Monthly Archives: October 2014

Daily Post: Trick or Treat?

It’s Halloween, and you just ran out of candy. If the neighborhood kids (or anyone else, really) were to truly scare you, what trick would they have to subject you to?

You really want them to scare me? Then they’d have to put my car on fire or my neighbor’s. They’re parked so close together that torching one would probably get both. It might depend on the wind, but I doubt it. Of course there’s not much gas in my car, so it won’t make quite as good a firebomb as one with a full tank.

The reason I do not fear this outcome is that my neighbor sleeps with her gun (of which, I do not technically approve) and our neighbors and their children know that. It’s an amazingly effective deterrent to the kind of highjinks that go on throughout this weekend every year. My neighbor buys an obscene amount of candy every year and manages to give most of it away. It feels a bit bad to be giving so much sugar to kids who already get too much.

But I will be away from home tonight, since my writers workshop is having a horror night, and we are scheduled to watch Carrie and Psycho. There’s an off-chance that another movie may materialize, but we certainly have enough to get going on. We may take a break between movies to allow people to catch their breath, and maybe we won’t!

There will be candy, popcorn, cider and soda, and that will make it feel like a real movie theater, but just with friends (I almost wrote fiends!) in the audience. I truly expect a good time will be had by all, and we will get home long after the trick or treaters are at home in bed in a sugar coma.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/trick-or-trick/

Daily Prompt: Trio No. 3

Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must mention a dark night, your fridge, and tears (of joy or sadness; your call). Feel free to switch one ingredient if you have to (or revisit one from previous trio prompts).

I stood in line for the last five Harry Potter books. In no case was I later than 1:30 am getting home with the new book. Did I go to bed like a sensible person? I had all the lights blazing in the living room to chase away the dark night that was trying to convince me it was time for bed. Instead, I would curl up in my recliner and while away the night. I never was later than 7 am in finishing the book. My habit was to lie down thereafter and sleep as if I were waiting for another shoe to drop. But before I could lie down, I had to feed the cats. I had a high of seven and a low of three cats during the Harry Potter days. I now have four. Feeding must be done at regular intervals, or something hits the fan.

I never slept more than four hours on those days. I would then get up, raid the fridge for something portable, and head back to the recliner to read the whole thing again. I had so quickly read the book the first time that there were nuggets galore in the second reading. I would discover someone in the room or conversation that I had missed, descriptions that seemed irrelevant that became much more relevant when the whole story was known.

So I would spend a whole night and day with Harry Potter. Nothing I had read before had left me with such an urge to read more, unless it was Tolkien’s ending to The Two Towers. If you don’t remember it, I urge you to look it up. When I first read it, I knew I had to wait at least a day for my sister to finish The Return of the King before I would find out how horrible it was for Frodo. I had cried at the end of The Two Towers, first when I, with Sam, thought Frodo was dead, and then at the end of the book, a few short pages later. The only time I cried in the first six Harry Potter books was when Dumbledore died. Tolkien did a much better job of making me cry. But I think both of these series had much to do with my being what I now am, a writer of fantasy.

And I am writing this post in order to avoid finishing my final edit of my first book before sending it to my editor. Go figure.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/trio-no-three/

Time’s Tempest now available

Time's Tempest - Official Book CoverMelissa7 portrait

What do You do When it’s Your First Time?

Guest post by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.

So, “IT” happens – after dozens of rejection letters from agents you dedicated the last three months to finding a small publisher looking for exactly your kind of book… and you found one. The company rep sends you the standard first-time client contract and at the end of the email writes –

“Just look it over, print it out and sign it. Then scan it and email it back to us and the rest is history.”

Nuh-uh – you’ve only just stepped into the worm hole and there’s quite a ride until you pop out the other side. First off, if you don’t belong to a renowned writer’s community like SFWA (Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America) or a local writer’s union/guild who employ or provide access to literary lawyers and professionals of a similar stature then you’ll need to find someone in the know to look at your contract before you sign it.

Now, I don’t want you to get the impression that you’ll be able to change much (if anything) on the contract but you need to know what it is you’re signing – What are they promising? What do you get out of the deal? How many books are you in for? What kind of procedures do you need to be aware of? And what kind of emergency ejection button is there to push – if any?

These are the big leagues after all and if you don’t have your head in the game from the moment the rocket ship launches, you’ll leave more than the contents of your bowels behind.

But I’m not here to go over contract details with you – hire someone to do that, really. I’m here to share some of my own mistakes in dealing with my publisher ,without an agent to act as a buffer between us.

Lesson 1: Even if they encourage you to ask questions – know that they have limits.

I was curious about everything since self-publishing was a very real option for me before signing on the dotted line – I was asking about marketing techniques, cover layout, distribution options, you name it… and then I was unceremoniously told (in not so many words), “Trust us. We’re professionals. If you want to micro-manage then you should have self-published.”

I apologized.

Lesson 2: Don’t assume your assigned editor will do any of the grunt work.

After we agreed to edit according to the Standard Canadian Lexicon (which is an interesting cross of British spelling and American colloquialisms) I was advised to make sure that all of the words spelled the American way in my novel be changed to the British spellings – iz’s became is’s (realize to realise, etc.). I highlighted the entire manuscript, changed the word processor’s language of choice from Canadian English to British English and fixed all the words that were underlined in red. When I read through the “Artwork” (that means final formatting for print) I was still finding iz’s where there should have been is’s… the publisher was not impressed with having to correct this basic error throughout the entire manuscript in end-stage when it cost money to make changes with the printer.

I apologized.

Lesson 3: When they ask you for your opinion on something – lie.

The company graciously offered to do the e-book covers for my four free prequel Lost Chapters which were released each month leading up to the launch of my book (even though this was not covered in our initial contract). We talked about keeping them simple and all the same except for colouration and titles. They sent me the proof and I nearly died – it was nothing like what I imagined our conversations would take the graphic artists to… I was horrified and told them so… in almost as many words. They implied at my ingratitude for the extra work from the design department and flat out said that if I didn’t like it to pay for someone’s services elsewhere – but I needed their final approval first before settling on a new cover layout. I’d really poked a sore spot there.

I apologized (and hired an external graphic cover designer who exceeded my expectations).

Lesson 4: Be humble.

If I listed the number of times I had to apologize for doing the above goofs and more, this post would be twice as long and you’d be highly second-guessing ever working with a small publisher. Seriously, I’m friggin’ opinionated and lack couth. I’ve been working to correct this bad habit since I first noticed it in high school many moons ago. While I may not always agree with what my publisher is saying or doing, I chose this option because they are professionals and they know what sells. It was important for me to be traditionally published so that I might speak in local high schools and give workshops there (I was a teacher in a past life and this only made sense to me) – among other reasons.

So, swallow your pride and apologize in order to keep the peace.

In the end, I’m extremely pleased with the cover design and interior layout of my book. While there are still elements there and in the media kit I’d prefer were done differently… I have to trust my publisher. With book two at 20,000 words and climbing my saving grace at this point is my ability to learn from my mistakes. I have promised that the editing and work-up of book two in the series will go so smoothly that my editor won’t even remember the number of bumps we hit along the way with book one.

She laughed – thank god… and I hope you do too. It’s a process after all and we each have a learning curve, especially when it’s our first time.

M. J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favourite.

Connect With M.J. Online –

http://mjmoores.com

http://facebook.com/AuthorMJMoores

@AuthorMJMoores

Daily Prompt: Custom Zodiac

You’re tasked with creating a brand new astrological sign for the people born around your birthday — based solely on yourself. What would your new sign be, and how would you describe those who share it?

You must be kidding me. We are already the scales of justice. We stand for freedom and fairness. What more do we need? I suppose if we needed another attribute, we might pick Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, always a handy trait when meting out justice. Also a good idea when we talk about fairness. Okay, so we’re the Atheniac Librans, and we stand for justice laced with wisdom. Solomon shall stand as one of our guides.

I’m not convinced any of the Greek pantheon would stand for compassion, although Demeter certainly stood for nurturing. We might add her to our sign to balance Athena. After all compassion also has a role in justice. This would make us the Atheniac Demetric Librans.

Our image will be the old symbol of blind justice holding the scales, with stern Athena peering over her shoulder, while Demeter flutters at her feet.  Sound ridiculous enough for you?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/custom-zodiac/

New habit

I don’t know why it’s happening, but for the last month or so, I’ve been doing a lot of all-nighters. Sometimes it’s writing, or reading, but tonight I’ve been looking at knitting patterns, most way beyond my competence, and yarn that could break the bank. To top it all off, a friend has sent me a long short story to proofread, and I couldn’t put it down.

So what do you all do when you don’t go to bed at night? I’m sure plenty of people have all sorts of hidden reasons for not sleeping. I know one person who claims she knows when she’s due for a nightmare, and if she stays up all night, it loses its turn in her dream cycle. Wouldn’t that be nice?

When I stay up all night to write, I actually produce some of my more inspired twists and turns in my work in progress. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work if I force myself to stay up. It only happens if the sleeplessness is organic. And mine is organic tonight, since I slept most of the 36 hours leading up to 1 pm today. I may have overslept myself. I had a light bug, with headache and stomachache and I slept it out of me. Now I’m not tired. But this is the only writing I’m allowed to do until I send Fantastical Trips off to the editor.

So you readers get the nonsense I am producing in the wee hours of the morning. Or at least it will still be the wee hours next week when daylight savings time has been put to rest. And with that, I bid you all a good morning!

Daily Prompt: Local Color

Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

Easy. It would be my 2004 edition of the Red Sox heavy weight jacket. It is what I wear outside most of the winter. I’m somewhat afraid that I would be the opposite of the little girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List, a big old lady in a red jacket in a black and white world. Or perhaps a world with the occasional other person in the loden green wool jacket or blue ski parka. More interesting would be to find out what all the other people decide.

I will be sad that the neoprene case for my MacBook Air will no longer be purple. My cats will all be one color or the other. Choosing clothes just got easier. If I could choose blue and make all the jeans in the world turn that color, it would be cool. But outside the remit of the prompt.

But do we lose the blues? No more Little Boy Blue? And what of the artists, the painters, the movie makers? How good is CGI in black and white? Jackson Pollack’s lovely paintings driven by color, now gone? No trees in leaf, no flowers, no fall colors?

I suspect the rate of depression would go way up, followed quickly by the suicide rate. This is a cruel and heartless prompt.

Shame on you!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/local-color/

Daily prompt: Masks off

We’re less than a week away from Halloween! If you had to design a costume that channeled your true, innermost self, what would that costume look like? Would you dare to wear it?

Like all clinically depressed people, I have a persona that I wear that is sociable and friendly. As my shrink has pointed out more than once, I fake it to make it. When my depression is not bad (which is not to say that I am not depressed), I can actually enjoy and profit from interactions under this facade. When my depression is worse, I am barely able to maintain the mask. When it is at its worst, I don’t tend to go out, since I cannot maintain the mask. I cancel engagements, and don’t show up outside.

So would I dare to wear the worst me outside? No, and why should I? One doesn’t expect a cancer patient to parade around in her hospital johnny with tubes sticking out of her arms. Why should someone suffering from a mental illness be expected to do anything like that? Treat major illnesses the same. Depression, as some comedians would tell you, is not a joke. Nor is any form of mental illness. Nor is any illness that is real and treatable in any way.

I have written about this before. The tendency to blame the victim of mental illness, whether a suicide or not, is inconsistent with who we are as a people. It is cruel and inhumane. It is not treating another as we would be treated ourselves. It is unChristian, and unBuddhist and probably all of the other great religions. People who say suicides are selfish are so out of tune with the facts as seen by the suicide that the lack of charity is stunning.

Sorry to rant and rave on a daily prompt, but I was only following the instructions. Do you really know what’s behind your mask?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/masks-off/