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The Life That Is – Chapter 3 – The Boy with the Hat

ecririons_post6A little down the road, when my mind was in its right place again and I was ready to start on a fresh. In an ordinary school just like so many others, to me too it ended as so much more. The place I learned who the boy in the mirror really were. The place I grew into something else, something new. To me it is the place where I started to think of all the things I am, instead of the things I’ll never be.

The story starts out small. I was a kid with a hat and big dreams but little knowledge of the world I had been thrown into and the things to come. Tough times lied ahead but with time I earned friends and being safe started to feel a little safer and with those odds there isn’t much that can’t be overcome.

However as it would conveniently show, my old friend and nemesis wouldn’t offer me much of a break before striking down upon me once more. Only this time it hit right where it stings the most. She opened my eyes on a regular Wednesday.

The bell had rung and the classrooms had been abandoned. It had been her turn to have the job of swiping the classrooms floor clean. I was simply late at packing but when I finally stood in the door ready to go home, I suddenly didn’t feel so ready to leave just yet. I looked at her and realized that the ugly duckling from my visit last summer, didn’t quite seem like an ugly duckling no more.  A first move would be made in from of an offering of help with the floors. What seemed like a perfect start on grand love story, but unfortunately she replied “No I’m good”.

What was to follow is a far forgotten story, yet still floating around in the back of our minds along with the myths and what ifs that it created. Once in a while we all stand still for a moment and think back to that time, wondering what actually went down. All I can say is that it was a long walk home.

Although I had lost twice or more to my old nemesis I can’t say I never gained, they do say third time is the charm. One wet windy winter I did finally get that one kiss I had been drying to have for so long. Her hair was black with a strip of blood-red, only a mere glimpse of a burning fire to come. I wouldn’t say nothing good came to us but as humans we tend to only remember the things that hurt, just like the first time you came too close and burned yourself on the fireplace.  In the end her hair and all turned to the unforgettable red and she cut my heart out and stepped on it but there are enough stories about such things to last you till next winter.

They say you never quite forget a true love no matter how small of a high school flirt it might have been. They also say the first one is the one you’ll always hold dear in your mind, for me that was never the case. Sometimes I think to myself why it is like that? I guess that is a question that takes a bigger man than me to answer. Deep inside I know I loved her then, now and always, never quite in the same way but never quite gone either. All because of that crazy stupid thing called love.

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If Today Was My Last Day

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If Today Was My Last Day

If today was my last day on this earth and all bets were off.

I wouldn’t waste a single minute but neither would I want to rush it all till the end were my heart stops beating.

I would see my family and thank them for every little thing I forgot to appreciate in the normal stressful days.

I would call up my circle of friends and have one last drink with them on my treat, I would let the silence do the talking.

I would seek out old lovers and foes, tell them all the things I never got to say and hope we could find some peace.

I would write one last song and hope for a bestseller like I always dreamed of, never mind those couldn’t believe.

I would try to find some closure in it all, predict and chant one last meaningful quote for my legacy to hold.

If I was out of hours and out of chances, if only one last try remained.

I would take my girl and take her for one last dance under the blankets, tell her that she was the one and only for me.

I would tell my girl to never forget me but never to forget to live her life, because in the end that’s all we have.

I would write one last letter with the intention of thanking all the people who I have had the pleasure of in my life.

I would raise a glass to the sky and toast to the fallen people who I would soon be joining in some place new.

At the end of the day I would tell them all to go home, let my girl stay and watch the sun go down together one last time.

I would say my goodbyes and ask her to leave me be, I would sit with my throughs and think back while waiting for death to take my hand.

I would do it all of this if today was my last day, I wonder what you would do? If today was your last day?

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Do I Really Need an Editor?

Is today your first time reading my posts here at Ecririons? To catch you up, prior to today we’ve talked about building your author brand, making the decision about whether or not to hire an agent, different types of publishing options, and the benefits of writing groups. Today, we’re going to talk about editors.

EditorUnlike the Agent Debate, there should be no question on hiring a professional editor. I’ve read books where the author chose not to take that extra step, and I could definitely tell. Most readers, and some authors, have no idea how much a great editor adds to a book; not having one can make you look like a really bad writer, and that’s going to have an impact on your future sales. Generally, that step is skipped because it’s an expensive one, and I’m going to agree with you. A complete edit can be spendy, especially of a full length novel. That’s one of the reasons that the team model of publishing is so attractive so to many authors. I’m going to put it out here right now, though. Diana Gabaldon, Anne Rice, and George R.R. Martin all have editors. And they wouldn’t dream of publishing a book without the support of an amazing editor.

And editor does much more than just points out typos. An editor challenges you, asks you if you can make it better, and then, demands that you make it still, better. An editor tells you when the sex scene you’ve written couldn’t happen in real life (ask me how I know that!). An editor tells you when no one believes that your shifter is also a billionaire stepbrother. An editor tells you that the chapter that you wrote, that you thought was absolutely brilliant, is actually utter crap; and then an editor helps you write a chapter that is absolutely brilliant.

Of course, finding a great editor can be difficult in and of itself. Anyone can claim to be an editor. There’s not some guild somewhere, handing out certified letters of editing ability. I do a lot of web content editing, but I couldn’t tell you if you’re using an appropriate dialogue tag. So, the first thing you need to determine is what type of editing you’ll need. If you’re going to be self publishing, you want a full on developmental edit. A developmental edit is where the editor dives deep into your work, and makes sure that it, well, works. He or she is going to examine it closely, looking not just at dialogue tags, but at the overall work.

If you’re planning to submit to an agent or publishing house, at the very least, you’ll want a copy edit. This is the edit where a professional goes through and checks all of the copy issues: grammar, typos, misspelling, and those pesky dialogue tags. While your story should be well developed, I wouldn’t invest in a developmental editor at this point, as a publishing house may want to develop things to their own standards. It may seem a bit silly to hire an editor for a manuscript you’re just going to have edited at a publishing house anyway, but I would hate to have my manuscript set aside because I read when I wanted to lead and I didn’t catch it when I proofread it myself.

But how does one go about finding a great editor in a sea of less-than-great ones?

First, don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. While they may not be laid out on their website, they should be willing to send a .pdf that lists their education and qualifications for holding an editing position. There are organizations that certify editors. If someone’s only qualification is that they’ve edited a few books, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be bad at it, but I would think that you would need to spend extra time with them before deciding to hire them. I certainly would expect to pay more for an editor who held a college degree or advanced certification. Editing, like writing, can be learned, and everyone has to start somewhere, but if you feel the least bit iffy, choose to spend your money elsewhere. Many editors begin working on freelance platforms while they’re completing certifications. Look at the sum total of their credentials and make sure they have some kind of relevant experience.

Many vanity presses will have editors on staff. You may be able to contract with them just for editing services. Take a look at some of the other books that the vanity press has published; if you see a lot of reviews noting a lack of editing, then avoid working with that organization.

Most editors will offer you a free sample edit. This is to make sure that the two of you work well together. Some people need an editor that holds your hand. Some folks need an editor who is ruthless in her drive to make you a better author, even if that means you need to buy a case of wine when you’re done reading her first pass email. Some folks need someone who is a combination of the two. A sample edit gives you the opportunity to find out if her style inspires you, or makes you hate her. Find one who inspires you, pushes you, and maybe even makes you hate her once in awhile, but who you know will make you a better writer.

Finally, read your contract carefully. A friend of mine who signed with a smaller publishing house was surprised to find that editing was not included in her contract. When you sign with an editor, make sure that the contract specifies delivery dates; if you have a launch party scheduled and don’t have your manuscript back then, it would be bad to have to move it. If you have a pre-order scheduled through Amazon, and you can’t deliver on time because the editor hasn’t delivered by the date you agreed to, then you will lose access to pre-orders through Amazon for a year. While a contract isn’t a magic elixir for these types of problems, it does give you legal recourse if the editor fails to deliver (and gives the editor some as well).

I can tell you this for certain: while editing may be the most expensive part of self-publishing, it is never not worth the investment. Never. Not even “just this once.”

The Unbeaten Path-My Story of Becoming a Published Author

So you’ve been reading my posts for awhile now, but you may not really know that much about me. This week, I’ve decided that I’m going to tell a little bit of my story; plus, it’s really important to next week’s post.
The Unbeaten PathI’ve always been a writer. One of my earliest memories is of playing with the dolls in my dollhouse, and trying to figure out what one doll would say to the other. Words have always had power to me, and in all of their delicious beauty, I’ve found solace and healing as I’ve made my way through life. I wrote in high school; long, angst-filled prose about the sad state of humanity and more than a little bit about my teenage ideas about love. I was the editor of my high school’s literary magazine during my senior year, and it was then that I realized that some people thought it was hard to write. I competed in competitive speech throughout junior high and high school, not so much because I enjoyed standing up in front of a room full of strangers, but because it was one way to get my words to be digested by other people.
And then, at the oh-so-very-young age of nineteen, I became a mother. For a great many years, I spent most of my days in that fog of life that overtakes you when you become a mother. An endless cycle of cuddles and laundry and enjoying someone else’s firsts, and mourning those you miss. One day, it was almost twenty years later, and I had five children in various stages of growing up; no one had digested any of my words in a very long time.
So I started writing. I started with a personal blog at first and then decided that I didn’t want to be quite that personal. I revamped things a little bit and basically learned the business of blogging, which led, eventually, to my being able to open my own business as a copywriter. But I still had all of these stories in my head that were begging to be told. Wait! Let me rephrase that; begging is entirely too gentle of a word. Demanding to be told.
Despite having written best-selling non-fiction books for entrepreneurs, I had no idea where to start writing fiction. I knew nothing about the publishing business, and my biggest obstacle was pretty personal-I didn’t feel like I could justify the time that I would spend writing on a maybe. What if I wrote a book and it was terrible?
But on my fortieth birthday, I finally closed my eyes and jumped off the ledge I’d been so afraid to approach. I started making it a priority to find free time and started looking for a writing group so that I could be around more experienced writers, and learn just how things worked in the publishing business.
I found a great, supportive writing group over at 10 Minute Novelists. It’s a big group now, and has a few offshoots; when I joined it was small and full of people who were mainly like me-busy moms who could only spend a little bit of time each day writing, but who needed to write much as they needed to breathe. At 10 Minute Novelists, I met the group of women who would become the core group of the Writing Wenches, and I can honestly say that without the Wenches, I would not be a published author.
Since those early days when I first started writing again, I have learned a lifetime’s worth of things. I’ve worked for a publishing company and expanded my own company’s offerings to be able to help people to self-publish. I’ve learned how to hold a Facebook launch party and I’ve learned that I do still have what it takes to stand up in front of a group of people and give them the chance to digest my words. I’ve learned that I’m not a terrible writer, but that there is always room for improvement.
If I were asked to give someone one piece of advice, as a writer, my advice would be to start today. Even if you’re stuck in that cycle of cuddles and laundry and growing children, or some other cycle that makes it hard for you to find the time, start today. Make time. I’m eternally grateful that my fortieth birthday turned into a catalyst for me to get off my ass and go put words together in sentences. I can’t say that I’ve lived a life with no regrets, but I can say that I have one less regret, because I’ve followed my heart and made my passion a reality by becoming a writer.

Thank You For The Scar

 

ecririons_post4I am cold, wet and dripping from recent shower, as I stand here, looking at myself in the foggy mirror.

I feel the lust to take a good look at myself, glaze and view my scars from over the years.

These scars are not the ones under my chain or the long one on my right leg, they are ones I can see in my eyes.

The ones none visible to the naked eye, yet the ones that run deepest and left the most damage.

However theses scars should not be hidden in shame, after all they are the ones that makes me who I am.

As I stand here looking at these scars I think about the people who caused them, not with hate but with a desire to thank.

I think about the friend from the dark ages who sparked a lust but created a nightmare, she was the first and the hardest fall.

I wish to thank her for destroying me, only for me to be rebuilt with a greater and wider vision.

I will never forget the girl who had me chasing her on and off for so long, that even we can’t quite agree on how the story goes.

I want to thank her for teaching me a lesson on behavior and let her know, she has an eternity place in my heart.

Someday I’ll raise a glass to the golden, yet crazy butterfly for giving me a great time as long as it lasted.

I will thank the butterfly for showing me good from bad and letting me move on.

I must not forget the many flowers I passed by before I found the right one, each and every gave me a new advice to live by.

If I ever met one of them again, I’ll shake their hand and say my thanks for preparing me for the one that counts.

I hope one day I will meet the black sheep again under different terms in a different time, until then I will always have what she said to thing about.

I would like to thank her for giving me insight in what to judge on and when to back off, may all luck be with her.

As I stand here dry and cozy, I think about all the others that I never addressed but know they have my thanks too.

Thank you for these scars.

(Header: pixabay.com)

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