Opal Writers’ Magazine – JANUARY 2022

January 2022

Complimentary issue – Happy New Year!

CONTENTS

2 – Utilizing Beta Readers | Allison Gorner

3 – Editing Tips for Writers | Mandy E. Barnett

4 – Create a Compelling Content Strategy in 3 Critical Sections | Catherine Saykaly-Stevens

5 – Wishful ‘Shrinking’ | Sheila S. Hudson

6 – Hoppin Up for Good Luck | Cappy Hall Rearick

7 – The Writers Home Office: Getting to Know Others and Making Connections | Barbori Garnet

8 – Shifting From Memoir to Novel: Creating a New Self-Narrative | Sharon Leder

9 – Train Into the Valley of Madness – Episode 4 | Donald H Roberts

BY ALLISON GORNER

Whether you’re polishing up that NaNoWriMo manuscript or have a New Year’s resolution to get that work in progress to press, you need reliable feedback. Beta Readers are a great way to discover what the average reader’s response will be to your book and to find out if there is any dissonance between the author’s intention and the readers’ experience.

Here are some tips on how to utilize Beta Readers to improve your manuscript and get it ready for publishing.

Job of Beta Reader

The job of a Beta Reader is to read and provide feedback of an unpublished work from the standpoint of a typical reader. It is not to edit the manuscript. Beta Readers share their emotional reactions to the characters, plot, settings, and themes. They help find problem areas in the manuscript, but you should not expect them to offer solutions.

Beta Readers are generally unpaid, but it is customary to send the reader a free copy of your completed book (e-book or print). To make it special, you may provide a signed copy or add their names to the acknowledgement section.

Choosing Beta Readers

Choose 3 to 5 Beta Readers who have read a lot of books in your genre. When they are familiar with your genre, they can more readily spot problems that are not on par with similar published works.

Choose readers that can be honest about your manuscript. That might mean to stay away from family and close friends who may shy away from difficult critiques to spare your feelings. Find readers who can be impartial and genuine in their feedback.

Other writers can make great Beta Reader candidates. Look for them in writer’s groups, online forums, or critique groups.

Fans and followers from your author website and social media platforms can also make good Beta Readers. Create a post asking for volunteer readers and offer an advanced copy of the book.

Hiring professional Beta Readers is also an option. Freelance readers have a passion for good stories and will offer unbiased and attentive feedback. Fiverr, Upwork and Goodreads provide extensive lists of freelance Beta Readers for hire.

Sample Questions to Ask a Beta Reader

Providing a list of questions will help guide the Beta Reader in their feedback. Be specific. If there is a scene you are uncertain of, ask a question regarding it. Here is a general list of questions to get you started.

  • What did you like?
  • What didn’t you like?
  • Did you ever get confused, or is there anything you didn’t understand?
  • Did anything frustrate you?
  • Did you get bored? At what point specifically?
  • At what point did you feel invested in the story? The characters? Or when did the story grab your attention?
  • Do the first 10-20 pages make you want to keep reading? Why or why not?
  • Can you relate to the characters? How?
  • Did the setting interest you and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you? 
  • Was there a point at which you felt the story lagged or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Where, exactly?
  • Did the setting interest you and did the images appeal to you? What specifically?
  • What was the tone of the manuscript/story?
  • What genre do you think it is?
  • How did you feel reading it?
  • Does the ending feel right to you? Does it make sense? Why or why not?

Deadline and Follow Up

Stipulate a deadline for your Beta Readers to submit their feedback. Be conscious of the time and effort needed to read the full manuscript and plan accordingly. If you need the feedback in four weeks, give a three-week deadline and allow some buffer time.

Following up just before the deadline will give a little nudge to your readers and remind them to get their feedback in on time.

Beta Readers are a great resource in improving a manuscript. Their additional perspectives will help eke out the problem areas in your manuscript and help you improve the plot, characters, and emotions of your story. Following their pertinent feedback will improve the reader’s experience and make your book better. And what author doesn’t want a better book?

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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By MANDY E. BARNETT

Once you have ‘finished’ the first draft of a manuscript, there is a feeling of accomplishment and rightly so. Make sure to celebrate before the next step, which is not always a favorite part for a lot of writers.

The Edit

Depending on your writing style you may, or may not, have edited as you wrote. Whichever way your process works, a thorough edit is the next stage to a polished manuscript.

Editing actually encompasses quite a few elements, including continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, scene revisions, sentence structure, etc. As you can see the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.

So where should you start?

It may seem counterproductive, but it is best not to plunge directly back into a first draft. You have spent a long time creating your fictional world and its inhabitants and the story is fresh in your mind. Distance yourself from it for a while, and let it sit. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the narrative. Ideally, leave it for three weeks to three months or longer, depending on if you have a deadline, of course. Having this time away will help you ‘see’ the story with fresh eyes. As you re-read it there will be new insights into plot arc, character development and more.

Which task do you tackle first?

Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements at once, concentrate on one item at a time.

Limit each read through to a specific task.

There are several ways to accomplish these tasks and many will be personal choice as to how to achieve them. You can go down the old school route and print out the manuscript, then use different coloured sticky notes, or print it on different coloured sheets to denote each task or utilize a computer program. As long as you are methodical in your approach you will notice any errors.

Tips:

1. Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.

2. Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.

Common editing tasks include:

  1. Make your verbs stronger and cut adverbs.
  2. Eliminate filler words and phrases, such as “currently”, “that”, and “in order to.”
  3. Refer to people as “who” not “that.”
  4. Divide long, hard-to-read or complex sentences into shorter sentences.
  5. Fix any inadvertent double negatives.
  6. Minimize your use of “very” and “really.” TIP:  A quick ‘find’ will show them in Word.
  7. Cut down on overusing passive voice/passive verb structures (is/was/-ing verbs).
  8. Take heed of any clichés.
  9. Ensure any distinctive dialogue quirks or movements are used for a single character; don’t give “signature” details to more than one person unless there’s a reason.
  10. Rewrite sentences with repetitious words and/or phrases.
  11. Double check your word usage to ensure it means what you think it means.
  12. Weed out words, actions, or punctuation you personally overuse. For example: characters smiling or taking deep breaths, ellipses in the middle or end of dialogue, etc. TIP: Again, the Find feature can help with these.
  13. Hyphenate modifying words.
  14. Cut out the majority of exclamation points. Tip: Rule of thumb – no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  15.  Tighten your writing by replacing general words, such as “thing(s)” or “stuff” with specific ones.
  16. Limit dialogue/conversations to move your story forward, discard chit-chat.

When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Tip: It is your story, and therefore your choice if revisions are suggested. You can accept them or not.

Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. (The more you edit the more you will find yourself seeing these when you read a novel).

Once you have completed these edits it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.

Keeping Revisions

When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene. Deleting these can be hard. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions, but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and, even then, you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. In essence it becomes a learning tool or a writer’s jetsam- whichever way you want to view it. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if, at some point in the future, you decide to use them in a sequel. 

Without correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.

Happy editing.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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BY CATHERINE SAYKALY-STEVENS

3 Critical Steps to Avoid Delays and to Create Your Effective Plan to Jumpstart 2022

The end of another year. 2021 was as challenging as its predecessor, leaving many feeling unsure about their future.

The last few years challenged us in ways we couldn’t imagine, but there were silver linings:  More time with family; a surge in creative innovation; a large percentage of the population initially resistant to maneuvering online, finally embraced it.

Most People Make Unsuccessful Resolutions

It’s an annual passing. The beginning of a new year inspires many people to rush into making their new year resolutions: loose weight – write the book – stop smoking – find another job – learn a new skill.  They either cease doing or start doing something new. Unfortunately, the vast majority will give up within a few months, never seeing the outcomes they desire.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.                         ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.       ~Benjamin Franklin
Plan your work and work your plan.                         ~Napoleon Hill

The Better Solution – Create The Plan for Success

A Plan is …

  • As small as a bullet point list.
  • As large as a massive program of intricate details paired with a time-resource-team-actions to execute, and then monitor to course-correct at every junction following a detailed steps in the right order.  

Your plan is simply the roadmap to follow that will take you from where you are now,
to something, someone, or someplace you want to be.

How do we do that? Sometimes we get in our own way. We overthink. When it comes to planning, the answer is often to simplify.

The good news is that the infrastructure to support your roadmap already exists. There is no wheel to reinvent. No one direction guarantees success, nor is it limited to only one direction.  Some routes will be easier to complete than others and some routes will require outside help.

  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
  2. Reverse Engineer to Create Your Required Steps (and put them in order)
  3. Identify and Fill the GAPs

Bonus:  Get Feedback | Implement | Course Correct

1. Get S.M.A.R.T. Goals with End Dates

Specific          Identify the outcome desired
Measurable    Select what to track and measure progress
Attainable       Must be a goal within your ability to achieve
Realistic         Always know where you are, check off tasks, know the next step.
Timely             Time bound. A clear end date to keep the timeline moving. Otherwise, the goal has no end

Goal Setting the right way creates the tangible outcomes you depend on and determine how you recognize if it’s working or if you much course correct.

2. Reverse Engineer to Create Your Required Steps – (and put them in order)

By forcing yourself to work your events, projects, and services backwards you will determine all the steps required to get your desired outcome.

3. Identify and Fill the GAPs

By creating the Steps, in order, you will discover GAPs you had not considered you may now address. This is where determining your resources, tools, and teams in advance will tell you were you’re equipped to tackle the next challenge or where you require improvements.

Your 2022 plan should inspire you, motivate you, because it’s part of your Vision and Mission – what you want so badly.

Because you broke it down and simplified it into smaller and simpler components, creating more manageable steps, you will be far more equipped to complete your desired outcome.  

It’s like playing a masterful, intricate game of chess. Knowing where each piece is on the board and thinking 3 steps ahead. Knowing that each step will trigger a move, and that you have a counter measure, will put the odds in your favour to win.

Did you catch all the GAPS in your 2022 plan that may interfering with your step?

It’s true, no matter how detailed you plan, something always gets missed. Sometimes things fall out of the clear blue sky to disrupt you. 

That’s ok, because you’ve created your plan with build-in flexibility to deal with it.

No more distractions, no more disruptions. Time to get sh!t done.

To your powerful 2022!

Stop Paralysis! Discover What Steps You Need to Take to Jumpstart 2022!

(2-hr LIVE WEBINAR)

Laser Your Focus | Build Your Strategic Plan | List Your Next Steps
 in just 1 webinar

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5pm BST | Noon ET | 10am MT | 9am PT

This LIVE Webinar Will Show You:

  • your Vision and Mission into your 2022 plan
  • your 2022 strategy unfold – In 7 steps
  • 2022 projected highlights and Identify the GAPs to fill-in and if supported
  • your content strategy to support your 2022 Plan to boost your visibility/credibility
  • the steps to implement your 2022 Plan! (and monitor your progress)

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If you cannot join us LIVE, then watch the video replay at your convenience.

Receive laser training and guidance to jumpstart your 2022!

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By SHEILA S. HUDSON

Ping. A missile rocketed across the tile. T. J., our resident canine omnivore, did a swoop and swallowed something that he imagined was a doggy snack. Tim automatically lifted his feet to avoid the scampering.

“Oh Fudge.”

The unidentified missile was the top button of my pants. That discount dry cleaner shrank another pair! At this rate, it would be cheaper to buy disposable slacks. I hurriedly slid into my elastic waistband pair from a previous weight class.

“Sure. . . they did,” my hubby mumbled when I explained my plight.

“That’s it,” I announced. “Swimsuit season is just around the corner. It’s time to dust off the treadmill and lace up my Nikes.”

In the spirit of exorcising exercise, I shoved my girls into a sports bra that I accidentally purchased while experiencing a low sugar craving after a holiday binge. Fortunately, the desire to actually wear it and exercise subsided after a long bubble bath followed by a dry martini. Okay maybe two martinis.

Dieting is a weighty issue, so I decided to get a professional opinion.

“No. No. No. Dieting alone isn’t the answer.” Dr. Lukas advised, “I recommend dog walking for all my patients. Walking your animal companion is great exercise for both of you. Besides, it’s trending.”

Hmmm. I wasn’t sure about the trending part, but I knew how to walk the dog. I wondered if T.J. would go for it. On our last visit, the vet did suggest that he lose a few pounds. Besides this beats the water, green tea, grapefruit, or banana diets not to mention the green coffee beans, raspberry ketones, and other fads that kept me in the bathroom for a month.

Upon returning home, I carefully explained his role as my dog walking partner to our fur baby. T.J. took time from chewing my red sling backs to roll his yes and immediately return to his life of crime.

Undaunted by my family’s response, I was determined to regain my schoolgirl figure. As the second-best option, I enrolled in a low impact aerobics class.

My husband suddenly showed a lot of interest. I think he imagined me morphing into Teri Hatcher, his fantasy girlfriend. While caught up in his lustful hallucination, he splurged on a leopard print spandex workout suit. I haven’t worn so many paw prints since our cat gave birth on my bathrobe.

When I arrived in my spotted glory at Fitness on Fifth, it was obvious that no one was there to sweat but me. Bare-chested athletes flexed their pecs and lats at coeds with firm boobs and tight butts. Checking their lipstick and giggling in coveys was the most movement their leotards saw. I stood out like a T-Rex in Lilliput. It was high school P.E. all over again.

Fifty minutes later I had pumped my arms, legs, stretched my quads and gluts, and thereby sprained everything in between. I contorted myself into shapes that could only be described as obscene. Those muscles unused since childbirth ached. My teeth itched; my eyelids throbbed. I was one wardrobe malfunction away from a meltdown when I remembered something I had read: The average woman spends 31 years of her life dieting.”

There was my loophole. Why diet now? With my family’s longevity, I have decades before the 31-year sentence kicks in? Or am I fudging?

Interesting choice of words that reminds me. I need a snack before going pants shopping.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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BY CAPPY HALL REARICK

Ever wonder how the New Year’s tradition of eating peas and rice got the name Hoppin’ John?
Well, wonder no more.

Some say it originated with a game similar to musical chairs where kids hopped up and down at the table. Duh. My Grandkids from Hell jump up and down at the table as if they’ve swallowed a Slinky. Up North, people eat pork and sauerkraut because it cleans them out in preparation for the coming year. Yuk. Homemade colonoscopies might be Yankee logic, but I’d sooner have kids jumping up and down at the table like Jack on Crack in the Box.

Thinking it will ward off bad luck, most Southerners adhere to the tradition of eating pork, collard greens and Hoppin’ John on the first day of the new year. I am a true Southerner but I have not always been a true believer.

On New Year’s Day many years ago, me and my big mouth declared, “No Hoppin’ John and no collard greens for me.” Big mistake.

Mama had roasted a Boston Butt to within a smidgen of cremation. Her collards were swimming like Esther Williams in ham grease. I didn’t believe that a year of good luck depended on which veggies I ate on January 1st. That said, I never met a pig I didn’t want to take home to Mama. So, after downing three pork sandwiches— my one nod to tradition— I developed the bellyache from hell, a first draft of more to come.

The next day, my dog blitzed an entire can of Alpo, looked up at me and promptly dropped dead. Yeah, she was old, but I was just a kid and that dog had been begging for table scraps all of my life. Her high-speed exit made me think she should have eaten my share of collards.

Daddy buried Susie Q in our back yard while Mama and I cried and passed each other one Kleenex after another. He wore a dark suit and tie and stood at the gravesite with his hands clasped in front of him. When I said, “Daddy looks like a preacher,” Mama laughed and cried all at the same time.

On January 3rd, I went to the kitchen, poured lard in a frying pan before realizing that we were slap out of potatoes. Totally forgetting that I’d turned on the burner under the grease, I walked to the Piggly Wiggly and bought a five-pound bag of potatoes and then dilly-dallied back home much like Prissy did in Gone With the Wind. I was stopped by the sound of loud sirens. Not one red fire truck, but three of those bad boys were parked end-to-end in front of our house. Smoke billowed from the kitchen door while neighbors lined up on the sidewalk and gawked.

Within minutes Mama’s kitchen was toast. All of the cabinets would have to be repainted and her new wallpaper smelled like a Boy Scout Jamboree. She stayed mad at me for the next twelve months.

Fearing the next day could bring even more bad luck, I didn’t want to wake up. What if the calamities over the past three days were only teasers? Hello? I should have stayed in bed because that year was the longest one of my life. One piece of bad luck pounced on me every single day.

Bottom line? I learned more than I ever wanted to know about traditions, why they were not mere words but established entities that I should honor. I’ve been known to eat myself into belly bloat since then. You might say I’m the poster child for New Year’s Day cuisine.

I promise you this: until my jaws no longer go up and down in chew mode, I will cover my sassy southern you-know-what by hogging down pork, Hoppin’ John and collard greens every January 1. I’ll even eat some of that boring Yankee delight they call sauerkraut. Who am I to mess with tradition, even when it originates north of the Mason Dixon Line?

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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The Writers Home Office | Barbori Garnet

In my December 2021 article, I shared that through the writing and publishing my book, I have had the opportunity to meet and network with others. In this month’s article, you will learn that there are many ways that writers can meet and get to know others. Whether you are a writer or author, here are some of the ways that I have gotten to know people, writers and others alike, along with suggestions for keeping up the connections made.

Writing Articles – By writing articles for publications I have got to know many people, from editors to publishers to business owners and other writers. I have found that it is nice to send an e-mail to say hi, in between queries, just to keep up the acquaintance and see how things are going. If you write articles on a variety of topics, you will have the opportunity to get to know people in a variety of fields and careers.

Interviews – Interviews have provided me the opportunity to reach out and learn from others. In early 2021, I wrote an article on Canadian lavender farms. For the article, I interviewed five lavender farm owners so that readers would know the challenges and successes encountered by the owners in growing lavender. I enjoyed connecting with each of the owners and appreciated that they took the time to share their knowledge and experience running a lavender farm. Interviews can be a good opportunity for learning from and getting to know others.

Virtual Conferences and Events – In 2021, I attended some virtual conferences and events. By participating in or leading sessions, I was able to interact with other writers and authors. During sessions, asking questions and listening to answers can provide much to learn from and be inspired by in your writing journey.

Foreword for My Book – In the search for someone to write the Foreword to my book, Home at the Office: Working Remotely as a Way of Life, I connected with and met other authors and business owners. I appreciated that those I reached out to took the time to reply to me.

As you meet and get to know others, here are a few suggestions for keeping up connections made:

  • Be sure to be courteous to others.
    • Thank people: writers, editors, publishers, for their time.
    • Check in every so often to ask how writing, editing, is going.
    • When appropriate or needed, offer to help by sharing resources, suggestions, and more.
    • Enjoy and take the time to get to know others.

With the start of a New Year, make this a year of connecting and getting to know other writers, authors, editors, publishers, and business owners. Having a network in place can help when you need support or encouragement.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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BY SHARON LEDER

In 1994, when I was 48 years old and requesting a leave of absence from my college teaching job, I had already spent 3 years composing a memoir about my relationship with my father. I had asked myself many times if writing my memoir would provide me release from a traumatic past as the daughter of a heroin addict.

I wanted to learn more about the MD who directed a methadone clinic in Harlem, New York where my father was a patient. Was Dr. Baird still alive, I wondered —he would have been in his late 60s — and would he remember my father who died in 1963 at age 42, probably from an overdose of heroin? Could Dr. Baird shed light on the mystery that haunted me since my father’s death: Why couldn’t my father overcome his addiction? I guess at age seventeen, I had my own form of survivor guilt and wondered whether I had something to do with my father’s death.

Fortunately, I knew an addictions psychiatrist who advised me: “You’re writing your own memoir,” he said. “Your own thoughtful lifetime of reflection already contains a convincing truth.” His comment freed me to follow the authority of my own voice.

When writing a memoir, it is easy to feel intimidated both by the absence of important facts and the enormous process involved in digging facts out. If facts are missing or seem incomplete, one can be rendered silent. Did it really matter if I never found the real Dr. Baird? More importantly, could the doctor possibly provide what I knew in my heart of hearts was impossible to know—that unique, spider web of reasons why my father had become addicted to heroin and couldn’t free himself from it.

As a teacher of literature, I had great texts to guide me. I was teaching the slim, eloquent classic Night by Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel. Weisel knew no one could fully explain the enigma of how human beings could descend into madness and bestial inhumanity. But like other writers who went through the Holocaust’s horrors, Weisel was passionate about his responsibility to convey the truth of his ordeals.

I was amazed to learn that Night’s original version ran over 500 pages and could not get published. In the Foreword to the new translation (2006), Weisel suggests the original had both too much authorial comment and too much wrenching pain that would render his account less believable. “I was more afraid of having said too much than too little.”  Directed by his creative imagination, he retained sections that would allow outrageous history to be more credible. He utilized fictional devices like character development and degeneration, dramatic conflict, dialogue, and narrative point of view to engage the reader. The book was reduced to 120 pages. My painful experience in no way compares to his, but my strategy benefitted from the one he chose—reduction of authorial comment and reliance on fictional devices.

In terms of my own memoir, I decided it didn’t matter if I could not find Dr. Baird and his medical diagnosis of my father’s condition.  I had my own extensive notes on my readings, recollections of conversations with my mother, and the dramatic family scenes of conflict and abuse that were still living inside my body waiting to be verbalized. Fiction could be my genre, instead of memoir. My truth would be the impact of actual events on me. Dr. Baird became Dr. Barish.

All the real people in my memoir began falling like a deck of cards. One by one, I renamed them.  No longer was I, Sharon, the narrator. My persona became Sara. George my father became Josef, and so on.

The automatic shift in naming allowed me to get inside my father’s head through interior monologue. I was able to imagine his last and final day, the day he may have decided to take his own life, the day he was supposed to have been treated at “Dr. Barish’s” methadone clinic.  That scene became an important part of the end of my novel. Ironically, it was the first scene I wrote, helping me to discover where I wanted the novel to wind up.

Creating my book as fiction also released me from victimhood. I had been trapped in a deterministic chain of thought leading to an adulthood of lingering guilt. As Sara, I could give myself permission to unleash all the pent-up anger at my father, all the rage I had been hording because of shame. As a victim of my family tragedy, I was still blaming myself. The advice of one of my literary heroes came to mind. In her famous essay A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf asserted that women couldn’t find their authentic writing voices if they wrote in angry defiance. Women had much to be angry about, given their subordinate status. Yet, anger caused writers to remain stuck on themselves, she believed, rather than on the development of their subjects and characters. A well-developed character, like a real person, has both good and bad traits. This guidance helped me remember the ways I loved my father, and learned from him, enabling me to create a character with complexity and self-scrutiny.

Lastly, with fiction as my genre, I was able to shape the novel around a series of questions for which I sought answers. Will Sara save her father from his addiction? Will her withholding, co-dependent mother reveal to Sara how her father’s addiction began?  And after Josef’s climactic death from overdose, will Sara overcome anger without blaming her father and come to forgive him? Answering  these yes/no questions in sequential chapters functioned to build up the novel’s drama, bring it to  climax or turning point, and present the consequences the protagonist Sara must face. Sara meets the challenges far more smoothly than I did in reality, but her confidence has rubbed off a bit on me!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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TRAIN
Into the Valley of Madness
Episode 4

BY DONALD H. ROBERTS

“Sorry to bring a whole train load of passengers but I wasn’t expecting this. It seems the whole area was struck with a random factor incident. There were only supposed to be five guests, not sixty-nine,” said the conductor to the hotel manager.

“Not to worry. I was forewarned two days ago. The desk clerk has every one assigned to a room and of course the five originals have been assigned suites as prescribed in an earlier announcement,” replied the manager. “But there is a few concerns. Come to dinner this evening and we will talk about them. In the meantime do your best to get all your passengers organized and please bring the five original guests in first. If they have a companion they may remain together. We don’t want anyone asking more questions than we can answer,” he added.

“What about the police officers. No matter what they will want to conduct some sort of investigation and if we try to stop them I am afraid they may go to extraordinary measures to get answers,” warned the Conductor.

The Manager replied thoughtfully, “Send them to me. I will deal with them.”

The Conductor replied anxiously, “I’ll get them now. They are already stirring things up.”

“Bring them straight to my office,” replied the Manager.

Detective Sam Wakes stared in disbelief at the hotel manager.

He said in challenge, “You can’t expect me to believe that.”

“You are right Detective. I do not expect you or Detective Barnes to believe anything. It’s not required. The fact is however its true. Your person of interest is one of the original five, thus, since were psychically connect you were drawn in. What becomes of you when this all plays out is not up to me, or the conductor,” the manager explained.

“Who is it up to?” Wakes demanded.

The manager said thoughtfully, “We would all like to have the answer to that question Detective Wakes. In the mean time you and Detective Barnes have been assigned to a nice room with a view of the valley. I ask only that you be discreet in your inquiries and try not to get the other guest agitated. Now please go get settled in, your baggage will be along soon.”

“We didn’t bring baggage for a day cruise,” Barnes countered.

“It has been provided, and before you ask, no, I do not know who provided it,” the manager instructed then quickly ushered the two detectives out the door.

Lassiter Leeks cringed. Detective Wakes glared at him but knew he couldn’t do anything, not until he could figure out what was going on. Wakes didn’t tell the manager he wasn’t investigating anything. He was on a man hunt and he was going to bring a cop killer to justice one way or another.

“This way Mr. Leeks. We have a very nice suite made up for you,” said the Porter.

“What the hell is going on. I don’t need a room; I need to get the hell out of this valley and up to the road,” Leeks snarled.

“I wouldn’t know anything about that. All I am to do is show you to your room,” the porter exclaimed and ushered Leeks to the elevator, which was an old…very old model that required an operator. The operator looked as old as the elevator, maybe older and a little nearer to a cadaver than a living thing, but not cold and dead, just grey, and gaunt.

The room looked like it was transported out of an old duster, but it had its own bathroom, bed room and sitting room, with electric lights an old time radio, a well-stocked coffee bar and a small beer fridge and liquor cabinet with sample sized beverages.

Lassiter Leeks said, “Well if I gotta hang around this ain’t so bad but listen up. You keep those two coppers out of my way and I’ll tip you big time. If you don’t I’ll do something not so nice.”

The porter smiled and said in response, “That is not up to me. Maybe you should talk to the manager and we are not allowed to accept tips. We are well provided for and well paid for our services so that tips are not necessary.” Then he turned abruptly on one heel and started for the door. At the door he said, “Your luggage will arrive soon.”

“Maddy. What have you gotten us into.”

“I didn’t get us into anything Sherry. The plan was perfect. How did I…how was I supposed to know this would happen.”

“Mr. Venton. Your suite is ready. Please follow me.” A porter beckoned and pointed toward the elevator.

“What room. I didn’t reserve a room?”

“You will have to take that up with the manager. In the meantime lets go up to your suite and get settled in. Then your luggage will follow. It can’t follow until you are registered and settled in your room. Your partner has been provided for as well.”

“Maddy. What’s going on. Is this some kind of set up. Maybe our marks were smarter than we thought and they were on to us all along and now they’re fixing us.”

“Shut up Sherry. You’re talking nonsense. This is all just a great big mistake. As soon as we get back to the city we can clear out just like we planned. In the meantime maybe we should just cruise along. Maybe this is a good thing.”

The manager said, “All is well for the moment. The police officers seem to be complying and I have seen they are being treated like special guests.”

“That’s good. I am being assaulted by the whole lot of them wanting to know how long they will be held prisoners,” the conductor replied.

“You and me both, but the Boss’ll be upset if we tell them anything and I doubt they want to hear the truth anyway. I wouldn’t if it was me, but then it’s already happened to me and I am…well…that doesn’t matter. Just keep quiet. That’s all,” the manager said gloomily.

Episode 5 will be available in the February issue – watch for it here!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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Watch for the next Opal Writers’ Magazine in February!


Opal Publishing

Published by Opal Publishing
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

3 thoughts on “Opal Writers’ Magazine – JANUARY 2022

    1. Cindy DeJager (Opal Publishing)

      Hello Kathryn!
      Thank you so much for letting us know ♥
      It means so much to the writers of these articles and I will share your comment with Sharon Leder. ♥

  1. sharonlederauthor

    Dear Kathryn, I am so glad my article encourages you. Wow, two memoirs on trauma. Tremendous achievement! Congratulations. I am now writing a sequel. How about you? What’s your next step?

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