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Posts Tagged ‘Canadian author’

Here on my next episode of “How Technologically Illiterate Can I Be?” let’s delve into Youtube.

Photo by Joey Huang on Unsplash

This is also a reminder that as writers we need to explore new things and learn new to us (sometimes now old and perhaps less popular in certain demographics) social media to share and market ourselves and our writing with.

Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know, but in my attempts to set up a Youtube author channel, create and upload some content, link it to a few social media resources to upload that content, and cross-link social media to each other, I managed to create a second Youtube channel.

Whew, that was a long sentence.

See all my subscribers? Yes, that’s me subscribed to my own self. (I also subscribed to myself using my other author channel for middle grade dark fiction, Vivian Munnoch, which has a whopping one video uploaded – text to speech again as noted below, because I have yet to learn the ability to speak coherently while recording myself.)

This is the “L. V. Gaudet, author” channel I want to keep. It has a whopping two subscribers (both me) and two videos uploaded:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz7ihUUNsNGpMLksRTZk2og

I think these were both the videos where I used a text to speech app for the voiceover because I am really bad at reading script while being recorded. So bad that the awful text to speech app sounds way better than I can, even after a ridiculous amount of time spent rehearsing reading the same flash fiction piece.

Two Identical Youtube channels serves me no purpose and would split any potential followers between the two, making the numbers on both worse than they already are.

p.s. this is also why you want to maximize your publishing numbers for your book by using fewer publisher methods (ie uploading to Smashwords, Amazon, Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, etc – because bigger numbers on one book or channel is better than those same numbers spread across multiples in smaller numbers on each.

This should be a breeze, right? All I need to do is delete that extra channel. Sounds easy to me. Except that I’m not always as technologically smart as I think I should be. I can’t find where to delete the extra channel! Great.

But that won’t stop me. Research time. And This will drive me to distraction until I figure it out, so I will find the answer.

Okay, so it turned out to be very easy, both to research and to do, although frightening that it took SOOOOO LOOOOONG on a channel with zero followers, zero follows, zero comments or likes given or received, and zero content.

In the top right corner click your profile picture, then click “Switch account”.

Click on the channel you want to remove (the top is my personal profile, the two identical are the channels).

On the left click “Settings” and then click “Advanced settings” at the bottom (see how bad I draw with my mouse? Haha).

Here it actually gives you the option of just hiding the content or removing it and your channel. Click “I want to permanently delete my content”.

Google gives you a chance to change your mind. This is your last chance. Click the boxes to let Google know that you know what you’re doing and aren’t just like drunk or something. Then click “Delete my content”.

Ok, so just in case you are actually RAGE QUITTING! your Youtube channel and deleting all content in a fiery burn of fury, Google gives you one last last chance to go back and not do this.

Type in your Youtube channel name in the box to verify. Just in case you do happen to be too drunk or something to remember, it conveniently shows it here in brackets for you.

Somewhere in one of these steps it made me log back in again. So if you can’t remember your Google password you’re kind of screwed there.

Then I had to wait a crazy long time for it to delete the channel despite it having zero followers, zero follows, zero comments or likes given or received, and zero content.

And apparently Youtube or Google felt like I just unfriended them or something, because after a few refreshed attempts to get back into Youtube to check – after that really long wait for the deleting message to clear – and having to re log into Google again even though I had it open  and my login active, I also had to re log in again to get into my account Youtube. Isn’t that supposed to be automatic when you are logged into Google? I mean I didn’t have to log into Youtube when I started this exercise.

And the extra channel is gone! Yay!

It was actually pretty easy. It took longer to re log in to Google and Youtube than to delete the extra channel. The longest was that wait for it to delete all the nonexistent content. I’m afraid of what it might take if I actually had a bunch of content and activity. I think that might actually take a day or two.

Keep writing my friends.

Any tips on speaking coherently when you are recording yourself so you don’t sound like you are tripping over your own lips and tongue? Hahahahaha. Seriously, those text to speech programs are not good. They sound like bad robots and confuse a lot of English language words, especially with Heteronyms like lead (is it the metal or to lead?), read, live, wind, etc.

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An Epic Journey Figuring Out Why My Shared Word Document on OneDrive is Read Only. But Why? It is NOT a read only file on the computer. I Want to Edit It On My Phone!

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

If you know me, you know my technological literacy is spotty and incomplete. Some things I learned; others are as mystifying as the vastness of the Netherworld.

I also have an annoying habit of having to figure it out when I don’t know something. Who is that actor who seems so familiar and what did I see them in? Well, put that movie or show on pause because I have to know. (Nope, that guy in the episode of Yellowstone has a resemblance sort of, and voice that we thought sounded like him, but was not the actor who played Face on the A-Team). That nagging feeling something in a story I’m working on doesn’t mesh with something? I’m going to prove it to myself, even if it looks like it’s just a weird unprovable déjà vu because I can’t find it. I still won’t just drop it, though, because that nagging sense will still be there.

Why can’t I edit my file on One Drive? I have to know!

Jump to the answer! Or read on through all this rambling drivel.

Or; here is the quick answer if you don’t want to waste time reading anything else here:

In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots in the menu (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices.

In my efforts to get back to writing and editing with some reasonableness of frequency (aka not not writing and editing), I tried saving a few WIPs in Microsoft Word with the AutoSave to OneDrive feature. The idea being that I can edit the same file whether I’m on my laptop or on my phone in another room, or perhaps laying in bed awake at 3am with insomnia.

I’ve been very hesitant to embrace cloud saving of any kind. I’ve also been accustomed for years to working on anything personal (aka not the pay-the-bills-job) as much in places where I have no Wi-Fi as I do at home with Wi-Fi, including on my lunch breaks at that job for years before Covid sent us to work from home. No Wi-Fi in that lunchroom. Thus the learned extreme hesitancy of using any sort of cloud-based storage where I wouldn’t be able to access anything stored there half the time. One of my favorite places to write before we had to sell it was at the camper, in the peaceful  relaxing slower pace away from home and happens to be far from any sort of working Wi-Fi.

So this attempt at cloud-based file sharing with myself is both an unutilized technology and behavior to be learned.

I tried it with one WIP file and it was pretty cool. The idea of being able to edit the same file with real-time live updates on both devices was fun. I sat there typing on the laptop and watching the words appear on my phone. Then I did it the other way around just because I could. Yeah, I know. I’m lame.

My second file attempt – The Woods, a novel I have been so painfully close to completion for so long and promising to finish and have published, and actually think might in many ways be one of my, if not ‘The’, best – did not go so well.

I’ve clicked the AutoSave in Microsoft Word to save it to OneDrive cloud-based storage, deleted that OneDrive file, and re-clicked it a number of times. I just cannot get it to open in the Microsoft Word app on my phone as an editable file like the other one. It will only open as a read only file.

So what am I doing wrong?

The first thing I found on the issue was a Microsoft issues chat from 2014 where all the answers suggested the *fix* of just downloading and saving the file as a new file to edit. Sounds easy right? As long as you have no intention of going back and forth between devices or have multiple people co-working on the document. As the original poster of the question commented, this is not a fix, but rather a workaround. It also means you essentially end up with more than one file document you now have to be on top of constantly making sure to either upload, download, and save as every time you are going to work on it, or will later have the laboriously time intensive task of using Microsoft Word’s compare files feature to try to combine all the revised file copies into one revision copy.

I’ve actually done that with files and it’s a great feature when you have the need for it. It’s nice when you find yourself with multiple rough WIPs of something and don’t know which is better or what changes were made on which and why. But I would not choose to do it unnecessarily because you are going through every single space, character, word, sentence, paragraph, and formatting change made on the two versions through the entire document. And repeating if for every extra revision copy you need to combine. You then have to go through and thoroughly edit the whole thing because you may or may not have remembered right and clicked yes or no to changes correctly throughout the entire document.

So, nix that non-fix.

Next try:

I tried opening the OneDrive folder and checking that the file folder within it and the WIP file both have the sync symbol showing sync is turned on. I don’t think you can actually turn that off? Here are three status symbols that show up:

  • The cloud one is a video of my itty bitty teen punching out another girl sparring at boxing. (She’s pretty good!)
  • “Shroud Eaters” is a horror in early stages and my first attempt at file sharing between the laptop and phone. That’s the one I could open and edit no problem with it revising the file for both devices in real time. This was my NaNoWriMo 2021 challenge to continue working on, which I did not get far on.
  • “The Woods 2021” is the newest save (thus the “2021”) version, keeping the previous save intact as an unrevised just-in-case backup. This is the file that will only open as a read only file on my phone with the Word app.

What do these symbols mean? I had to look it up. This is what I found:

  • The cloud – this file is available only online and cannot be opened without some form of internet connection. This file takes no space on your device.
  • Green checkmark in a circle – “When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access.” In other words, this file when opened will download to your device, take up file space, can be edited with or without internet, and should automatically save back to the cloud location to sync and update with revisions made to the shared file on other devices. Sweet.
  • The circling arrows – means that a sync is in progress. If it shows this with a “processing changes” message, you may have a problem. Processing changes is okay because that means it’s actively syncing, but if it doesn’t go away your sync is stuck. When I hover the mouse over the file line with the circling arrows in the folder it does show “Availability status: Sync pending”.

(P.s. as noted below, closing the file on the laptop turned these to green checkmarks – so sync pending was not actually stuck or anything. However it apparently can get stuck. In this case it was just letting me know the file was open somewhere and waiting to sync when I start typing in it.)

I tested by editing “Shroud Eaters” on my phone while watching the OneDrive file folder on the laptop. The green checkmark didn’t even blink. The file is open on both the laptop and phone. I tried typing in each while watching the file on the other device, and the watching it change on the other screen in real-time didn’t happen this time. Weird.

So, I closed OneDrive and clicked the app on the phone to open the file folder and saw this:

This actually doesn’t surprise me because I’ve already encountered the problem I have yet to resolve of somehow ending up with multiple OneDrive files for the same file. That’s why you see the “Shroud Eaters (3)” file.

So now I have the added issue of which of these is the most recent and current file with the hours of work added? Bugger. And why when both the phone and laptop open files should be the same file syncing on both devices did the changes not sync? It also shows one updated a half hour prior, not both just now, which would answer why the two devices show the revisions from each other.

I figured out the most recent revisions file and deleted all the extra “Shroud Eater” files from OneDrive via the laptop. I got the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere.

Now, in the OneDrive folder on the laptop the one Shroud Eaters file shows the same circling arrows that when I hover over them is shows “Availability status: Sync pending”. Great. Now both files are broken and not syncing. Good job.

The weird thing is the rest of the files are gone from the OneDrive folder on the computer, but not from that same folder on the phone. “Shroud Eaters (3)” vanished, but the others are all still there.

After about ten or fifteen minutes the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere came up again for another file and I clicked okay through it again and the extra files vanished from the phone folder a few minutes later. So, a major delayed reaction which might be a clue to the non-syncing issue. Or not.

I don’t always think of trying things in the most logical order, so thinking my sync pending is stuck, now I try closing the files in Word. Magic. Sync pending circling arrows is gone and they are green check marks. That’s not the problem apparently.

I opened Shroud Eaters and testing it again, typing on the laptop and it did not change in real-time on the phone document like it did the first time I tested out doing it. But closing and reopening the file on the phone synced the changes. It also made the typing in either device make real-time changes on the screen of the other again. Cool. It also showed them as markup changes – aka the text added on the phone and deleted on the laptop showed as strikethrough text on the phone and flagged a revision spot on the laptop file saying I cannot revise it until I finish revising it on the phone to avoid conflicts.

This hasn’t happened before. And the phone gave me the option to accept or reject the change. Clicking accept brought a notification that I can use the feature if I buy Microsoft 360. Um, no. Not right now. But maybe that’s why the navigation isn’t on the phone like it is on the laptop Word program? It’s something to think about when I maybe need to buy the personal or family plan by the end of the school year. Closing and re-opening the file on the phone again made the updates happen, so no worries there. It will update eventually and lose the markups.

So, back to trying to open The Woods on the phone. Nope, it’s still a read only file. Why? Hell if I know.

I deleted The Woods from the OneDrive file, opened the file on my hard drive, and re-saved it again on OneDrive. I opened it on my phone with the Word app, and it’s still a read only file. Crap. Why? Why does this technology hate me?

I found this curious and completely useless for my problem conversation about this issue. Except with their issue they discovered it opened as read only when saved in Google Drive and opened fine as an editable file when saved in OneDrive. My files are saved in OneDrive automatically by the Word app and one file works while the other only opens as read only in the Word app on the phone. So mine should work!

One commenter said whether a file worked on their phone (Andriod like mine) depended on how they opened the file. But I’m opening both files exactly the same way and one opens as editable and one as read only.

Both files are Word documents with .docx file extensions.

I tried opening “Blood And Canvas” on my phone. It too opens as a read only file. I have a new clue! What do “Blood And Canvas” and “The Woods” have in common that “Shroud Eaters” does not?

All three are Word documents created on my laptop and have .docx file extensions.

They were all three each started and the files created originally at different times years apart using different versions of Microsoft Word, and different laptops as one died and was replaced with another, so that it something none have in common.

“AND BINGO IS HIS NAME-O”!

Under the “File” tab at the top of your Word document on the computer click the “Info” option to view the information on your file. How to do this might be different on older versions of Word.

Both Blood And Canvas and The Woods show “Compatibility Mode”. Shroud Eaters does not! So now I know what the two files that open as read only on my phone have in common that’s different from the one that works.

Compatibility Mode is how Word allows a file created in an older version of Word to be opened and used in a newer version of Word. I found this: “As long as a document is showing [Compatibility Mode], new or changed Word features that were not included in the earlier version will be disabled.

Good thinking. I’m talking like really old versions of Word each these files would have been created it, even though they are saved with the .docx file extension.

Then I found this on the types of file extensions that are supported by Word:

This tells me that all three files were created using versions of Word from anywhere between 2007 and 2019. If they were .doc files, they would be from even older Word versions. With that and reading that link about how Compatibility Mode disables  features that were not available in the Word version the document was originally created in, I think Compatibility Mode is stopping the files from being editable on the phone – a phone app and OneDrive cloud storage that was created AFTER newer versions of Word replaced those older outdated ones.

THE BIG TWO SECOND FIX THAT TOOK ME WAY TOO LONG TO FIGURE OUT!

If your Word document is in Compatibility Mode, that is likely blocking it from opening as an editable file from OneDrive on your other device. You need to get rid of Compatibility Mode by have Word convert it to the new Word format.

In the document open on the computer, I clicked the “Convert” button in the document information screen and clicked “OK” through this popup warning message to let Word convert, clicked the Save/Sync button to make sure it saves the converted file to OneDrive, closed the file on the computer, then tried to open it on the phone. I had a little gray line at the top that opened to a message giving me the option to refresh to the new file. I did. And IT WORKED! The files saved on OneDrive now open on the phone Word app as perfectly editable files.

Now I’m asking myself, what if I did not have the laptop handy to fix it? What if I was somewhere else with just my phone and want to be able to edit and have the file sync when I open it later on the computer?

How do I fix a “Compatibility Mode” problem through the Word app on the phone?

I deleted the OneDrive “The Woods” file and re-saved aka clicked the Auto-Save to OneDrive on the hard drive document that is still in Compatibility Mode to test this.

  • Save the file using your phone: In the file opened with the Word app on the phone (this was using Android) Click those three dots to open “File actions” and click “Save”, not “Save As”. Click “Save” again, chose the save location, and save it.
  • Here’s the trick: Make sure you are saving it in the exact same OneDrive file location, including whether it is in a sub-file. You want the “Replace file?” popup message. If you don’t get that message you are just saving it as a second file instead of replacing the existing file. Click “Replace” and your Word doc file saves as the newer version of Word.
  • The good thing is the new file is in the new format and does not open in “Compatibility Mode” on the computer, and you didn’t just create a secondary file to figure out later. When you or whoever else opens OneDrive to work on that file with another device, it’s fixed just the same as if you fixed it with the Conversion option on the computer.

Now, what if someone is using the file, say on the laptop while I do that trick with my phone?

Hint: this is totally awesome!

Do the exact same thing! It worked!

I deleted the OneDrive file and did the re-AutoSave to OneDrive again with the Compatibility Mode file to test it. I added some gobbledygook nonsense typing to it on the Laptop. Yup, when I opened the file on the phone it was read only and the added gobbledygook nonsense typing was there. This is definitely the same file and not some weird other file that somehow exists.

With “The Woods” Compatibility Mode document in OneDrive still open on the laptop…

On “The Woods” read only file open on my phone I did the … and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. I made sure it was the identical file location of the existing file. I even clicked on the existing file for good measure, although it’s totally not necessary. I clicked “Replace” when that popup message appeared. Waited for it to save and update.

Magic! My file is now editable and not read only, updated to the new file type.

I typed some more gobbledygook nonsense typing in the file on my phone and watched it magically appear in real-time in the still open document on my laptop – a document that also now just like that was also the newer version of Word and no longer in Compatibility Mode.

Easy frigging peasy fix! (How the heck do you even spell “peasy”?)

My final question is why can I never come up with the right and very fast and simple answer first without wasting a lot of time searching for and answer that apparently exists NOWHERE in the whole World Wide Web, experimenting, and finally getting it after so much wasted time?

From my online searches, apparently I’m not alone. I could not find any answer anywhere that simply says, “In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices. I can’t guarantee if more than one are actively typing in the shared document it will pick up all synced changes at the moment it saves over that file, but hopefully it will. After all, the document stayed open and unchanged on my laptop, other than losing the Compatibility Mode until I started editing the file on the phone – which updated the other file in real-time sync. I’m not talented enough to type in both the document on the computer simultaneously without pause while saving it on the phone to test it. That would take the help of another person to do one part while I do the other to test that fully.

Keep writing my friends.

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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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