Thanksgiving Night on Furnace Branch by Wakefield Mahon
The last four days have been restorative. My Thanksgiving memories include half a dozen little ones running around, good food and good company. I had the privilege of listening to the elders telling stories of the old days. Later, the grandnephews gathered around me so I could tell them stories of my own.
The only decent movie that we rented this weekend was Eat, Pray, Love, which included a delightful thanksgiving scene.
As one of my daughters pointed out in a Facebook post, Why do we only take one day a year to think about how grateful we are? I am so very thankful for my family and friends and for the joy of being able to share my stories, my dreams and philosophies with complete strangers. For all of the chaos and madness, writing is one of the great blessings!
I discovered a fantastic tool last week: Free Natural Reader. A separate, trusted, pair of eyes is best, but if you don't have the luxury of an editor on retainer and your friends are sick of reading your masterpieces, a text-to-speech engine is an excellent tool to have in your arsenal. Your word processor can only do so much in catching your mistakes, but hearing your text read aloud, now that makes all of the difference in the world. In the past week I have reviewed a number of my new stories as well as a number that have been rejected by their first market and I was amazed that I could have missed such blatant mistakes.
Remember, editors read thousands of manuscripts, give yourself the best shot you can with a polished manuscript. Keep writing my friends!
Watching Grey’s Anatomy, this past week, I caught Kevin McKidd's accent slip when he said "anythin" in his native Scottish brogue. I stopped the show just to run to Google and find out where he was from.
It reminded me that we have to be careful when using dialect and colloquialisms in our writing.If your southern belle drops a yous guys, in the middle of a monologue about her days growing up in Montgomery, the brake lights are bound to light up.
For the same reason, if Troy uses ain’t in chapter 3, unless he is making a point or went to finishing school, he should still use ain’t consistently in chapter 11.Another thing to keep consistent is idiomatic spellings.If dey talk like dis, make sure dey always talk dat away.‘Cessive use o’ short’nd words can be ver’ d’stracting, but again, if you use, them, then use them consistently.
I love language and dialect.Used well, a writer can create an authentic world that the reader can walk around in and enjoy.Used poorly, the reader will encounter a world where buildings have only windows.Unless your goal is to confuse and frustrate your reader, make sure there are doors in every building.
I’ve gained a new perspective on that well known poem “Footprints in the Sand”.In the times of trial that just don’t seem to let up when you feel like you can’t possibly go on and yet you do.I experienced a similar season twelve years ago, that was actually far worse. Compared to that season, with the exception of the death of my daughter’s best friend, the problems that have plagued me recently are actually only nuisances.Even if my vehicles are taking me completely broke.
The experiences and nightmares only help to clarify my vision and strengthen my resolve.And, as I predicted, a wealth of story ideas and the passion to place in those stories has surfaced as I see the glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.
I have more very good news that I will share with all of you as soon as it is official.In the mean time, I spent this entire week editing and reediting finished, or what I thought were finished, pieces.I finally have one ready for submission, coming in at a hefty 5100.It looks like I finally know the difference between flash fiction and a short story.I still have seven more edits to do.Three were previously submitted the other four are brand new.
Okay, so I am being melodramatic.What’s new?Seriously, though, I can accept being battered and bruised as a fiction writer.Fiction is subjective; there really is no right or wrong, only preference.
When you get beat up for a technical article, well, that is another beast altogether.In my defense, I was writing about something that I understand but am not the subject matter expert in and I was running on an incredibly tight deadline.Still, I would like think that I can just “pull it off”.It just goes to show, no matter how comfortable you are with your work, you just have to find the time to read and reread your work before you submit it, whether to your boss, a review committee or your editor.
I just thought I would share a thought or a statement of the obvious.
Keep writing my friends!
PS I finally finished my ghost story Boot Hill, last week.A few more touches and three editing reviews to go then I’m off to find her a home.(She was too slow for her intended anthology)
I don't have a great deal to say this week. I am oppressed and down-trodden. My soul cries out for water in a heartless land: vast, parched, lonely and frightening. Like a phoenix, we rise from the flames. Eternal, ethereal yet stronger than ever before. I have so many stories that I cannot wait to share with you, as soon as this present darkness lifts. Remember this, dark days will come. It is a guarantee in every life that last long enough to have meaning. But even at the end of an arctic night, the sun still rises.
A bio in a publication can be a little daunting if you think about it.Like the picture of you wearing that lime green outfit or kissing you know who, once the copies are out there, you can never get them back.If you have not already done so, now might be a good time to think about who you are and who you want to be to the world.
First, you have to do your vanilla bio. I might write something like: “Wakefield Mahon is a freelance writer, poet, and author of Wakefieldisms, the writer’s inspiration blog.His stories have appeared in publications by Folded Press, Softcopy Publishing and Living Dead Press.His latest project is the Way of the Sword fantasy series.The first book, Emerald Dreams will be published next year.”Remember, even if this is your first story, you can still say “Jane Smith is a freelance writer.”Teaching credentials and writer’s association affiliation may also be appropriate.
Some editors may allow or even encourage bios that are more interesting.Here is your chance to shine.You do not have to use the same bio for every publication.While my faith might be very relevant to an article in an inspirational magazine, it is probably of less interest to the readers of my dark fiction and horror stories.Depending on the market, you might want to use something quirky, silly, or deep.Check with your editor first.When it doubt, always revert to your vanilla bio.
I finished final edits on two pieces this week.It has truly been a joy working with the editors.I should have the links where you can view and/or purchase the publications in the next few weeks.
I know that everyone has their heart set on writing a novel for NaNoWriMo but my personal goal is just to finish the 25 unfinished works that I have accrued over the past six months.The total output will not likely exceed forty thousand words, but at least I will have some finished products.
I only completed a handful of stories last month, although to be fair, two of them were 5000 word stories.Building off the advice of one of my editors, I have arranged my writing into folders: incomplete, awaiting first review, awaiting second review and awaiting market.I’ve done something similar with my rewrites.I am hoping to avoid embarrassing situations where I missed a typo or lost my train of thought because I was rushing to make a deadline.
I am still entering themed anthologies as they come along, but I am no longer trying to complete a story for every single one.The submission calls are still useful for story ideas.A well-written story can start from a very specific theme and still be worth general publication.
To those of you who are five days into the challenge, good luck!To the rest of you, keep living, keep loving and keep writing!
If you live in a country that allows you to participate in the government and you stay home on voting/election days then you are missing the point.Writing is a wonderful way to express yourself and make your voice heard but take the time and put your mark on record.Find out what the candidates want to do with your money, what direction they want to take your town, your state or province, your nation.Find out what the referendums on the ballot mean and add your input.
Even if your choice doesn’t win, you are making it clear that dissenting voices exist.Besides, you never know, perhaps eleven thousand people who agree with you are waiting at home because they don’t think you will bother to go out and vote your mind.
Many of you are people of faith.Being primarily writers, I know most of you are people of conviction.It doesn’t become people of principle to sit by silently and allow the world go on without making the attempt to change it.
Keep writing, keep believing, but take a little time and go vote your conscience.
PS.Speaking of votes, my thanks go out to all of you who voted for my story the Last Straw, we finished second, but at least we made a strong showing.