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With the world seemingly wreaking its global vengeance on us economically, emotionally, and physically with this wretched disease, Covid-19, it is no surprise that many writing markets and contests have also vanished into that black void of loss. (And this sentence has too many ‘w’ words.)

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Every country and each demographic has felt the pain of the economic devastation. Entire regions shutting down in an effort to slow the spread. Scores worldwide left jobless and businesses closed. Lives turned upside down and lives lost.

For our own sakes, we must cling to what normalcy we can. We must not lose sight of the passions that drive us into tomorrow.

With that, I present an ongoing list of writing markets and contests I am working on.

I am checking and updating links, removing markets with dead links and that appear to be defunct, clinging to hopefuls (ie. I’m hopeful they will return), and will add new markets and contests as I learn of them and when I can.

The intent of this listing is to be inclusive. Suggestions of additions are welcome (share them in the comments of this post).

This is my first experiment with Google Docs, so please bear with me. I am creating and posting this in Google Docs so, hopefully, a wider range of readers can access and open both the document and its links.

Here is the list of writing markets and contests. Keep reading and writing, my friends.

MARKETS & CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS – JULY 2020 –

 

 

Write this scene, any feel, writing style; any genre. This is a rough draft writing practice.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

 

Paradise

 

The sun sparkling on the sea behind him in a dancing promise of hope fed into the lie that is the beach paradise. The breeze barely breathed on the softly swaying palm fronds. It was perfect. Each second we faced off it felt increasingly too perfect. Off.

This man, who refused to give his name, stood resolute in his defection from the normal. His eyes were narrowed in determination, or perhaps against the sun. His face held no real emotion. Not anger or determination. He just was.

“It’s all a lie,” he said. “Your world. The sea, trees, even this.”

He knelt and scooped up a fistful of sand. He stood again and held the fist out towards me as though I should take it. I could only stare at that closed fist. He waved it towards people in the distance, roaming slowly up the beach.

“They are a lie. Toxic.”

“They’re just people,” I said.

He shook his head slowly at my foolishness. He seemed saddened by my failure to see. This man, this stranger in a weakened paradise, thrust his fist toward me again.

“You would take strength from this… this false promise of a better tomorrow. It never gets better. It’s just another today. This earth,” he started letting the sand fall in a slow stream from his hand, “is weak. It’s is poisoned, pale.”

“It’s pale because it’s sand.”

He stared at me, pale sand trickling in a soft sieving from his fist.

My focus on his face and that falling sand, I did not see the twitch of his shoulder muscle preceding his body moving until it was too late. He had me by the shirt, fabric twisted in his fist as he yanked me off balance towards him, holding me up with seemingly impossible strength.

“I will show you then.”

My mouth gaped open in silent shocked protest; he rammed his fist at it. I was certain he meant to punch me in the teeth, but instead he was shoving sand into my mouth. I choked and gagged on the surprise of it, on its crunchy grittiness and the though in my head of its uncleanliness.

The sudden lurching of my heaving stomach felt like a gut punch. My eyes watered and my limbs felt weakened.

He released me then, letting me fall limply to the ground where I mewled and pawed weakly at the sand. The same sand that was inside my mouth, my throat. I coughed and it was sucked into my lungs, choking me with its grainy dust.

The burning foulness set in then, my tongue and mouth on fire, the sand eating through taste buds like dull acid.

Pawing at my mouth only made it worse. Mewling and simpering weakly in the sand, the granules clung to my hands and I only managed to shove more inside my mouth. My throat screamed with it and I moaned, gasped, inhaling it deeper into my tortured lungs. I couldn’t cry out. Could only gasp weaker as the strength and all of my feeble fight left me.

I lay in the sand softly moaning, stomach dissolving and lungs struggling. My nose was pressed against the sand, breathing in its subtle saltiness.

“If you are still here tomorrow you will be dead,” he said simply. “This place will poison you.”

He walked away and did not look back.

I would have swore I was already dead.

Photo by Riccardo Mion on Unsplash

The other day I talked to a young budding writer with a kind of problem that can afflict writers of all talents, ages, and experiences. Perhaps especially so of a less experienced writer.

You might call it a writer’s block or any of a thousand names. This writer’s issue is that she gets through the beginning, the first two or three chapters, and then gets stuck. She is a linear writer, writing from start to finish, and at this point can’t push through the insurmountable wall that comes up.

She can’t think what to write next. Where the story needs to go. What the characters should do. It’s not for lack of thinking out the storyline. She does plenty of that, hours of planning, plotting, and working out an outline. She is convinced the writing is bad, the story, plot, characters, all of it. It needs to be fixed; that she needs to go back and not edit it, but completely rewrite it or even scrap the story altogether.

I’ve read some of this writer’s short pieces and she is not a bad writer. Inexperienced, yes, but not bad.

In this case, the block sounds like a combination of the desire for perfectionism and being filled with doubts. No surprise there. The story needs to be perfect before it’s ready for publication, no writer should settle for less, and doubt is natural.

The challenge is pushing past this wall to keep writing. For me, if I’m stuck, I’ll jump to writing another scene somewhere else in the book. Oh, the horror for a linear writer for whom that feels utterly unnatural and twisted.

 

So, how does a linear writer push forward without jumping scenes? I gave three suggestions.

  • Deeper outlining. Taking the outline to the next level can serve multiple purposes. Absorbing yourself in the details can help you forget the feeling of disappointment or failure with those first chapters. It grounds you in the story and characters. And, when you feel stuck because your mind won’t let go of those worries to let you write on, the more in depth your outlining, the more you give yourself to work with. You can’t tell yourself you don’t know what needs to happen next when you’ve detailed it in your outline.

 

  • Writing practices. I’m a fan of suggesting doing writing practices. Flash fiction, micro fiction, random scenery and scenes. My suggestion to this writer, who feels as so many of us do the drive to get this story done, was to use it for writing practices. Write little backstories about characters, places, and details of the world being created in the story. Things that will never be in the actual book and nobody is ever going to read. This will help with the character and world building, as well as finding her voice in the story. And the most important thing is that practice makes you better.

 

  • This is the toughest piece of advice. Get over it. That’s it. I’ve been there too, stuck and feeling

    Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

    like writing is impossible. You just can’t form the words in your head. You’ve inconceivably lost the ability to focus, to think, to make coherent things happen in your head in relation to storytelling. You have to just make yourself get over it and force yourself to write. Write something, anything. It doesn’t have to be good writing because editing fixes that. The challenge here is to get over the need for perfection, get over letting the self-doubts control you, and push on. Push through that wall and just write.

 

Keep writing, my friends.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

via Episode 1 (Butterflies in the Garden): Danger Above by Vivian Munnoch

Episode 1:

Butterflies In The Garden

Danger Above

by Vivian Munnoch

 

jessa-crisp-08l8_ffsgje-unsplash-inverted

Photo by Jessa Crisp on Unsplash (edited by Vivian Munnoch)

The dully gleaming ebony feathers of the crow seemed to absorb the daylight into its black mass. The motionless bird stared unblinkingly at the motion below from its perch in a tree, looking more like its deceased and stuffed counterpart than a living creature.

Below him the little butterfly flitted weightlessly, bobbing on its wings over the flowers in the garden, oblivious to the danger above.

The crow blinked just once, the thin membrane moving across its cold emotionless eye a heartbeat behind the eyelid in a slightly off double motion. The bird tilted his head.

Spindly legs reaching, the little butterfly landed on a flower. Its wings moved slowly to some soundless rhythm. It tasted the air with its antennae, picking up only the sweet pollen of the flowers.

Feeling safe, the butterfly stilled its wings, letting them soak in the delightful warmth of the sun.

With slow languid motion, the crow spread his wings and took flight, his shadow passing on the ground below.

The fleeting shade was a cooling pulse across the insect’s back, the warmth returned as quickly. Only its antennae moved in response.

Landing soundlessly on a wooden post closer to the flowers, the crow ruffled his feathers and settled to watch the little butterfly.

 

More…  Episode 1 (Butterflies in the Garden): Danger Above by Vivian Munnoch

If you look inside the front matter of any published book you will find an ISBN number. If you don’t know, ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.

 

The ISBN has nothing to do with copyrights. It simply is a catalogue number. If you are looking for a particular book, you can search it by its ISBN (catalogue) number.

 

An ISSN – International Standard Serial Number is the same thing as the ISBN, but is for periodical publications (ongoing series), such as magazines or a book series. You didn’t know you needed that for your book series? That’s okay. Not all books start with the intent of making them a series. With the wonders of technology, some sites will still link your series as belonging together. Just fill out that “series” box.

 

Now, if you’ve self-published with Amazon KDP, you might find they assigned you an ASIN instead of an ISBN. Oh, the horror. What have they done?

 

The ASIN (Amazon standard Identification Number) is the same thing as an ISBN, a catalogue number, only it is specific to Amazon. So, it only shows up in Amazon’s market. If you are publishing both a print and eBook at the same time, they will likely give the eBook an ASIN that is the same as the ISBN. Still, only the print book version with the ISBN will show up in ISBN searches outside of Amazon’s marketplace.

 

The EAN (European Article Number) should not be confused with an ISBN, ISSN, or ISIN. The EAN is a barcode. Think of it as the same thing as the others, but for products that are not books.

 

 

 

Breaking Down An ISBN – International Standard Book Number

The ISBN is broken down into parts.

 

  • EAN – Bookland country code. Apparently books live in a world of their own separate from ours called “Bookland”.  In the land of books, this identifies what country the book comes from.  Luckily for us non-book beings, the numbers also coincide with the countries of our own world.

 

  • Group – identifies the language the book is written in

 

  • Publisher – identifies the publisher of the book (aka the person or business who filed the ISBN number for the book)

 

* oddly enough, it seems that when a publisher exhausts its block of ISBNs, instead of receiving an additional block with the same publisher identifying number, they are given a new identifying number for the new block of ISBNs.

 

  • Title – identifies the book title

 

  • Check Digit – this is akin to a spell check for the people assigning ISBNs. If this number is not what they are looking for, then an error was made.

 

 

If you are being published with a publisher, they will look after your ISBN needs. However, if you are self-publishing, you need to do this yourself. And, you will probably need multiple ISBNs for each book.

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Why do you need multiple ISBNs for one book?

Because each format is a separate catalogue item. Every place you upload your book to sell, every print on demand printer, every eBook distribution, is a separate catalogue listing. Every ‘version’, i.e. trim size, paperback vs. hardcover vs. eBook, vs. audio book, is a separate catalogue listing. Every change that affects the description and quality of the product, like trim size or doing revisions to the book beyond fixing a few typos, creates a new catalogue item.

 

Think of it this way, each of these is a different catalogue item:

  • Print book on Amazon KDP
  • eBook on Amazon Kindle
  • Print book on Lulu
  • McNally Robinson pod printer
  • IngramSpark/Lightning Source
  • Kobo books

 

Also, each of these is a different format; therefore each is also a different catalogue item:

  • Paperback book
  • Hard cover book
  • Audio book
  • eBook mobi
  • eBook epub
  • Other eBook formats
  • Large print book
  • You uploaded your book in a new trim size
  • You uploaded a new edition (2nd edition, 3rd, etc)

 

 

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Getting an ISBN is not difficult. And, depending where you live, you might have to pay for it.

 

If you live in the United States, you have to buy your ISBN. ISBN’s are sold by a commercial company.  (They are cheaper in bulk!) After getting your ISBN, it is up to you to have it registered with RR Bowker, the US database for the ISBN agency.  www.bowkerlink.com

 

One of the things many large US based self-publishing companies like Draft 2 Digital, Smashwords, and Amazon KDP does to encourage authors to publish with them is they buy up mass volumes of bulk ISBNs and provide them free to authors and publishers publishing with them. Of course, that only applies to the book listed on their service. You still need ISBNs for anywhere else you upload your book to.

 

Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

The wonderful thing about being in Canada is that FREE ISBNs is one of the little ways the Canadian government supports the arts.

 

To get your ISBN visit the Library and Archives Canada website and create an ISBN Canada Account.

Once you have your ISBN Canada Account you simply login to request and update ISBNs. There is no cost for this service.

 

Once you have your ISBN and have published your book, it is recommended you submit copies of your books to the Legal deposit program with Library and Archives Canada (read the article on that for more information).

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Registration Deadline: 1 May 2020

Sign up for the program or register new titles and editions. Registration runs Feb 15th to May 1st.

 

The Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends payments annually to creators whose works are in Canada’s public libraries. Check out their website for more information on eligibility, payments, and to register: https://publiclendingright.ca/

 

 

The Dry on the PLR:

The PLR (Public Lending Right) Commission was established under the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) in 1986 to oversee the PLR program.

 

The PLR Commission is an elected body of writers, translators, librarians and publishers working together with non-voting representatives from the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and Library and Archives Canada. (Read the article on ISBNs to learn more about what Library and Archives Canada does).

 

‘Public Lending Right’ is your right as an author to be paid for free public use of your works in libraries. The basis of payment varies, but more than 30 countries around the world have PLR programs. In Canada, an annual survey is done one titles in public library catalogues. Payments to authors are based on the presence of their title(s) in the survey results.

 

 

Photo by Chris Spiegl on Unsplash

The Juicy News on the PLR:

As a writer, you worked hard on what you’ve had published. It’s only right to want fair compensation for that work. Libraries that stock your writing, whether it is in print or eBook, are lending it out free to multiple users who don’t need to buy it to read it. That translates to lost sales for you in the name of providing free public access to hundreds of potential readers.

 

 

This is what is behind the US libraries’ boycott of Macmillan Publisher’s new eBook releases. Basically, because more library lending equals more readers who do not have to buy the book to read it, Macmillan sought to boost initial sales of new eBook releases by limiting the number of copies libraries can buy and lend out in the first 8 weeks after a new eBook is released. Now that was a mouthful. Macmillan has been trolled and vilified for what boils down to an economic business decision. The nerve of them wanting to make sales revenue on their investment to the detriment of faster access to that new release to all those readers not paying for it.

 

I get both sides of that argument. If I want it, if I’m excited about it, I want it now. I don’t want to wait 8 weeks to get on a waiting list to get it. And if I don’t have to pay for it, I win. Heck, most of my adult life I couldn’t afford to buy books new. I still can’t afford to fill my reading needs with the prices publishers charge. I live on books I can read free (leaving a review is an excellent way to give back to the author for that!), reduced price books, and used books. At the same time, taking a risk on that book, on that author, and publishing a book is a substantial investment for publishers. Just because it’s an eBook does not make their costs inconsequential. And it is a business. They are not producing books out of the kindness of their hearts. They have overhead and staff wages to pay. And their investors want to earn money on their investment. And, that’s not even including compensation for the author’s time. Okay, let’s get back on topic…

 

 

This is where the Public Lending Right (PLR) Program comes in.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

You write the book. Whatever means you take, it gets published. Libraries buy it, or maybe you donate it to a library. All those people borrowing it from the library, reading it without paying for it, are sales that won’t happen. They probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway, but they are getting to enjoy your book and you get no compensation for that.

 

Wrong. The PLR is another small way our government supports the arts. You sign up, and if your book(s) comes back in their annual library survey, you get paid compensation for the potential loss of sales from those library books.

 

Registering is not a guarantee. And they need to verify your book(s) eligibility. Libraries need to actually stock it and then it has to be picked up in the annual survey. Then you get paid.

 

It might not be enough to cover all potential lost sales earnings, but it’s something. And in today’s book market, there are no guarantees on how those sales will go.

 

 

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What do you do when you just don’t know what to write?

 

It happens to all of us. Okay, maybe not to Stephen King (but it probably has at some point even if he won’t admit it), however it happens to the rest of us. You sit down to write and . . . your mind is blank. That’s where I came up with the idea for this subject. I couldn’t think of anything, so I decided to write about that.

 

But if you really wanted to write, you would just sit down and write. Right? If only it were that simple. The reasons for the blank mind syndrome are as varied as we writers trying to write are.

 

 

Perhaps the biggest culprit is self-doubt. Who hasn’t faced off to that one at some point? You might not even recognize this is the problem because self-doubt can be a sneaky thing. It is the anti-muse of a thousand wicked faces. You don’t know if you can do it. You question how to start, what to write. Will it be garbage? Will anyone like it or are you wasting your time? And those are only a few easily recognized symptoms of self-doubt.

 

No one is going to want to read it. No one will like it. Will even you like it? You doubt you’ll ever be published anyway, or find that ever elusive agent you need to get your work considered by the big publishing houses. You can give yourself any of thousands of excuses that all boil down to one simple thing . . . self-doubt.

 

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Time is not on your side. We all get that. Life is busy. How many things are you juggling in your daily life? Full time or part time work; maybe both with two jobs. School, maybe both school and working; homework, studying, meetings, and volunteering. Family, extended family, friends, and pets. Household and life chores, running errands, and meeting your own basic needs.

 

Before you know it day after day has been sucked away and you haven’t had a chance to even think about writing. And, we all still need a little downtime to catch that favorite show, read a book, and just have a little bit of fun and time to unwind from the hectic everyday.

 

In the constant whirlwind of life it’s too often the just for you things like writing that get pushed back and left behind.

 

 

The story has stumped you. Fiction or nonfiction, prose, essay, short or long, whatever it is, sometimes it just stops us dead and can’t move forward. You can stare blankly at it all you want, but that inspiration just won’t come. Maybe you feel something is off, but cannot pinpoint what.

 

I always find that for me if it feels like something is off, then it turns out something is off. Maybe I need to delete the entire beginning, or it might work better moved much later in the story. Something somewhere is off track so the pieces just aren’t fitting together right like trying to force in puzzle pieces that don’t go there. Scenes need to be moved or removed, details expanded on, and bridge scenes created to fill in gaps in the story.

 

Twice I have taken the drastic step of actually tearing up and deleting an entire story, scrapping it completely because it was going nowhere. They still haunt me.

 

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

You’ve been away from writing for too long. It can be hard to get back into it after not writing for a while. You’ve been hit by the lack of time, and now it’s compounded with self-doubt. Or maybe life just got in the way and you sidelined writing. Whatever the reason you took an extended break, you feel like you haven’t written in so long that you forgot how.

 

Or maybe writing has been that dream you wanted to do, but just have not managed to actually start yet. Does that mean you are not a writer? No. In the dry technical term of the definition, you do actually have to write something to have written. But self identity is a powerful thing and is what drives you to be a writer. Think of the age old saga of the chicken and egg. The chicken must lay the egg to birth the chicken, but the chicken came from an egg laid by a chicken, so. . . Are you a writer because you felt like a writer and were driven to write? Or because you wrote, which you would not have done had you not been driven to it?

 

 

Regardless if you are having an extended dry spell, have yet to dip your toes into your dream of writing, or are facing off against the inability to make the words flow, the result is the same . . . you are not writing. So how do you get back into it? Or start in the first place? Let’s explore some tips.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

Getting back into writing can be like riding a bike. You never really forget how, but you can feel pretty rusty at it and need to get back that sense of balance and relearn the comfort zone. That takes time and practice.

 

It doesn’t have to be good. Not everyone can write a carefully thought out perfectly planned and executed word by word draft of perfection. If they did, odds are pretty good they actually wrote and rewrote it over and over in their head before committing it to the proverbial paper. The magic of editing fixes all . . . later.

 

 

There is power in small. This is one of my favorite project tools. It’s the same trick I used when overdue schoolwork snowballed out of control for my kid in grade school, or when one of my kids is overwhelmed by the size of a large project. I also use it when I just can’t think what to write when trying to work on a novel, although it probably works better if you actually outline first. I write mostly long fiction. The whole project can be daunting.

 

It is also an effective tool to combat writer’s block in all its forms. Where to start? Start small.

 

Pick a scene. If you have to number scenes and draw a number from a hat, then do it. If it’s something more epic those numbered scenes can be a mix of scenes, locations, characters, peoples or creatures; or anything else. Whatever you picked you must write. Block out everything else to do with the story, write it and own it. Put everything you have into it and make it the best little piece of writing you can. If it doesn’t fit, you can fix that later with editing. You know you’ll be editing and revising it anyway.

Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash

 

You don’t have to write chronologically. So what if you can’t think of what to write in the next scene? Is it better to not write and mope over the next scene or keep writing? If you can write something, anything, then do it. Maybe you are on chapter two and the only inspiration is chapter 32. Go write that chapter 32 scene. The rest will fall into place in its time.

 

 

My favorite rule in writing is ‘break all the rules’. There is an overabundance of so-called ‘writing rules’. From the ‘proper’ writing rules of formal writing handed down by the generations before our time to new rules being invented on the fly, rules are everywhere. The one thing they all have in common is that in writing no rule fits every single situation.

 

Sometimes it’s our own perception of what the rules we are supposed to follow are that holds us back from writing. That ingrained fear of breaking a rule. What would our grade five English Language Arts teacher think of us? What would our mothers think? Oh, the horror.

 

Be a rebel. Get reckless. Break the rules. You are not writing a business letter to the CEO of your company or formal fifth grade essay on a book you don’t understand. You are creating literature art. Feel it and let the rules go. Nobody even has to know or read it. It can be our dark little secret. You decide when you are ready to let someone read it.

 

 

Schedule time to write. Ten minutes here, fifteen there, or multi-task it during waiting time. Everything else you do daily has at least a loosely planned schedule. You get up at a certain time to go to work or school. Meals are eaten around a certain time. Maybe you don’t really have anything to do during a spare or coffee or lunch break. Do it while you are waiting for the bus or during the bus ride. When I’m waiting for an hour during my kid’s boxing class, I’m sitting there writing or editing. Maybe you decide lunch on Tuesdays will be your writing block. Once you schedule it, stick to it. It becomes easier when it is habit.

 

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Use writing prompts. They are useful when you want to write but don’t have a specific project. A prompt is a tool to get the writing juices flowing. There are scores of writing prompt tools online; everything from random title generators to first lines to subjects or pictures to write about.

 

The point of a writing prompt is to make you write something, anything, about something random. If you can’t get going, start by describing it in great detail, down to every last scuff, scratch, and imagined imperfections that may be hidden beneath the surface. How it must feel in the hand, its heft and balance. How it smells. How it makes you feel to look at it. Imagine who might have conspired to create such a thing; what might have motivated them. Who might have labored to build it? Who would buy it? For themselves or someone else? For pure purposes or mischief? How did it come to be right there in that spot, in that condition, perhaps abandoned or lost, or intentional?

 

 

Edit your work. So what if you haven’t finished writing it? Who cares how long it has ‘collected dust’? Just pick it up and start working through editing it. You have to anyway. Research any little thing. This gets your head back in the game and on the story or poem, or whatever you are writing. This trick doesn’t always work for me the first time I sit down to edit. It might be the third or fourth time, but inevitably the new story ideas start to flow.

 

 

Write something else. If you really are stuck, move on. Work on writing something else and keep that writing momentum going. Your nagging sub-conscious will probably be worrying at that other piece in the background. Go back and revisit the work you are stuck on. I have multiple WIPs going all the time.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet writing hat

Create a writing trigger.  You are entering dangerous territory. Really, you are. Call it a writing trigger, focal object, behavior modifier, your process or routine; or your ‘writing hat’. Anything that works goes, within reason. Let’s keep it legal. The point is finding something that flips that writing switch on, naturally or trained. Like a bedtime routine for toddlers, it switches your brain into writing mode.

 

Maybe it’s going through certain steps to settle in to write, using a particular object, or a certain place you write. Learning to flip that switch will turn on the writer’s brain and its creative juices on command.

 

The problem with this is dependency on an object, routine, or place. Whatever you trained yourself on, if you make yourself too reliant on it, you risk being unable to write without it. Like George Stark’s Berol Black Beauty pencil (Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Half’). Thad Beaumont was an anxious writer, so he invented the pen name George Stark and the writing switch (and Stark’s author ‘thing’ to make him famous), the Berol Black Beauty pencil. Without that very specific pencil, he could not be Stark and could not write like Stark. Unfortunately, because it is a Stephen King story, the fictional Stark became real and sought to terrorize and murder his creator, Thad. Hopefully your writing trigger doesn’t do the same. Fortunately, the Berol Black Beauty pencil does not exist today.

 

 

Get an accountability buddy. Also called a ‘nag’. I’m my own best and worst nag. It could be as simple as marking a deadline on a calendar or making a phone alert; it could be posting promises on your social media, or someone who will regularly ask you about your writing progress. The point is having that niggling in your head droning on at you, “Write . . . write . . . write.” How embarrassing to always have to say, “yeah, sorry. I didn’t write again this week.”

 

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Just write. There is one tried and tested way to get out of that blank mind no writing funk. You have to find a way to write. It doesn’t matter how or when. It doesn’t have to be good. Just. Write.

 

Force yourself to sit down and write something. Anything. The more you make yourself write, the easier it will come. By making yourself write you can spur ideas. I started with *(blank)*, literally. I banged my head on the desk a few times (figuratively), tried to force an idea, and finally settled on, “Fine, I’ll right about not being able to write anything.”

 

I started writing that and as I did, ideas for other things came to me. Reasons for the mind block beget ideas. Thinking of how to break the cycle of being stuck beget more ideas. And now I have a list of other possible future topics. And whatever you are writing, when that other inspiration strikes note it down for later.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you learn about this narcissistic vampire … you have to read L. T. Getty’s lovely story.

 

 

Marie is a loner and something of a self described self-exiled outcast who, centuries later, is still mourning the loss of the love of her life. The story doesn’t tell the why and how of this. That is a story set before this one. Was she always like this? Or was she driven to it? Her one friend, Rosa, follows her through the events shaping her, always at her side in her own shallow personality as the, ‘Let’s party and have fun,’ girl.

 

One question in my mind through this book was whether all the vampires are truly as vain, shallow, and self-centered as Marie says they are, or is that a construct of her own depths of those attributes which she must deflect on others in her need to feel she fits in.

 

I had reservations about the cover at first, it gave me a strong ‘romance’ vibe, but found it surprisingly suiting to the main character.

 

 

Dreams of Mariposa by L. T. Getty is a first person account of a vampire telling her story.

Taken unwillingly from her plans to relocate when Raoul shows up to tell her she is summoned by the Council with no option to refuse, Marie is thrust into their scheme without knowing the depth of their intentions.

 

As a vampire who is so ancient and powerful that even the sun cannot touch her, allowing her to walk in daylight, and who easily fits into the social circles of mortals, the Council needs her help in uncovering a mystery hiding powers possibly much older than their own order’s beginnings.

 

The events after that can best be described as leading her down into the madness in the darkness of her vampiric soul and which she chose to be blind to because perfection is to be sane and adored by all. As her world unravels at the end of her narrative, the truth of some of her tale is revealed, and the lies she told herself to keep her shield of perfection in place.

 

I found the main character, Marie, to be entirely unlikable. That doesn’t mean you won’t like her, only that I failed to see any redeeming qualities in her personality. I rather liked L. T. Getty’s portrayal of Marie as being flawed by her own perfection. It gives Marie more personality than if she were simply evilly and immortally perfect. Her view of the world she lives in revolves around her need for everyone including herself to be fully immersed in the glory of her self-perceived flawlessness. As I read, I hoped more than once that she would be staked.

 

As a vampire, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to character development. If anything, it made her more real to me. This narcissistic view of herself is entirely fitting, considering she is immortal on an almost godlike level compared even to her nearly immortal brethren. Centuries of seeing yourself as being superior far above all mortal, and even most immortal, creatures would turn more than a few to narcissism, I would think.

 

Marie sees the other senior vampires as being similarly shallow and self-absorbed narcissists incapable of caring for anyone. Is that merely a reflection of herself? You will need to read L. T. Getty’s lovely story and decide for yourself.

Photo by Jonathan Harrison on Unsplash

Photo by Jonathan Harrison on Unsplash

In the real world, the smart thing to do is to avoid conflict. Run away, go the other way; say no to indulging it and lead a peaceful conflict free life. Okay, pick yourself off the floor and stop laughing. We all know that too often human nature is to go against what is the smart thing to do.

 

 

 

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

 

 

Whether you are in grade school, high school, adulting at work, a news media, social media butterfly, or an author writing a story, what makes tongues wag is conflict, drama. The bigger the conflict, more intense the drama, the harder people dig themselves into its destructive black heart with a twisted glee or foreshadowing sense of impending doom. Why? You’ve got me. I have no idea. It seems kind of sick, really. But, people are inexplicably drawn to the tragedy of others. They mourn for others’ torment, fear they themselves could have been the victims, and are filled with a sick relief to have been spared. Perhaps it is born of an instinct for self-preservation. To protect yourself from an enemy, be it living or circumstance, you must know of its existence and understand it in order to protect yourself from it. Like knowing that crawling into a ceramics kiln might be your best chance to survive a raging fire (a guy actually did that in the 2019/20 Australia bush fires), how to avoid getting sucked down with a sinking ship (i.e. the dude from Titanic, although I don’t know if that would work in real life), going to ground in a culvert during a tornado, silver works against werewolves, and that fear of a deity more powerful than themselves may save you from a vampire.

 

 

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

 

As writers, we must embrace conflict. Seek it out, find insidious ways to secretly feed it, nurture it, and set it loose on our characters’ lives. It is what drives people and stories forward.

 

The challenge in creating conflict and building drama in your story is making it believable and fit with the story and characters. For that, you need to understand it. You also need to give it a purpose.

 

In both writing and real life conflict comes in different forms, within and outside of our control. At is basest level conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces; your character and what they want against an obstacle that is in their way.

 

 

Conflict creates tension, drives the story forward, and can be used to reveal weaknesses, motivations, and deeper meanings behind your characters’ actions. It can be internal (‘You’ – Joe Goldberg’s conflict with his own inner self wanting to be a better person vs. the inability to stop himself from stalking and killing again) or external (‘Alien’ – Ellen Ripley battling the queen bee alien to save herself and the little girl).

 

Although some will argue there are six or seven types of conflict, I have no doubt we as writers can collectively come up with well more than that. More as society and technology continues to progress. Here are some common types of conflict.

 

Types of Conflict:

Character vs. character

Character vs. extraterrestrial

Character vs. fate

Character vs. gods

Character vs. nature

Character vs. self

Character vs. society

Character vs. supernatural

Character vs. technology

Character vs. unknown

 

Your story will invariably involve one of these conflicts. It will probably have more than one woven together. Your main character may be torn by their own internal conflict, fighting their own inner demons while also pitting their beliefs in their god against their society they find themselves at odds with as they disagree with the people in their lives after learning of new technologies and sciences with the discovery of an extraterrestrial life that changes everything they thought they knew and threatens to bring destruction to the planet.

 

There, we have inner and outer conflict; character vs. self, character vs. god, character vs. society,

character vs. character, character vs. technology, character vs. extraterrestrial, and potentially character vs. unknown. With multiple main and secondary characters, protagonists vs. antagonists, you can have competing conflicts between various characters.

 

 

Photo by John T on Unsplash

Photo by John T on Unsplash

How do you keep all these conflicts straight? Your story needs to flow, one conflict feeding the next, complimenting with and clashing against each other without leaving the reader scratching their heads in confusion and wondering if you forgot what story you were writing. Like creating character profile worksheets, you can create conflict worksheets. There is no rule on the right or wrong way to set one up. Create it to meet your needs.

 

Conflict worksheets can help you keep multiple conflicts straight and with brainstorming how to make them happen.

 

If you are keeping your conflicts simpler, you probably have no problem keeping them on track without a worksheet. However, if you are going Game of Thrones epic complicated, you may need help keeping track of who has what conflict with who/what, when, how they intertwine, and where/how they will climax and resolve.

 

Creating a Conflict Worksheet:

Like building a Character profile, I would start with the basics of the conflict. The more complex the conflict is, the more complicated the details will be. Think of your 5 W’s from grade school English Language Arts: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and that oddball How.

 

  • Primary Character: Who is having the conflict
  • Conflict Antagonist: Who or what are they up against
  • Type of Conflict: What is the conflict
  • Conflict Location: where and when does the conflict happen
  • Secondary Characters: Who else is involved in the conflict

 

Build up the reasoning behind the conflict and the cause and effects.

  • Protagonist Motivation: What motivates the character to resolve the conflict
  • Antagonist Motivation: What motives the character/other to cause the conflict

* Fun note: the protagonists/antagonists of the story can be switched up in their roles in a conflict, the protagonist (hero) of the story being the antagonist in the conflict.

  • Character Strengths/Flaws: How does this drive or affect the conflict and its resolution
  • Internal Conflict: How is the character(s) affected internally, how they respond
  • External Conflict: How is the character(s) affected externally, how they respond
  • Character Development: How does the conflict change/develop the character(s)
  • Story Development: How does the conflict change/develop the storyline

 

With every great conflict comes a great resolution. How are you going to resolve it?

  • Who will resolve the conflict
  • How and when they will resolve the conflict
  • Character Affects: How resolving the conflict changes/affects the character(s)
  • Story Affects: How resolving the conflict changes/affects the story
  • Lead in: Does it lead to another conflict
  • Fallout: No good conflict is truly resolved. What are the lasting after-effects? This can also give you a lead in to new conflicts that drive the story forward.

 

Conflicts need to be fed. With the rise and fall of a story arc, your conflicts have their own arc. They start, build, climax, ease, build to a larger climax, and finally are resolved, devolving into the fallout and picking up of the pieces. You want to build up the readers’ expectations and give them a sense of resolution without leaving a lot of loose ends. This means you need to create a little chaos and order. Come up with ways you can compound and resolve the conflict. Make a list and jot down the details.

 

 

  • Action
  • Advice
  • Apologies
  • Complaints
  • Conversations
  • Death
  • Deflection
  • Departure
  • Discovery
  • Dishonesty
  • Empathy
  • Error
  • Honesty
  • Inaction
  • Inattention
  • Incentives
  • Information
  • Orders
  • Outside Help
  • Persuasion
  • Punishment
  • Questions
  • Reflection
  • Requests
  • Supplication
  • Threats
  • Urgency
  • Violence

 

 

If you have all of this, you are ready to go forth and work your conflicts into your outline. Or, if you write by the seat of your pants like me, you may be developing this worksheet as your story progresses as a reference to keep your details straight.

 

 

What is Lulu?

Lulu Press, Inc. (Lulu.com) is a U.S. based print on demand printer and book distributor for electronic books, print books, and calendars. It is used by self-published authors and small presses.

 

Is it a ‘vanity press’? No. Lulu press, Inc. is a legitimate provider of services to small presses and self-published authors.

 

Is it cost effective to publish with Lulu? That depends. Their pricing model is based on the size of the book and volume of the order. Like other PODs, the printing cost per book is calculated on a minimum base rate plus a cost per page. So, with equal trim sizes, a 325 page book will cost more to print than a 300 page book. As the author/publisher, you can order copies for yourself to slog around stores and book events with to sell face-to-face. Like Amazon KDP, they charge a reduced publisher rate to you. You are not paying the retail rate you set for copies of your own book. Lulu does have bulk order discounts. They are more expensive than Amazon KDP for your printing cost per book if you are ordering smaller  print runs, but the good news is a search of those fabulous online click-bait coupon sites will probably produce a coupon code to reduce the cost. Comparing costs of Amazon KDP to Lulu, I only order books through Lulu if I have a coupon code. Otherwise, with shipping, the higher cost would eat up most of my small profit margin on face-to-face sales. (I use Couponfollow.com).

 

What does it cost to upload my book to Lulu?  Nothing. Like other POD and distribution companies, they do have service packages you can buy if you want someone to do the work for you. I’ve seen mixed reviews on these. But if you do the work yourself, there is no cost to upload your books to Lulu.

 

But I want to buy Canadian and/or publish Canadian. Lulu is a U.S. company. However, being in Canada you would be going through the Lulu Canada store. Those books are printed in a facility in Ontario, Canada.

 

Does Lulu distribute the books to brick and mortar stores? Yes and no. Your book (eBook or POD print) must meet all of the distribution requirements in order to be available for sale beyond the Lulu online marketplace. This includes being one of the eligible trim sizes. If it’s available only on the Lulu marketplace then people can buy your book only through the Lulu site.

 

Why is my Lulu book only available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and not in any brick and mortar book stores? Because, under Lulu’s globalREACH program, you met the distribution requirements for those two online stores. Maybe you did not meet all the requirements for the global distribution program, leaving you with limited distribution. Also, globalREACH creates a listing with the Ingram Book Company, making it available to book stores to order it. But then it’s up to the book stores to actually order it. There is no guarantee they will and Ingram’s catalog is massive.

 

Photo by Webaroo.com.au on Unsplash

Photo by Webaroo.com.au on Unsplash

Do I need an ISBN to publish with Lulu? Yes. Lucky for us, ISBNs are free in Canada and easy to get. You also need a different ISBN for each copy of your book. I.e.) you need a different ISBN for the book published through Lulu from the book uploaded and published through Amazon KDP (Amazon will provide ISBNs, Lulu does not).

 

Can I just upload my Amazon KDP book and cover files to Lulu?  No. While your trim size and page count don’t change, the dimensions of your book spine will. You will need to redo the cover. This is because Lulu uses a lighter weight gauge of paper (thinner paper), so trim and page count being the same, your book will be thinner.

 

How is the quality of Lulu print books?  I’ve heard mixed reviews. As with any POD printer, there can be variations from batch to batch. After all, they are completely resetting the printer for every print batch run for every customer. Some swear by their quality. Some have reported issues with the spine glue in the heat. I found covers that are lighter with more colors work better, but mostly black glossy covers did not hold up to minimal handling. The cover finish on black glossy covers rubbed off, marked easily, and chipped just transporting them carefully packed to and from book events, leaving the books unsellable. Amazon KDP books stand up better to transporting them to sales with the dark glossy covers.

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