Brita Addams

The Prose Speak: A Holiday Guest Post (and Gift) by Brita Addams

gift12Well, it’s that time of year again. For some it’s Christmas (me too,) but it’s also a time of reflection.

Every year has its share of sadness and joy, and 2015 was no exception. We had loss and health setbacks, but here it is nearly Christmas and we’re still here, slightly slump-shouldered, but standing. Here’s some of the highlights of our year.

In January, our grandson, Sebastian, turned sixteen and sprouted to over six feet tall. He towers over most of the family, except his dad (6’3”) and one of his two Uncle Chris’ (6’4”.) We’re super proud of our daughter and her husband, Michael, for raising him to be the thoughtful and kind young man he is. What a guy!

In February, I took my milestone birthday well, I think, when I forbade the family to mention it and insisted they let the day pass unacknowledged. They did, except for a couple of smartasses. I can always count on them to remind me why I have gray hair.

March brought brain surgery for our oldest daughter, Kim, due to some nerve webbing (simplified explanation.) She’s fine now and is free of the blinding headaches she’d suffered for three years. I won’t detail the heart-stopping hours of waiting for the news that she came out of surgery and all was well.

Sebastian zombie pic

T’was during his visit with us during his mama’s hospital stay that Sebastian introduced me to the Walking Dead. Hooked me like a fish. Ya know, you do things to please the kids. I’m told I’m his cool Grammie. The conversation went something like this:

“Grammie, I think you’d really like the Walking Dead.”

“I don’t know, baby. Zombies?”

“Yeah, but the characters are really good and you know how you like good characters.”

“True.”

“Come on. Let’s get some of your hazelnut coffee and I’ll watch the first few episodes again with you.”

“You want coffee?”

“Yeah. Whenever I think of coffee, I think of your hazelnut coffee creamer and it makes me smile.”

He had me hooked there, thrilled that he’d remember such an obscure thing. “Oh, baby! I had no idea you knew that.”

“I love ya. What can I say?” Big hug and lemming march to the guest room to watch the Walking Dead.

We watched five episodes that day. He went home the next and I watched the first five seasons in the next nine days. He’s still on season two. And the conversation did go like that!

Tina_and_ClintMay is always joyous for us because we celebrate two anniversaries, both on the same day, the ninth. We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary and the 39th anniversary of our first date. There will never be enough of these—ever.

The summer brought a turn my husband’s chronic health problems. He has Parkinson’s and he’s had his ups and downs, but from about June to now, he’s grown weaker. He takes everything in stride, God bless him. He’ll rally for a few days, and then not so much. He’s still him though, sense of humor and sharpness. He loves to cook and with me acting as sous chef, we get the job done. He still makes the best gumbo and potato salad in the South, bar none.

I don’t tell you all this for any other reason than to celebrate the life I have the privilege of living. The people I’ve lost this year made up a part of who I am. Those still with me nourish my soul and make getting up every morning something I look forward to. I’m more aware of what truly matters.

We each hold a figurative lifeline in our hands. These days, I’m holding on tighter than ever before. I want more of the good while I fend off the bad for as long as I can. I’ve also come to realize that we don’t have a lot to say about the latter. That makes the former all the more precious.

2f970d_2cefdd2cac18466c8cb19705c045b631Merry Christmas everyone! Thank you to everyone who has purchased one of my books this year. Your loyalty and support humbles me.

As my gift to you, here is a link for a free short story. Sometimes we need a little awakening to realize what matters most. Please enjoy An Evening at the Starlight, and after you read it, hug those you love a little tighter.

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The Prose Speak

The Prose Speak: Building a Better Website by Lynley Wayne

Author Website pt3

In this post I’m going to talk about all the things an author website should have. These are all pretty obvious and yet I see authors in all stages of their careers that are missing one or more of these things.

You should have a BOOKS tab; someplace where you have a list of all your books. For each book you need to have the cover, the blurb, and buy links. Those are absolute musts. If you’ve won any awards or been nominated for any awards for a book, then be sure to add that as well. An excerpt from the book is optional, but I would suggest adding one because it allows people to see a sample of your writing. Another thing to consider would be quotes from reviews, along with a link to that review.

You should also have an ABOUT ME or BIO page. On it you should have two versions of your bio; the long one you use in the back of your books, and a shorter version. If you use an author photo, I would suggest having it on your bio pages, along with all social media links, and your email address.

When it comes to social media links, make sure they are sites you actually use. If you have ten different social media accounts, but you only use two, then there’s no sense in listing the others. The point of having a list of social media accounts is so readers can find you.

Speaking of finding you… I suggest having a CONTACT page. This will allow for readers to easily ask you questions or rave about how much they love your work. Most templates have a premade form for that kind of thing. If your website template doesn’t, then on your contact page it should have a way for readers to get in touch with you. I suggest writing out your email address. email(at)mail(dot)com

If you have a blog, then make sure it’s easy to find, and updated on a regular basis—even if that means once a month. The same applies for anyone who has a FAQ page as well. I check my FAQ page every few months to make sure nothing has changed.

Newsletters are something a lot of authors use. If you have a newsletter, then be sure there is a sign up sheet on your website, or a link to your sign up sheet.

For authors who do a lot of public appearances, like book signings or conventions, then make sure you have a designated place on your website to list all the places you’re going to be appearing.

The main thing to keep in mind when designing a website is this; readers are going to visit your website to find information about your and your books. Make it as easy on them as possible. If they have to go hunting through pages and pages in order to find the information they’re looking for, odds are they’re going to leave without finding it. All information should be able to be found within a maximum of three clicks. Things should be clearly labeled and easy to read.

Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, but it must be functional. Otherwise, what’s the point of having one?

And the last piece of advice I can give you is to do routine maintenance on your site. Check for things like broken links and that all your information is current.

If you have an questions about designing your website or how to improve your website, please feel free to email me at lynleywayne(at)gmail(dot)com, use the contact form on my website www.lynleywayne.com, or leave a comment on this post.

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Lynley WayneLynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who, or how, we love is no longer an issue.

Website || Twitter: @LynleyWayne || Facebook || Facebook Page

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Rodion Rebenyar, The Prose Speak

The Prose Speak: With Author Rodion Rebenyar

The Prose Speak Banner

We’re so pleased to have first time visitor author Rodion Rebenyar join us today to introduce himself and his work to you.

Welcome, Rodion!

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No case of mistaken identity

No temporary phase I’m just going through

Not something I’ll grow out of in time

Not a choice

Not by accident

Rather by design

I like boys on purpose.

                                                      — from BOYS ON PURPOSE: A Collection of Poetry,

                                                                    Prose and Stories with Decidedly Gay Overtones

Available for purchase at Amazon

Having stumbled into writing not on purpose, I have discovered that authors count on several factors to attract readers. Naturally the quality of our writing is foremost, and our ability to hold the reader’s interest ranks high on the list. Having an attractive book cover also pulls in many more interested parties, and it can also boost sales.

As a voracious reader, I found that a clever title always worked well for me. Using a familiar phrase or set or words in an extraordinary way never ceases to fascinate me. I began playing with words and deconstructing familiar phrases to come up with a title for my first book. I felt I had latched onto something catchy when I composed several gay-themed poems. One of the shorter ones is featured above, and three words from the last line became the title of my first collection, self-published in April 2011.

For my second book, I wanted to continue on the same theme: a story with decidedly gay overtones. And I wanted to make it my story, but fictionalize it to a greater extent. I harkened back to three words from my poem: “not by choice.” I began to ponder why so many people outside the LGBTQ community insist that homosexuality is not something a person is born with, but a choice. I thought back on various ways our community has been maligned: Anita Bryant’s pro-family campaign of the 1970’s, the fears surrounding the first cases of AIDS in the 80’s, and ongoing issues of same-sex marriage and transgender rights worldwide.

In each of these levels in the struggle, I watched opposition forces try to demonize our community. Their attempts only served to galvanize us more each time. So our choices are within the lifestyle. As I developed material for my novel, I considered the choices I had to make, the conditions I had to weigh in moving forward in my life. Having to conform to a Leave It to Beaver model confused me as a kid. Even as a young adult I still had doubts: why was I different? Why didn’t I have positive role models to help me grow and mature? I reflect some of the perils in this excerpt from chapter five of THE CHOICES WE MADE: A Story of Gay Friendship, Love and Tragedy – Amazon

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My mind travelled back again to visions of how stoic and jaded all those little cocksuckers at the party had acted. I’d have bet anything that they had suffered the same humiliation I had as they were growing up. I could not imagine it any other way.

I shuddered as I recalled all the spat-upon cafeteria lunches I had endured. Recalling my bashed-in hall locker with the words PUSSY and YOU DIE FAGGOT scrawled across it still pains me today.  Taunts, jeers as well as veiled threats were  made  right  to  my  face.  And all the while no one lifted a finger to help me, the  school administration least of all.

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Author BioAll of my self-published books are featured on my website: crowbird52.wix.com with links to the purchasing sites. Both paperback and Kindle formats are available.

My spouse is an also an author, and I must credit him and several writers gatherings in the Sacramento, California area for allowing me to accompany him to their meetings, getting me involved in “free writes,” and continuing to encourage me in my literary workouts which, as most of my fellow authors know, can be as strenuous as doing something similar at the local gym…if not more so!

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Boys-On-Purpose-CoverBoys On Purpose: Poetry, Prose and Stories with Decidedly Gay Overtones: A collection of poems, prose and stories with decidedly gay overtones and a nostalgic bent.

Boys growing up in the United States during the 1950’s and 60’s has little, if any, information about being “different.” There was literally no one to turn to for advice or encouragement. If anything, the dictates of the culture and societal pressures made them feel insecure and outcast.

In this first-published collection, Sacramento-based writer Rodion Rebenyar has complied a variety of poems (written specifically for and with those who don’t normally like to read poetry in mind), prose and stories which highlight one boy’s journey through this turbulent decade. It is a time of discovery, terror and ultimate victory over body, mind and soul.

Mature readers will relate to much of what is discusse here. It will make them laugh, cry, relfect and perhaps feel uncomfortable at times.

Younger readers may gain insights from this collection and come to the conclusion that growing up gay in the United States hasn’t changed that much in half a century.

The collection is illustrated with many magazine covers and ad copy of the era, plus a series of classic cartoons by artist Richard Steen (all of which seem tame by today’s standards, but which were highly controversial at the time they were published in male model and physique magazines).

Buy Link: Amazon

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Choices-We-Made-final-frontThe Choices We Made: A novel about true friendship overshadowed by the choices, both good and bad, made by several young gay men during an eight year period encompassing the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

You’ll be seduced by Damian’s sophisticated charm, won over by Jeremy’s good looks and debonair “Southern fried” style, fascinated by Tim’s weird and kinky proclivities, struck by Tony’s undying devotion, confounded by the stark contrast of Kofi’s willingness to serve and comfort to Carlos’s passion for domination and control, confused by the strange duplicity of the ostensibly straight guy Marcus, cringe at the ins and outs of being a roommate with Keith and Ernie, not to mention being amused by the narrator’s self-styled “den of iniquity,” admiring his often wise and frequently zany parents, laughing at his campy sidekick Randall, marveling at the effervescent Uncle Frank as well as a host of others from various stations in life.

The author reflects the tastes, attitudes and styles of the times, in addition to highlighting several significant events which made headlines for the gay community, both in positive and negative ways (the Anita Bryant controversy, religious and moral intolerence, AIDS, urban challenges, fashions and fads — just to name a few).

The reader will come away with understanding and sympathy reflected in the experiences of true-life characters in a world which existed not that long ago and is worth recalling with pride, affirmation and dignity.

We truly have come a long way in THE CHOICES WE MADE!

Buy Link: Amazon

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Lynley Wayne, The Prose Speak

The Prose Speak: Creating an Effective Website (Part 2) by Lynley Wayne

Author Wesbite pt2

As I said in the last post, you don’t have to have a fancy website. The point of an author’s website is to have a place where readers can go to find out all about your books and you. There is no need to spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to have someone design a site for you. Blogger and WordPress both have free templates that can be adjusted to fit your needs.

We’ve already covered the importance of creating your site to represent the genre you write in and you as an author. Another thing to consider is, feel. If you write sweet romances, then having a dark website doesn’t make sense. If you write horror, then having a light-hearted design doesn’t work. Keep that in mind when considering your color scheme.

One thing do stay away from, even if you do write horror, is a black background with white lettering. It’s hard on the eyes. You want readers to visit your website and stay for awhile. If they can’t read it without getting a headache from eyestrain, then they’re not going to stay very long.

Which takes me to my next point. Not everyone has perfect eyesight. Make sure your font is large enough for everyone to read, or at least the majority of people.

Pick a font that is easy to read. Fancy fonts might look pretty, but they can be hard to read. I would suggest using them only for things like headers or quotes. The rest of your website should be using a legible font. That doesn’t mean you have to use Times New Roman or Arial, there are a lot of legible fonts out there.

Another thing to consider, while those moving or flashing graphics might look cool, they can also cause problems with some medical conditions, like epilepsy.

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In part three of author websites, I’ll talk about things every author website should have. If you have a question, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or contact me directly by email at lynleywayne(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Lynley WayneLynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who, or how, we love is no longer an issue.

Website || Twitter: @LynleyWayne || Facebook || Facebook Page

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Lynley Wayne, The Prose Speak, Writing Between the Lines

The Prose Speak: Creating an Effective Website by Lynley Wayne

Author Website pt1

The one thing every author should have is a website. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to blog. In fact, unless blogging is something you enjoy doing and can do on a regular basis, you’re probably better off not having one.

We’ll start with the domain name. That’s the http://www._______.com that will take readers to your website. The best option is WWW.YOURNAME.COM. If you have a common name, then it might already be taken. In that case, consider using:

WWW.YOURNAMEBOOKS.COM,

WWW.BOOKSBYYOURNAME.COM,

WWW.AUTHORYOURNAME.COM,

WWW.YOURNAMEAUTHOR.COM.

You don’t have to use the .com designation. Ones like .net and .org work too. But make it something that is easy for readers to remember.

I’ve seen authors who use the name of a series for their main website. I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you only write that series. The reason being, if you write more than one series it might be harder from some readers to find you. What if you choose your first series as your domain name, but they haven’t read it? You want it to be as easy as possible for readers to find you online.

Which takes me to my next point.

When a reader finds your site they should be able to tell two things almost instantly; that you are an author and what genre you write in. If you write gay romance then you shouldn’t have pictures of scantly clad women plastered all over your website. If you write thrillers, then having cowboys and horses all over your website doesn’t make sense. Unless, of course, you write cowboy thrillers, then that’s a different story. You see where I’m going with this, right? Tailor your website to match the kinds of stories you write.

An author’s website is a professional platform. It is the face you present to the world. Make sure it represents you as a writer.

Things like personal photos of you, your family, your pets, your vacation, have no place on your author website. If you want to share those things, then I suggest keeping them regulated to blog posts. The one exception to this is, however, photos taken at conventions. Then I would suggest creating a page specifically for them, and remember, keep it clean and professional.

Once you post something online, it’s there forever.

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In part two of author websites, I’ll talk specifics about things to consider when creating your website. Feel free to comment or contact me with any questions.

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Lynley WayneLynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who, or how, we love is no longer an issue.

Website || Twitter: @LynleyWayne || Facebook || Facebook Page

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