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Archive for the ‘Words on Writing’ Category

This book starts with a group of men heading out on a fishing vessel, wistful of escaping from under the oppressive thumb of the Empire. The decision to board a frigate floating dead in the water, its presence given away by the smoke rising from it,  results in the two friends Nisiris and Vared being taken prisoner and forced to fight each other to the death in a sacrificial duel or both be sold as slaves. One will escape.

The story, however, follows another man, Koth, in a humble village far removed from the influence of the Empire, out hunting with his twin brother.

Koth seems an unlikely and imperfect hero, my favorite kind of hero. Not identical twins, he is the lesser of the two brothers in all ways. He knows nothing of the world beyond his small village realm and doesn’t seem to be a very good hunter. His fellow villagers don’t seem to think he’s good at much of anything.

Koth and his brother, Bizen, do have a special ability. They can communicate telepathically with each other. But of the two, only Koth has the ability to heal others.

Koth’s life was decided for him since before he was born, for his ability to heal wounds by touch is rare even among his people. When an attempted kidnapping turns to sacrificial murder, he embraces vengeance and the sword. As he journeys far from his small, isolated village in the north, he learns the truth as to why his bloodline is targeted by strange magic, in a world still rebuilding from a time when dark sorcerers didn’t bother with secrecy.

Koth thinks his quest is straightforward enough: find the men responsible and kill them—and any who aid them. He will soon learn that those who have both privilege and power, there are few things they lack—and in the pursuit of godhood, their allies can prove even more sinister as mere mortals seek to advent empires and dynasties.

Witchslayer’s Scion by L. T. Getty is a third person narrative of events that befall our imperfect hero, Koth, after the murder of his brother and attempted kidnapping of Bizen’s betrothed.

Travelling with his aunt, Una, in the name of vengeance, he will discover the world is much larger and stranger than he imagined, and that revenge isn’t always what you imagine.

While every chapter does not focus on our hero, as new characters emerge to take the center stage, Getty does a good job of using a variety of characters to drive the story forward and introduce new revelations about this world, leading back to Koth’s story.

 For me, Koth’s imperfections and naive failings make him all the more likable as a character.

 If you are into swords and sorcery that lies heavier on the storyline and less focused on the magic itself, you will enjoy L. T. Getty’s Witchslayer’s Scion. This book does not distract from the characters and events of the story with overemphasis on the magic, keeping your attention and focus where it belongs, within this imaginary world.

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Confession: I completely forgot how to do this. Not because it’s hard to do, it’s actually surprisingly easy, but because it’s a thing I seldom need to do.

I added a page to my WordPress blog for my short story Dark Shadows coming October 30th in Dragon Soul Press’s anthology All Dark Places 3. Then I tried to add the page to the dropdown list in the “Published Books” page tab in the menu at the top of my blog and discovered I had no idea how to do it.

I wasted some time mucking about trying to figure it out, then the old tried and true random trying of things, and rediscovered again how easy it actually is if you know what to do. I have the bad habit of trying all the wrong things first before trying the right things.

I wanted to add the dropdown option to click and go to the “All Dark Places 3” page I created in this “Published Books” menu item.

First, I had to get to the screen that allows you to edit the menus:

In your left menu click on “Appearance”, then on “Menus”.

This new menu (below) opens:

This is the screen if you are in ‘edit in live preview’. It still works basically the same way:

Now you are in here:

  • Under “Pages” drag down the scroll bar to the page you want to add, check it off, and click “Add to Menu.
  • The page shows up here. Just click and drag the block to spot in the order you want it. Flush left will make it a main menu item. Offset to the right will make it a sub-menu item under the other item. As you see here below under (2) “All Dark Places 3 anthology” is a sub-menu below “Published Books”.

Making it look like this on the main blog page. So when you hover over the menu item “Published Books” all those showing below it show up on the screen to click to go to those pages:

This is the screen if you are in ‘edit in live preview’. It still works basically the same way:

Testing your menu tabs:

This is where I point out the magic of the Ctrl-Shift, Ctrl-Alt, Shift-‘other key’, and such commands.

It’s like when you call the customer service of a company and are faced with an endlessly running one-sided robot dialogue of menu items, none of which is simply “speak to a real live person”, when all you want to do is speak to a real live person. Zero (0) is the magic key they don’t list in their verbose-overloaded menu that generally bypasses the whole thing to ring the phone on a living person’s desk. Aka about a hundred pressed button choices later, the option to “speak to a representative”.

If you want to view these menu tabs to test them; from the window viewing your WordPress blog as a visitor:

”Ctrl” + tab:  ”Ctrl” plus click on the tab opens the tab to view it as a visitor, opening and adding the page to the open page tabs on your browser.

”Shift” + tab:  ”Shift” plus click on the tab opens the tab to view it as a visitor, opening the page in a new browser window.

Note:    If you are new to WordPress and don’t know this, click your blog name with the world next to it in your left menu to view the blog as a visitor sees it.

Keep writing my friends.

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COMING OCTOBER 30, 2021

All Dark Places 3 anthology

published by Dragon Soul Press​

Includes:

Dark Shadows

by L. V. Gaudet

Manitoban author Lori Gaudet’s short story “Dark Shadows” is making its debut in Dragon Soul Press’s new horror anthology All Dark Places 3, released in print and eBook October 30, 2021.

Dark Shadows by L. V. Gaudet:

Grayson is introduced in this inaugural foray into his world. When a bus crashes on a desolate highway, the survivors are picked off one at a time by faceless ghouls in the night.  Except for Grayson. Grayson has a unique problem. Everywhere he goes, he sees monsters and witnesses their cold collection of the spirits of the dying. Called devourers of souls by some, he is certain they are after him for reasons he cannot begin to guess at. An artist by nature, his sketches are more than prophetic. They mirror the disturbing assaults of the soul takers.

Also includes stories by:

  • Barend Nieuwstraten III
  • Dylan Roche
  • Jacob Steven Mohr
  • Lincoln Reed
  • Victor Nandi
  • Warren Bendetto

​You can find Dragon Soul Press’s anthology All Dark Places 3 with Dark Shadows by L. V. Gaudet here http://books2read.com/ADP3.

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Everything in life that’s worth doing is just so much work. Why can’t it be almost as easy as not doing it? It takes work, determination, little fails and setbacks, and pushing on, to achieve your goals.

Photo by x ) on Unsplash

Why Does the Climb Up Feel Longer Than the Fall Down?

a k a My Stories Are Rejecting Me.

by L V Gaudet

You want to be fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and feel better. It’s so good for you; your mind, body, and soul. But by all that is unholy, holy, and otherwise, in this world… why is it so hard? Why is exercising so exhausting and muscle aching instead of invigorating? Why is counting calories such a time goblin? Why is life so much easier and enjoyable scarfing down sweet or salty snack bliss, having drinks, lounging about watching shows, movies, or whatever else rocks your viewing boat, and generally feeding your mind and body’s whims? Why should cutting back leave you feeling hungry, tired, and bleh?

The secret to this, of course, is that you are retraining yourself; mind, body, and soul. You may not realize it, but that retraining alone is mentally and emotionally exhausting, and that translates to the physical. It will get easier. In time. And I am saying this despite feeling like a failure this morning. A hungry, achy, tired, emotionally and mentally drained vampire victim who looked miserably down at the scale and silently repeated the mantra, “Baby steps. Baby steps. Baby steps. It takes time.”

Why? Because this is week two down of our self-imposed torture challenge of 31 days of working towards healthier us. “Sober October”, if you recall, which is about 31 days of sobering cutbacks and kick-it-ups in the name of self- punishment, ahem, love, and coming out feeling and looking better. We are at the halfway point and I’m feeling the burn of setback after the 3.2 lbs loss in the first week (with using weight machines three times!) AND hit the second week plateau of losing only 0.6 of a pound with the only exercise being the treadmill and elliptical machines. Really. 0.6 of a pound. What amounts to a good poop. Maybe not even a good one. Maybe just a mediocre one. If only I could have pooped before weighing myself first thing after a pee and before the shower and coffee. I could have doubled that weight loss! FYI, I am committed also to only a once-a-week, same bat date same bat time (oops, that is an old reference some of you might catch) weighing in because the body naturally fluctuates weight day to day, and even between times of day. And because the weight machines thing. Itty bitty muscle bit ways more than large globs of fat and all.

Even knowing this week two plateau is completely normal and to keep going means it will pass, it’s still frustrating. It’s not a fail, but just part of the process. Knowing that doesn’t change what you feel or make your feelings any less legitimate. Make yourself feel pretty and keep trying.

“You are boring me with the ‘I’m exercising and dieting and I hate it’ pity party. What does this have to do with writing?”

Yeah, I know that’s what you are saying, even if only in your head. Read on.

My stories are rejecting me. How is that even a thing?

That’s like self rejection. Wow. Can they even do that?

The reality is that everything you do, from getting fit to learning something new, takes work. Doing nothing is easy. That also goes for writing.

If you’ve been following me, then you know that I’ve been struggling myself with writer’s block since March 19, 2020.

For some of us, writing is that identity we hold near and dear, what makes us truly feel who we are. For some it’s their main, or only, outlet to express themselves, vent, or otherwise have that release others get from talking to close friends.

You sit down and want to write, but your mind just won’t go there. An invisible abyss stretches, impossibly vast and seemingly nonexistent at the same time, between your wish to write and the story so tantalizingly near yet far. You feel for all the world like the story itself is refusing you, rejecting you. This is where I’m sitting, whether it’s tackling one of many novel or short story WIPs, or trying to start something new. Even efforts to think about writing craft tips, techniques, and the million things that help improve your writing and story are a blank empty nothing. A vagueness that is there but out of reach. Like the whispers almost heard in the darkness and that illusive perceived motion in your peripheral vision that is gone when you turn to look.

But really it is you who are rejecting yourself, shutting down. Out of fear the inspiration will fail you. That your writing will fail to bring the story alive. For other reasons you may not even see or recognize. Maybe it’s because of your perception the people closes to you don’t care about or support your needs and desires to write. Whatever the cause, it’s self-deprecating and self-sabotage.

How I’ve been tackling the writer’s block (confession).

If you’ve been following me you might also remember some of the advice I’ve given on getting past writer’s block.

Those suggestions do work. They are effective. The crux of it is that not one of them works every time or for everyone. It’s playing the trial and error game of finding out which methods work for you, and what worked last time might not work this time.

I’ve thought about the various ways to break the vicious cycle of writer’s block. What has or has not worked for me personally in the past. The one thing that usually works for me is editing. Yeah, I’m not a fan of editing either. But, it both is a necessary evil of being a writer, your work must be edited until you want to strangle Editing and never edit again, and for me almost always results in the creative juices flowing again.

Now the confession. You have to actually get past OPENING the story file. I’ve thought about the ways to get past the writer’s block. I’ve even made some half-hearted attempts to start a new story, since the 1000s of WIPs weren’t ‘speaking’ to me. I have gone so far a few times as actually opening one of the primary WIPs I most want to finish. I’ve gently castigated myself for my failure. The reality is I haven’t really tried. Not really.

Not because I don’t want to, or through depression, which can be absolutely debilitating. It’s really just life. Commitments. Time. And feeling like, “What if I get into it, the flow starts, and just as the ideas start coming I have to stop and lose it?” My biggest enemies are that nasty goblin, Time, and not really feeling the urge like I should.

The job that pays the bills, family, household, and the four-legged hairy beasts take up the majority of my time. These are musts on the higher end of the priority scale. There’s the volunteering with the Manitoba Writer’s Guild that takes time, and with proofreading for the Horror Writers’ Association newsletter, which takes less time. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for pursuing writing, or the extra time to break that nasty little writer’s block.

A small measure of success.

Writing these blog posts in the hope of helping others a little these couple of weeks is a small measure of success. It seems that putting my mind to others is the key driver this time against the inability to focus on writing or editing. They are small commitments that take longer than one might expect, especially with the constant interruptions and distractions. Again, repeat the mantra, “Baby steps. Baby steps. Baby steps. It takes time.”

And it does take time. Writing and editing can come in baby steps in between everything else. Sometimes that’s just what you need to do. I’ve written this short article over three days. Some have taken me all week. But just doing this is writing. It is feeding that wicked and fickle muse. With luck I can translate this to managing some time to focus on the fiction writing, my writing goal.

I will speak again of another success. Soon. It’s not huge by any stretch, but in Writers’ World it is something. I’ve already made the announcement on other social media platforms, so you may have seen it. I’m repeating it again and again because that’s self-promotion. You will be sick of seeing it if you are not already.

NaNoWriMo is coming!

Another reason to break the ugly no-writing cycle. I’ve had great success in past years, not recently though. I keep wishing and hoping, but Time just isn’t in it with me.

Are you planning yet? It’s only a few weeks away, the November challenge of 50,000 words written in 30 days. Not so bad when you think about it as 1667 words per day. Some pre-planning your story helps. I’ve got zero on that. Not even an inkling of an idea of a story. Not having time to commit to it the past few years doesn’t help spur the creativity and eagerness for NaNo. The past few years, and this one again, I’m on the fence about whether to try. More fallen off then fence than on it. But still in the past couple years I broke down and made a semi-conscious, mostly non-attempt.

I wish you great success if you are taking the challenge.

Time management is key.

I know. We’ve all heard the many Time Management tropes from so many sources and for so many purposes. But it can be the make or break of everything. Nothing happens without the time to do it.

I need to improve my time management if I hope to turn a few random rambling blog posts into serious get-that-novel (and short stories)-done writing.

Not only is time management a skill, it’s learnable, improvable, and can help in every part of your life, including your well-being. As a writer, writing is part of that well-being, so it’s a double fix for us.

I plan to think about how I can make my time management better. Perhaps we can come together and share our ideas on it, what worked and didn’t work for us. Better time management means feeling less out of control, less rushed, and more enabled to do what you want to do. This is an exercise I hope to have success with, enough to feel like I’m actually writing more than the occasional blog post.


Keep writing, my friends. One word, one sentence, at a time.

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Why must we torture ourselves so?

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

So, we committed ourselves to a self-imposed challenge we are calling “Sober October”. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

It’s about as dreadful as it sounds and we are one week into it.

While the title implies it’s all about the boozing, that’s only part of the package. We have been drinking too much too, among other things this past year plus. This self-imposed torture is about what some might call “Self Love”.

Sober October is committing to 31 days of “sobering” cutbacks and kick-it-ups. Thirty-one days of self- punishment, ahem, love, with a cheat day allowed for Thanksgiving, only because it’s Thanksgiving (Even if Covid means limiting family gatherings. But hey, pumpkin and apple pies, right? You don’t need a houseful of people for apple pie!) but not going all out crazy that day.

Thirty-one gruesome days of watching calories, eating healthier, eating smaller portions, zero alcohol, zero snacking, except for the Thanksgiving cheat, exercising daily at home and/or hitting the gym (or nearly daily, we fail at daily) – basically sucking all enjoyment out of life.

Before Covid shut down the gyms a year and a half ago we went on a semi-regular basis. I did walking exercise at least two to three times a week. Since they shut down I continued regular almost daily walking exercise at home and we did occasional long hikes. So you wouldn’t think it would be such a stretch to do the walking exercise most days with the gym at least half the days.

A week in and I feel more tired, more achy, weaker, and hungry more.

Even now, after a banana for breakfast and a hot coffee at my side, my achy legs are hating me for telling them as soon as I finish posting this it’s time to get walking. And I need to do an extra walk to make up for working through lunch on the job that pays the bills yesterday and missing my noon walking.

Got to get ‘er done to get on with the cleaning house and walking the dogs (One at a time because they are arseholes walking together, yay dogs.), before exercising again, showering, picking up the kid from work, and supper.

Maybe by the end of the month it will have given me some new fodder for dark stories of depravity.

Be good to yourself and keep writing my friends.

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Sometimes life just gets in the way of our promises we make to ourselves and to others.

At times life just makes us suck, right? We make promises we’ll do something and then before you know it time has passed and it didn’t happen. Of course, we can’t just put all the blame on outside sources, Old Man Time, Mother Nature, demands on us for work, family, and friends, or the wickedness of surreal time and memory lapses causing time to pass quickly or drag endlessly while we forget some things while focusing too much on others.

Ultimately we are in control of our own actions and lack of them. We own how much actual effort we put into meeting those deadlines, self-imposed or not. And in keeping promises we made whether they are to ourselves or others.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Maybe you just overreached what you can manage. Good intentions and all that.

And life does constantly throw up little roadblocks, bumps in the road, and a thousand mini obstacles.

Still, we have to reflect on ourselves and look inward, but with the same compassion and understanding we hope others will give to us, and that we must give to others because we strive to be good people.

A promise to both myself and you to commit to weekly blog posts. One I am still failing on at the moment. It is a surprisingly large time commitment when your time is stretched. But, ultimately, I own the fail on that.

Committing to self-care, that term floated to you that often seems intangible. As illusive as that hint of motion caught in the corner of your eye that is gone when you turn to look.

A promise to myself, and perhaps to my all of three fans, if they truly exist outside the realm of fiction, to finish some of the endless WIPs taking up disk space and eating away at my guilty subconscious for neglecting them, stories waiting to be told. To write new stories. To have some of these shorts published and finish the novel length works so they too can be released upon the world with all their pervading darkness. Another fail, but a wish not abandoned entirely.

March 19, 2020, my first day working remotely due to Covid. Today is October, the start of the best month for us writers of horror and everything dark. This is one year and almost 6 1/2 months of ultimate fail to my writer self, failing to write, to feel that energizing driven inspiration. The crossing of that 1 1/2 year mark of writing rut that began on that very strange feeling day when it seemed I was in my own insidious dark story of a world gone upside down where the down below became our world.

Am I alone in feeling a little down, a little like I lost myself, for not being able to be embraced by that feeling of being swallowed into the heart and bowels of a story I am writing? I don’t think so.

Am I alone in feeling like life just keeps ponderously moving along second by second by minute by hour oblivious to my wants? Certainly not.

A lot of us find ourselves in exactly this spot and it will happen multiple times in your life. Sometimes it lasts longer than other times.

I actually started writing this post yesterday, what should be a quick knock off of a few words, on October 1st. Intended to post it yesterday. But life happens.

As a simple necessity, the job that pays the bills always takes priority over everything else in life, and takes up the majority of your waking hours. The needs of the household and family take the second priority.

Your partner. Your kids need help or just attention. Groceries, cleaning, meals, and a million other mundane life duties. Right now there is a massive mound of washed laundry in the process of being folded next to me and the vacuum is waiting to take a turn right after washing everyone’s dishes and the general clutter of a household.

Somewhere in there you try to fit in five minutes, ten, twenty; you hit the jackpot at thirty minutes of writing time. But that’s okay.

Allow yourself the courage to push through the niggling little things getting in the way, the dramas large and small, chores, day jobs, and the time goblins, all seemingly conspiring to suck away any writing time. Your life is the sum of all of its parts. Embrace it.

Our attempts at training the Big Dumb Bunny have so far failed. The first of two kids started university and the first student loan application was denied on the assumption we should I guess borrow the money ourselves to pay for it. Still, an interest free and payment free until graduation loan beats anything we could get, assuming we have enough equity to get the loan, and then more loan when the second kid starts university. Between school, work, and boxing, you’d barely know she lives here. The second kid got her first job and is learning to drive. Meanwhile the bus schedules have her walking or relying on us to drive her to not be 45 minutes early or 15 minutes or more late for work. We are trying harder at self care, something as parents we neglect too much.

These are barely a drop on top of the day to day with each of us in our own little worlds that sporadically merge one with another a few hours a day while we all live under the same roof. And here I am giving that time to you with this random rambling.

Mom! Mom! Mom! Pay attentionz to mee!

When I can’t break out those precious moments for a little writing time, I may feel a bit sorry for myself, but it’s still just one part of everything that is my world and overall it’s not a bad world. It’s worth embracing.

So when you feel like it’s been forever since you could get that time to do what you really want, embrace it all and take greater pleasure in those moments when they do come.

And now Roxy, aka the Big Dumb Bunny, is demanding my undivided attention.

Here’s to hoping I can post again in the next month.

Be good to yourself and keep writing my friends.

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Or, more accurately, did you even notice I was gone?

Photo by Jasmina Rojko on Unsplash

No, this isn’t one of those feel sorry for me deals. Those are so cliché and overdone, aren’t they?

I’m more of a realist than that. With the world going a little more down that dark twisted path of an angst horror story each day, its contradictive every person for their self strongly political egotistical self-righteous “only I’m right” political grandstanding and apocalyptic “nature is trying to kill us” story plots at times clashing like a badly written narrative, I half expect each one of you and everyone else to be swallowed up in that darkness, along with me.

The weirdness is even more striking with that overall story thread of mundane normalcy casting its deceptive veil over reality. Or is the mundane the reality and the rest the waking nightmare our narrator is playing us with?

Life goes on.

March 12th, 2020 Manitoba officially reported it’s first cases of Covid-19 as a stunned populace watched the progressing news story in stunned disbelief.

The stories coming out of places like Italy were staggering. Heart wrenching. Hidiously unreal. People singing to each other from their imprisonment in their homes creating a surreal uplifting moment in a lockdown where people stole food to survive with their world in a complete lockdown, and stories of care homes with the elderly and infirm left abandoned by the hundreds, dead and dying in filth, stink, and overrun with insects, rodents, excrement, and rotting waste, a plotline straight out of a fictional apocalypse story.

March 20th, 2020 Manitoba declared a state of emergency, and the lockdown began April 1st with the ordered closure of all non-essential businesses, as if there truly is such a thing when that income feeds and homes people reliant on it.

People cried out that it’s all fake. It’s not real. It’s made up to control us. (Have you read Orson Welles 1984?)

With a sinking feeling of what was as yet unknown to come, it all feeling utterly unreal and entirely fabricated, two days before the announcement, our office was shut down at the end of the day and everyone sent to work from home. March 19th, 2020 I began the odd journey of mostly self-isolation.

Ill prepared schools, teachers, and students scrambled with schools being shuttered to move thousands of kids practically overnight to online learning from home.

Businesses shuttered, mass numbers of people suddenly became unemployed with no job prospects, people were forbidden seeing or touching friends, family, and other loved ones. There was an eventual run on animal shelters by people seeking companionship. Unscrupulous people bought up mass quantities of basic staples: cleaning and sanitizing products, and toilet paper of all things, leaving none for others, those jerks!

Masses of people voraciously embraced new home projects and hobbies with the audacity of assuming everyone had the endless time and financial resources to do the same. By the way, this is also just one of the things that happened during the 1918 “Spanish” flu pandemic (called the “Spanish flu” then much in the same vein as some call Covid-19 the “China virus” now, only there was zero evidence of any Spanish origins to the 1918 flu.) that is being mimicked during Covid-19 today. People then also embraced anything to push away the boredom of quarantine, weird and self-destructive cures, false political wins became more important than protecting people, and people embraced conspiracy theories.

And with all this, for many, life felt relatively untouched. All the horror was distant, someone else’s story.

Interspersed with this has been a nonstop eclectic list of political farces, dramas, and atrocities. The never-ending inhumanities of war in countries that long ago forgot how to exist without war. And the planet seems bent on annihilating us all like a bad case of lice, throwing nonstop global destruction at is in the form of storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, pandemics and other too common and weirdly new illnesses, and unprecedented fires, heatwaves, flooding, and droughts with the apparently requisite grasshopper pestilence to decimate what little will grow. And don’t forget the Murder Hornets. We will never forget the Murder Hornets.

Seriously, who is writing this stuff? Is it any wonder it all feels like a far away unreal story to so many? Is it any wonder anyone in your world may have seemed to have just checked out?

And yet our mundane lives go on. Strangely normal and untouched for many while billions suffer just beyond the reach of our little enclosed lives.

We have to eat, sleep, work, volunteer, deal with the dramas of family and friends, raise our children, and pick burs out of our dogs’ ears. We have birthdays and anniversaries, teenagers being teenagers, kids being kids, and partners who we love to be around but sometimes need a break from. We get lonely for the friends we wish we had, miss the ones we do, and watch in sick fascination the train-wreck relationships among us.

And our life goes on, mundane and unchanged for many of us.

The surreal ugly of the world can be a depressing place. If it doesn’t depress you, it can still envelope you in the morose sense of the pain endured by others. Shocking headline after headline. Social media filled with sympathies for others’ suffering and castigations of failures to offer sympathies for that author’s righteous cause. It is impossible to offer sympathies to every pain and loss, and offering daily generic all-encompassing sympathies lacks the merit of sincerity.

And finally, you have been asking where is this going? Nowhere. Like everything else it is going nowhere. Our mundane round and round of daily life, for many sheltered from the reality of others. From the reality of their neighbors.

All during this world and local news unravels in a daily horror story that leaves many screaming to be felt and heard in the most ingloriously strange ways, embracing things they never would have before, some becoming increasingly hostile to anyone not sharing their voices. Many embracing what feels ludicrous in the face of what is happening locally and globally.

As much as I’d like to pinpoint for each week why is has been almost a month since my last post, more than a month since posting something that involved actual writing, the truth of it is that mundane round and round life. The daily commitments of work, volunteering, and family. Teenagers being teenagers, the partner you love to be around but sometimes need a break from, being lonely for the friends we wish we had and missing the ones we do. Picking burs out of Roxy, the #BigDumbBunny’s, ears and between her toes. Watching with that dulled dissociation and disappointment the train-wrecks that some among us have become. The fact that there just is not enough time to fit it all in and so sometimes something must give.

Unfortunately reality holds that by necessity the job that pays the bill takes priority over all else in your life. After that comes the needs of family, pets, and others you care about in your life. Home and house. And finally at the end of the day, behind everything else is you. Writing is for me. It’s my passion. It does not benefit anyone in my immediate world, and so that puts it last after all else.

Over the past five weeks, among other things, we had our first training session with an experienced and qualified dog trainer to try to fix Roxy (and us, because dog training is as much about fixing you as it is the dog). The air conditioner quit during the heat wave. We discovered a nice walking trail close by, an hour round trip walk where we can go partially woodsy deer trail or all grassy field, whichever strikes our interest.

And today we celebrate my nephew and his wife, married in 2019, but she finally now managed to immigrate to Canada.

My attempt to write a simple blog post weekly, large or small, helpful or not, in depth or mediocre ramble, has proven to be an incredible challenge. As in it is very challenging. To find the moments to write even in bits and spurts of a few minutes at a time. To edit it. To be creative.

I went into this knowing I would fail at times to pull it off every week. Heck, I barely managed to edit this at all, so bear with any mistakes and let’s just call this a “rough draft” published publicly.

And today’s random rambling lesson is this:

Don’t let those times when your desires, your driven passion that is what you want to do, gets pushed to the back and, frankly, shoved right off that backburner (cliché, yeah, bring it!) onto the floor behind the stove get you down.

Our world has fallen down a dark abyss of strangeness that belongs in an episode of The Twighlight Zone. Expect to be derailed.

Just because you couldn’t do it for a while, days, weeks, months, or even years, that does not mean you have to call it quit or abandoned. It’s not even a setback, really. It’s just life.

It is way too easy to let yourself slip into that daily drudgery and not make yourself get back at it. Not let yourself get back at it.

Don’t let those times quit you from what you love. Get back to it. Embrace it. Yes, you may feel morose, neglected, rejected, defeated, given up, and a whole of of other negative feelings at times while you quietly yearn to be able to do what you have a passion for, like writing. Life doesn’t care about what you want. It moves on around you, oblivious to you.

It’s up to you to embrace the good. The people you care about and the things that give you joy.

My writing has suffered since March 2019, but it is not forgotten. The passion and drive wanes and flutters back to life, but it will not die. Don’t let yours die either. It is never too late to reclaim your passion.

Be good to yourself and keep writing my friends.

P.s. This was not intended to be a Covid life rant, but the fingers will go on the keyboard as they will sometimes.

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Come under my umbrella, we all fit in here. Rain or shine, large or small, we all know what umbrellas are for.  In this case, we are looking to the other meaning for that which would otherwise protect us from the blazing sun or cool drenching rain, or perhaps raining grasshoppers. We are looking to something that encompasses in a different way. Something that includes different elements.

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Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

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What is an umbrella term in writing? It is like a main plot with a bunch of subplots under it. It is a category of writing that includes multiple other categories.

But sometimes (often) you may see them treated as though that once single term is self-explanatory and all you need to know.

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Cross Genre work (also called hybrid work): a genre umbrella term

When a submission call says they want “cross genre” work, it means exactly as it seems. They are looking for writing that blends elements and themes from two or more genres.

Perhaps you incorporated tragic comedy with science fiction and drama. Psychological realism with romance and a dash of horror.

What you are doing is, instead of focusing that science fiction on being only science fiction with elements exclusively of that genre, you are enhancing that story, creating more drama, investing the reader more in the story, building more intensity, and opening the world you created to more cliffhanging moments by upping the ante with more genres worked into it. Your main character has a sub-plot of a doomed romance the reader is rooting for them to resolve. This romance will invariably create tension as the lovers are pulled in different directions, perhaps forced to be pitted against each other, and your hero is forced to choose between the only seeming right choice or their love and happiness.

Just when your reader is thrown into that drama, there is another drama brewing. Your secondary character is ill and dying. Space sickness? Were they exposed to lethal levels of radiation? Or did that crew member who acts weird poison them? But wait, a billion years ago a massive asteroid slammed into a moon, shattering it, and sending a wave of debris hurtling through space and your crew is unknowingly about to find themselves in the midst of this moving debris field. The ship is damaged and one of the crew has to make the dangerous space-walk to repair something essential. They get out there to learn the debris that hit the ship is infested with terrifying creatures of a magnitude only found in horror. Like a parasite, they infest the whole ship and then the crew one by one. Their crippled ship is pulled into the gravity of a planet it passes too closely to and they crash on a planet to discover it inhabited by creatures and beings out of a fairy-tale storybook. Spellcasters with magical powers, dragons, and strange horses with a single horn like the narwhals.

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Fiction: a genre umbrella term

Fiction is a singular genre, but it is also an umbrella term for a wide range of genres and hybrid or cross genres that are creative made up stories.

Your story could be fiction. A straight up straight forward piece of middle of the road do not stray off that narrow path into territories of other fiction genres, fiction only.

Fiction also describes any and every story of every genre which is a work of fiction. Romance, fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, drama, thriller; they and others all fall under the fiction umbrella.

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Nonfiction: a genre umbrella term

Nonfiction is also an umbrella term for a wide range of genres and hybrid or cross genres. It is based on facts, real people, and real events.

The nonfiction umbrella includes academic texts; biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs; guides and how-to manuals, history, humor and commentary, journalism, philosophy and insight, self-help and instruction, and travel guides and travelogues.

And, my personal favorite, true crime.

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Speculative Fiction

Another umbrella term is speculative fiction. What is that? Exactly as it suggests, to speculate. Be it fantasy, horror, or any other genre or hybrid of genres, if the setting is other than the real world, it is speculative fiction. You are asking the question, what if the world was this instead of that. Journey To The Center Of the Earth is speculative fiction. The Walking Dead comic series is speculative. There are no zombies at present in our real world. Sending people to live out their lives in a mining operation on another world, while it may become reality some day, at present is speculative. We are not there yet in our real world. Speculative does not have to mean it’s impossible to ever be real.

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Writing is full of group terms.

If you are not sure what you have fits the definition, don’t be afraid to look for clarification. Never let yourself feel stupid or less than because you don’t think you fully understand something.

If a call wants speculative fiction, you best find out what kind of speculative fiction genres they look for. If they call for cross genre work, you can save yourself a lot of work formatting and submitting your story to something that isn’t a fit to the specific genre elements they prefer.

I’ve seen calls for submissions asking for speculative fiction with no other description. I’ve seen it referred to as if it’s a genre all in itself. That’s it. Speculative fiction. The same with cross genre work. That’s pretty broad.

I could submit any one of my stories to a call specifying just ‘speculative fiction’ in their callout. It won’t be a fit. My stories are speculative fiction, but they have a particular feel to them that doesn’t fit most publications. Even within the dark fiction genres, you need to know more about what speculative fiction genres they want.

Writing terminology is forever changing with the evolution of writing itself.

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Once upon a time fiction was fiction and all the genres fell in line with a simple list of who is who in a basic list of genres. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, textbooks, newspapers, it looked like a simpler time. That was well before my time and probably yours.

Now there seems to be an endless list of sub-genres and cross-genres and sub-genre-cross-genres.

Even the word length terms have evolved from a few simple terms for a few blocks of word lengths to a different name for word counts broken down, in some cases, to 500 words; 100 or 50 words, and even by character count.

Each term even has multiple names for it. Flash fiction, for example, is also called sudden fiction, micro fiction, immediate fiction,  and nano fiction, among other names.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

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Even after all these years writing and being involved in the online writing world, I still come across the odd term that for me is a new variation of an old writing term, new to me, or just new.

It’s like there are so many people out there trying to be original that they feel the need to keep coming up with new ways to express every bit of writing in new names for the genres and word counts.

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Genre Tags Are In Overkill

How many books have you seen listed online with a string of genre tags and how many of those did you think actually matched the story?

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it exhausting and impossible to keep up with all the new variations of genre tags. I find the listing of a few genre tags better gives a feel of what the story is about than the old basics of single genre fiction, horror, fantasy, and science fiction; but also find too many genre tags are overkill.

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Please, Don’t Call It What It’s Not.

It also leaves the question: If a story is flagged as action, apocalyptic, crime, drama, fantasy, fiction, historical, horror, romance, science fiction, thriller,… how much of the story is relevant to each genre and how relevant are each of these tags?

I totally get it. When you put your books up on places like Amazon, you want to maximize your reach to potential readers by plugging as many genres as you can to make it come up in as many search criteria as possible. There are endless articles out there recommending doing this as a means of spreading your reach. At the same time, don’t lie about what your book is about. Lying about your product is not cool and will turn off readers from trusting you again.

This is, in my opinion, likely the reason why when I do a search on a genre I often get an endless list of what appears to be books that are not that genre at all.

Do yourself and your potential readers a favor and don’t lie about your genre. If a secondary or lower level thread of the story involves a crime or something bad happening, don’t tag it as crime or thriller. Every story involves drama to keep the reader involved, but that does not make it a drama by genre definition.

Readers tend to be particular in their genres and are not going to be fooled. When someone tells me at a book event they only like true crime nonfiction, I know I’m wasting my time and theirs if I try to sell them a fictional crime serial killer thriller or a small town mystery with a paranormal twist.

When I do a search for horror, thriller, or apocalypse and am paging through screens of 80% of covers looking like they are probably romance or erotica, I stop looking. I am not going to buy something I don’t want just because it showed up in my search. This has actually happened to me, by the way. The two genres I have zero interest in reading, and for some reason seemed to glut the search for something I would actually read in a genre they definitely are not.

It’s almost comical considering the romance genre is probably the best selling genre on its own without tagging it in others it does not fall into.

I like a variety of genres, and have even read in the war genre, although I found most of those too focused on spending pages describing the technical details of guns (boring).

I tend on the obsessive side when I want to find something. So, if I give up after four or six or twelve pages of irrelevant books, many others give up much sooner.

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Simplicity is Sometimes Best.

To break it down, simplify your genres to the two or three main threads of your story maximum.

If your story is an Elizabethan era romance encompassing your main characters that happens to have a crime drama as a subplot between two characters, then you have a historical romance. If it’s primarily an Elizabethan era crime drama as the main focus that just happens to have a romance as one of the lower sub-plots, it is a historical crime drama, and don’t tag romance.

Tagging every subplot and minor storyline is more likely to make a reader question the validity of your tags than to make them embrace them. If you tag it as ‘Crime, Drama, Historical, Romance”, then every one of those should be the main focuses of the story plot.

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Definitions and Genres Abound.

There are too many genre tags and other literary definitions for a single blog post. So we will leave it at this introduction for now.

Where will this lead? Let’s see what the next blog post hits. Genres, word count definitions, it’s all devolved into a confusing mass of constantly evolving terms we can’t all keep up on.

Besides, It’s been a busy work week and I’m out of time.

Keep writing my friends. And remember, there are no stories without at least one genre and the stories don’t always follow the rules you want them to.

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This problem has driven me to distraction with frustration ever since I upgraded to my (now not so new and already partially broken ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  ) new laptop.

I use spreadsheets a lot and for multiple purposes. I’m also not a super technology-type person.

Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

My issue boils down to learned behavior. You know, when you do something so much that it’s an automatic reflex.

Typing is a learned behavior once you really know how to type. You know what words and numbers you want and your fingers do it without you having to consciously focus on them.

On my day job, in every program we use including Excel, it’s the same date format: month day year. All day, every day, Monday to Friday. Month day year. Month day year. Month day year. An endless stream of typing month day year in the same format: 5/27/21

My previous laptop was the same: month day year.

I’m so used to it that it’s an actual burden to have to stop and think to type anything other than month day year. It’s the same typing format always and it automatically translates to show the date in any form you formatted it to, whether it’s the short numerical form (8/15/21), short date form (Aug 15/21), or long formal date form (August 15, 2021). You can even set it to show day month year or any other order after you type 8/15/21.

  • 5/27/21
  • 6/30/21
  • 3/18/21
  • 2/28/21
  • 8/15/21
  • 5/5/21
  • 5/8/21

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You get the idea. Consistency is golden. Your dates are always correct when you enter them consistently, in my case month day year. You don’t have to stop and question, or go back and verify anywhere, was that May 8 or August 5th.

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Why oh why did Excel suddenly demand a new date format?

The issue and where the frustration lays is that when I reinstalled Microsoft Office on the new laptop, it flat out refused to use the ‘month day year’ date format.

I periodically tried repeatedly to reset the date format in Excel to take month day year. But no, it persisted in only accepting day month year. My dates kept coming up wrong and I ended up taking the more lengthy process of entering them as text instead of dates: ‘May 8/21 instead of 5/8/21.

I periodically tried researching how to fix it with no luck finding any answers.

Yeah, it sounds like a minor issue. But entering dates as text renders all formulas using those date boxes unusable.

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I like formulas. They make life easier.

For example, if I submit to a publisher who does not respond unless the story is accepted, but instead tells you to assume you’ve been rejected if you don’t hear from them in 75 days.

If I enter the date I submitted as May 8/21 text, I have to count 75 days on the calendar to find the date I should assume they rejected my story.

On the other hand, let’s say in the spreadsheet box K11 I entered the date I submitted my story properly (5/8/21), Excel now sees it as a readable date number. In box M11 where I want the assumed rejection date of 75 days after May 8th, I add the very simple formula =K11+75 and Excel automatically finds that rejection date (Jul 22/21) for me in the fraction of seconds it took me to type =K11+75 (in this case actually =<arrow over two boxes>+75, which is even faster).

With the ability to use formulas that use date boxes, you can also create formulas that will average how long a particular publisher you submit to frequently takes to respond, the longest time it took them to respond, or the same for all publishers’ responses.

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For me, not being able to use formulas on Excel boxes with dates is the equivalent to the dating dealbreaker. It’s just a big fat NO.

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The Solution to the Excel Date Entry Format

There is absolutely nowhere in Excel or any Microsoft Office program that allows you to change your date format to determine whether you should enter mm/dd/yy, dd/mm/yy, yy/mm/dd, or any other variation of 5/15/21.

The key date format is in your operating system. Windows, for example. That is where you need to fix it.

Microsoft Office pulls the date format it uses from your operating system.

Buggers.

I’m not familiar with Apple, so if you have a similar issue with a program I you can maybe try a similar fix, but for Windows here is where you need to fix it:

*What you see depends on what version of Windows you are running.

  1. Open your Control Panel (Settings).
  2. Click on Clock, Language, and Region (Time & Language).
  3. Click on Change date, time, or numbers formats  (Date, Time, & Regional formatting – scroll down to it).
  4. Under the Formats tab (scroll down to Related Settings), click on Additional settings (Additional, Date, Time & Regional Settings).
  5. Click on Time (Region: Change date, time, or number formats).

Make your changes here and click Apply and OK:

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You should see the little clock in your computer taskbar change to show your new date format if you changed it, for example, from day month year to month day year.

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I’m still working on fixing the why my Microsoft Word documents are all such smaller print on my laptop screen now at 100% scale. My eyes are not going to get any younger!

Changing the Windows screen resolution settings just makes everything in every app and on the Windows desktop …

SUPER BIG!

Or small like Word. It also completely messes up some programs that require a specific screen size/resolution to work properly.

And yet, I’ve downloaded word templates that are normal sized on my screen.

That’s a problem for another day.

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Keep writing my friends.

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