Friday, September 23, 2011

A Free Short Story to Read

Poor Precious Thing

Nervously, Vera Wilson opened the door to the pawn shop. She’d never been in such a place before. Not in all her seventy three years, and she wouldn’t be here now if she hadn’t spotted the antique doll in the shop’s window. The sight of that poor precious thing all covered with dust gave her the courage to enter.
With her heart in her throat, she spoke to the pawnbroker. “How much is the antique doll?”
“Hundred bucks.”
Vera swallowed hard. “One hundred did you say?”
“That’s right, and I won’t take a penny less.”
“Oh, no, that’s fine.” She couldn’t believe her luck. The doll was worth much more. Nut still, a hundred dollars would deplete her checking account drastically. She’d have to borrow money from her grandson to live on until her next social security check came.
Writing out the check, she asked, “I never thought I’d find a doll in a pawn shop. May I ask where it came from>”
“An old lady brought it in a few days ago. A Mrs. Stanhope. Funny thing about that. I found out later, she’s loaded. “
“Loaded? You mean wealthy? Why in heaven sake would she pawn that exquisite doll if she didn’t need the money?”
I’ve been in this business long enough to know people have their own reasons for pawning stuff. It does seem strange though. But, in any case, we’ll never know what motivates her. She was murdered yesterday.”
“Murdered? You don’t mean it!”
“It was in the papers, probably on the internet too. I recognized her from the picture. Could have knocked me over with a feather when I read that she was the owner of the Stanhope Sapphires.”
“Oh, my, I’ve heard of them. She must have been very wealthy to own them. I believe I read they’re worth over a million dollars. Do you suppose that’s why she was murdered? For the sapphires?”
“Sure thing. When they found her, the sapphires were missing and so was Mrs. Stanhope’s personal secretary, Marsha Kane. Probably in South America by now. You’re mighty lucky to be getting the doll. It’s the only one left of the old lady’s collection. The newspaper said the room where they found the body was strewn with smashed and mutilated porcelain dolls.”
Vera clutched the doll to her chest protectively. “What a terrible thing to do. If they were anything like this one, they were works of art, and can never be replaced.”
“Yeah, the police speculate that the killer probably smashed them one by one, trying to get the old lady to tell him where she hid the sapphires.”
“Well, if all the dolls were smashed, she must have held out until the very end. Poor thing. It must have devastated her to see her beautiful dolls destroyed.”
Cradling the doll in her arms, Vera carried it home, placing it on the lace covered table that held her other precious treasures. She gazed into each doll’s face adoringly. All lined up on the table in three rows, they presented a picture of gentility, long lost to the modern world. Caressing the face of her newest treasure, she said, “You’re safe now. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
Picking up the phone, she called her grandson. “John, do you suppose I can borrow a hundred dollars until my check comes? I wouldn’t ask, but an emergency came up.”
“Let me guess, Nana. You bought another doll for you collection.”
“Johnny, it’s an original Jumeau. You know I’ve always dreamed of owning one. She’s dressed in a darling red outfit, and has the most beautiful blue glass paperweight eyes. How could I pass up a chance like this to own an original Jumeau? She’s worth thousands of dollars.”
“Well, in that case, I guess I can afford it, now that I’ve been promoted to detective first class.”
“Oh, Johnny, I’m so proud of you. Wait until I tell Gladys and Marsha. They’ll be thrilled. Well, I’d better go; I know how busy you must be.”
“Hold on. I want to know where you found such a bargain on an original Jumeau. Nothing illegal involved, I hope?”
“That’s the funny part of it. The lady that owned her pawned her at a pawnshop, and oh, John, she was found dead yesterday. Murdered.”
Murdered? Do you mean the Stanhope case?”
“That’s the one. Did you see it in the papers?” Vera heard a long drawn out whistle.
“Nana, that’s the case I’ve been assigned to. I’m coming right over. I think you just provided me with the key to solving this case.”
No sooner had she hung up, when the doorbell rang. Vera opened the door to a nervous looking woman. “I’m sorry to disturb you, ma'am, but are you the lady that just purchased an antique doll from the pawnshop?”
“Why, yes, how did you know?”
“I’m Mrs. Stanhope’s niece. I found her pawn ticket and called the shop to see what it was she pawned. When he told me it was one of her porcelain dolls, I knew I had to get it. Aunty would want someone in the family to keep it. You know, as a memento of her. You see, her dolls were her whole world.”
Vera did see, but she wished she didn’t. She knew what was coming and tried to think of a good reason why she shouldn’t give the doll to her. Stalling for time she said, “I still don’t understand how you found my name and address.”
“The pawnbroker was kind enough to give it to me, you know, off of the check you gave him. I’m hoping you’ll sell the doll back tome. It would mean so much to me to have auntie’s doll. And I have fond memories of playing with it as a small child.”
Vera doubted that. No one who knew the value of a Jumeau would let a child play with it. “I, I, don’t know. I’ve been looking for a Jumeau that I can afford for such a long time. Now that I finally have one. . .”
“I’m willing to pay whatever it’s worth. You could buy another one with the money. That way we’d both benefit. Would $5,000 be enough for another?”
“Why, yes, it would, but. . .” Vera hesitated. She didn’t want to give up the doll, but how could she put her own happiness above that of this poor woman who only wanted to remember her beloved aunt? On second thought. . . the woman did not come across as the sentimental type. Oh, dear, what was she going to do?
The woman counted out money, then thrust it at Vera. “Here. It’s settled then. Where’s the doll.”
The woman’s demeanor had changed considerably. Any semblance of pleasantry was gone. In shock, Vera pointed to the bedroom door and watched as the woman walked into it, then stopped short as her gaze took in the table filled with dolls of all sizes and descriptions. “Uh, would you, ah, pick it out for me. I haven’t seen her dolls for a number of years now and don’t remember what they looked like.”
Vera froze. This woman was not the niece of Mrs. Stanhope. She’d stake her life on it. But, if she wasn’t her niece, than who was she? A vision of Mrs. Stanhope’s dolls lying broken and mangled flashed through her head. Oh, dear, the poor, poor precious thing was sure to suffer the same fate as the other dolls if she didn’t protect her. But, what could she do? She was just a feeble old lady.
A desperate idea formed in her mind, a way to stall for time until her grandson arrived. Walking over to the table, she picked up a pretty doll with long blonde curls. “Poppy,” she whispered into o the doll’s  tiny ear. “I hate to give you up. You were the first reproduction doll I ever made, but I must protect the Jumeau at any cost. It can never be replaced. It’s beauty would be lost to the world forever of that horrible woman gets her hands on it.”
With tears in her eyes, she handed the doll to the woman , then watched as Mrs. Stanhope’s killer walked out of the house.
Vera locked the door, knowing the woman would be back when she discovered she’d been tricked. She prayed her grandson would be there by then. Picking up the Jumeau, she gently removed it’s head and peered inside. Empty.!
She’d been so sure the Stanhope Sapphires would be hidden there. For, she was certain Marsha Kane hadn’t found them. Not even that evil  woman would smash precious dolls for no reason. The police had it all wrong. She didn’t smash the dolls in hope of persuading Mrs. Stanhope to tell her where they were hidden. Somehow, Marsha knew they were hidden in one of the dolls. But obviously, she had missed the one that had been pawned.
But if that theory was correct, where could they be? Could she have stuffed them into the doll’s body. Like all the old dolls, it was made of fabric and stuffed with fiber or horsehair.
With loving fingers she probed the muslin torso, feeling for telltale lumps that would  show where the sapphires were hidden. Nut the doll’s body was smooth, the stitching undisturbed. How could she have been so wrong. Obviously, her grandson had not inherited his detecting skills from her.
The hair on the back of  Vera’s neck suddenly stood straight up. She wasn’t alone. Raising her gaze, she stared into the eyes of Mrs. Stanhope’s killer. Vera’s heart turned to ice. “How did you get in? I locked the door.”
Marsha Kane laughed. “Child’s pay. You really should get yourself a deadbolt lock. Now give me the sapphires.”
“You don’t understand. I’ve just searched the doll and the sapphires aren’t in it. See for yourself. The head is empty and the body has its original stitching. They’re not here.”
“What kind of a fool do you take me for, trying to pass another of your home made dolls on me? I read the label you sewed in the doll you gave me. Lovingly created by Vera Wilson. How sweet.”
“I’m telling you the truth. See how dusty this doll is? Now, look at the ones on the table. Not a bit of dust. I would never neglect my treasures so.”
“Stop  stalling. I’ll smash every doll you own if I have to.”
Vera saw the rage in Marsha’s eyes. The same rage poor Mrs. Stanhope must have seen before she died. Feeling trapped, she glanced over at the door, wondering if she could make it there before Marsha caught her, her heart leaped, seeing it suddenly open. Johnny stood there, gun in hand, and she knew her nightmare was over.
In a matter of moments, the killer was in handcuffs and Johnny was explaining. “When you mentioned the doll on the phone, I called the pawnshop to confirm it was actually Mrs. Stanhope’s and he told me about the phone call from the, so called, niece. Thank God I got here in time.”
When Vera was finally alone with her new treasure, its head re-attached to the body, Vera stared lovingly into the vivid blue glass eyes and her own eyes widened in surprise. “You must have been Mrs. Stanhope’s favorite doll,: she murmured. “For she bestowed upon you priceless sapphire eyes.”

My first Thriller

 Borrowed Trouble
Chapter One

Spring, 2001 North Carolina Mountains.
 The wolves were restless, pacing back and forth the length of their enclosure, sensitive to the anxiety emanating from every pore of her body. She tried soothing them with her voice, but only Chowa responded, padding over to sniff at the hand pressed against the cold metal of the chain link fence. “It’s all right, boy, I won’t let them hurt you. I won’t let them take you from me.”
As if reassured, Chowa returned to the others and she resumed her vigil. It was dark  now, the men would return soon.  She couldn’t bear waiting much longer. Her legs were stiff, her hands cold, and her fingers ached from holding the rifle so tight.
Gazing out at the rugged terrain lit only by the pale moon, a shiver shimmered up her spine seeing the headlights from the caravan of pickup trucks and jeeps making their way back to the lodge. Tightening her grip on the rifle, she stepped further into the shadows, watching breathlessly as the caravan entered the compound.
Two of the trucks were painted with black and white zebra stripes, an ironic reminder  of  the grim cargo they carried, carcasses of exotic animals, still warm, still beautiful in death.  She should be used to the killing by now, having lived on the hunting preserve most of her life, but instead of becoming immune to the savagery, she had become more and more incensed. It shamed her knowing her two uncles were responsible for the slaughter.
If only granddaddy hadn’t died. If only her father had been strong enough to stand up to his brothers when he was told of their plans for the cattle ranch. But there was no use dwelling on the past. Jessup’s Big Game Preserve had become a lucrative business and she had been condemned to live in this brutal, bloody, place.
She couldn’t remember how many times she tried running away, but she never got very far; the game preserve was too far from town. Then, amazingly, Uncle Frank had given her the litter of wolf cubs to raise, and, from the moment she took possession of them, she understood why she was put on this planet.
The men had reached the hunting lodge now, and were climbing out of the vehicles, strutting around, boisterous and drunk with the smell of blood. In a few moments they’d be gone and then she could make her move. She was surprised at how calm she felt, considering what she was about to do, but then she had been preparing for this moment a long time.
She had always known it would come down to this.  Despite her uncles promise not to take the wolves from her, she knew better. It was inevitable that someone would offer them enough money to hunt the endangered red wolf species.  Inevitable that greed would win out in the end.
That day had finally come.
They were planning to hunt the wolves tomorrow.
Time moved unbelievably slow as she waited for the great white hunters to leave in their own vehicles, and go back to the big city jungles they came from. Her father was nowhere to be seen, but that was usually the case. He hated canned hunts as much as she, but was too weak to stand up to his brothers.
Canned hunts. How appropriate. The animals never had a chance. They were released in a closed in place with no chance of escape, and men paid a hefty price for the thrill of shooting them down. Where was the sport in that?
Hearing the engines of the hunters vehicles rev up, her heart started pounding. It wouldn’t be long now. She watched from the shadows as Uncle Frank gave a final hearty wave at the departing cars, then started walking towards the wolf enclosure, just as she knew he would. He was in the habit of checking the lock every night, fearing she would set the wolves free. Did he really think a little metal could keep her from her beloved animals?
Across the compound she heard the deep metallic groan of the gate closing behind the last of the departing hunters, and, hardly daring to breathe, she stepped out of the dark to confront her uncle. Pointing the rifle at Frank, she said, “I warned you not to take my wolves, but you wouldn’t listen.”
The lean, bearded man looked at her as if she were holding nothing more than a broom.  “I don’t like having rifles pointed at me, missy. Even unloaded ones. Put it down or you’ll find yourself spending the night in the tiger’s cage.”
A shiver of fear snaked through her as childhood memories of similar threats swirled through her head, but she kept it hidden. She knew better than to show fear to this brutal man. Laughing bitterly, she said, “I’m not a scared eight year old anymore. I’m fifteen. Fifteen. That threat doesn’t work anymore. But thanks for reminding me of what a cruel bastard you are.”
“Cruel bastard? Is that the thanks I get for taking you in after your ma run off.”
“You drove her off. You made her leave me behind.”
“Is that what you think? Well the truth is, she didn’t want you. She never wanted you. Hell, she tried to get rid of you before you was born, but being a Christian man, I wouldn’t abide that.”
“You’re lying. Lying. Why did you have to say that? Why did you have to ruin the memory of my mother.” Jewel pressed the trigger, and a loud explosion rent the air. In shock, she stared at her uncle as he fell to the ground, a surprised look on his face. But not as surprised as she was to see him fall. Surprised at how easily death had come. Somehow, she had thought he’d be immune to bullets. He had always seemed so godlike.
Suddenly aware of how quiet it was, her gaze turned to Uncle Jeb, finding him frozen like a frightened deer in the glare of headlights still holding onto the closed gate. She raised the rifle again and, taking her time, aimed for the spot between his eyes. Strangely, he raised his hands over his head, as if surrendering. He knew what a good shot she was, even at this distance. Hell, he had shown her how to shoot.
“How does it feel being on the other end of a rifle, Uncle Jeb?  Have you peed your pants yet?”
Jeb’s eyes narrowed to a menacing slit. He was the wiliest of the three brothers and she knew he was weighing his options before making a move.
“How does it feel knowing you’re as helpless as the animals you’ve slaughtered? Why don’t you make a run for it? It’s dark. Maybe I’ll miss.”
Hearing a muffled cry, her head twisted to the left. Her father was standing in the doorway of the lodge.
Taking advantage of her distraction, Jeb vaulted over the gate, but she was too quick for him, catching him midair, like a gazelle or an antelope, but his fall to the ground wasn’t nearly as graceful.
She saw the black hole in his head and knew it had been a clean kill. Funny she felt nothing at all looking at him. Where was the thrill of the hunt? Maybe it was a man’s thing.
“What have you done? Oh, lord. Look what you’ve gone and done.”
Jewel’s finger tightened on the trigger of her rifle again. She didn’t want to kill her daddy, but she would if she had to. “I’m sorry, Daddy. I’m real sorry. I was just trying to stop them from killing my wolves.”
“Jesus, Jewel. Is that why you did it?”
“They were going to hunt them tomorrow, Daddy. I had to stop them. They’re my wolves.  Mine.  I had to protect them.  I knew I couldn’t count on you to protect them.”
Jewel was astonished when her father sat down on the steps and bawled like a baby. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault. I should have stood up to my brothers years ago. This would never have happened if I had.”
Anger exploded in Jewel’s head. “Well, it’s just a little too late for that now, isn’t it? I had to stand up for myself, and now the sheriff will arrest me, and you’ll never see me again.”
Harlan Jessup rose to his feet, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. Enfolding her into his arms, he cried, “No baby doll, no one is going to arrest you. I swear it. I’m the one responsible. I’ll be the one to go to jail.”
Jewel looked into her father’s eyes and saw he was telling the truth. He’d go to jail for her. A moue of pleasure rippled through her heart. This was working out even better than she planned. In her sweetest little girl voice, she said, “No, Daddy, I can’t let you do that.”
Harlan laughed sadly. “Yes, you can. You know it as well as I do. You gave up on me a long time ago. Can’t blame you for that, but you’ll see. I can do one good thing in my life. I won’t have my baby girl caged like an animal. You got that straight?”
Jewel nodded her head, smiling through her tears. The old drunk was good for something after all. Hugging him tight, she stared up at the moon rising over the mountains. It stared back at her, cold, indifferent, uncaring, reflecting perfectly what it saw in her eyes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plotting Your Novel


1.    The first step of plotting your novel is coming up with  the idea for your story.  It is impossible to tell anyone how to do this, for everyone is inspired and motivated by different things.  But basically your ideas come to you in two different ways, either by serendipity, which is the most pleasant way, or by deliberation.

        By serendipity, I mean the idea just seems to come to you like a gift.  Most likely, something you saw or thought triggered the inspiration.  For instance, the inspiration for one of my novels was the name of a woman on an ancient tombstone and her eerie epitaph.  Immediately the idea of a story came to my mind that I really wanted to write, but I still had to go through the process after that, of thinking  the story out.

        By deliberation ‑ I thought of the idea for my forth book using this method.  I decided to write a book that took place in Florida because I thought it would be easier to do the research.  Then, I discovered that Osceola the famous Indian leader was captured by the army about a half  mile from where I lived.  That decided it for me I would write a story about Osceola.  It was an actual deliberate decision, rather than an idea that floated to me from the ozone.

2.      Some authors build their stories around the characters.  They see the characters first in their brain and fit the story to suit them.  Other authors see a scene of action and find the characters to move that story along.  I think, with me, it all kind of happens so close together I can't really tell you which came first.

3.      Now, it's time to ask the question what if?  That is  the spark that ignites the creativity.  What if Blade McAmmon is an officer in the army, but he is part Indian and ashamed of his Indian blood?  What would happen if he is thrust into a situation where he has to deal with that?

 Next, I ask the same question of my stories heroine, what if Shining Dawn a woman who loves her Indian way of  life is forced to live as a white woman?

4.      The next inevitable question is what is going to happen next?  Hopefully that is what the reader will want to know after they finish every chapter.  Every chapter must hold the readers attention so you cannot have small problems or   small emotions.  Early on in your plotting think of what your character wants desperately.  Whatever it is should clash with your other important character.  This is what makes a page turner.

5.      Make your reader care about your main characters.  This means putting them in one after another terrible situations where the stakes are high, and the rewards great if they win out.

 Make sure that you have enough conflict built into your story to keep it going until the end.  There are two kinds of conflict.  Internal and external.  It is good to have both kinds of conflict in your story.  Usually there is one main conflict. A terrible problem that must be solved by the end of the book.  But, most likely there will be several smaller conflicts as well, both with the main characters  and with secondary characters.

Along the way, the smaller conflicts will be solved one at a time, or possibly some of them at the same time, but the main conflict won't be solved until the end of the  book.

The conflict must be believable.  And it will be if you make the motivation for your characters so powerful that the reader will be able to accept it.  This is one of the most important things you can do to have a publishable novel.  It also means using your creativity to its fullest.

 6.    Make sure that every scene you write furthers the story. Ask yourself this question.  If I take out this scene, or this chapter, will the story suffer.  If the answer is no, take it out.

7.      Make your characters further the story in more than one way.  The more ways the story is furthered with each sentence, each scene, each character, the more powerful and  readable the story is.  This is what makes readers turn the pages.

8.      Always keep in the back of your mind the overall theme, so that you can stay on track.  Which means you must have some idea of how the conflict will be resolved.  This doesn't mean you should write your last chapter before you write the beginning and middle of your book.  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone because it restricts your imagination and won't allow you to veer off on paths that might make your book more interesting.

Think of your story as a colorful map, with many roads leading to your destination.  Each road  will take you by different landscape, different circumstances.  When the characters of your book seem to take over and write  their own story, let them, if you don't like the path they take, you can always turn back and start down a different one. 

9.      Give your characters strengths and weaknesses.  This will help write your story.  They will react in different ways because of their basic personalities.  Their weaknesses might get them in trouble, their strengths find  a way of dealing with their problems.

10.     The only way to write a book, is to write a book.  What it comes down to is how important is it to you to become a  published author.  If it is very important, you'll do whatever it takes.  You'll become obsessed with your book until you have gone through the whole, miserably hard process, the lonely hours, the self doubts until you have it down on paper as good as you can get it.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Borrowed Trouble's Real Life Connection to Wolves

Hi Everyone,
My Kindle book, BORROWED TROUBLE has a real life connection to wolves. In the photograph to the right, you can see my granddaughter petting a wolf. Yes, despite the happy go lucky look on the wolf's face, he is indeed, a real wolf.

Summer is a dedicated wild animal lover and in the past has volunteered at the St. Augustine Wild Life Reserve. There, you will find lions, tigers, lynx's, wolves, Florida panthers, foxes, and an assortment of various other wild animals.

Unlike Jessup's Big Game Preserve,  in my book, where canned hunts are conducted, The St. Augustine Wild Life Reserve is just the opposite, a place where rescued animals are kept to keep them from harm. Living out their lives in peace.

Summer is fearless in her love of animals and I will be posting pictures ofher with other wild animals in the future.

Here's the link to the St. Augustine Wild Reserve

Friday, October 8, 2010


I've created a quiz for unpublished writers.  The answers can be used as a guide to illuminate areas of being published you haven't touched on.  In this competitive world, it takes more than creative writing to get published. Try it. You may be surprised at the results;

How Close Are You To Being Published?

Sandra Davidson

Circle one answer - that fits you best - for each question

1. Which of these statements best describes your writing habits?
    a.  I write when the muse hits me
    b.  I write when I'm not upset, stressed out, or too busy
    c. I write no matter what else is going on in my life

2.  Do you:
    a.  work on one story until it's finished
    b.  work on more than one manuscript at a time
    c.  have a hard time finishing anything

3.  Why do you write?
     a.  I want to see my name in print   
     b.  I have to
     c. it's enjoyable

4.  Do you conduct your writing life as if it were:
     a.   a hobby            
     b.  a business       
     c.   an art

5. When plotting your story do you like to:
     a.  play it safe and stay well within the boundaries of your genre
     b.  take a chance and write a story that pushes the boundaries of your genre
     c.  have no idea what the boundaries of the genre are

6.  When you're ready to submit your story to a publisher do you:
     a. send your manuscript to a publisher that prints stories similar to yours
     b. send it to a publisher who accepts full manuscripts so you'll have a better shot at getting it read
     c. don't worry about publishers. If it's good, it will find a home

7.   In formatting your manuscript do you
     a. have a inch or more margins all around and number each page         
     b. have a header with manuscript title and author's name and double space lines        
     c. all of the above

8.  When you've finished your manuscript and mailed it off, do you:
      a.  start a new one right away
      b.  relax and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, you've earned it
      c.  wait to find out if the first book sells before writing another

9.  Do you belong to a local writer's group?
      a.  no       
      b. yes       
      c. not anymore

10.  Do you belong to a small critique group of 6 or less members?
      a. yes    
      b. no       
      c. not anymore

11.  Do you belong to a national or statewide writer's organization such as Romance Writers of  America,  Mystery Writers of America, etc.
       a. no     
       b. yes      
       c. not anymore

12.  How many writer's publications do you subscribe to or read?( RWR, Writer's Digest,  etc.)
        a. none     
        b. one      
        c. more than one

13.  How many conferences have you attended the past year?
       a. I don't need to go, I know how to write       
       b. one or more
       c.  I would love to go to one but I'm too timid to go without a friend

14.  Do you  participate in any of the online writer’s sites?
       a. no, I don't have the time or inclination 
       b.  yes, I take advantage of the opportunities and advantages of the internet
       c.  I   don't own a computer

15.  How many writing contests have you entered the past year?
       a. none      
       b. one     
       c. several

16.  How many manuscripts have you submitted to an agent or publisher in the past year?
       a. none          
       b. one           
       c. more than one

17.  Have you ever had anything published? (articles, short stories, etc)
       a. yes          
       b. no          
       c. not for the past five years

18.  Have you ever gotten any encouraging comments on your rejection slips?
       a. yes      
       b. no        
       c. what rejection slips? I've never submitted a manuscript.

19.  Why did you decide to write  in whatever genre you are writing in?
       a. I thought it would be easier to get published in this genre
       b.  I  have a story that I want to write in this genre.
       c.  I thought I'd make more money writing in this genre

20.  When mailing a manuscript do you:
      a. address it to Dear Editor
      b.  address it to the particular editor who handles your kind of story
      c. double check to make sure the editor you send it to is still working at the company

21.  After speaking to an editor or agent at a conference do you:
       a. wait before sending your manuscript to them so you won't appear pushy
       b. send it out immediately with a letter reminding them of your meeting
       c. you've never talked to an agent or editor

22.  After several form letter rejections do you:
       a. seek input from informed sources    
       b.  keep sending it out       
       c.  give up

23.  When choosing a novel to read, do you:
       a. read only books by well known writers
       b. read books by well known authors, but new authors too
       c. don't have time to read, you're too busy writing

Answers and Explanations

1.    c   If you want to be a successful writer you have to write no matter. It's as simple as that.

2.   a   There's usually a good reason why writer's jump from story to story or don't finish any manuscripts at all. There's something wrong with the plot.

3.   b   If you have a strong, compelling desire to write, you have what it takes to get through the long, hard struggle.

4.  b   If  you're not conducting your writing life like a business, you're not serious enough about your writing.  Face it. Publishing is a large competitive business. To succeed you must have the savvy, the know how that will give you an edge. Being a creative writer isn't enough.

5.   a   Right now, the publishing industry is very conservative. Play it safe to heighten your chance of getting published.

6.   a   It will take you much longer to get published if you don't gear your story to a particular publisher, a particular line. Do your homework before you start writing, and make sure you know the word count the publisher is  looking for.

7. f.  all of the above. You must format your manuscript properly. Do all five, and don't forget to check   for typos.

8.   a    Don't stop now. You're on a roll. Take a deep breath then start a new novel right away. It'll help get you through the long dreary weeks and months of waiting. Also, editors and agents want to know you have more than one book in you. Added benefit, you'll have another book circulating before you know it.

9.  b     Having the support of other writers helps you through the hard times and also stimulates you to write better.

10  a     In small, intimate critique groups where you become familiar with each other's work, you can really dig in and help each other. It's been shown that writers who belong to critique groups get published in half the usual time.

11  b    Shows you think of yourself as a professional.

12  c    The more you read, the more you learn. Good writers never stop learning.

13.  b  No excuses. If you didn't go to a conference last year, you missed an opportunity to network with other authors, lost out on a chance to meet with an editor who might be
 interested in your work, or find an agent.

14  b  Going on the internet and participating in the various writer sites  is as beneficial as going  to a writer’s conference. You'll be inundated with information, how to's, the latest market  news, networking with published authors, etc. 

15.  c    The feedback is invaluable. And if you luck out and win you'll be pursued by  editors

16.  c   This one is all too obvious, right? But if you haven't been submitting you've got to
 ask yourself why? Are you afraid of rejection? Part of being a successful author is being courageous enough to handle the down side of writing.

17. a   If you've been published anywhere, whether in short story form, or non fiction, or even newspaper articles, then you've got what it takes. Especially, if you were paid for it.

18. a   This is a good sign that you're close. Busy editors don't bother writing encouraging words unless they see promise in your work.

19. b   Writers have many reasons for writing in a certain genre, but only one reason counts. Passion for the story that must be told.

20.  c   Editors expect you to know their name. You'll look amateurish if you get their name wrong. They also move to different publishing houses frequently, so double check. Make sure the editor is still there before you submit.

21. b   Editors meet hundreds of writers at conferences. Send your manuscript while she still remembers who you are. Make sure you mention your meeting in your cover letter.

22.  a   Join a critique group or get a published author to read your work. You need input to discover what you're doing wrong. Because... if you've gotten nothing but form rejection letters after several submissions, you are doing something wrong.

23. b    It's fine to read your favorite authors, but please read the newly published authors too.  That's the way you find out what a particular publishing house is currently looking for. Also, new authors have to be good to compete with established authors. You could learn from them.

Score 4 points for each correct answer.

88 to 100      Is your telephone ringing? You better answer. It could be a publisher, that's how close you are.

66 to 87        You've been working hard and it shows. Hang in there, it will happen soon.

41 to 65        Climb out of that ivory tower and face the hard, cold reality of publishing. You've been making an effort, but you've got more work to do.

25 to 40         Pray your uncle buys a publishing company, because unless you get motivated, or you're incredibly talented, or lucky, it ain't going to happen.

0 to 24          Have you though of taking up macrame?

Take an extra 3 points if you have an agent
Take an extra 2 points if you've won or  been a finalist in a writing contest
Take an extra 2 points if you're manuscript has been accepted by an e-publisher
Take 1 extra points if you've written down your writing goals for the next five years.