Monday, July 14, 2014

Blog focus to be limited to 5 categories

     Beginning the first of August, 2014, this blog will cover five (5) categories: 1.Crime, 2.History/Research, 3. Behavior, 4. Conferences/Festivals, and 5. Odds 'n Ends. All previous posts can still be found in Archives.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Importance of Reviews

    I have read and heard that a good review, or several good reviews, can help boost a book's appeal to readers. I have written many reviews, myself, over the years, some even for important, well-known authors. Reviews sent me or published in a paper about one of my books, I have treasured and kept. However, I've never kept up with reviews on Amazon for my books. I mean, my books don't sell extremely well, and I thought that any reviews were probably few and far between. I wasn't even curious, until last night.
   True, the reviews were few for each of my main four books (Stolen, Midnight Hours, Prairie Dog Cowboy, and I Like Pink), but the reviews sent me a message from the readers.
    For example, let me share two excerpts from reviews of Stolen:
"Stolen crafted by Vivian Gilbert Zabel is the proverbial page turner done with sensitivity and emotions that will keep you wanting more." 
"Zabel pens a taunt, edge of your seat thriller with 'Stolen'." 
    Reviews about Midnight Hours included the following snippets: 
"Once I started reading about the mysterious and treacherous Midnight, an online predator who targets disabled men, I couldn't put the book down."
"Zabel has created a fast moving plot with characters you come to care about, a satisfying romance, and suspense that keeps you reading. Readers of crime fiction will appreciate Zabel's latest novel and will be hoping for more. I love a good murder mystery. I recommend this one highly for readers who are looking for interesting and believable characters, a tension filled plot, and a realistic setting."
    My young adult novel Prairie Dog Cowboy, which appeals to older readers as much as to the young, also had a few favorable comments:
"The author has a talent for speaking to her readers and putting them in the middle of the story, as if they're actually riding the range or breaking horses with Buddy and his friends."
"I got so interested in the book that I just wish it would have continued and told us about Buddy as a mature man. Good book I can recommend for all age groups."
    Finally, I'll share a couple of excerpts for I Like Pink, my first children's book:
"I Like Pink is a book with which many little girls will relate. Expressive illustrations are a wonderful complement to this book, which will educate and entertain little girls ..."
"My daughter loves this book. It is her absolute favorite."
   The reviews were all good, even if the ratings weren't all 5 Stars. They let me know that I'm doing my job as a writer, that I'm keeping the readers wanting more, wanting to read my work. 
   Even if you haven't read my books, please go to Amazon and read the reviews. Who knows, they may create a desire for you to read one or more. IF you have read one or more of my books, would you please write a review or reviews?  If you do, I'll know more about how readers accept, enjoy, or don't, my books.
     Yes, using reviews as indicators of my success in addressing my audience is the best use of reviews.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Poetry Winner 2014

I read my poetry as part of the award luncheon
     The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Department of Aging, holds a conference each year on aging. As part of the conference, a poetry contest is held earlier in the year. Winners are honored at a luncheon Friday of the conference. This year, my poem "Tapestry" took 3rd place in the women's division. All the poetry entered, over 100 poems from all parts of Oklahoma, was published in a book and given out at the conference.

     For those who have asked to read my poem, here it is, a tribute to a marriage lasting over 52 years, and one that may end any time when one of us leaves the other as we vowed, "until death do us part."

by Vivian Zabel

As a sun peeking o're the horizon
spills streams and sparks of fire
into the tint of night sky,
love pours light into a dark life.

Bubbles of joy burst, erasing
the deep sorrow of loneliness,
leaving pools of calm, of peace
mingled with shards of broken storms.

A baby's cry, children's laughter,
sobs of despair create a mosaic
held together with blooms and thorns,
silky softness joined with ragged roughness.

Hand clasped in hand join two
whose hearts entwine with one beat,
lasting year after year together
through eternity, even after death.

Receiving my award

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I have something to brag about:

      I may not be considered for book awards in my home state. I may not be considered anyone of importance in the local writing community, but my first published picture book was considered good enough to earn Literary Classics Seal of Approval. Yea!!!

      Below the copy of the book cover with the seal shown is the review from Children's Literary Classics, and below the review a book trailer by Aidana WillowRaven.

I Like Pink, by Vivian Zabel, is the story of a little girl who is on a quest for the perfect pink dress.  While shopping with her mother, she considers countless dresses that are all made from fabric in varying shades of pink.  At first she is bemused, and a little frustrated, with all the different colors.  But as the sales-clerk and her mother help her to understand that pink can come in many varying shades, she comes to realize and accept that she likes all kinds of pink. 

I Like Pink is a book with which many little girls will relate.  Expressive illustrations are a wonderful complement to this book, which will educate and entertain little girls who are fans of the color pink. I Like Pink earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

 LITERARY CLASSICS Book Reviews & Awards  

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Describe Deep Emotional Pain

   When writing or living, at times a person suffers emotional pain, a deep shearing hurt. When living the hurt, words can't describe the agony, but when writing about the pain, the writer must find words.

    However, after having someone loved deliver to a writer a spat of words, oversight, or action that tears the heart, a writer might try to find a way to describe the physical manifestations suffered to him or her.

 1. Pain and crushing weight in the chest.
 2. Stomach tied in knots, yes, not a cliche but for real.
 3. Brain whirling.
 4. Feeling of suffocation.
 5. Weakness 
 6. Vision blurred
 7. Desire to run, to move, to leave
 8. Overwhelming need to cry: deep, tortured sobs that rip a person apart
 9. Wanting to strike out, to hit a wall, kick a footstool, take physical action
10. Sick, nauseated. 
11. Want to crawl in bed and stay there forever.
12. Feeling hopeless and lost

    Now, if I ever need to write about a person suffering a deep, agonizing, emotional pain, I have a starting point.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Looking forward to Holidays

   A week from tomorrow, we "fall" back an hour, to me the beginning of the fall/winter holiday season. Thursday will be Halloween, and I have a bowl of goodies ready to give to little ones (and some probably not so little) as they come to my door. Robert has some candy to pass out if tricker-treaters come to visit him. I remember when I had most of my Christmas shopping finished by Halloween so I could enjoy the holiday seasons and not scramble to find gifts for all the family. Oh, yes, I remember because now I do well to shop anytime for any reason. But, I still like the idea. However, Halloween signals preparation for Thanksgiving.

   Thanksgiving this year is unclear: Will there be a family get-together? Where? When? Bob and his crew will be in Oklahoma the week of Thanksgiving, so we'll surely see them. Usually Randy and Janelle host a family dinner. I no longer am able to host a dinner, do well to provide a meal for myself. No, no pity, just the facts of life. I know since Robert can't leave the skilled nursing facility I'll be spending most of Thanksgiving Day with him. He needs company, especially on a holiday. I understand that Grace Living Center holds a big celebration for the residents and their families. Wonder if some of our family can join us? We'll have to ask. Thanksgiving is important to me because I believe we all need to pause and realize what God has given us, and to give thanks.

   A month after Thanksgiving comes Christmas. Robert will be on long-term care and can leave the center for the day during that time period. Therefore, he can be driven in his van to a family dinner. Once we know what the family plans are, we can make our plans.

   For me, Christmas has always meant family being together. Of course gifts are nice, symbols of sharing with those we love, but expensive gifts that place a person in debt is not the spirit of Christmas. As we have gotten older, we can't afford much anyway, but I like to give a little something to "show" those I love that I love them enough to want to share with them, even if only a card or a photo.

   I have begun to shop for Christmas. As I've seen something I think someone will like or could use, I saved and bought. No, I didn't buy a grandchild a new car or a new wardrobe, much as I would like sometimes. However, I found something Robert could use with his power chair (his poor, worn out power chair, oh, for the funds to replace that). I discovered something for one of the kids. I have an idea what to obtain for another grandchild. Not much, but a token of what those people mean to me.

   When I was a child, my parents were poor. At the time I never realized how poor, after all my dad was in the service, but ... Christmas was always special, and my parents made sure my brothers, sisters, and I had at least one special gift. My dad read Christmas stories to us on Christmas Eve, ending with the Bible story. We sang Christmas carols and hung our stockings before heading for bed. Robert didn't have any family traditions because Christmas wasn't treated as anything except another day other than having a good meal. 

   I tried to pass some traditions to my children, but after they became adults with families of their own, they soon adopted the traditions of their own or from the other side of their growing families. One tradition we started seems still to exist: new pj's opened on Christmas Eve. With our children, the new sleepwear was from Daddy, for grandchildren, from PaPa. I hope even after he's gone, that the families will continue the practice with the pj's for children from their daddies.

   This season beginning in a few days brings happy memories and a few of sorrow. To me, though, enjoying family and remembering all for which I should be thankful and giving praise for the symbol of Christmas is most important.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Turning Pages Children's Book Festival


     Jacque Graham and I presented at the first Turning Pages Children's Book Festival in Ada, Oklahoma, October 11-12. With the presentations, the event combined a conference with a festival.

      Krystal Russell, the founder of the festival, had some great ideas. Now, with a few tweaks and some help, the festival should evolve into one everyone with children's books should support. 

      On Friday, schools from two neighboring towns brought buses of 7th and 8th graders to participate in games, workshops, and browse "booths" of books. Many of the students didn't grasp the concept that they could buy books, but several did and had funds with them. 

     My workshop, Building Blocks for Plot, had over 40 students plus teachers and other supervising adults. The students sat listening during the informative part of the workshop. During their writing time, they became typical kids, but they didn't become too unruly.  In fact, I wish I had had classes as well-behaved. Each was to write one to three paragraphs to begin a story. They read their work to the group for the last twenty minutes of the session, and some had excellent work. The students showed great imagination and a desire to write. Many told me later that they learned so much and thanked me.

   Jacque Graham presented her monologue as the main character of her work-in-progress, Belle Cobb, the first Indian woman doctor in Indian Territory. The students enjoyed her presentation and want to know when the book is available. Again, the behavior and attentiveness of the students amazed us.

     The books we sold came from this side of the 4RV tables, all except one. One boy so liked A Wandering Warrior by Harry E. Gilleland that he had his mother come back and purchase a copy for him.  The girls preferred A Shadow in the Past by Melanie Robertson King, and a few debated between it and some of the others.

    Many students took cards and bookmarks with the company information printed on them. Hopefully they will encourage their parents to visit our online bookstore.

    Saturday, we saw two families come by, and no one else found us. The publicity promised didn't come out until then. However, 4RV did sell one copy of Trockle. I do believe this festival is one that should be supported and encouraged to continue.

       Two more photos for your enjoyment: