The power to create a world, solely from the words written by your own mind, is a gift that should never be hidden.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

What I have learned...


The end of the year is a great time to look back, reflect, and see where you have come in life.

So I have been wrung through the ringer more than a few times as a writer this year gone past, and I have learned more than a few things about this business. Does it mean I am now signed and making the big bucks? No...but it does mean that I know a thing or two about the mistakes you can make as a writer just starting out in this big mean world of publishing. So, for your new year's enjoyment, and in no particular order, here we go!

1. You have to keep writing, no matter what.

Umn, duh? You think to yourself, this is your first tip for becoming an author? Actually, yes...this is one of the most important things I can ever express. You see, no matter how many classes you take, no matter what others tell you about your work, or how many degrees you hold. You will only get better at writing in one way, practice. More writing you do? The better it will get.


2. When you have finished a work, no matter what size it is, put it away for some time.


But again, wait! I want to submit a query, get that agent and start earning all that money I heard writers make...Well here is some more news you don't want to hear. Your work is much like a fine wine, the longer you let it sit the better it will become. After you let it sit, and then give it an edit, you use eyes that don't already know what the words are supposed to be. I am speaking from learned experience on this one. You see, I made this mistake. I typed in THE END and started looking for my agent. It was a vast mistake; I didn't know the level of work needed to clean up my "finished" work. It wasn't even close to finished and I only burned a few bridges that might have been useful to save for later. Let your work sit. I can't say it enough.

3. Let people read it.

Yes, I am the king of the obvious. Yet so many people guard their work and hold it so close, scared that their perfect idea will be so appealing to others they must protect it for all it's worth. Well, to be honest, it probably isn't. Even the ideas I thought were so original, so unheard of, that I must protect them like gold turned out to be done by others years ago. I have never heard of the writers, or read their works, but the ideas were close enough to be a bit odd sometimes. Get yourself a group of people whom you trust to be honest, and get them to tear into your work, literally. The feedback you can get from a good reader is worth more than money, and to ignore that avenue will cost you even more in the long run.

4. Social Media can be your friend, but don't overdo it.

For ever person trying to become an author, there are 100's of others out there just like you. Seriously, when I started out a few years back I really had no idea the pool of talent that is available in the writing world. I started following pretty much anyone on twitter that was a writer and tried to glean any useful information I could from them. Often they would be very helpful, while sometimes others would be cold, in the end I found out that some of the ones I held up high on a pedestal, were really just beginners like myself, and some of the meek people who stayed back from the front lines, were the ones with the most information, and often the nicest. There are a lot of people out there willing to help new writers. Find them and your writing will be better for it.

5. Don't expect to get rich.

Yep, of the literally 1000's of writers and authors I know, very...VERY...few make much money at it. If you have a day job, keep it. Write in your spare time if it is what you love. Cram it in when you have the free minutes; carry a notepad to write your thoughts down. If you are like me they will come to you at the oddest moments. I have been trapped without a notepad before, and resorted to texting myself, or my wife, the information so I could remember it later. However, there comes a time when you do have to take a chance. Don't be afraid to stick your neck out when you have to.

6. Be true to yourself.

Yes, in the end, it is all up to you. Trust in yourself and your writing. If you are writing for you, than the only opinion that really matters is yours. If you are writing in the hopes of making money, trust that your skills are there and you can always learn more about your craft. When you stop learning, you stop living. (Yes I stole that quote, 10 points if you know whom it is from, without google )

Thanks for letting me drag you along the rough road that can be my blog this last year. I am looking forward to the next year, and new even weirder posts, with you all.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Survival of the human race.

I had a discussion with a friend on twitter last night about how many people might survive should the economy/world structure as we know it end. I had a much grimmer outlook and thought maybe 2% of the world would be able to make it more than a couple days without their coffees or shopping malls. @LianaBrooks on the other hand figured that number might be a touch higher. Turns out she lives in Gator/Snake land and they are both good eating with the right recipes. (Yes she has those too)
My wife and I might not be what you would call survivalists, but we are in touch with what would be necessary to survive in the wild for an indefinite time. I have my own small solar system for back up power, I can build a generator station from a creek or river and could build a home in the woods given some basic tools.
This summer past, my wife and I decided to try and light a fire in the back yard without anything other than a few sticks. It did take quite some time, but in the end we had a small flame going on.

We live up here in the frozen north, aka : Canada, and it does get mighty cold up here. Today we were out on a walk through the snow with kids in tow, and I asked my wife if she brought her flint. (Yes, she has a flint striker, was a Christmas present from last year.) She answered in the positive. (of course)
With a little scavenging around for grasses, and something to use as a decent tinder, (harder to find than you might think sometimes) we had a small blaze going in about 15 minutes. It wasn't much and it did take a little time to find the right material to get the fire going. In the end however we had a small blaze capable of being more. We didn't need the fire for any reason other than the practice so with a few kicks of snow it was all but out.
It was a nice little feeling to know that should the need be there, and the easier methods of making fire be unavailable for any reason, we could have a fire for the night, cooking, safety or whatever else we might want it for.

I do know this, should everything in society go in the dumps, my family will at least have a fighting chance of survival.
So what do you think your chances would be to survive if you were given only the barest of essentials?
The clothes you could carry, a basic knife and whatever you could drum up from around you...

Oddly enough it is this same thought that often starts the stories in my head, and on that note...back to my writing!

Oh, in case you didn't notice dear readers. If you look up on the left and right of this window, you will see a new link for my latest short story as well as a new progress bar for the next one. It is already going way faster than the last! Bad guys (and girls) can be very fun to write.

Merry Christmas all and see you after the holiday!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Late to the party

So I have been sending out the queries, hitting up the agents. Doing the grunt work that is always necessary to get ones work published, and it dawned on me. What if I am already late for the party? When I started writing my 2nd book I really didn't have any ideas in mind as to what it should be about. I just wrote a story and let the characters tell me what they were going to do next. Mix in a few disasters and some really bad luck and viola! A story! But now that it is finished I have found myself stewing with a few thousand (or even more than that) other people who have all written stories like mine. (Yes mine is original, in more ways than one, but they still use a lot of characters overpopulating books these days, werewolves for instance, and yes one vampire...sorta.) So the question has once again come up. Do I sit on this story for years waiting for the market to flush itself out and allow a story like this to come around again, or do I self publish it, in the hopes of sales now on the tale end of the parade. The more I think about it the more I think it is time to put it up for self publishing. I have two short stories up for sale now and the third is over half done. The forth is itching at me to get moving since I have it already planned out. It won't be hard to finish it and get it up there. The fifth and final of the series will take a little longer.
After all, this isn't the last book I am going to write, in fact the more I think about it the more I really want to pick up that first book I stared on, fix it, finish it, and send it off for publication attempts. The story I had started (50k in) and outlined almost to the end, is unlike anything I have read (yet) and it has memorable, lovable and relate-able characters. The odds of it doing better in a field of books where people are looking for something fresh and new are much higher.
So that being said, it is time to get back to the editing work. Regardless of the end decision, I need to finish cleaning up my grammar and punctuation. If I don't do that, no one will want to read these stories no matter how interesting they are.
As a completely different side note, I have a friend helping me work on a "trademark" for my writing. A button that others can have on their sites that will link back to me and my writing. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. Right now I am thinking a different twist on the old phrase the pen is mightier than the sword. Suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

It's time to let the Unicorns go.

I sent the title of this blog as a text to my wife a few days ago as a reminder to myself to write this blog. Of course, it confused her when I sent it. It was rather random of course, yet it did have a point. It was one of those things that just exploded into my head while I was doing some kind of random, menial, boring task at work. So now I get to share it with you all!

I was thinking about an old song, The Unicorn Song, by the Irish Rovers. Now many of you might not remember this song, or have ever heard of it. If you choose not to listen to the link I will give you the gist here. Noah was loading the ark and he "forgot" the Unicorns. So in the world we live in now the Unicorns are no more. This is of course tragic. The perceived loss of this now mythical creature has been written about, filmed, and ignited the imaginations of many a young woman. But what if the Unicorn hadn't been forgotten? What if instead they were as common today as the horse is now. The cowboys of the wild west had ridden around on Unicorns and horses. What if some other animal had been missed instead, say, the dog was "missed", would they have become a creature of myth? Would modern literature be filled with stories of how only a virgin woman, pure of heart, could pet a dog? Would little women fall asleep with their minds wrapped in dreams of how they would love to see a real dog one day? (Oddly enough, I have the framework done on a story much like this, all base animals are almost extinct. Only the smallest still roam free on the face of the earth, but I digress.)

OK so you made it this far, so why did I entitle this "It's time to let the Unicorns go."? Well, it is actually a much deeper thought that I had. We, as in humanity, have created something huge out of an idea. The desire for something that isn't around, an impossibility if you will. The Unicorn...we seem to be trapped inside that idea, unable to break the chains of our own imagination. The search for something new has become a desperate race of repetition. Should any field of creativity break their chains of mediocrity and go against the grain, create something new. It is so quickly copied by the masses, in an attempt to recreate that wonder, that it loses the shine of originality.

So I put this forward to all my creative ( and non-creative as well ) friends. Take a chance now and again, break out of the simple pattern of repetition. Take the long way for once, just to see where it might lead you. Gamble on something new and exciting, instead of plodding along on in the ruts of recital. Open your eyes and see the color that can be your world. There are so many things in life that are available to so many people, yet they ignore them, or say "Next time". Don't allow yourself to go hunting after the same Unicorn as everyone else.

Let the Unicorn's go, and see what else might be just over that next hill. You  might be surprised at what you find.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

I have made a mistake, again...

OK, so it isn't really a mistake, but in a way, it still is. See, I have a decent following on twitter. I am by no means overwhelmed, but I have 500 plus. To some this is a big number, to others, no so much. The problem I am facing here is...they are all writers and authors! I intentionally surrounded myself with them to help me learn my craft. To polish my rough edges, and show me the ins and outs of the business I had willingly thrust myself into. Now I sit here, no longer new to the business. I am not a well paid author, yet, nor do I have a throng of adoring fans beating a path to my door for an autograph...I have a following of like minded people, looking for the same thing I am, with similar goals and frustrations.

Why is that a problem you ask?

WELL...writers rarely buy books. *GASP* how dare I say that?!? Of course they buy books! You yell at me through your monitor. Well, yes...they do, but the odds are they are not going to go out of their way to buy my book. Or any of the other 499 peoples books on my feed. It is just too many, and I totally understand that. An author wants to help others, but ultimately, they want to help themselves first.

Even I am guilty of that...

So how does one break out of the trap that is created solely by surrounding yourself with other authors?
Got me...
I am racking my brain trying to think of ways to get my name out there. I have short stories up for sale on Amazon, they are selling, but not amazingly so. I try to push my links on twitter now and again, but I know how frustrating that can be to other authors and as a general rule, they are wasted words, they fall on deaf and tired ears. Who doesn't have a book for sale?

So I ask you all, my faithful readers...How do I find that group, that person, anyone, who will pick up my torch and wave it in front of the masses saying.
Here he is! Look at him, read his stories and bask in the wit and humour he has set to paper. (or e-ink, whatever)
Where is my torch bearer? How do I find him...(or her) I know they are out there, waiting for me. How do I connect with the people that are purely readers, who pick up a book they love, stand on top of the tallest mountain and shout to the world. READ THIS!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

I wanted to quit, but...I don't think I can.

This latest rejection was really hard on me.

REALLY, hard on me.

Since the end of my time trying out for MAE I haven't really written a thing. Ohh, I have put a few words down, a hundred here, another hundred there, but my heart hasn't really been in it. I even spent a few days thinking, this might not be for me, you ran the race. Now it is time to throw in the towel.

Yes, quite writing, drop it, give it up forever. I know that if I decided to do that, then it really would end. I might scribble a bit here and there, perhaps store up some ideas. But my heart would no longer be in it. I am still waffling with that even now. This is not a letter to say either yay, or nay, it is just my thoughts coming out onto your screen.

I love writing, but just loving something isn't enough. You have to work on it, practice it, grow in it. I am not sure I can accomplish this. The problems I have with English are not going to go away so easy, they have been burned into my mind since the first day I learned to write and they will not release their grasp so easily.

For inspiration I go back to a few emails from MAE and look at some of the nice things they say about me. (Yes, there were some in there, mixed in with the ones telling me to get better and try harder.) Here are a few quotes that I had to ask for permission to use.

You have a gift of creating stories in your mind. And that is exactly what it is...a gift. No one can teach that. You were born with that gift, and it is that gift that sets storytellers apart from the rest of us. It is something that is precious and priceless.

Got to admit that is pretty strong stuff there. Unfortunately a gift not used is useless, am I using mine?
The next quote is about how close I really came to being an actual author, a real life one, not an, as seen on TV fake one with really tiny words underneath...

I looked for any way at all that I could take you on board. I want you to be one of our authors, Jamie, because you have the gift. Frankly, most authors don't have it as much as you do. Most authors have to struggle for their next story. I can tell that is not the case for you. They just come to you, effortlessly, and they just keep coming. That's rare. Very rare. Of the more than 750 authors we represent, I could count on one hand the number who are like you. And, to be blunt, I am envious of them and you.

Yep, you like that one right? Me too, but the words that are hard to see are still in there. They want me, but I am not good enough. I know what you are saying, well I know what one person is saying, enough with the pity party. Get on with it, fix it, get writing. Well there is more to it than that, but I will get back to that later.

I went to my direct boss and asked him about just signing you despite all the numbers screaming at me not to do so. David (he's the son of Melodee's original agent and business partner) raised his eyebrow and asked me, "You know that the Board will shit down both legs when we lose that kind of money on just one author for the next 2 years, right?" I told him I did. He then asked, "And you understand that they will probably fire both of us, right?" Again I said yes. David looked at things and finally shrugged. "I know this is going to piss you off, and it's either the best or the worst decision I have ever made, but no."
Even though I am not the best, I am good at making stories. Good enough for someone to go to that length for me. To try and get me through, even though my own skills weren't good enough. That is the part that hurts the most. I came that close, it is much like coming in second in the Olympics...yes you were number two, but no one remembers number two. The conversation goes into detail of what I need to fix and what I can expect if and when I can fix those things. The odds are against me though. Why is this? How can I be so sure?
Well here is a bit from the very first letter I sent when I applied for this possibility. It is from my "Query" to MAE.

I currently am employed in the field of sales and while it pays my bills it offers nothing in the area of growth or satisfaction. I know that I can write and write well; I just need the chance to show it to others so that they too will fall in love with my work.

I started this whole process for the chance to take the reigns of my own future into my hands and change the direction my life was headed. The brief time I did write these assignments, even though very frustrating at times, was wonderful. I was in control. The mistakes were mine and the consequences had to be paid from my own skin. I had some control...then I lost it.

The one thing that is still tripping me up is I went into this all to free up my time. I thought I could get away with being an author 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. Now I am told that IF I can fix my issues, and I get a contract. That is not going to be possible. I would be writing more than 10 hours a day 7 days a week for an unknown amount of time. What free time I did have, would be now spent writing. The whole desire to become a writer so I can spend more time with my family would force me to spend less time with my family. That dog doesn't walk. ( I stole that, only 1 person will truly get it) Then there is the problem of my own health. I am on a down state right now, up will come soon, but the downs force me to remember that at some point in my future I may not be able to work. My memory is bad enough now that I have just started explaining to every customer why I can't remember there name. It is much easier than them looking at me like I am an idiot. My brain just doesn't retain things anymore. On the up side to that, I can re-read my own stories and find them interesting all over again!

So I am trapped, I had hoped writing out my thoughts like this would assist me in making a decision...yet it hasn't. I can't post this online without permission. (Legal issues) so I must only save it as a draft. Should anyone ever be able to read it, you can know that I did not miss quote anything.

In a nutshell, this last quote summarizes my problem...

(1) You have good stories.
(2) I want to sell those stories for you.
(3) Your mechanical skills are such that it takes too long to fix them to make a profit.
(4) Only you can fix #3.


Can I fix number three? Do I even want to? If I can, is now the right time for it? So many questions...



Thursday, 27 October 2011

Saddest sight in the world...

Ok, why? you might ask... WELL today we went for a short walk, it was clear out and a very hot -1 outside, so we decided to take advantage of the situation and make the best of it. Our plan was to come back and rake up our neighbours leaves. She has a very large maple tree and the leaves had covered her yard, as well as a good portion of our own. It would have been a glorious thing for our children of 4 and 5 to jump into. The leaves were dry, clean and pretty much the best you can ask for. We grabbed our rakes out of the shed and the children ran out ahead of us to get the party started...

My daughter yelled out..."WE CAN'T!" and when my wife and I turned the corner this is what we saw.


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In the short time we were gone someone had raked up all the leaves and already disposed of them. Even the ones in our yard. Of course many of you are thinking wow that is sooo nice of them, my nieghbours wouldn't do that. Well, yes, it is nice, but we don't mind the leaves. We were looking forward to this as a part of our day.
Sadest sight in the world...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Say "Hello" to my little friends...

Yes, I have some new friends in my life. I will now tell you all about them in no particular order.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
Mastering Essential English Skills (many authors)
The Writer's Workshop by John F. Parker
A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrams
A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgins
The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin
A Grammar Book for You and I (oops, me) by C.Edward Good
The Chicago Manual of Style <-- heavy book
Descriptionary Third Edition

These are the books that I am now working my way through. Yes, there are still more coming in the mail. Do I think I can really learn all that these things have to offer me? No, lets be honest, even the best of the best in any field have to pull out their smart phone now and again to "brush up" on something they can't remember 100%.
Do I think I have a chance of learning some of what these books have to offer? Yes...
The question you have to ask yourself, or myself, or some self, is...Can I learn enough? The more people I talk to the more I find that this seems to be a problem special to me alone. No, I understand that not everyone out there knows the finer points of grammar, or can define all 24 tenses (yes, that number is in question in some circles but really does it matter after the first 8?)
I have spent some time analyzing my own thought process to try and figure out why it is I have such a problem with certain area's of writing. It all comes down to a couple things that I hope I can learn.

Then and Than... I KNOW how to use these, yet when I look at them they don't make sense. There is a block that I can't explain. For the most part, I don't even use them at all anymore. Unless I have to, than, I stare at my cheat guide until I am sure I have the right one. Usually I don't.
My wife has wondered if this is a side effect from my Multiple Sclerosis, or the fact that I suffer from mild dyslexia. Either could be the case. It doesn't matter though, I have to figure out a way to fix these problems no matter what the method. The reason for this obsession now?

I have no desire to write.

It is gone, once I learned I was not writing to my full potential, that my stories were not the best they could be. The desire to create or even finish the works I have started vanished like so much smoke. I have been passing the time I usually spend writing, by reading about punctuation, or editing my prior works for the practice. I have created nothing new.

I tried to explain it to my wife last night with only little success. The desire to tell my stories is still there, but I know they aren't right, that pisses me off...royally.
My main work, my book, the finished one that I have only let select people read, I have been editing it with some of my new found knowledge. It is taking a very long time to plod through. I am less than half way through on the form edit alone. That is, removing all my "hard enters" that I didn't even know were a problem until an editor cussed me out about them and how wrong they were. Removing all my extra spaces. Seems I have a love with the space bar I wasn't aware of, and forming my paragraphs correctly with my conversational bits.
Basically I have hours, and hours of work ahead of me. Once that is done, I start all over again and re-read the entire thing trying to remove all the tell tale errors of a newbie writer.
It would have been better to do this all correct the first time.
With that little thought in mind I am going to show you an excerpt from the latest correspondence with a VP of MAE. It rolls through my thoughts often and helps me remember I can get through this.

"You have a gift of creating stories in your mind. And that is exactly what it is...a gift. No one can teach that. You were born with that gift, and it is that gift that sets storytellers apart from the rest of us. It is something that is precious and priceless."

This is from someone I respect in the field of creating stories. They say many other things in the email and I am not sure how many I can disclose without permission. Regardless, as far as they are concerned I have a future as an author...but, why do I feel like such a hack?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Old enough to know better, young enough to keep trying.

So I was more than a little torn about what to post on my blog this week. I was trapped between another boring post about what I am doing, or not doing, with my writing. It was dull, depressing and frankly I didn't even want to write it. So I am not.
I am going to tell you all what happened to me this past Thursday instead.
My wife and I decided to take the kids to the water slides. It is only a mere 2.5 hour drive away so this is a pretty special treat for us all.
A little background information for those of you who don't know me that well. I am 6f tall, and roughly 230lbs. I also worked as a lifeguard for over 8 years. All this boils down to, I should know better. When I stopped lifeguarding, I was the third highest trained person in BC. There is a height restriction on the water slides but there isn't a weight one. Now don't jump ahead on me people. I DIDN'T break the water slides.
Everything was going well. My kids are old enough to go down by themselves, and we would all race to the bottom. Gravity being my friend I would always win of course. They are tiny little things and don't really know how to get the most speed out of the slides.
I do.
Cross your legs, arch your back, and ride on one heel and your shoulder blades. You get minimum resistance and maximum speed. I learned this trick a long time ago, still works even though I have more in the belly area. Well after a few runs under my belt something went terribly wrong. I don't know if the water level dropped in the run I was on, from me or someone else. (My wife told me later I was splashing quite a bit of water out when I went down.) Needless to say when I hit the bottom going faster than the speed of light. (Yes it is possible now so :P )  There wasn't enough water at the bottom to slow me down properly, and I hit the drain full speed, toes first. Some of them slid through the holes I am sure.
When the pain hit me, I wasn't sure how I was going to get out of that water. Lucky for me there was a chair very close by, and I managed to sit down in it. I waved my wife and kids to keep going. "I just needed a minute." I said. Then the blood started to drop down.
A very friendly lifeguard stepped over to ask if I was OK. After a second glance at my foot I knew I wasn't going to be able to "just ignore" this one and would have to suck it up and let the young lady do her job.
I did my best to make it easy for her at least, and I threw in more then enough jokes to keep her laughing with me instead of at me. In the end she dubbed me with the title of "The Band aid King" and released me back into the wild.
Here is what the worst foot looks like after 3 days. Most of the damage is between the toes where you can't see it. Cept for that big toe, lost a bit there...

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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Past, Present, and Future!

When I created this web page my wife gave me heck for putting up the title,
"Who knew one could butcher the English language so bad" it turns out that I was correct even before I knew I was correct...
My last post spoke of my workings with MAE and my hopes for my future. I didn't get accepted (for now) but the door has not been closed. That is a very, very important thing to remember. I have been told that when (not if, there is no if) I can get the editing side down on my work to a much more manageable level I am welcome to reapply.
To keep the descriptive parts of the my latest email from MAE short, for those who just come here for a joke or two, or got lost when they were searching for something from India. (Hi to all my visitors from there. Still seeing I am VERY popular in your part of the world.) MAE wants to sign me. They like (love?) my creative abilities. There is one glaring problem though. My abilities in grammar and punctuation are tipping the scales to poor side of the seesaw. I am being kind to myself. I need help and lots of it. My friends and followers pretty much already knew that . Up until now I basically ignored that fault as it wasn't as important to me as it should have been.
That...was a VERY bad idea on my part. I am now 38 years old and going back to school kids. I have already visited our tiny little college to sign up for a grammar basics course as well as ordering a grade 12 English and grammar book of amazon. *used for only 15 bucks!* Not to mention I am finding any, and all, free classes I can via the Internet. I need... let me stress this... I NEED to figure out how to make my writing better and quickly.

I am Charlie. I am at the gates of the Chocolate factory, and I have my golden ticket. All I need do now is push open the door and step through.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

It has been one heck of a ride...

Some of you may know that I have been working on something very special as of late. Some of you, may not. Regardless of which group you fall into I am now here to say...I have had a ton of fun. Yep, I even learned something new along the way. OK I have learned A LOT of somethings along the way.
Without further ado, here is what has been happening.
I have been given the chance to write for a company called Melodee Aaron Entertainment. Basically it is a publishing company that does things a little different. The term publishing company doesn't even do them justice. Their fingers are into so many pies, one could see a book become a TV show, or a movie, all within the same company. To say, they do it all, is an understatement.
Instead of taking a look at what you have written, they want to see what you can do. Let's be honest. If even the worst writer can spit out a book than spend 100's if not 1000's of dollars and get it polished to perfection. The work can not speak for itself. So what MAE does is gives you assignments. You write them out for them, time frame, and cutoff included, and submit them back for review. I have to admit, it was a roller coaster ride sometimes. There were days I thought for sure I was done. Other days I felt really good about my work, only to have it come back with so many mistakes it looked like a 4th grader had written it.
The thing is, after almost 6 weeks, I am now at what I believe to be the end. The last assignment. Granted I have thought this before, but that was because I was so sure I was going to be dropped. This time there are certain signs that state...watch out the next email could be the big one.
Regardless of the outcome, if I am accepted or not, I have to say I am happy with my work. I know it wasn't the best words ever written in the history of the world, but in the end it was MY best. No matter the outcome, I learned so much from this experience that no matter what I write from now on it will be even better then before.
This has been a trip well worth the time, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity. I can't say that enough. The person that gave me this chance needs nothing from me. There is nothing I can do for them that they can't already do for themselves. They gave me a chance to show my skills, and even if I haven't come out shining like a new star in the sky, I have come out smiling.
This is the first time I haven't had an assignment in so long it actually feels a little weird to not be on a deadline. I think...I think it is time to write.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

What time is Mr. Wolf?

It is an old children's game. Some of you might not remember it, but I do. What is the reference to this blog post you may ask? Well, it is 11 o-clock here and at my midnight the princess looses her carriage and the horses turn back into mice.
Stop being so damn cryptic you say?
Okay, you got it.
For those of you who know me well you already know this. I have been writing like a madman for a publishing company that I am hoping will decide to pick me up. You see, they do things quite different here. Instead of me handing them what I have written and hoping they fall mindlessly in love with it. I am given a chance to prove I can write well and every step of the way they give me incredibly useful, sometimes painful, advice, and correction about my craft.
I have progressed farther than most in this little endeavour but now as I am nearing the end it is what I am referring to as the "11th hour" or "Do or Die" for those not quite as old as I am. My skills in creating a story have been proved. I have shown I can work inside a deadline. Now I am being held back by one, tiny, little thing.
A COMMA.
Yes, for the life of me I can not seem to understand the basic rules of comma usage. I have read pages, and pages of rules. I have printed them out and read them at work between customers while my boss gives me dirty looks. I even have a copy sitting right here next to me as we speak.
I just don't seem to get it.
The lessons I have learned in this process have been invaluable to me. Those alone I will take and cherish. I just find it rather sad to know that all this work that I have done has a very distinct chance of falling down around my shoulders, all because of one little spot of ink in a sentence.
On one page I was reading the rules about comma's and it said it so simply.
If you read the sentence out loud, and you pause, that is where the comma should go. Ignore the rules they are always changing anyway.
Shame that doesn't work for me, but it would be nice right?

P.S. No comma's were hurt in the making of this blog. Although, I am sure I misused at least two or three up there.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Random thoughts while driving

Well actually it is a random "thought" for the moment. I had this pop into my head a few days back.

Society is built around
a system of
survival of the stupid.

Yep. I am going to offend someone with that statement but if you really take a minute to think about it you might see where I am coming from. For instance all around us we are buried with signs.

No swimming - set near a waterfall.

Caution, contents hot - your morning coffee.

They are out there. Everywhere. Now take a minute to think about our government. Here in BC we have just won a fight against our own government that started years ago. We have voted to turn back the clock and return to a system of taxation that was changed just this year. Sounds great right? Well it does have it's bonus sides. For instance, gas prices should be lowering since the taxes have lowered.

Who thinks any one of those gas stations are going to lower the prices back to pre-tax levels?
You got it, no-one.

Schools? Did you know that you can not "fail" school anymore? Yes, you can skip, never learn to read, pull your socks off to count to twenty and play on your cell phone all day in class. You will still pass no matter what. How is this preparing children for their working future? It is no wonder so many young people get frustrated when they start looking for jobs.

The list goes on and on. In fact I could go on for quite a while. Yet the most important thing is your thoughts. Any other things about the system we have today that really gets under your skin? Let me know in the comments below. Let's see how long this list can get.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

So you are a writer?

Yes and a resounding no. It turns out that being an editor is a VERY large part of being a writer. I am not an editor. Does that mean I can still be a writer? I don't know. I can see some of the problems in my work but the largest issue is that I can SEE my own work. When I write a scene I see it inside my head. There are no pauses for a breath there is no beating the reader over the head with the smallest details because they are already there.
"A woman walks to her car and unlocks a door. Is it her house door? Of course not since she just walked up to her car."
I see no point in beating a reader over the head with the fact it is a car door. To me that is a waste of time. BUT that being said. I am wrong. You have to do that because too many readers don't seem to be able to remember something like that.
I am having doubts, for the first time since I ever sat at a keyboard and typed a single word I have never felt this low, ever.
I am going to go think for a while.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Diary of a middle aged stalker.

Yeah the title refers to me. It isn't really true actually. While I am middle aged I am not really a stalker. However I do tend to follow a few people on twitter with a little obsession. That is normal though right?
So you may ask... whom do you follow with the most gusto?
Oddly enough. It is this guy.
Now for those of you not in the know. That man is Wil Wheaton. Formerly known as many people in the acting world such as Stat Trek: TNG. However one of his latest acting visitations has been on the hit show "The Big Bang Theory. I have to admit every episode he does is full of awesome. You can see that Wil loves to work in them. Perhaps even more so since he gets to act in them as himself. Really, what more can you ask for? Another thing that really makes me admire this guy is the fact he is an actor that is also a full time father. He is there for his kids (see his posts on twitter) and even though he doesn't claim to understand them he is still there putting in the effort.
On a completely different side note he is even very close to me in age. I like to think that if we were to ever meet in a bar one night after a hard days work that this guy and myself would hit it off. A cold beer and just some conversation would be seriously awesome to me.
So now why am I talking about this so much? Well that is perhaps because I... I... I have no idea. It is just something that has been on my mind lately. I don't think Wil will be stopping in my small town anytime soon. Let alone having a beer on the one night I get to get out and just happen to be sitting there myself but if lightening were to strike. It would be a very cool way to spend an evening.
Do you stalk anyone on Twitter or other? Let me know in the comments below. Perhaps we can swap notes. ;)
P.S. As you can see on the top right I have finished Present Jumper. It is on it's third rewrite now and will soon be up for sale. Keep checking for it!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

I have a dream!

Well I have lots of dreams but this morning I woke up with a dream fresh in my mind. The weirdest part was it was a dream I remember having as a young child. I mean really young. I can't remember the age but it would be when I was maybe 5 or so? Needless to say that was well over 30+ years ago. I have never had this dream again in all those years and for some reason it crept back into my mind last night. So I will now do my best to try and explain what happened in my dream... gulp.
Ok the setting. I believe it originally was in my grandmothers house. (Long gone) I was moving some old and very heavy dressers when one of them tipped over. I looked down as it fell and heard the crunch of broken wood. I knew something had broken and thought it was just the dresser. Standing it back up I inspected it and found it to be in tact so I looked down at the floor and found a crack in the old hard wood. I dug my fingers into the breaks in the wood and pulled up a section of the flooring about two feet by four feet long. The seams of the wood had been so close you couldn't tell they were there until I had broken them. With the wood gone it left an opening underneath the house. It was a small drop that extended out into complete darkness (This is where it gets weird) There was a dog laying in the space directly under the wood. He looked up at me and just stared. I had no idea why this dog was there so I just whistled to him to come on out. He took one look at me and his eyes seemed to say. "Ok, if you think you got it" and he danced out the front door. I called for my wife to bring me a flashlight so I could explore this space that no-one even knew was under the house. While I waited they started to come out from underneath. (Now we are into REALLY weird parts.)
They were dolls. Yep just dolls, about 8 inches tall. The older cheep kind with the cloth bodies and plastic faces yet they were not the kinds you want your kids to play with. The eyes were dark, black rimmed like someone had made them goth. Others looked to be alien only stretched out, melted almost. The first one out of the hole pretty much rushed to get out of the house as well and as I moved to grab it two others followed it up and started attacking me.
Now, remember I am an adult now and while some things scare me these little buggers do not. As a five year old (before Chucky) you can imagine they would instill some fear though.

They didn't even have any teeth or claws ( just cloth remember) yet they tried to nub me to death. I tossed one back into the hole and grabbed the other two, tossing them in. Reaching for the boards to try and cover the hole back up to keep the little demons inside I realized it was too far gone to fix without leaving the area for more wood. Then I realized the dog had been a guardian and I had released it too.
Shit
I started putting back what I could to block up the exit/entrance and the little monsters kept pushing past me. Every time I grabbed for one, two others would get by. I knew if they got past they would start to spread. Then I woke up to my alarm.

So... you have read all that and thought. That isn't that bad. I want you to know, I agree. It is just a dream. What really rocks my mind is that I have NEVER thought of this dream in the last 30+ years. I remember many of my childhood nightmares yet this one was completely forgotten. So what triggered it to come back? I was grown up in this dream, the problems with these things I had as a child were nothing this time. I assume I could have simply ripped the little devils to pieces if I had to. So what happened? Why this dream after all this time. Has anyone else had a dream come back to them from their childhood after so long? The dream the same as then only different? Adapted to the person you are now?
I really want to hear them. Tell me your dreams!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Web page design.. The page of the future

I have been stalking following a lot of writers lately in the ever present quest for knowledge and one thing I have noticed that really sticks out is web page design. Some are nice, clean and up to date while others are shall we say... less than up to date. My own page has gone through three major transformations in the last three years. I am pretty happy with the one I have now and until I can have my own domain I don't see it changing again. So with that, one question comes to mind.

How important is your web page?

I have just recently had this very same discussion with a fellow tweeter and was left feeling a little out of sorts. They claim to be a very good selling author. Making more then enough to take care of their needs and I really have no reason to dispute this at all. They haven't tried to sell me anything or sign me up for any special insider deals so I believe them to be legit. I have known them online for a long time and have had conversations a plenty with them. They profit in no way from lying to me. Yet, the web page for their own books is less then perfect. It seems outdated. In fact it reminds me very much of the web pages I used to design in the very first days of the internet. Blocky buttons, bold flashing lights and a page design that never seems to fit your screen. Yet that being said it really doesn't seem to matter to them in the end. The books are selling and selling rather well I am told. So it begs me to question. Do people really care or is it the end product after all. Is the package no longer important and the old adage "It's what's inside that counts" come back with a vengeance. In the superficial world that we now live in it seems so hard to believe that someone will simply ignore the package and look deeper. In fact as a new writer even I know how important a book cover is. Bad cover = less sales. If there isn't something on the cover that makes a new reader pick it up then you will never have a chance to sell it to them by your blurb on the back. And you can forget those same readers opening to the inside to read the first page.
So with all that in mind am I mistaken? Is the web page really not that important? Please let me know your own thoughts in the comments. Love to hear from you all.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Published? Sorta...

So I took the leap and decided to put my short story PAST JUMPER up for sale on Amazon and Smashwords. I thought I was doing the write (hehe) thing and I re-read the story word for word as well as passing it out to some friends to have them read it for me. It all came back with the thumbs up. I fixed a few minor issues, re-read the guide lines to post it online, re-read them again. Changed the format to what was recommended and clicked the submit button to have it available to buy.
Then it hit me...
In the very FIRST page where people read about what my story is about I misnamed one of my main characters. So, I pulled it down and had that fixed... another three days passed so Amazon can make sure I didn't fill the book full of instructions on how to topple the American government. ( Or something like that I have no real idea why it takes them three days to review one changed word.) Then my short story was up for sale! (again) The oddest thing happened. My book started selling. Yeah! I know! Someone out there actually paid money to read what I wrote. Yes, I know it is ONLY .99c Heck a coffee these days costs more then that but it actually started to sell!
Then comes the bad part.
I have a friend that bought it. Thank you! And he found things that all my readers and myself missed inside the work. Granted they weren't horrible blaring mistakes but they were there regardless. That hit me the hardest. I honestly feel bad that people paid that much for a work that wasn't perfect. Yeah, I know, it's .99c but it doesn't matter. My readers expect something less flawed. I would expect that from someone else. I haven't pulled the book, it is a little more of hassle if you decide to do that but I have swindled a friend that actually went to school to be an editor to take a look at it for me. I am happy to say that she did a read and wasn't totally revolted with what I wrote. She is cleaning it up now. So with any luck there will be a revised edition up to replace my flawed one very soon.
One reader did review the book for me. (Hopefully more will soon) Her comments were good with the one exception. It was too short! Well, I did warn people it is a short story but it got me thinking. I created this story to enter a short story competition and decided that I didn't want to tie my story up with an unknown company for six months waiting to see if I win or not. So I decided not to enter. Their rules at that time were to keep the work under 8000 words. I adapted some of the story before posting it for sale and it ended up at around 8300 words. Pretty short, but the world I had created had many opportunities. So on the advice of the review I have started the "sequel" so to say. Actually I have it planned to be four short stories all around the 10k mark ending with a 5th of unknown length. I think this is a novel (hehe) idea and I am already 50% finished the second short. If this idea takes off then perhaps I will appease the masses and have a load of fun at the same time.
Must get back to writing!
P.S. Sorry no little picture, this was a long enough post without me putting one up there :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

To Indie or not to Indie... That is the question.

First off, I have a couple readers that might not know what "Indie" means. No, it most certainly does not mean Indian... Least not to me. It means independent, as in, self published. I have tossed the idea of self publishing around since the very last word of my very first book was typed into my laptop. How do I want to publish this? Others have asked me what road I am taking. We have debated it, (Always with mutual respect for opinions) and in the end I have come out with no real answer as to the best way to go. So I am going to travel both of the paths and see what happens. Yes, you can do that! Some books I will put up for sale myself, others I will try and sell to agents/publishers.
I already have my short story going up on Amazon. As soon as it is ready to buy I will be providing a link. OK I will be honest, I will be providing a TON of links. I am not sure how well this one will sell being of a shorter variety but it is a toe in the water so to speak. I am really looking forward to the reviews. Yep, I am that crazy. I KNOW they will not be all positive. In a way I am actually counting on that. It will give me a chance to hear what readers really think. I can guarantee that they will be honest; for the most part. Yes this is the age of the Internet, and yes, the trolls are still out there in full force. I am OK with that too. Call it a point of honor to me. If you have the attention of the Trolls then you must be in the limelight. Someone once said. "There is no such thing as bad press." While that too is debatable I think it has some merit.
As for my traditional publishing path. It is still on a very slow, hurry up and wait train. Did I mention it is slow? Being pretty new to this part of writing I really had no idea how long some agents can take to get back to you. Even with a "not for us but thanks" note. Yes, people are busy. I know all about busy; what with my 8-5 and my family as well as selling a house, moving, looking for a new place. You name it and I have probably done it or am doing it at this minute. Yet I find the time to still fit in things I care about. Be it writing, gaming, playing with my children spending time with my wife. You name it. You just make it work.
So agent's; why does it take up to four months to respond? I am sure there is a reason. I am not trying to be snarly just being me. Albeit, an impatient me. I have read during #askagent on twitter how most agents know in the first few minutes if the book is for them or not. So why does it take so long to reply? Anyone know the answer to this. It is a grey area in my knowledge and I would really like to learn more about it.
Till the next time and ohh...
Buy my book! (Kidding)(No really, buy it)
P.S. There is a link on the upper left side to get to my book PAST JUMPER pop in and grab a copy for yourself.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Lightning can strike twice.

Perhaps this is old news to most of you. Actually, I know it is old news to almost everyone. I have met via the wonders of the interweb a writer named Amanda Hocking. That is her to the right. ---> That right, not your other right.  I had heard of her before via a news article about self published authors but never put  two and two together. Now that is has clicked thanks to a twitter friend I decided to go back to the very first post on her blog and follow this writer through her early (totally unedited) posts and read her journey to fame. If you haven't already read it or even looked at it I highly recommend it. Especially from the point of view as an writer. She doesn't seem to hold back at all in her writing. Her feelings and views about the whole process imitate my own so closely that it could be considered odd. It makes me feel good about my own process. No matter what agents say to my query's there are now other options. Lightning can strike twice.

** MILD PERSONAL RANT INCOMING  ** <You have been warned>

SO... after that little blurb it brings me to a total side note on the whole query process. As my followers know I am now receiving rejections on my story. It is OK, I understand that it is all part of the process. What I don't understand is this one line sent in a form rejection.

"Unfortunately, this manuscript does not look like it is for us, but we're sure other agents will feel differently."

I even had to read it a few times. If you are sure that "other" agents will feel differently, how bout sending me their email address? A name? Where they hang out? I know it is a kind way to say keep trying, you might have better luck with another sucker agent but c-mon! Really? If you are sure that another agent will feel that way why don't you feel that way. /Sigh ahh well I will continue my search. There really IS an agent out there that will love this book. I know it.

On a non ranting note. If you haven't visited my FaceBook page yet please stop in and hit the like button.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

It's official!

What you may ask? Well, that's what I am here to tell you. I have received my first OFFICIAL rejection letter. Please, please, hold the applause and just throw money. No really, please throw lots of money. I could use it to pay my unpaid copy editor. Speaking of which I would like to take a second and thank Witchywoman2118 for her help on this my... 5th total review/rewrite on my book.
I know this is my first rejection (OK really it is my second but the first didn't count since I saw it coming)  and I have to develop tough skin to be a writer. Even with a thick skin it still hurts in some way.
I didn't fall off the horse though. I re polished my query letter and promptly sent it out right away to the next agent in line. I have to admit though, this time I am wondering if I am crazy for doing it.
I walk around stores and look at the book section all the time. I see the short shelf life of a book and its ultimate disposal into a bargain bin and wonder. Is that where my work is to end up one day? How would it feel to be that writer with your work, your heart bled onto those pages to only see it end up in a bargain bin for 50c. I have to say that might be one of the hardest parts of all. For me only time will tell since as of yet; I haven't even sold my own work to myself.
So on that note I am back on the horse and waiting for a reply. Be it a form letter rejection, (If the work isn't right for you but you are sure it is for another agent then perhaps you could give me their email address next time?) or simply a note that "no thank you". It isn't right for your agency. I will persist. I will continue and at the very least. I will get better. (And tougher skin)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

June, the month to hit submit.

I have given myself this month to be the one where I actually commit and hit that submit button. I have to admit to you all it is a daunting thing. For those of you not in the know about the writing/publishing process it starts like this. (Hopefully after the book is done) You begin with a query letter. With those six scary words you start on the path. Yet to a writer who has just finished a 90k+ book those six words can be the start of some of the hardest writing you might ever do. I have done a total of five rewrites on my query letter. That is, five FULL rewrites. It doesn't count the twenty or so touch ups or minor changes to each draft. I have sent this query out to be read by a good friend in the business only to take the feedback and write it again, and again. Once again I have sent it out for what I hope is the last time. Forgiving a touch of polish since every ones opinion will be different. This should be the last time. All I need do after that is copy it to the body of an email, type in the correct address. Tweak it to that person's specifications and hit send. In theory that sounds very, very easy. Yet hitting that one last button can be one of the most important things you do as a writer.

Recently I had the privilege of having some one on one time with a former agent. She told me something that is practically unheard of in the writing world. When she was in the submissions stage she only had to submit to an agent once and was picked up the first time. Those words shocked me at first so I of course asked the all mighty, how? She informed me that it was the research into what agent was best for her book. That is the key here. You have to know the agent you are submitting to. The Internet is a wealth of information and anyone willing to take the time can usually learn a lot about people. That goes just as well for agents. Even more so perhaps. Agents don't want to have their time wasted anymore then anyone else does. So if you even do a little research you can find their tastes, or what they don't like. Either can be invaluable to a writer. I have researched dozen of agents. Many I rejected right away, others I put in a folder for later. In the end I have come up with three. Should all three find my story to be not their tastes I will of course continue down the list. I know my story is good. I know it is not perfect. Perfect is a lofty goal for a new writer like myself. However in the end there is an agent out there who is looking for exactly what I have written. I just need to hit submit.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Patience, or a reasonable facsimile thereof

So I got some AWESOME responses to my contest entry. The feedback was great and I gained a few new followers here too, however I haven't yet got the response I am waiting for. It turns out that I am not a very patient person. Sure, I can be under certain circumstances heck I have done the same job for seventeen years; but for some reason with this contest I am just not the waiting around or do something else kind of person. I can't really tell you why this time is so different. Perhaps it's because I keep dreaming I won and got to meet Judith. (She was a totally awesome agent in that dream too. Super nice. My wife and kids loved her.) Perhaps it is because I actually think I have a real chance of winning? I like to think so. I know my writing is good. Hold on, stop right there. No, I don't have that large of a swollen ego. I said it is good. It is by no means perfect, or awesome or .. you get the idea. It needs work. I must have re-written that first page over ten times. It was polished to a shine. The other pages are still a work in progress. SO... I have as good a chance as anyone else out there. It all depends on the agent's taste. IF their taste's run the same as my own; the hook might have sunk in. That is the biggest problem I seem to be facing though. Does the agent have the same taste as me or not? It has been six days now with no hint of a response. I have done some harassing err stalking um, gentle questioning perhaps *cough* and as far as I know there hasn't been a single hint of a response from this contest. I made a promise to myself to start querying agents this month regardless of the outcome of the contest and now with the help of my good twitter friend @ReneeDillon my work is getting a fresh set of eyes to once again add some polish. After this draft I should have a very reasonable product to start pushing on sales. So instead of hitting that submit button I am once again forced to wait. Perhaps forced is too strong a word, I am choosing to wait. I want it to be done right; the first time. So I sit, and hit the refresh button, and check my email for that all important message. Perhaps it will read... You are the one! or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Made of Awesome Contest!

Not to be confused with the Maid of Awesome Contest. That is a horse of a different color.

So here's the new contest. It'll be similar to the Twitter Pitch contest with the critique round and the judging round. But instead of entering a twitter pitch, we're doing a first page contest. (their words, not mine)
Here is the link to the actual contest entry page. If you know me, you probably have already been there... 100 times.

On May 28th, post your title, genre, word count and the first 250 words on your blog for critique.
Here be mine.
(I have revised my first 250 words and it is now up for review in the time that is left. The old version is still below for a comparison.)

The Event.
Sci/fi Fantasy
96000 words

Chapter 1 (2nd revision)

Days before the event happened worldwide panic set in. I remember my parents telling me we had to leave quickly. My father rushed around the house grabbing things. Our camping gear, lanterns, batteries all flew into the car. My mother grabbed food, as much as she could stuff into our four door sedan. I jumped into the driver’s seat but my dad sent me such a glare that I just mumbled a sorry and moved to the back. I had never seen my dad drive that fast before as we practically flew away from our house, while both my parents had a heated argument about a store. As my dad drove past the store he barely slowed down. Gunshots could be heard ringing from inside. Every window was broken and people were running around carrying armloads of items. Some of the weirdest things can stick in your head. I remember one man; his eyes were wide in terror as he held a bag of dog food in his arms. Dog food, I could never understand why a person would have grabbed that and risked his life for it. My dad gave my mom a look and floored it away from the store. Lawns and houses blurred by so fast it looked like one long strip of green.
           
            My Dad took us into the woods. There was an old cabin tucked away in a valley near a small lake; its waters were crystal clear. He said we were lucky no-one else came to this spot.


Chapter 1 (original)
            No one knew the devastation it would bring. The world I knew as a child was gone. Most days I can scarcely remember what it was like then. I do remember it was a time of convenience. Everyone had everything, or so I thought in my youth. Fancy cars, polished to shine in the sun lined the roads. Every yard was lush and green. Houses were all neat and tidy and the streets were always lit up bright every night.
           
            Days before the event happened the worldwide panic set in. I remember my parents telling me we had to leave quickly. My father rushed around the house grabbing things. Our camping gear, lanterns, batteries all flew into the car. My mother grabbed food, as much as she could stuff into our four door sedan. I had never seen my dad drive that fast before as we practically flew away from our house, while both my parents had a heated argument about a store. As my dad drove past the store he barely slowed down. Gunshots could be heard ringing from inside. Every window was broken and people were running around carrying armloads of items. Some of the weirdest things can stick in your head. I remember one man; his eyes were wide in terror as he held a bag of dog food in his arms. Dog food, I could never understand why a person would have grabbed that and risked his life for it. My dad gave my mom a look and floored it away from the store.


I am ready for your words of encouragement! Or if that fails, tell me what you don't like about it I want to hear from YOU! At the very least you can slap a thumbs up or down right under this post. Thanks for visiting, and good luck in the contest!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Flops, Birthdays and Future!

OK so the contest below... It's a flop. Turns out that no-one wants to post a picture of themselves onto a blog. Even if it is the back of their head, their socks, whatever. I forget how people can be like that sometimes. BUT! The good news is that Shelly has felt sorry for me and told me if no-one enters then she will review my query letter instead. So my dear readers, your fears are my win. Thank you for being you.

In conjunction with that Shelly has her own contest. It kinda overshadowed mine but I am OK with that since I am coming out ahead anyway. But I digress, her contest is for a really real agent to read the first 250 words of your MS and if they are good enough you can get a 10 page read and perhaps representation... This would be an awesome birthday present to me. Yes, OK, it was my birthday a couple days ago and I am now nearing the ends of the 30s.
I had a realization on or around that day and I decided to get a little more serious about my writing. I want to be published by 40. It will happen, one way or another. So in that respect I have polished up my query letter, and am once again going over my finished book. This time with a much more critical eye. This book will shine when I am done with it! A person once told me that it takes three careers changes to find what you really want to do in life. I have only had two so far. Writing will be my third. So raise a glass and give a toast because no matter what, I am going to win this and writing will be my job.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Welcome to the #angryavi Contest!

Seems everyone is reluctant to have a picture of themselves posted up here for review. I can understand that so I am twisting the rules a tad.
It is still to be a picture of you and still to be the worst author shot you can think of BUT it doesn't have to be your face. It can be... your feet... the back of your head, your hand holding a book. It is totally up to you folks. Be creative! The best of the worst still wins a query review and that is totally worth it's weight in gold. Let's see those entry's!

Ok it is my turn to have a contest since it seems to be all the rage now. So in honor of my twitter friend @Shelley_Watters I have named this contest after my continual harassment of her. She has been fussing over her avi for quite a while now and I have been giving her a bit of a rough time about it. She has even gone on to blog about it recently. While I was reading her blog the random thought hit my brain to run the #angryavi contest. Her angry avi is the second one down in the last link in case you were wondering what it looked like. It doesn't look so mean when you see it larger like that. So here is the gist...

1- You need to follow my blog to enter. (Wouldn't hurt to follow Shelley's too, she is funnier then I am.)

2- You must use a photo of yourself in your best (worst) writer type pose. (I obviously can't find out if it really is you, honor system folks.)

3- Post a link to this contest on your own blog or tweet it and provide a link with your entry.

4- Have fun with your entry... Take a look at the shots here of some typical poses and do your worst!

Now for the best part. Even though I harass Shelley to no end she has agreed  to judge the contest for us and the winner will get a query critique from her. How can you go wrong with that! The contest will end on My 25th so that gives everyone 10 full days to do your worst! Since I can't win the contest but I wanted to submit my photo anyway here it is...

Let the contest... BEGIN!
I call this the lounging on the couch, you caught me working with chin on fist and hand on cheek pose. The air force shirt is just cause that's what I happened to be wearing at the time and it is just lame enough to add in here.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Age it's not what it used to be.

So after a day in the sun my wife looked at me and asked the immortal question. So what are we going to have for dinner? With a quick glance at my HTC Desire HD that the same wife bought for me. (Yes, she does truly rock and I know you are all jealous) I saw that it was already 4:30 and way to late to be planning for dinner.
"Don't worry, I got it!" I said as I grabbed my keys and headed out the door.
A quick drive down the street and I was waiting in line behind two older gentleman at the lovely local A+W.
I watched as the older gentleman waited for a cup of coffee and noticed his hands shake as he held on to his money.
An odd thought struck me then.

He was once just like me, and one day I will be just like him.

I know, this might seem blatantly obvious to most people reading this. Of course he was just like me, people aren't born old after all... but wait.
How many people really remember that today? So many of us are wrapped up in our own lives that we don't remember what it was like to be a kid, or a child. We only remember the now. It really sunk in that we need to have more respect for the older generation. They were after all just like us now, young, vibrant and full of dreams and I am sure they still are on the inside. As I watched the gentleman walk away with his coffee to sit and relax I wondered what he would have been like at my age. Was he a "ladie's man" was he a musician, or just a quiet gentleman that hung out in the back ground. As a writer I can't help but wonder what his story is? Has anyone written it down? I am doing my best to keep my own story down in the hopes that one day when I too am old and flying around in space on my personal space craft sipping a coffee that some young person will wonder about my own story. Times will change for me as they do for everyone. I really like to think the only thing that has changed for the elderly is the year on the calender.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Marrage and the times

It seems to be happening more and more. Divorce, it used to be a hushed word only said in dark corners and whispered to each other out of ear shot of children. Now, it is a household word, children know what it means and in many occasions have seen it happen to their own parents multiple times.

I can only speak for myself here. REMEMBER this is my opinion only.

Marriage is very important to me. I waited a long time to find the one person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Without her my life wouldn't be what it is today. As far as I was concerned we were married from the moment she said yes. We didn't need a big ceremony or a preacher to stand and make it so. God hears our thoughts and our minds are open to him. When we agreed to spend the rest of our lives together from that moment on I knew I would be with only one woman. My wife.

There are many people out there that will now disagree with me. That's OK you too have your right to an opinion. Now having said my piece I need you to know. There are reasons for a divorce. I would be happy to discuss them with anyone who would like to ask. A few examples might be, your husband/wife turns out to be a mass murderer, your husband wife has a totally secret life that you never knew about.

Yes, there are excuses for everything. The biggest problem I have is how easy it is to get a divorce. It is so easy that people just choose to take the option at the first sign of trouble. Perhaps we all need to listen hard to the words that we say in front of the preacher at our weddings.

Till death do us part.

For me I really hope that it is a long long time from now. I am looking forward to enjoying a long and happy life with the woman I love. The bumps along the way? they will only make us stronger. My wife becoming my best friend instead of my wife? She already is my best friend and my wife. It is just one more thing that makes me love her even more.

Monday, 25 April 2011

You think too much!

A friend at work said this to me a while back. At first I kept my mouth shut and thought about what they had said. (Proving them true of course) Then I realized that in a way, probably unintentionally, this was actually a compliment. Because, yes, I do think to much!

There isn't a moment going by that I don't think. I think about my family, my friends, my work and sometimes even about my book(s). From the moment I wake till the second I fall asleep I am thinking. Even in my dreams I think about things that bother me or things I need to do. My thoughts never end. I have only found one way to shut it off, but I won't be discussing that here. Perhaps a topic for another day.
I actually remember the first time I was told to think. It really hit home, I was only a child and I am not sure how old I was at the time but my father was mad at me. That did happen a lot as a child but another topic for another day here too. I only remember him telling me to THINK for a change. I am sure at that time he was angry at me for something that is normal for a child to do but it was his actions that really stuck in my head. To think. I can honestly say that I made an effort at that time to think about everything. No matter how small. Back then it was to keep myself out of trouble but it has changed over the last thirty plus years. To this day it has stuck with me all the time. My thoughts can go so far into the future that it is hard to keep myself grounded in today. Other days my thoughts are so random that to explain them just makes people shake their head in wonder.
Regardless though I am glad that I am a thinker. Without it how would I make up those stories?
So my friends, what makes you think? Or not think? What I ask of you, are your thoughts? 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

5 Years Ago

If you are easily upset perhaps it is not the best time to be reading this post. It's not bad as per say but it could be viewed as depressing to some.

It is over 5 years ago now that I was diagnosed with MS. It isn't exactly a secret that I have it and as far as the disease goes I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I came to find out I had it when I lost about 25% of my vision in both eyes. If you were to think of your vision as a circle and then place some cross hairs through that, I lost the lower left side of that circle. In hind sight it was a very interesting experience. It wasn't like there was a black hole there or anything, it was just gone. Very hard to explain and it is an experience I would rather not have to repeat, ever. At the time though it scared the shit out of me as well as my doctors. They told me at first that I had a stroke. I was only 32 then. So with no wasting of time I was rushed off to the closest town that had an MRI machine and jammed into it so they could see if it was true. It didn't take much longer to figure out that it wasn't a stroke just MS.
So, after all that you that are still reading this might be asking. Ok, so why do you type this now?
Well, since that time I have been pretty lucky. If I did have any other attacks they were small and usually didn't last that long. A month and a half was about the longest. So in the last 5 years I have learned what the symptoms usually feel like and when it's just my body being usual self. I have been feeling something odd for about the last week and as of today I know it is another attack. I have had this kind before too. I refer to it as chronic leg pain. The doctors like to use a pain scale of 1 - 10 to identify your pain. When I threw out my back some time ago I was at a high 7. When I broke a bone it was at a 9.8. This leg pain is at a 4. Now all those sticking with me to this part are saying. "A 4? Whats wrong with that? It's not so bad." And when you think of it like that, it isn't that bad at all. It could be so much worse. Except, it doesn't go away. There are no breaks, there are no waves. It is always just there. Think of someone pressing a finger against your skin and leaving it there. Day, after day, after day. For over a month. That is what the 4 is like to me, all over my legs. You can hold it in and ignore it for a while but there comes a time when tension starts to build and no matter how hard you try the pain gets to you. You get annoyed, you snap at people or some days you just want to cry. I am not there yet, I can still smile and play with my kids. I have been through this once, I can do it again.
Perhaps it is best if most don't read this far. Now at the bottom I know that I wrote this more for myself then for anyone else. One of the biggest problems with MS is that there is so little that can be done to help. My wife feels this more then anyone else I know and she will not like this post in the least. For that I am sorry. Sometimes the words just have to be said even if they are read or not. But never fear! I still have my humor!

http://mssociety.ca/en/

The link is for people who want to know more.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Being a Father

What does that really mean? Being a Father. I have thought on this post for a while and to be honest I am still not really sure what it means. I am a Father, I have a beautiful wife and two awesome kids, but that doesn't make me a father. I go to work for my 9 hours a day and for that I get to miss out on some pretty cool things. My 4yr old son just started riding his bike with no training wheels for instance. I didn't get the chance to be there to see it because I was at work. Now please don't get me wrong. I have taken the role of supporting my family very seriously. It is important to me to make sure they have all the necessity's in life. A roof over their heads, cloths, and full belly's but does that make me a father? No. I am in a constant struggle with finding time to do the things I used to enjoy B.C. ( My wife and I changed B.C. to mean Before Cids, Kids, get it?) and spending time with my family. Again, please don't get me wrong. If I had to choose I would always choose to spend time with my family, but sometimes I just have to have a little "ahh" time to myself. Does that make me a bad Father? I love my life. I wish there were a way for me to be able to spend all my time here so that I can stop and see the moments that are passing me by all too quickly. So I write, it is one of the things I love to do. Perhaps one day it will support my family so I can pursue in more depth how to be a great Father. I found this quote a while back and it made me think of my own children.

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.  ~Author Unknown

I am proud to say, my kids (and wife) do that. Perhaps I am already a Father.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Fair in our front yard!

So we are blessed where we live and a traveling fair comes through our little town once a year. It just so happens that this little Fair sets up right in our front yard. Literally...

Yep that is my front yard there... Now imagine if you will that you have two kids aged 4 and 5 and you can do the math as to what kind of fun this can be to a child. Also what kind of a headache it can be to an adult...
(Yes that is snow on the back mountain.)  

Those are my awesome kids who on the first day the Fair set up waited for over 7 hours for them to get ready. This is like an adult waiting for 3 months... They didn't complain until the very end. I have great kids! Their patience paid off in the end though. The owner of the Fair gave us all free passes for the day and we made the most of them. My five year old daughter even went on rides that I thought she would fly right out of. Her smile made it all worth while though. So all in all we had an awesome time and my kids have enough sugar to keep an ant nest happy for a lifetime. Here is too West Coast Amusements, Bingo the owner and another great turn out!