Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Candy's Raves reviews Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction)

Candy of Candy's Raves gave Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction)
a nice review, but Candy says something is missing.

A Goodreads member suggests: BATTERIES!

Why didn't I think of that?

Here's what Candy says:

I wish I knew what this book was missing. I almost hate to say that; I mean how useful is that to anyone “Oh, something is missing but I’ll be darned if I know what it is!”, right? This is a small collection of mostly humorous short stories by the author that she wrote about her dating life after becoming single again. There are a few obvious stand outs in the crowd including Double Date, Dharma Dan, Rock Bottom and of course, Dating My Vibrator. All of these were well formed short stories with a smile at the ending. The author made me laugh out loud a few times and I kind of wanted to invite her out for a drink so we could gossip some more.

Where she lost me was in some of the other stories. I felt some didn’t really belong in a small collection of humorous short stories. One was a very self-indulgent (albeit very well written) almost poetic story. It just felt out of place as did one concerning her father. Maybe that’s what was missing, more stories about her dating life. I think perhaps it lacked a final story that showed her moving completely on with her life, if not settled down again. Maybe an acceptance of herself?

I’m not saying that the final story didn’t have some of that, but I really felt like it was unfinished. It needed that final story of redemption – but of herself.

Overall, a great read. I’d recommended to any of my friends that were or have dated in the past 10 years or so… they’d get a good chuckle out of it.

I need your opinion...should I state: batteries not included?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free short story contest: Write a 55 word story

Yesterday, I attended a writing workshop offered by poet, David Feela, and he offered us this challenge:
Write a story using exactly 55 words. (Not including the title, although the title should lend depth to the story and be no longer than seven words.)

The story should open with a conflict
Contain metaphor
Have a resolution--hopefully with a twist or deeper insight

Here's one I wrote (not saying it's brilliant, but it will give you the idea):


I didn’t get the job, you say. There’s no room for me in your organization. Maybe you can use an arm, a foot, a little toe. Perhaps my head. But definitely not my heart. You offer me part-time work, and advise me to move on—seek full-time employment elsewhere. Meanwhile, you moonlight in my dreams.

Please send your entries (one or two) to me here, as a comment, by October 5. (Of course, I'll need a way to contact you, if you're the winner!) Or email me at:

Three people will judge these, and I will send the winner Flash Fiction: 72 very short stories--or you can choose a book of equal value from Amazon or Kindle. Winner to be determined by October 31.

I will also post the top ten entries here on my blog and on Kindleboards.

Hope you take me up on this--it's fun.
A hint: this can be a great way to recycle poems.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dating My Vibrator on The Kindle Reader

Dating My Vibrator is featured today on The Kindle Reader blog as the frugal kindle pick.

The Kindle Reader is a great blog for readers and authors offering news, information and reviews of ebooks. Check it out:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

in honor of 9/11--The Dust of Souls (a short story)

Dust of Souls

“I do not want to wear that f--king hearing aid.”

F--k is not a word my father often says. But on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday, I suppose he feels free to use any expletive that shoots out of his mouth.

“Dad,” I attempt to reason, “how will you hear anything?”

He doesn’t answer, probably doesn’t hear me.

“We have to insist he wears it,” my stepmother says, arching an eyebrow.

We’re walking along the town dock; no sailboats dot the water at this time of year. Pulling up my collar against January’s chill, I glance at the Long Island Sound, skyscraper-gray in dark contrast to the sky. Two swans glide toward the shore. They say swans mate for life, but these days it’s hard for me to think of anything as permanent. That concept died with 9/11.

I search the horizon. From here, even in October, you could see the smoke, and a breeze came off the water carrying the dust of souls.

“I look forward to this party being over,” my father says. “It’s all coming out of your inheritance.”


“How much did you spend on flowers?”

“We’re saving on tax and delivery by paying cash.”

“I wouldn’t mind if it was for a worthy cause—”

“But, Dad, that’s how much the flowers cost.”

He looks at me like I’m a traitor. “Cut flowers. They won’t even last.”

“The caterer recommended the florist,” my stepmother ventures.

My father snorts. “They saw the two of you coming.”

The water is behind us now, and we’re trudging up Main Street past bait shops and pricey boutiques. My dad puffs his cheeks, sucking in each breath of air. Capillaries, delicate as spider webs, crisscross his face. I take his arm in mine.

“Nice day, Dad.”

He nods.

“Hurry up,” my stepmother calls over her shoulder. “The caterer arrives at 1:00.” Ignoring the Don’t Walk sign, she steps into the street.

My father follows her into oncoming traffic, narrowly avoiding a semi-truck.

I hurry after them.

Later, when we’re getting dressed, my father grits his teeth. “I hate that necklace,” he says.

My stepmother looks hurt. “What’s wrong with it?”

“It looks cheap.”

“It wasn’t. I got it at Nordstrom’s.”

“Where are your pearls?”

“In the safe deposit box.”

“If you don’t want them give them back.”

“The pearls wouldn’t work with this.”

I slink into the bathroom, close the door and stare into the mirror. In my face I see my Dad, I see my dead Mom. I see the person I’ve become.

I’m seriously considering laser to erase these wrinkles.

Last night I watched that Spielberg movie, Munich. And today everything seems futile. One act of retribution leads to another. Misunderstandings escalate into hostilities. Someone must be sacrificed.

“Are you in there?”

“I’ll be out in a minute, Dad.”

I slide open the medicine cabinet and peruse the contents— Lexapro—I took that after my divorce to deaden my emotions, allow me to desire nothing. If I felt nothing, I could sail through life unwrinkled. No evidence would mark my face.

Lexapro didn’t do the trick. I see lines.

My father’s pounding on the door. “The guests will be arriving soon.”

Elegant Affairs has transformed the room into a wonderland of sapphire blue linen, sparkling crystal, twinkling candles.

The dim light flatters everyone’s complexion. I glance into a mirror and don’t see any wrinkles.

“The flowers are beautiful,” my father says and hugs me.

“Glad you like them.”

The piano player bangs out the notes and my dad and I sing Edelweiss together.

We waltz.

“I’m a survivor,” he speaks into the microphone. “Escaped the Nazis and came to America.”

I kiss his cheek.

The party is in full swing. Cousins and their children, aunts and uncles, my father’s friends, have come from as far away as England. So many stories. This one’s studying at Harvard, that one’s struggling to raise two children on her own, another got a big promotion in the city. Those riding high drink cocktails, laugh, talk about the latest deal. Meanwhile, the old folks spend their moments reminiscing.

I bite into a crusty piece of bread topped with mushrooms baked in wine. Help myself to hors d’oeuvres as they pass: Crispy Tomato Cups filled with Roasted Shallot Chevre (cream cheese) and topped with balsamic glazed fig; Herbs de Provence Baby Lamb Chops with Roasted Garlic and Chive Aioli (however you pronounce that word).

“Duck Confit.” My stepmother nimbly bites into pastry, dabs at the crumbs before they have a chance to cling.

“With Ligonberry Essence in a Toasted Filo Cup, dusted with powdered sugar.” I savor the rich concoction as it fills my mouth. My chest looks like a snowstorm hit.

My sister’s downing her third Cosmopolitan. “I’m taking ballet,” she says. “Makes me feel good. I’ve given up on men.”

I wander to the window. The bay glimmers in the distance.

I think of my mother. I think of the twin towers.

And I breathe in the dust of souls.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I love Kindle

I began writing seriously about twelve years ago, and all I've heard from publishers is gloom and doom--and the threat of the e-book. Maybe, from their perspective, they're right. The main reason for publishers these day, as far as I can tell, is distribution. And trying to get fiction published these days is near to impossible. Fiction comprises a mere 15% of what is published--and writers must compete against dead people (not just classics, but writers like Louis L'Amour whose books continue to appear, apparently from his grave), and name brands like Patterson. That leaves a very slim slice for the rest of us.

That's why I love Kindle.

Kindle has allowed me to publish my stories and get them out to readers for a reasonable price. I may bring out my next book as a trade paperback as well--if I can get the unit price per book for something reasonable. Otherwise, I will go all Kindle again.

I think hardcopy books will always be around, but not to the degree that they are now. E-books are changing the whole face of publishing.

Here's that article I mentioned in my last blog, from the Durango Herald:

As a talented yet aspiring writer, Suzanne Tyrpak wanted to put her experience as a divorcée entering the Durango dating scene into words. But finding a publisher willing to put nine short stories into print was more than challenging: it was impossible. "As a writer to just keep writing and not get published, it's incomplete - if you have a painting at least you can stick it up so people will see it," Tyrpak said.

The alternately hilarious and heartbreaking result of her efforts is Dating My Vibrator and Other True Fiction, a collection of short stories that begins with a first date at Purgatory when Tyrpak was told by her companion, "You're gonna freeze your hooters off." It's well-conceived and well-written, but you won't find it on any bookshelf or in any book; Dating My Vibrator is one of hundreds of thousands of titles available only through cyberspace on's revolutionary Kindle e-reader.

Tyrpak's foray into online publishing is local evidence of an explosion in the e-book industry. Thousands of writers thwarted by the large publishing houses are finding a growing audience through Kindle and similar services, although's version is clearly the industry standard. Kindle boasts 670,000 titles, including 109 of 112 New York Times best-sellers.

Tyrpak's been writing for about 12 years and has penned a few historical fiction novels but couldn't get a publisher to bite. But another local author in her writers' group, novelist Blake Crouch, shared his Kindle success stories with Tyrpak, which inspired her to follow suit.

For his part, Crouch is enjoying the best of both worlds. He's got four novels in print through St. Martin's Press and will be switching to a yet-unannounced new publisher for his next novel, which is due out sometime in 2011 or 2012. But it's his short fiction and novellas that have found widespread and loyal audiences on Kindle. The shorter works - up to about 12,000 words each versus the 70,000 of a typical novel - seem a perfect fit for the ever-shortening attention spans of readers.

"Kindle is perfect for that weird length. Everything I've written is on there, and it boggles my mind that more writers aren't doing it," Crouch said.

Some of Crouch's most successful Kindle efforts were done in collaboration with Jon Konrath, a Chicago-based writer and blogger who champions the merits of Kindle on a daily basis and is one of its most vocal proponents. Their best-selling joint venture was Serial, a 36,000-word novella that hit No. 1 on the Kindle short fiction charts and stayed in the Top 100 for almost a year.

On his blog, Konrath compares Kindle's future growth to devices such as the iPod, cell phones and DVDs, which were initially met with skepticism but exploded in a few short years to multi-billion dollar sellers. He cites sales statistics for e-books that are changing weekly and even daily, with publishing houses such as Random House reporting a 300 percent increase in e-books last year and's predictions that Kindle versions soon will outsell their printed counterparts.

Crouch said for novels, he still prefers traditional publishing methods and the national exposure and distribution offered by the big houses. But once a writer has established a name for himself or herself in the real world, virtual sales soon are to follow. Kindle's Top 50 list this week nearly mirrored similar hardcover best-seller lists with titles by Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen and Kathryn Stockett comfortably entrenched near the top.

Ken Wright, another multi-published local author who also owns his own publishing company, Raven's Eye Press, hasn't gotten on board the Kindle bandwagon yet. It's not because of any resistance to technology but rather for demographic reasons. He and his stable of writers pen primarily outdoor and environmental nonfiction, which has yet to catch on with the Kindle crowd. The Kindle Top 50 list includes only four nonfiction titles, and two of those are biographies of Tony Blair and Andre Agassi.

"That is not my audience. Yet this new generation raised reading on devices - and further improvements in functionality of those devices - will spread the demand for digital books further," Wright said.

None of the writers interviewed, including Konrath, who is earning as much as $12,000 monthly through Kindle sales, believe that Kindle will be the death of the printed word; book-lovers love books, after all, not just the words therein. But there's no question that times are changing.

"Printed books will always be around. But they won't be the preferred way people read books," Konrath said.

"I've sold 80,000 e-books in a little over a year, and the boom has only just begun."

And for Tyrpak, who is just beginning to reap the fruits of her labor, that's great news.

"It's a heyday for independent writers. Everyone's getting on, and people are making more money. People are hungry for writing, and when they see what's out there on Kindle, it's going to revolutionize publishing for readers and writers," she said.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Me (Suzanne Tyrpak), Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch talk about Kindle in The Durango Herald

Kindle helps local writers get out the words!Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction) was mentioned today in my hometown newspaper, The Durango Herald. Ted Holteen, the reporter, also quotes Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch--two authors who have been published traditionally and are advocates of Kindle.

Anyway, check it out.