Thanks, but No Thanks

With all the blood, sweat and stress that went into my anthology story a rejection was not what I had hoped for…but no writer hopes for a rejection, do they?

Yes, Amulet of Kemet was rejected.

However, the good news is that they enjoyed the story a lot, and I have been asked if I want my name included on the list for the next “invitation only” anthology. Well, let me think about that for a moment…OK, you twisted my arm. 😀

When I submitted the story I wrote a post saying that at the very least I wanted the editors to hold my story in high enough regard that they would remember me the next time they were thinking of putting an anthology together. Although I’m sad that my story was rejected, I’m happy my story didn’t turn the editors off me forever.

Amulet of Kemet will be submitted elsewhere within a few days.

Book Review: For One More Day

Last weekend I was in the library and a book jumped off the shelf and slapped me in the face. The cover of For One More Day by Mitch Albom is as plain as they come. In fact, if the book had been named anything else I think I would have thrown the book back onto the shelf and kept walking. But the title of the book grabbed my attention immediately.

For One More Day

for one more dayBeing a bereaved mother, the title spoke to me in volumes. Without reading anything more than those four words, I knew I wanted to read the book. And I didn’t read the blurb or the inside cover, I just borrowed the book and brought it home with me. And my gut instinct was right.

During the week, I picked up the book again and this time I read the blurb on the back:

“If you had the chance, just one chance, to go back and fix what you did wrong in life, would you take it? And if you did, would you be big enough to stand it? Mitch Albom, in this new book once again demonstrates why he is one of my favourite writers: a fearless explorer of the wishful and magical, he is also a devout believer in the power of love. For One More Day will make you smile. It will make you wistful. It will make you blink back tears of nostalgia. But most of all, it will make you believe in the eternal power of a mother’s love.”

James McBride, author of The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

As children, we often think our parents are wrong. We don’t understand why they refuse to let us do the things we want to do. We often are embarrassed by them, shy away from them and say things that hurt them. As children, we just don’t get what it’s like to be a parent.

As adults, we fight to become our own person. We still don’t understand why everything is such an effort. And why our parents insist on trying to run our lives by telling us what is best for us. As adults, we still don’t understand what it’s like to be a parent.

Then we become parents ourselves and suddenly everything falls into place. We finally see the sacrifices our parents made. We finally see the mistakes they made and have been trying to warn us against. Without realising what we are doing, we take on the role our parents had and start doing the same things they did. As parents, we finally understand the love our parents had for us and appreciate the need they had to protect us.

If you are a parent now, can you imagine what it would be like to be given the chance to go back and right a wrong with our mother…especially if that mother is dead?

For One More Day gives a son that opportunity. Charley’s life is in ruins and he wants to end his life, but he gets to spend one more day with his (dead) mother. He learns things about his family he never cared about when he was a child. He learns things about his mother that would have embarrassed him as a teenager. He learns things about himself from a mother who never stopped loving him and whose wisdom guides him to pick up the pieces of his tragic life.

This story is written is a way where the words seem to be written especially for you. It felt so private and so close to reality that it had me in tears. If I knew then (when I was growing up) what I know now, life would have been so much easier. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache if I had listened to my parents, but as life is not meant to be easy, we stumble through the years making mistakes. These mistakes make us the people we are today, but what if…

Every family has its secrets. Some children never learn the reason for important decisions made, such as divorce. If we had the chance to go back and spend a day with a lost relative, what would we learn from that time? What would we say?

This book affected me because it was written about a mother and son. The fact that the son wanted to kill himself added to my desire to read the book (although it isn’t in any way a main focus of the story). It gives clear reasons why someone with everything can lose focus to such an extent that it can ultimately lead to the lack of will to live. On the other hand, it shows why a family can become dysfunctional and how easily wrong ideas are formulated because people are not told the truth.

I highly recommend For One More Day to anyone with a heart. You will not regret the time spent within this world, reading the words and sharing the insights this story has to offer.

Grouping Your Characters

Not all your characters are important. They cannot all have the starring role, or even the supporting role, but they should be important in their own way to the story. With this in mind, how do we sort the characters into groups in order to find out who should be there and who should not? To find out, we need to know what the different levels of significance are:

Level One:

These are the central characters – the main characters. These are the people the story is about, revolves around. There may only one main character or several – depending on the story. Usually short stories have a limit of one or two main characters, but novels can have several. However, each scene should focus on, or be from the point of view of, only one character.

Level Two:

These characters are essential to the story too. They often supply the conflict. This might be the third person in a love triangle or the detective in a mystery. These people can, and usually do, have a sub-plot of their own.

Level Three:

These characters are lesser characters who are shown throughout the story, but are in the background. They play a part in the story such as the murder victim or they might act as a catalyst which triggers events. They can create joy, sadness or tension, but they don’t remain for the duration of the story.

Lever Four:

These are the more incidental characters to the plot and only occur occasionally in the story. These people do things in the background to make the setting more realistic and descriptive. They are the drivers, the servants, the shopkeepers, etc and they don’t usually say much and don’t need a name.

A Plot Notebook

Many writers keep a notebook handy just in case a brilliant, or even a not so brilliant, idea comes to them while shopping, sitting in the doctor’s surgery, having a coffee, or while doing the chores. Ideas can pop into our heads at any moment. Some writers carry a notebook at all times. Others have one beside their bed or near the computer, or, in both places. And others…well, they don’t use a notebook…ever.

What goes into these notebooks?

Everything from phrases that won’t leave your head until you write them down, possible character names, story titles, full character profiles, snippets of scenes and, of course, story plot ideas.

However, you don’t have to limit the content to the above. You can, and should, include little things you discover in your daily wanderings. For example, you might see a certain type of flower in full bloom in April – this should be noted in the notebook so that you don’t write a story with that flower coming into bloom in November. How silly would you look for that blunder? You can also include alternative names for medieval occupations, parts of an aeroplane, important facts about history, political milestones, and much more.

Not only can great story ideas come from these snippets of information, you may also discover they can help keep your plots realistic (as shown in the example of the flower already mentioned). Do you have aliens come from a known planet which, after a description, the reader knows they couldn’t possibly survive on that planet? Do you have a journalist working for an ancient Egyptian pharaoh? It’s important to get things right or we lose our credibility.

Some writers use their notebook on a daily basis. Others only use them occasionally. But what about the writers who never use a notebook? How do they cope, I wonder.

Do you use notebooks?

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) about three or four weeks ago. However, due to a heavy editing schedule I had at the time I was unable to write a review of the book…until now.

With over 600 pages, the book is much longer than those I usually read. Having a short attention span, and because I read frustratingly slow, I prefer to stick with thinner books because I feel as if I’m accomplishing something when I finish reading them. So, I get that happy feeling more often with thin books. I never used to be like that. In my younger, more aware days I would only buy extra thick books because I felt I was getting my moneys worth. How things change. 😀

Anyway, back to Harry Potter 6, I have to say that the story kept me intrigued from the beginning. I was carried from chapter to chapter with ease and, of course, the well known characters and well defined plot had a lot to do with this.

If you haven’t read this series, then do yourself a favour and buy the Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-6) right now. You won’t be sorry.

Right, if you haven’t read the book, then I strongly advise you to stop reading this post right NOW!!

Read more

Meme of Eight

Lee Carlon tagged me and I’m not sure if I should be thanking him or not – this looks like it’s going to be difficult. Here’s the rules of the meme;

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their 8 things and post these rules.

3. At the end choose 8 people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.

Eight random things about me.

  • I’m an alien. It’s true. I was born in England, but I’ve lived in Australia for almost 40 years and I still get called racist names…no matter which of the two countries I’m in. So, yes, I’m an alien.
  • I’m lazy, but I have an obsession with neatness in my workplace – at my desk only. I hate anything being out of place. That’s why I hate it when I’m given work to do – it clutters my desk. 😉
  • By birthdates I’m 45 years old, but in my mind I’m only 18. This can really be a problem, especially when real 18 year olds don’t get my ancient jokes.
  • I seem to faint a lot – it’s got something to do with a blood condition. Once I fainted beneath a horse. Luckily, she was feeling the heat herself that day and didn’t trample me before help arrived and pulled me out from under her.
  • I don’t really like kids all that much (I’m scared of them), but for some reason kids (not all of them, thankfully) gravitate to me. It’s so annoying. I never was any good at that baby talk stuff, I felt so ridiculous.
  • In recent weeks I’ve discovered how nice it is to walk in the sunshine. Of course, living in a hot country, I can’t do this in summer, but right now these walks are so relaxing … I love it.
  • I think I’ve got a great sense of humour, but other people tell me my jokes and humour is “sick” (and they don’t mean that in a nice way either).
  • I once worked as an advertising assistant. As part of that job I got to do so many wonderful things. For example, an advertiser used a two seater plane for their marketing, someone had to be in the plane or they could have be sued for false advertising…I got to be that person. I didn’t complain, it was fun.

That wasn’t so bad, but tagging eight people is a nightmare, so I forego the pleasure. If you read this and wish to take part…go for it!

The End of a Project

In the publishing industry there are definitely ups and downs. Whilst I have been enjoying the “up” of a recent important submission, today I am saddened by a “down” and must announce the end of the 2005 Anthology project.

This project was the second time I co-ordinated an anthology on the message board. At the time, the first collection of stories were hot off the press and I spent many hours searching for a publisher while the second collection of stories were going through an exhausting procedure of editing and rewrites.

The first collection of stories didn’t find publication. However, many editors were attracted by the concept and “thought” about ways of making such an anthology work. But they never managed to get past the thinking and as the industry is not open to anthologies written by unknown writers, the anthology failed to find a publisher. Now, I can understand the reasoning behind this, even if at the time I couldn’t. It all comes down to sales and money. Readers will buy an anthology when they recognise names, but they avoid a book filled with unknowns. It’s a pity, but it’s the printing industry.

Unfortunately, the first group of anthology stories were returned to their owners at the beginning of the year and now the second set of stories follow suit. I do wish all the writers the best of luck finding a publishing on their own. In fact, I feel certain that if the writers do submit, they will be successful…eventually.

I can’t speak for the other writers, but I learned a lot from participating in the anthologies. This experience can only move me further along the road to publication.

In 2007, I am co-ordinating another anthology, but this one is different to the others. In the past, the writers had a say in all decision making. This year, they don’t. This year, the stories will be published. Visit Speculative Realm for more details.

Amulet of Kemet Submission

Last Thursday, I completed the final read through of my short story – Amulet of Kemet – and finally found the courage to submit it. No more changes can be made because it’s gone!

In the first hour, after pressing the “send” button, I felt quite sick in the stomach. What if a spelling error got through the hundred read throughs? What if one more read through had found a plot hole? What if…

That sickness slowly turned to excitement. I acknowledge the effort that was put into writing the story, not only by me, and I know it has a sound setting and realistic characters. I could produce no better for the storyline I chose to write about. Now, I just hope the storyline is what the editors are looking for.

I have a one in eleven chance of success with this submission. They are mighty fine odds in the publication business, so I feel lucky to have received an invitation. At the very least, if my story is not selected for the Editor’s Choice slot, then I want the story to impress the editors enough to be included on the next invitation list. If I can achieve that I’ll be happy. However, if I receive an acceptance…I’ll be ecstatically happy!

Reading begins on 15 May, so the waiting game begins.