Saturday, November 9, 2013

I feel like a cat. I'm dying of curiosity.

Why is it that people will take the time to read something and not take a minute to leave a comment? Are they afraid of being disliked because they left a negative comment? Or do they feel they are not qualified to comment? Do they just not care?
I don't know if there is a way to track how many people read what I post here on G+ but on Wattpad I can track the number of people who read my WIP. Each chapter is posted separately so I can track how many read each part.
According to the numbers, about 30% of the ones who read chapter 1 continue to read the next chapters. Of those, 90% go on to read all of them. The problem is that out of the total number of people only 5% leave a comment.
As a writer, I am left floating in the clouds. How can I improve? What are my weak spots? I would like to become the best writer I can be but without feedback I have no direction.
I understand that there are plenty of writers out there who write because they have to. The stories are in their heads and they don't feel right until they can get that story in writing. However, some of us have to fight with our inner demons on a daily basis to be able to write. We are constantly hearing a voice in our mind that tells us we are never going to be any good. Nobody cares if we ever write another thing. Why bother?
The story is still there and I desperately want to write it but the physical act of picking up a pencil and putting it to paper is sometimes beyond me.
What brought this whole thing about was several weeks ago an established author somehow stumbled upon my WIP on WattPad. I had been in a slump, not being able to write or even post anything here on G+. This author left a very encouraging comment and decided to "Follow" me. That was nice since I have several other followers, but when I checked out his profile, I found that he had dozens of followers himself but I was the only one he was following. That was enough to duct tape shut the mouth of my demon and I've been able to write almost every day since.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing With Bi-Polar Depression

Several days ago I put up a post where I mentioned dealing with a minor mental issue. Unfortunately, for many folks, dealing with bi-polar is not a minor issue. People without the disease go through life with their moods centered around a baseline and go above or below that baseline depending on good or bad circumstances in their life. Someone with bi-polar will have very pronounced mood swings way above or way below their baselines that have nothing to do with circumstances.
As a child growing up in the fifties, I had no idea what the problem was but knew it wasn't normal so I developed several ways of hiding my down times. I could go on and on about what I did to cope but still feel uncomfortable talking about them.
Anyway, some of you may have noticed that I haven't posted much of anything for quite awhile and haven't made much progress on my WIP. Just thought I would let you know why and that being on an up cycle you should hear more from me.
I envy those of you who can write everyday. All I can do is the best I can when I can.
Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Genre Do You Think This Should Be?

Several months ago I posted a short story called 'Second Chances'. I received a number of positive comments both on my blog and from others outside the online community. I thought it would be fun to post it on Wattpad but I have no idea what genre to list it under. The story just came out as I was toying with several new ideas for a fantasy. The problem is that there isn't any magic or beings with special powers. It's just about an adolescent girl who discovers her grandfather in a pre-industrial setting. Would this be something that would fit into YA or should I just go with fantasy?
Any comments would be helpful since I don't understand the YA genre.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finally Settled in to Our new Home

Hey everyone, it has been a long month but we are in our new home and slowly putting things where we want them. I have been furiously working on my honey-do list to the point that I can actually get back to my writing. I have been able to spend a little time on Google + in the evenings and have some ideas about a blog I'm planning to write about rules. I also went ahead and posted the first three chapters of my WIP on Wattpad after a number of people convinced me it was the thing to do. We will see what comes of it. I am almost finished with chapter 4 and have the next three chapters outlined. As soon as I finish them and my critique group gives them the once over, I will post. I hope to get some comments on Wattpad, positive or negative, so I know what direction I need to go to make my story better. It's good to be back in the saddle again. LOL
Have a good writing day!
Here is the link to Wattpad,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Are You Looking For A Local Critique Group?

For months now I have been looking for a local writers critique group that I could join to get some feedback on my work. I have talked to several other writers who belong to a group already but wanted to keep their group small so they weren't accepting anyone new. Finally a friend of a friend told me about a local group that is always willing to accept new members. I went to my first meeting last night and was pleasantly surprised. Even though there are actually several hundred members, only eight to ten people normal show up on any given night. The people that were there were very knowledgeable and professional but in all stages of writing careers. I had a lot of fun and also learned a lot. What surprised me and what I want to pass on is they belong to nationwide critique group that has thousands of location all over the country. Just go to their website, type in your city and a list of the nearest groups to your location will pop up. Join up and you are on your way. Good luck!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Get out and make new friends, they will enrich your life.

I just recently signed up for a two week course to become certified as a Home Care Aide. I was apprehensive at first because I have not attended any kind of classroom instruction in over 30 years and I am usually a little uncomfortable meeting strangers. I must say that it became one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. The diversity of the other students in the class was amazing. I believe that in only a few short weeks I have made several life long friends. Of course it was also a perfect opportunity to share some of my writing with the class and get some new ideas for my stories. Hopefully I also gained not only some new friends but followers of my work. That is what we are all striving for, right?

A scene from the second chapter of my upcoming book "The Price of Compassion

Her Majesty, Queen Oliva Salidoris, was on display in her Crystal Throne at the northern end of the Great Hall. Today was the first day of summer and one of only four days that she required her three daughters, the four Governors and the local nobility to attend her. Dark and curly shoulder length hair, adorned with golden threads containing delicate pink blossoms and tiny green leaves, framed the face of a mature yet strikingly beautiful woman. The intricate Crown of Dahlian, nestled atop the curls, appeared to anchor the golden threads in place. A sleeveless, floor length gown was the color of spring wheat in celebration of the new season. The gown was trimmed with the same profusion of leaves and blossoms at the hem, waistline and neckline which was cut just low enough to hint at the femininity hidden within.

Intense hazel eyes, partially hidden behind lowered dark lashes, scanned the courtyard as she greeted her guests with a nod and a distracted but benevolent smile. The fingers of her right hand continued to tap out a rhythm on the arm of the throne despite her best efforts to still them. Today’s major announcement involved an agreement that had been reached concerning Princess Sofia. One that she was completely unaware of and the Queen was concerned what her hot tempered daughter’s reaction would be. At a discreet signal from the Queen, the Seneschal lowered his head to hers.

“Any word as to the whereabouts of Princess Sofia?” she whispered.

“No, your Majesty. The servants are being uncommonly tight lipped. No one has seen the Princess since late last night.”

Just then a movement at the southern entrance to the chamber caught her eye like a breath of air rustling the leaves of a single tree branch. A young woman dressed in a blindingly white gown with folds of sheer lace down the sleeves and around the neck, strode down the aisle. The lethal grace of her movements was a testament to the years of clandestine lessons she had been receiving from the retired arms-master. The Princess had been successful in keeping the secret from the rest of the court but what she didn’t know was that her mother had set up the lessons in the first place.

A wave of silence spread out from the Princess as the sea of courtesans parted in front of her on the way to the Throne. Even from far away the Queen could see the anger smoldering in the eyes of her youngest daughter. Knowing her daughter wouldn’t have created a dramatic entrance on purpose, something or someone must have delayed her. The Queen’s suspicions were confirmed as she caught the barely suppressed smirk and look of distain on the face of her middle daughter, Princess Dianna.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A simple little feel good story I wrote a while back. Hope you will enjoy.

                                                Second Chances

   Huddled between two refuse barrels, blood pounded in her ears from a racing heart and as her breath come in ragged gasps, Soffie wondered how much longer she would be able to evade the slavers. As an adolescent girl living on the streets, she had been one of their prime targets for some time. They were becoming more creative in their traps and only through agility, her skill with the hidden knives she carried and a little bit of luck, was she able to escape the last one. One of those knives still dripped blood from the man she had stabbed tonight.
   Two years ago, her father had taken what little savings they had and bought her a set of knives from a friend who specialized in quality weapons. He then trained her in the use of those knives. He had kept secret the fact that he was dying and knew if he didn’t train her well, she would never survive after he was gone.
   The slavers discovered the abandoned shed she called home for the last couple of months, which left her with no where to go. Fortunately nothing of value was there except memories. Knowing the foolishness of staying in one place too long, Soffie began a long, slow journey through the nightmare warrens of Whitestone’s alleys. Not that she was afraid exactly. The dark of night was her closest friend and ally. She grew up in these alleys and knew instantly if a sound or flicker of light belonged or was a source of danger.
    Her goal was the neighborhood of the lower nobility, successful merchant and the occasional scholar. She knew that particular part of the city almost as well as she knew her own neighborhood since her father had worked for many of the merchants there. Being a mercenary, the local guard didn’t trust him enough to let him join, but the merchants readily hired him whenever they had precious cargo that needed protection. They normally allowed Soffie to stay in their homes and be cared for until her father returned.
   None of the merchant’s homes were her goal tonight. She was on her way to the home of a particular scholar, Aldan Beaverson. A distinguished elderly gentleman who had regularly come by the monastery, where Soffie did odd jobs for food, asking if the monks knew of any young person needing a mentor. Each time, the Friar had glanced in Soffie’s direction but she ignored them both. She had no intention of going with a man who might have more than being a mentor in mind. The notion of having a mentor did interest her though, so after a number of discreet questions about the man, she determined that he might just be what he appeared.
   She arrived at the Beaverson House just as the first rays of the sun lit up the morning sky. Knowing that Master Beaverson was an early riser, she took a chance and knocked at the front door. The solid oak door opened without a sound and revealed a lean, elderly man who didn’t look anything like a servant. His sharp, hawk-like eyes regarded her coolly. He shook his head and began to close the door in her face.
   “Wait,” she said and stepped forward. “I have something your master wants.”
   Those eyes looked her up and down as he pulled the door back open. “What could you possibly have that the master would want, young miss?”
   Soffie eyed the old man right back and straightened up from her habitual slouch, then replied with all the dignity she could muster. “Me.”
   “Who is it, Gregory?” a deep, melodious voice called from inside the house.
   A street urchin, who claims to have something you want,” Gregory called back over his shoulder.
   “Well don’t keep me in suspense, old man. Bring the youngster here and introduce me.”
   Grumbling under his breath, ‘old man, is it,’ Gregory waved Soffie into the house, not quite slamming the door behind her. Without a word he turned and strode down the hallway. Following on his heels, Soffie took the opportunity to examine what she could see of the house. It had a masculine feel to it with a Coat of Arms, a map, and a single painting hung in the hallway. The hardwood floors had a deep, rich shine as if they were freshly oiled. To one side appeared a music room for entertaining guests. On the other side was a large room with several plush, leather chairs, arranged in front of a massive fireplace. Book shelves covered the walls to either side. The room that Gregory led her towards appeared to be the Master’s office. Everything spoke of quality, comfort, and old age.
   What she had not expected were the un-mistakable scars of a swordsman on the back of Gregory’s hands and the scar above his right eye. Sometimes her mouth had a mind of its own, so before she could stop herself a question jumped out. “Gregory, were you a soldier?”
   “He was not only a soldier, lass, but arms-master to a powerful lord. Fortunately for me, circumstances brought him into my employ,” Master Beaverson stated as he came out from behind a massive oak desk to stand before her. “Now, how is it that you know what I want?”
   “I’ve overheard you asking the Friar at the monastery for someone to mentor, sir,” she explained. “My father taught me everything he could about self-defense but he didn’t know much about letters and such. I will gladly do chores and help out as much as I can in exchange for lessons.”
   “I see.” Master Beaverson said looking down at her and wondered what had brought her to this point. “And where is your father now?”
   “He died about a year ago, sir.”
   “Bright havens, girl,” he exclaimed. “You mean to tell me you’ve survived alone on the streets of this city for that long?”
   Soffie just stood there with a defiant look on her face that brought back painful memories for him. It seemed like only yesterday another young woman had stood in front of him with that same look.
   “So, you can take care of yourself. Which brings up the question of why are you here now? I want the truth, lass.”
   Soffie’s defiant attitude fell away as she shuddered. “Slavers tried to grab me again last night, sir. I might have killed one of them getting away. Ty will never give up now.”
   Watching the face of his old friend, Gregory saw the pain of memory and loss flicker and disappear. The young lass had no idea what she was asking, but it was time for old wounds to be healed.
   Aldan, I for one think this is a good idea," Gregory announced. " Having a pretty young face to look at around here would be a pleasant change and we could use the help.”
   Besides, he thought, I am a firm believer in second chances.

                                                *          *          *

   As the months went by, life settled into a routine. In the mornings Soffie would help Gregory around the house and assist in the preparations of meals. Sometimes she would accompany Gregory to the market and he would encourage her to put to use some of the lessons in organization and planning the Master was teaching her. He also took time every morning to continue her lessons in weaponry. The afternoons were dedicated to books and learning.
   At first, Soffie was a little intimidated by Master Beaverson. They spent little time together except for meals and her lessons. The master was a powerful and self-confident man, like her father, but in a quiet and reserved manner. On occasion, she caught him watching her with a wistful expression, but the more time she spent in his company the more secure she felt.
   Only once had she witnessed a crack in his veneer of self-confidence. A few weeks after being invited to join the household, her mouth betrayed her once again by voicing a question she had determined to keep to herself. ‘Master, do you have any family?’
   Standing in front of the library window, motionless, he gave no sign that he had even heard the question. With a sigh, as if he had been holding his breath, he replied, ‘I had a daughter once.’
   ‘What happened?’ Soffie asked softly.
   ‘We had a falling out. She wanted excitement and adventure in her life and I wanted her to be a proper lady. She found a young man who promised her both and ran off with him.’ Turning away from the window, the pain deeply etched in the lines of his face, he whispered, ‘She didn't came back.’
   Soffie never asked about family again.

                                                *          *          *

   It was market day and the Master surprised them both when he announced that he planned on joining them. Close to the market was a bookseller that might have a book he was interested in. Leaving the Master contently haggling over the price of an old manuscript, Gregory and Soffie continued on to the market. Handing Soffie a silver penny, Gregory asked her to go to the bakery across the street and purchase whatever she felt they needed.
   Soffie was pleased but also a little apprehensive. This was the first time Gregory trusted her to make her own decisions. Thinking about the purchases she planned to make, Soffie never noticed the men who shadowed her to either side, but Gregory did. He glanced up the street and caught sight of Aldon strolling in his direction. Gregory flashed a hand sign they had worked out years ago and headed across the street, always keeping Soffie in sight. Aldon crossed the street also then ducked into the nearest alley.
   As Soffie reached the bakery, she was surrounded by three men and felt the un-mistakable point of a knife pressed to her ribs. “Do what you are told or your old master will die,” growled the man to her right.
   “Start walking,” the man behind her ordered. “Did you really think we would give up on you after you killed one of our own?”
   At the direction of the man on her left, Soffie turned down the alley next to the bakery. Wracked with indecision, she couldn’t stop thinking about the threat to her mentor. Over the past several months he had become more important to her than she realized, and she would do nothing that might bring him harm.
   They rounded a curve in the alley and came face to face with the last person Soffie expected to see. Before she could react, Master Beaverson stood away from the coach wheel he’d been casually leaning against. Striding toward them, he flipped back his cloak to expose a simple but well made sword and calmly announced, “You are holding someone who is very precious to me. This will not be tolerated. You men should have chosen a more honorable line of work.”
   “Get the brat in the coach while I take care of the old man,” snarled the leader.
   Someone tapped the other two men on the shoulder. They spun around to be confronted by a smiling Gregory. “Would either of you ladies care to dance?”
   Drawing swords, they lunged forward and attacked but quickly fell to the arms-master. Master Beaverson was just straightening up from wiping his blade on the cloak of the leader when Soffie rushed up and wrapped her arms around him.
   “Did you truly mean what you said to those men?” she murmured into his chest.
   He gently tilted her head back with a finger under her chin so she could see the truth in his eyes. “I meant every word Soffie.”
   Once again her mouth took off on its own before she could stop it. “Master, would it be alright if we were a family?”
   “On one condition,” he replied. “I want you to stop calling me master and call me grandfather.”
   At the questioning look on her face, he continued with tears forming in the corner of his eyes. “Soffie, the daughter I lost years ago was your mother.”
   Gregory beamed at his old friend and commented with a satisfied nod. “You never know what will happen when given a second chance.”


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Writing Contests: Helpful or Harmful

   As a new writer, the first thing I thought of was to enter a number of writing contests to get some feedback. Friends and family are usually a little biased. I took several of the short stories I had written, picked out a number of contests from the back of a writer's magazine, sent them off with my money and waited. Every contest entry included a subscription to that particular organization's quarterly or bi-annual publication containing entries from the previous contest winners. After several months went by with no word, I received my first issue of one of the publications, and realized the mistake I had made. None of those contests were genre specific. The publication was filled with grammatically perfect literary fiction. My fantasy stories didn't stand a chance so the next group of contests I choose were genre specific; i.e. fantasy & science fiction. The results were gratifying. I received a top twenty notice from one contest and a Certificate of Honorable Mention from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Also if the contest offers an independent critique for an extra fee, it is a small price to pay for a totally un-biased opinion of your writing.
   If you want to try the contest route, make sure you enter contests that are specific to your genre. The magazine racks are full of fantasy, horror, mystery and detective publications, and they all hold contests. Send them your best work, and you may be pleasantly surprised. Happy writing and good luck.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Today starts a new chapter in my life. I hope to be able to connect with as many fantasy fanatics as I can and eventually get some feedback and ideas on my current project. Just learning how this online world revolves so it will take awhile for me to post parts of my story for everyone to read. Never forget 'The fantasy world inside of your mind is more real than the world you live in today'.