She had her arm wrapped with an Ace bandage. Another message came to me like a flash of lightning: “Her boyfriend hurts her.”

Makeup covered up the remains of faded bruises on her face. She couldn’t get the card machine to work, and the line behind me snaked around the market. I started to hyperventilate. I pulled out all of my cash to pay for my small basket of groceries, and sprinted out of there. Maybe I should have done something to help her. That thought still haunts me.

Speaking of haunting, I’d read that spirits can wreak havoc on electronic devices. It has something to do with them being all made out of energy. Wonderful, so now Spirits were following me around the grocery store and whispering things in my ear. I only hoped I wouldn’t start seeing them next.

I hated not having control over what was happening to my body and my mind. Father B. was still traveling around Italy. Maybe I should’ve gone with him. I could’ve stayed there; and been a runaway. Only how do you run away from your own mind? I checked the listings for psychiatrists in the area to see if any of them worked on a sliding scale.

 ***

    I wake up to the hum of an engine and the sound of the tires on the driveway stones again. A car door opens and slams, the front door creaks and heavy feet pound the floor. Outside of my room, Ape and English bark at each other. It’s just how they communicate. I stand with my body against the wall, listening to their language. Tonight, I’m sure they’re talking about me. I hear Ape say, “Zahera.” English’s voice is louder. Maybe they’re arguing about whether tonight is the night they’ll kill me or not.

Now English sounds pleading. I know he’s been keeping me alive and he has his reasons. What I don’t know is exactly what those reasons are.

 

Thanks for reading!

Click here for the full story Secret Agent of God.

#SAOG #Janice

 

When Oprah Calls…

Will you be ready?

 

I can imagine the conversation, can’t you?

“Hello?”

“Good morning, is (insert your name) at home?” Oprah asks.

“This is she (or he).”

“How are you? This is Oprah calling,” she says.

“Riiiiiight? Who is this?”

“This is Oprah, Oprah Winfrey,” she says.

“Uh, huh. Listen, I’m registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. Could you please take my name off of your list?”

*Click*

Of course it’s highly unlikely Oprah does her own calling, so the entire premise of this blog post is tragically flawed. It’s assumed that someone on Oprah’s staff makes the call and then all of the follow-up calls as well. Not that I would know first hand.

This was one of my 3 a.m. revelations.

I’ve been working on promoting my novel and in doing so, trying out different things, like advertising, blog interviews, and radio. Some of these I entered into too lightly. I’m no celebrity and should not under any circumstances fly by the seat of pants as much as I do.

Have you ever judged a guest on a talk show or on news broadcast? Of course you have. We all have. Most of the people we watch doing such interviews are actors or famous people. They have handlers, stylists, agents, publicists, etc. They could do these interviews in their sleep and even they become intimidated by Oprah.

For celebrities, the greatest challenge during interviews and appearances is getting their ‘talking points’ across, promoting whatever they are trying to promote, and attempting to appear genuine so that people like you and me can relate to them.

For people like us, writers, novice musicians, business owners, parents, everyday folks, being genuine is the easy part, we’re too real in fact. Our challenge is trying to appear expert in our field, or to at least appear halfway intelligent.

The 20th Anniversary Collection of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I remember when Oprah’s show was just starting out. I was just starting college. I remember watching the intro and I swear in the original show, Oprah was seen walking on the city streets of Chicago. She was so likable, so real, so different from anyone else on television.

More than anything, just like you, I always wished for an opportunity to sit on the couch across from Oprah. You know it’s true. It didn’t matter what genius landed you a spot on the show: #1 Widget Salesperson, Mother of the Year, it was a fantasy after all.

Did you rehearse your interview in the bathroom mirror with a toothbrush as a microphone?

Sure you did.

In 1988 I watched and cheered, along with America, when Oprah strutted out on stage in her Calvin Klein jeans, wheeling the ‘wagon’ http://www.oprah.com/own-tv-guide-magazines-top-25-best-oprah-show-moments/Moment-3-Oprahs-Wagon-of-Fat-Video and I kept watching and being inspired by show after show.

In 1996 when Oprah announced her Book Club, making authors famous overnight, I thought, this is it. This is how I will come to be on the show.

In 1997, seven years out of college, I landed a job working in the male-dominated, hardware industry, and becoming a writer was still just a dream. I always wanted to go to Chicago and my major account headquarters was located in the windy city. Once, on my way to a meeting, I was tempted to skip it and go instead to wait in line as an audience member on the Oprah show. I still regret choosing the meeting over the show. Of course I would have been fired.

In 2002, I left my career to become a stay-at-home-mom. I felt empowered to make this choice, for the good of my family. Four years later, in 2006, still believing I could do anything I set my mind to, my writing journey began. It was slow at first, but then I wrote with a vengeance. In 2011, I was still fine tuning my novel when Oprah announced her legacy, the show, was coming to an end.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-Takes-the-Stage-for-the-Last-Time-Video

My heart sank. No more Book Club. Then, Oprah announced her new network and all hope was restored.

I finished and published my novel and there was still hope that maybe somehow I might get my novel looked at by the staffers who handle Oprah’s book reviews. Of course, one novel does not a writing career make. One novel is but a leaf in the great ‘Amazon’ rain forest. But it is also the start of something potentially great.

Maybe, I would even send a copy of this blog post via e-mail with a link to my book to Oprah’s staffers. Maybe I would properly explain the heart of the story. That on the surface it is a story about a young, reluctant psychic, named Janice Morrison, but underneath it is a tale about overcoming obstacles, about having faith in God, yourself and those you love.

The only problem is, if Oprah ever really called, would I be ready? Would I believe it?

Maybe I would just say, “thank you, for all the years of inspiration!”

Thanks for reading!

 

Image of Oprah came from: http://dream-it-plan-it-do-it.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Oprah-Winfrey.jpg

Bored!

The name game. What’s in a name? Well, we’ll see! I just changed the name of my blog and my twitter page. I’m a little bored with my current set up so I’m changing things up.

Lately, I’ve held my breath,

waiting for a gust of fresh air about book promotion and my writing life…

and I then I started turning blue…

wow! That sucked.

I knew I needed a new focus!

I think we can all agree that no one cares to hear any more advice about writing. Writers aren’t really experts on writing anyway. We know what is working for us and that’s about it. Here’s what I’ve learned in eight years of trying to become a professional writer…read more…write more…edit everything twenty-five times before you publish it and then hire an editor…done! That’s all I know! So I will continue to post short solitary fiction that doesn’t fit “Seeing Scarlet” and the odd poem here and there (see The Authors Spouse).

As regards book marketing…three months in and I’ve already had it. I wasn’t cut out for this BS! Buy my book, don’t buy my book, whatever! I wrote it for readers but so did a few million other authors who are selling on Amazon’s site. It’s a fast read. Many folks seem surprised by how much they enjoy it and that there’s humor in the book. Maybe the title scares them a bit. I know eventually word will get out. Meanwhile, I’m working on the sequel to “Secret Agent of God” and writing some more shorts of “Seeing Scarlet”:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/332370

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/341537

Book Sales:

I have experimented with different promos and what have you. Here’s what I found: twitter and Facebook ads will get you more followers, but do those translate into book sales? I’m not sure. You need to focus your energy on finding people who read, plain and simple. I leave my business cards with my book links in libraries and at restaurants I frequent, everywhere that I can:

Business cards

Business cards

If someone asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer, and eventually give them my card.

I post flyers on community selling boards. You have to do this often since most remove them weekly.

People who read buy books. You need a presence on book reading sites.

Pricing: I did some pricing strategy research recently. So many authors are giving their books away or selling their e-books below $2.99 or for $.99 that if you do try to sell your fiction at a higher price you may suffer from lagging sales. My best sales price so far has been  a .99 promo for the e-book but if I always make it .99 then I’m forced to make it free for promotions. Amazon promotes books that are under $2.99 or .99 and take part in the kindle countdown deals, so there you have it. Why not allow Amazon to do what they do best, which is promote stuff like books.

Thoughts on free: I’m a hold out on free. If you want to read my free works please click over to the short story tab or read this blog. There’s something discouraging about busting your butt to write a good novel and then giving your book away. I give my book away to family, my best friends, the library, for fundraisers, etc. So, I’ll let you know how this works out, but for now my e-book is $2.99 and the paperback is $9.95 or $8.95 for prime members. I will occasionally run a .99 promo. The e-book cost less than a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk or a fancy coffee, and I promise it’s worth it, so that’s that. Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Agent-God-Eileen-Slovak/dp/1492868191/ref=sr_1_1/178-9819668-1912011?ie=UTF8&qid=1397322662&sr=8-1&keywords=eileen+slovak

Book promotion in general. I come from a sales and marketing background and I would still much rather promote someone else’s work on twitter, my author page or my blog than my own. If I’ve read the book and liked it I may put a review up there as well. I don’t write bad reviews because I have no interest in hurting a fellow writers feelings in a public way. I leave that to the haters. If I have read a sample of your book and didn’t care for it I won’t read any more of it. If you asked for feedback, I will be honest in a private message. If you can’t handle my honest opinion please don’t ask me. I’m one person with one opinion. If you don’t like my opinion, ask someone else.

About Facebook, I keep my personal Facebook page for family and close friends and my Facebook Author page for writing stuff. Please don’t be offended if I divert you to my public page. This way I don’t bore my family and friends with too much book stuff and I don’t have to bore you with pictures of my kids playing sports and my cat.

OK, sometimes Licorice appears in both places. She’s my first ‘Beta reader’ or ‘Beta listener’ since I’m pretty sure she can’t read, although, I strongly suspect she might be trying to figure out how to use the toilet and turn door knobs and is smarter than some humans.

Licorice

Licorice

Since Facebook is really not my thing, I prefer to put a variety of other authors book links on my author page for my fans because how often can I talk about my book without being a total bore and most of them have already read it. I read a post by another writer complaining about authors posting their book links, looking for likes on their pages. I guess if you are famous I can see where that might bug you. I’m not famous but I have some followers who read. If you need some help, send me message, a link or whatever. Some nice writers helped me when I was a flailing newbie and I’m happy to help others in any way that I can.

On my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/authoreileenslovak I will also be adding some pictures and quiz type things about my book, “Secret Agent of God” since it is about Maryland and several readers have begun asking things like, “Is this character based on this person or that person” and “which little Bay front home was Gram’s?” Things like that. I thought it would be a fun exercise and like I said, when I’m not writing, I’m bored.

My favorite medium is twitter. https://twitter.com/EileenSlovak I do follow back unless you are crazy, perverted, naked, racist, bigoted, or exclusively only selling followers. I consider twitter a place where writers like me with ADD and OCD can connect with my audience and with like minded people who also have short attention spans. I love that on twitter I can show off my writing prowess with ‘quippy’ catchy phrases in 140 characters or less. If that audience is 3 people, so be it. If it’s one person, well it’s that much more intimate now isn’t it? Actually, I have a great following on twitter, so join me and if I like your tweets, I’ll share them. Incidentally, I’m trying to get these hash tags off the ground: #Janice #SAOG.

So, my future promotional energy, which is waning as we speak, will go in this new direction. Because I’d rather be writing than doing anything else and for Indies this is a challenge!

So what do I really want to blog about? Being a female writer over 40 with kids who run rings around me and about things I laugh about with my girlfriends. What else occupies my mind? Sometimes I have bizarre thoughts that I’d like to share. I truly miss having fun. To those of you who stuck it out through my boring phase, thank you and wake up!!! Things are going get spicier around here. I’m turning this thing around, putting it in reverse and spinning a few wild donuts in parking lot near you! Come along for the ride, which, I’m just saying, could get wild at times.

Next blog topic: Are you overwhelmed by all of the options in toilet paper?

Thanks for reading and keep writing (and reading!)