Valeria Rocks!

I’ve been back down to my old hometown visiting friends and relatives. Lemoncove and Exeter (California) is where my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time is set, even though no particular town names are mentioned. My good friend (one of my besties from school) has helped me promote the book and has introduced me to her rock-painting group, Exeter Rocks. These are a wonderful group of ladies, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to make a couple of their meetings. (Having the meetings at A&W restaurant is a big plus!)

I was astounded when one of the women, Denise, painted me a rock “to hold my papers down” when I would be selling my book. I am fascinated by how exactly it matches the cover of my book, but even better, the globe GLOWS IN THE DARK! 

I am touched, and it makes me want to do something nice for someone else. Every time I look at it, I’ll be reminded of this sweet woman and Exeter Rocks. 

Denise’s artwork can be found at Hometown Emporium in Exeter, if anyone wants to check out what else she is working on. 

Black Friday Free Books!

I’m very happy to be able to offer 1 free book and 1 free novella tomorrow (Black Friday) AND “Cyber Monday!”

My Mystery Novella, “Sweet Danger,” and my very new book, “Ozark Heritage,” will be a free download both tomorrow, “Black Friday,” and Monday, “Cyber Monday” on Amazon. 

You don’t have to have a Kindle to read these, just download the Kindle App either on your computer or mobile phone or device, and then start reading!

“Sweet Danger” was a really fun novella to write, and I know you will find it enjoyable to read! A 17 year old beekeeper, Jessica, “Jessie,” has a murdered person dropped in her very own bee yard and gets caught up in finding out why her bees were used to murder an innocent man.

“Ozark Heritage” is my mother, Mildred Roberts McConnell’s memoir. She sat with me in front of a video camera several years ago and reminisced about her growing-up years. I took that material and created a memoir for her, “in her own words.” Recently, I wanted to make a really nice book for her, in memory of her, and for her nieces and nephews. There is some new material and a couple of corrections from the early stapled-together versions, and I am really pleased to be able to make it available. I know her friends, family, and others will enjoy reading this little book. 

“Ozark Heritage” is also now available in paperback! I have priced the paperback and the Kindle version as low as possible and am not intending on making any money off them. My goal is to have anyone who wishes to be able to read them and know more about who my mother was.

I hope you enjoy them, and if you want more from CR Roberts, please check out “Valeria & The Enemy of Time,” my book for middle-schoolers (adults like it too!).

If you like what you read, please rate on Amazon; that is very helpful to me!

New Today! “Ozark Heritage” — Mildred’s Book

I am so pleased to announce the publication of my latest book. This is a different kind of book than you have seen, and probably will see from me. It is my mother’s memoir. You can find it here.

Several years ago, she sat with me and a video camera and talked about her youth and her family. I transcribed it, sorted it out somewhat chronologically, added a few old pictures, and photocopied a few booklets for family. When my mother, Mildred McConnell Roberts Criswell, passed away in September, I decided to revisit the project. She was the last of her siblings, and I knew that many of the extended relatives were interested in owning a copy of her “Heritage Book,” as we called it. Her story of how she grew up and life in Missouri and Arkansas were interesting enough that I also thought that other people would enjoy reading it. So I decided to make it available on Amazon, both paperback and on Kindle.

To the memoir and the photos, I have also added a few extras in this second edition. My sister, Sharlene, has done some genealogical work on our family history, and within the last couple of months, she has unearthed some previously unknown connections. I included a couple pages of that information. I also added a brief follow-up of Mildred’s life, since her memoir is from her early life and ends when she got married. 

This is from the book description:

Mildred McConnell Roberts was born in Birch Tree, Missouri in 1937, the middle girl of nine siblings in her family, of Scotch-Irish-Cherokee ancestry with roots back to the 1700’s. Mildred’s story, told here in her own words, details a life of musical awakening, hardships, and love of family against the backdrop of life in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozark Mountains.

This book was a labor of love, and I do not intend on making a profit from it. I will be offering the paperback on Amazon for the price it costs me, and I am selling the Kindle book for the lowest amount of 99¢. I can also make the Kindle book free periodically. I am planning on running a free promotion of “Ozark Heritage” on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I hope you pick it up and give it a read. I am anticipating the paperback will be ready on Amazon today or tomorrow, and I’ll make another announcement when it is.

If you read it and enjoy it, please rate it on Amazon! That will help more people be able to find it, and it will help me also.

Boots for Valeria

Valeria’s boots, in my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, are like a minor character in the story. They appear just before she needs them, and they stick with her all the way through. Her boots almost seem magical, the way they fit her so perfectly with their buttery-soft leather, and being useful to hide daggers and kick wild dogs.

When I was a kid, did I have boots like that? Alas, I did not. Here is what I knew about boots when I was young.

There were cowboy boots. My two sisters had cowboy boots because they rode horses. You can see how I felt about horses here. I assumed they were pointy-toes so that you could slide them into the stirrups, sort of like threading a needle, or maybe throwing darts at the bullseye. I didn’t especially find the fancy stitching patterns pretty, and they looked very uncomfortable to me, since my feet and toes were all squared off at the ends and not pointy.

There were work boots with rubber or cleated soles. Otherwise known as “Red Wings.” My dad wore high-top laced Red Wing boots all the time because he was a beekeeper. He was on his feet a lot, and he needed high tops so he could tie up the bottoms of his coveralls around his shoes, to keep the crawling bees out of his clothes. My mother wore Red Wings too, since she also a beekeeper, was on her feet a whole lot, and needed to tie off her coverall pant legs too. At some point I also had lace-up leather work boots, but not Red Wings. I remember a lot of times, trying to make my coveralls stay tied around my ankles, where some not-quite-high-enough boots fell short. My sisters wore cowboy boots. Of course.

There were rubber galoshes-type rain boots. Always second-hand. And always leaked.

And my very best, very favorite boots of all time—white “go-go boots.”

I was in third grade, around 1965, and to get brand-new shoes or clothes, not hand-me-downs, was amazing. Especially something as fashionable and probably expensive as go-go boots. (dreamy-eyed nostalgia happening right now) The were white, ankle-high with short little heels, and zipped up the back. Alas, even before I outgrew them, I broke them. One school morning, I slipped on the kitchen floor, fell on the open oven door (not turned on). I broke the hinge on the oven door and broke one heel off. I am sure I cried, and I remember asking if Mom couldn’t nail the heel back on. Nope. And that was that.

I have never been as interested in fashion as in comfort. I have required my shoes (and clothes) to be comfortable and not fussy, scratchy or squeezy. A few years ago, I started obsessing about getting some boots, but I could never find the ones I saw in my mind’s eye. The closest I came was seeing the handmade leather boots on medieval reenactors’ feet, with their supple leather, flat heels, and simple designs. I did need boots that would accommodate my orthotics, my shoe inserts, another complication. A couple years ago, I did find some in a store in Morro Bay that fit the bill pretty closely, which you see in the photo at the top of the page.

When I was writing about Valeria, I tried to incorporate Italy into her clues, and since Italy is well-known for well-made shoes, it all came together. So perhaps I did put together everything I knew personally and have felt about boots, and they came out as Valeria’s leather boots, some footwear that I can say definitively I would also have adored as a kid.

New Release!

If you read a previous blog post, you would know that I have several projects burning a hole in my pocket. And now, finally, they are coming to completion! 

My first project, “Sweet Danger,” is one that really excites me, for several reasons.

First:

It is about bees! Honeybees, as a matter of fact. The main character is a beekeeper, and along with experiencing all the excitement of the story, you’ll perhaps learn an interesting tidbit or two about the darling little insects. Be sure to read the “about the author” blurb at the end of the story to see how I know so much about bees!

Second: 

It is a novella! That means you can sit down and probably finish it in one nice long sitting. It’s a “Novel—Lite” 

Third:

Sweet Danger is a mystery novella. I did want to try my hand at this genre, and it was a blast. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Fourth:

The main character is a girl, actually a young woman of 17 years old, so this is technically a young adult novella. But everything is clean. Except for people getting murdered mysteriously and in interesting ways. I love writing stories featuring strong, realistic females!

Fifth:

And this is the best of all…It’s FREE! Well, as free as I can make it. The cheapest I can make it on Kindle is for 99¢. But I can promote it by making it free 5 days out of every 90 days. So for either splurging 99¢, about the cost of a soft drink at McDonalds, you can enjoy a good read; or you can wait until I post on my pages that a free day is coming up. 

I’m doing this for two reasons. One, I want to reward the people who have given my first book “Valeria & The Enemy of Time” a chance and borrowed or bought it, and then read it. And two, I’d like those who haven’t read my first book to give “Sweet Danger” a chance (FREE, or at least, really cheap), and if you like it, then you might give my other book(s) a chance!

I’m going to be putting it on my website with links for downloading when it gets finalized with Amazon, but also check back on my Facebook page!

Redding Authors Fair (Northstate California)

It was really a lot of fun, being there sitting behind my books, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, plus the one I wrote as Dinah Roberts, “The Lazy Brewster,” a how-to book on brewing beer using an all-grain way, with the newer “brew-in-a-bag” method. What made it a blast was having Mel Newton with me, sharing my half of the table and selling her own books, “Go Ride Far,” and “Play any Instrument,” (pen name Orvetta Black on that one). 

The Redding Writers Forum‘s “Author’s Fair” was held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Redding. We had a fairly good turnout of authors. I had some fun shopping for a handful of books to read, myself. Melinda and I got to talk about our books, something we were looking forward to practicing! We enjoyed setting up our displays also. I watched her do something that I thought only I would be doing, straightening corners, moving around little items to make everything look squared-up and neat. Looks like we work well together!

I got some ideas for future book-selling/promoting tables from visiting the other authors spaces. The way they incorporated and displayed posters, props, promo material, and candy jars was inspiring. I wonder if anyone was looking at ours and capturing ideas!

The Author’s Fair has been on hiatus for a couple years, since the club lost its location at the Shasta Mall. I’m really tickled that it has been brought back. I recently found out that the money raised from table rental is to bring back the scholarship the club offered. What a great project!

Unfortunately the foot traffic was slim, and not many people had the information to come over and check us out. I’m hoping that we can change things for next year. If a committee is formed for that, you may be seeing me on it!

I will review the books I bought at the Fair on my blog, when I read them, and give information on how to get them, if they sound interesting to you.

Cement Truck

I haven’t been in very many vehicle accidents in my life. The school bus crash, which I described in a previous blog post was one. And the only other one I can think of is when I got rear-ended on the country road where I was stopped to make a left turn down my gravel lane. The impact shoved us forward, but there wasn’t much to see on the rear bumper of my old Suburban, as opposed to the little Honda which impaled itself onto my ball hitch. 

Periodically, while on the highway, I’ve come across accidents, as we all have, but none stuck in my memory more than the cement truck, single vehicle accident I saw a few years ago in Oroville, Calif. 

Perhaps you remember when the Oroville Dam spillway was self-destructing under the torrent of water flowing over it? Sections of the concrete had eroded away, allowing the water to eat away ever more, down to bedrock. Residents, all the way to Yuba City were evacuated over worry that a failure would send dangerous amounts of water down-river.

The next spring, after the rainy season was over, they started throwing cement at the problem, building back up the spillway and other structures. Trucks drove up from the cement plants to to the dam 7 days a week.

One Sunday morning I was headed south on Highway 70, from the Oroville area, and I saw a strange sight that I couldn’t make sense of. The two-lane country highway was mostly deserted; it was still too early for much traffic. About a quarter of a mile ahead of me, just to the left of the road, something was moving. Because of the dust being thrown up in the air, at first I thought it was a tractor in the field. But even from the distance I could see that the moving thing was out of control, erratic and very fast. It was big, smooth, and it disturbingly lacked features, like a vehicle should have.

By the time I got closer, I could finally satisfy my curiosity. It was a cement tank, lying just off the road ditch in a field. A short way down the road lay an upside-down truck, oddly bare, with just the cab and a long frame. A couple of cars coming from the other direction had already stopped, so I went on.

I checked on the CalTrans traffic website, Quickmap to see what had happened. From the CHP conversation, it looked as if a tire had blown out on the truck, causing the roll-over. The tank had been fully loaded with cement.

I had never thought about the possibility of the tank coming off the truck in an accident, although it seems obvious that it could. I played back in my mind the sight of the tank rolling in the dirt, having been flung off the truck at 55mph, throwing up a whirlwind of dust, its ovoid shape rolling like a football and inexorably smashing anything in front of it. To see something like that  coming your way would be a horrifying sight. I was sad whenever I thought of the poor driver, just doing his job on a nice sunny morning, supporting his family, killed in the accident. I thought again about how strange and unexpectedly long the undercarriage of the truck looked. 

When Valeria’s school bus was involved in an accident, I wanted something unusual to happen, something unexpected. I remembered the cement truck wreck, and imagined how badly that scenario could have turned out if there had been a bus full of people in the way.

And that, Dear Readers, is why the bus accident in my book, Valeria and The Enemy of Time, uses the destruction of a cement truck to cause the first chapter wreck, and to propel Valeria into her adventures. 

NaNoWriMo Approaches!

NaNo…(Drum roll)…WriMo! It is upon us!

It is hard to believe, if you are an aspiring fiction writer, that you haven’t heard of National Novel Writers Month, aka, “NaNoWriMo.” Days and months are assigned to different causes, such as Pink October, National Cupcake Day (conveniently on my birthday), Mother’s Day, Black History Month, etc. About 20 years ago someone came up with the crazy idea of assigning the month of November to novel writers.

I used to be fairly happy with writing short stories. But it happened that I was no longer satisfied with a few pages. I would read books and think, Could I do this? I do believe I could! But how? How does one start? What was my method, the one that would work for me? How was I supposed to know what to put at the beginning and the middle if I didn’t know how it ended? And all that other stuff that paralyzes people who need a lot of control in their lives. My writing was slow and careful; I edited as I went along, and then edited again. I still tend toward that, but what generally improved my capacity to write was when I discovered NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo basically says, “Just shove the blankety-blank words on to the page! Let your fingers tappety-type like mad, hauling words out of your reptile brain, scraping them through the cerebrum only long enough to lightly baste them with sentence order, and fling them onto your computer screen. Or, if you hearken back to yore, when people used quill and ink, let your Papermate fly across the spiral-bound notebook. 

Now do that every day, for 30 days, the entire month of November. Until you have 50,000 words, which works out to about 200 pages. And there you have it: Welcome to your first novel! Or your 19th, if you’ve been keeping up every year.

Why is this a fun thing to do? For me, its because it breaks the rules I am trapped by with my careful writing. If the goal is to get material on the page because I can’t afford to fall behind, then I will just keep the words coming, sometimes surprising myself. More often, amusing myself with all the purple prose available to my nimble fingers. 

It’s also fun because a whole lot of other people are doing it. This is the first year that I’m going to meet up with some other local participants, under a local “ML” (Municipal Liaison). Tonight we are all supposed to meet each other at a local restaurant. Writing is a very solitary activity for me. I need to be able to concentrate and get into my own head without distractions. But there is something cool about knowing that lots of other people are doing the same thing you are, separately but together. Sort of like individual events at a track meet. With cupcakes. Somehow I’m going to work cupcakes into this month.

What am I going to write about? Heck! I don’t know yet! I still have a couple days! I know I’ll get a better start if I at least come up with a scenario before the 1st, though I have started before on the first morning with just a pen and a blank piece of paper in front of me.

I’m thinking that I will spend Halloween evening coming up with something. 

If I can get past the 2 week point (where I usually crash and burn) then I might share some of what I’m writing. It could be hilarious. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few previous years’ excerpts. This is one I started on a November 1st with a blank sheet (if that’s not obvious). Maybe you can see me reaching for the answer to….(cue scary music)… The Secret of Kevin. 

ch1

Like waves rolling and breaking further up the sand, now drawing back, then reaching forward, consciousness slowly came to Kevin. He still felt the paralysis of deep sleep, felt like his body was encased in plaster, and he couldn’t twitch so much as a finger, but his mind was beginning to move from the night towards the day. With great effort, he managed to open his eyes halfway. They felt sticky. Bright light from an open curtain washed across his vision, and for a moment Kevin felt the room begin to spin. Or was it his body spinning? He couldn’t tell. His head ached, and his mouth felt sour. Had he overslept until his body rebelled, or did he have the biggest hangover of his young life? He moaned and heard the pitiful sound as he exhaled. 

I can’t remember anything, he thought.

Kevin blinked repeatedly until his eyes cleared up and he could see that he was stretched out on a sofa. The sofa was dark green velour with a raised pattern on it that held onto his clothes as he attempted to slide up to a near sitting position. What the Hell has happened to me? he thought as he felt the rise of nausea in his stomach. He looked around.

Where am I? When is this? Who am I? Kevin felt a little panicked until he pulled his thoughts under control. My name is Kevin. I’m 20 years old. I go to school. No, wait, I did go to school, but now, what? Did I finish? It’s ok, calm down, he told himself. It will come. Something a little unusual has happened to you, and you are fine. To test that, he looked on his body and felt his head for any signs of blood or bruises. All clear. He rubbed his eyes and looked around the room. 

It was a standard type living room. Sofa, recliner, TV set in the corner, one big picture window with the beige linen curtains pulled wide open, letting the hot western sun pour into the room. He felt like a stranger in someone else’s house, yet there was a niggling thought at the back of his mind that he should know more about the place than he could call to mind. A heavy thirst and a driving need for the facilities moved Kevin away from his effort of thinking and to the effort of getting up.

Bracing himself against the arm of the sofa, Kevin rose to his feet. He swayed a bit, and then the room quit spinning, and he could get his bearings. He walked past the kitchen and to the second door on the left. As he put his hand on the knob, he wondered why he knew exactly where the bathroom was if he was a stranger in the house? He swung the door open, went inside and took care of his greatest need. Then he turned to the sink to splash some cool water on his face and cupped his hands for a few sips of the water. Facing the mirror, Kevin felt a cold shock. It wasn’t the yellowing of old bruises on his face or the wild unruly blond hair that looked not to have been taken care of for weeks. And it wasn’t his bloodshot eyes or tattered, soiled shirt that made his stomach lurch. It was the coffee-colored words, written in lipstick on the mirror that said, “Go Home.”

“Café Mocha,” Kevin said softly, smearing a bit of the “G” onto his index finger and smelling it.

Upcoming Projects October

Along with promoting my new book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, I have been working on several other projects. Getting back from vacation, having new flooring installed, trying to wrap up some important personal paperwork—they have slowed me down, but now I’m settling back into writing. 

One of my looming projects is NaNoWriMo, the nickname of National Novel Writers Month, which is the month of November. A post on that one to come later. I have also been working on a shorter novel that I plan on releasing as a free ebook on Kindle. I won’t let it out until I’m satisfied with the quality and the story, so just because it will be free won’t mean it is junk reading! I’m also brainstorming the next Valeria adventure, and I do have some promising story ideas I’m exploring and outlining.

The project you will see next on my site is something a little different. Some years ago my mother let me interview her to create a memoir of her growing-up years in the Ozarks. She was the last of her siblings and wanted her nieces and nephews to know more about the early days of their family. She called it her “Heritage Book,” and gave out photocopies to family members at our reunions. My mother, Mildred, recently passed away, and I wanted a way to make the history more available to friends and family who wanted to read it. I also believe that her story will be interesting to others, as an American journey, from “there to here.”

Reading her story over again makes me aware of how many others have untold interesting stories of their own journeys. 

I set out to make it an ebook and a paperback book. I do not plan on making a profit on either version, so if I can offer the kindle version free, I will. The paperback, through Amazon, will only cost what it takes to have it printed and handled.

I’m excited about how close we are to putting Mom’s “Ozark Heritage” book out there, and I will be putting it on my website as soon as it is live!

Fun at the Book Release Party!!

Good friends are a treasure, and I feel grateful that I have them in my life!

My Dear Friend Kelly told me she would like to give me a new book release party, and what fun we had! Not only that, but she presented me with a membership in the Exeter Chamber of Commerce! We had the party in the lovely little park beside the Chamber last Sunday with tea and cupcakes and props from the story in the book scattered around. I had some lovely surprises as many old friends showed up to help me celebrate. We even drew in a random stranger walking her dog by the park! 

I read a couple pages from my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, selecting something exciting that is neither part of the excerpt on on website, nor the first chapter available to read on Amazon. After the reading, we strolled down the street to the huge mural of the orange grove. I wanted a picture of me standing by the secret little girl peeping through the leaves of one of the orange trees. Exeter is well-known for its many, beautiful murals. Tourists go out of their way to Exeter to go on guided mural-walks. Check it out here.

I appreciated so much my audience’s faith in me and in my book by buying some copies! I know that books in this genre will mostly be sold in paperback, but I want to remind anyone who prefers ebooks that my book is available electronically also. You can find it not only on Amazon’s Kindle, but from many other sources. Just click on the “Buy Now” button and check them out!

And now my mind won’t stay still, roaming around, trying to find out what Valeria is up to next!