On Learning

My next novel, MIND MATTERS, is in editing with the wonderful John Hudspith, honoring me with his insight and Englishman’s point of view. The reason this is important is that MIND MATTERS is set almost exclusively in London. Since I have not been to London for over thirty-five years, I need this guidance.

What is most interesting and simply amazing is that John truly likes this book. He’s given me lots of “Great Job”, “Perfect Hook” “Fantastic!!” words of encouragement and, to me, high praise. If you haven’t read my earlier posts, let me tell you my first book did not receive half as many words of praise. The first book, LIGHTED WINDOWS, did finally resolve into an acceptable work of fiction but it took considerable work on John’s part to clean up the mess I’d made when I wrote that first novel. Thank you, Dearest John, for great patience and perseverance.

What’s the difference between the first and second novels? Yes, I know you didn’t ask but it is the reason for this post. I’ve taken a course on writing great sentences and done two online conferences on the writing craft. I’ve been writing since my school days and thought I remembered how to write good sentences. I was most sincerely wrong! I’ve been learning how to write without all the fluff and bother that appeared in LIGHTED WINDOWS. Don’t get me wrong, it is a truly good story and a book I had to write. It is hard to explain such a statement other than to say, that book was in my head for many years and I simply had to write it. But now I understand so much more than before I started to learn about good writing and deep point of view. There is an author with the name Kingsolver who writes wondrous works with such beautifully deep point of view, she will make you cry because you can truly feel her characters pain. Now that is writing and I will continue to learn until my fingers can no longer tap these keys.

Thank you for reading and Hope to see you again soon, Love Mel

All Day Conference

I went to my first Writing Workshop yesterday, it lasted all day and yes it cost money. ($149) There were extra charges if you wished to ‘pitch’ an agent, there were four, and the charge for a ten minute pitch was $29. If you wished to have your ‘query’ letter critiqued by the instructor it was $69.

Wow, is about all I can say! I’ve never been to such a function before. The instructor was Chuck Sambuchino and I thought he was excellent. I was slightly biased as Chuck lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, my hometown. The workshop was mostly about how to get an agent to sell your works, but there was so much more to it than that and I loved it! The agents did a first page read and critique and it was super informative. They are not kidding about the first page needing to grab an agent’s attention. Sadly, my first page did not come up and it may have been my fault because I simply categorized it ‘Romance’ while most of the read-through ones had longer designation.

I met several interesting people (hello Nicholas) and was impressed that two of the people around me did their pitch to an agent and received requests for fifty pages more to be sent to the agent. Totally wonderful and I am so happy for both of them. I did not pitch, feeling that MIND MATTERS is not polished enough to warrant further expenditures over and above the costs of an editor. I also have a problem when they ask “where do you see yourself in ten years?” because at my age, the only response I can think of is “alive”. Yes, I know it sounds like sarcasm, but honestly, I’ll be entering the big seven-O’s in ten years and besides even the thirty-something folks can die on the freeway so yes, I do have more books but ask me that question, not my age.

I will happily admit, this was money well spent. I learned so much, by the time I returned home yesterday, I felt like my brain was going to explode. (nice imagery, aint it?) I enjoyed Mr. Sambuchino although I got the vague feeling he was slightly, how do I put this delicately, disappointed is perhaps the word I’m seeking. Chuck Sambuchino works for Writer’s Digest and complies the Guide to Literary Agents book each year, writes a blog, tweets, Facebooks, and several other things but I get the impression he wanted to be a great writer. I could also be projecting! He did mention needing to feed his family which could be why he wanted so much for a critique of a one page letter.

I passed out my card (I need to get an author card, my real estate card isn’t cutting it) to several people and gave Nicholas my Twitter, Facebook and this website/blog. I so wish I could do more with this website but right now many things are demanding attention so it must wait. When I have had a chance to register all that was offered yesterday, I will write more here. There was much more to learn than just how to get an agent.

Thanks for visiting! Hope you had a wonderful summer and I will tell you there is a sale on at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/635556 where you can get LIGHTED WINDOWS for .99 cents but hurry it is a sale and it ends soon. Love and kisses! Later Lovelies!

Of Edits and Endings

rose_71noOM_LMy next novel is in editing, meaning I’m spending money I shouldn’t on a work of fiction that, while I love it, may never pay me back. The question is, why am I doing it, again? I know, you didn’t ask but as you know if you’ve read any of my ‘stuff’, I will explain.

This second work is, in my humble opinion (stop laughing, I’m not done) several times better than the first. The editor who helped me turn my first mess into an actual book, dearest John Hudspith, has had several rather nice things to say about MIND MATTERS my new book. This is encouraging because LIGHTED WINDOWS was rather less than a perfect work of fiction. Yes, I will answer the unasked question of why, shortly. The new book also hasn’t yet to reach an “acceptable” ending. I wrote an ending but it is not a good one, so I am working on improvements.

Why? Why bother working; why spend money on an investment that may not ever return more than what was spent? I write because I must. I write because these books have been written in my head for years. I write to put these stories outside my head and yes, it is getting less noisy in the old noggin. These are the stories of people and places I have seen or heard about and felt someone should say these things. Yes, they are love stories but Hemingway said “Aren’t all good stories, love stories after all..” I do resist the title of Romance, although there are lots of corollaries between my books and a typical Romance work. The difference is these are stories about real people (no, you don’t know them) and how they get through their lives, not how they hook-up. Don’t get me wrong, they will know each other in the Biblical sense, (yes, that means sex, heavens try to keep up) but it will only happen as they become closer and more aware of each other, hence the love story not just sex.

If you have not read LIGHTED WINDOWS, I wish you would. It has gotten five star reviews so far (and some editing, thank you, darlings) but you don’t need to have read it to enjoy MIND MATTERS. I write complete stories in each book. I know serial works are in vogue but I’m not a fan of the cliffhanger. I hope to have MIND MATTERS ready for publication within the next few months. I also hope to have a good ending written before those last chapters are needed in editing! It is a lot of work but most things worth doing require real work.

Thank you for your time and attention, if you got this far. Bless you sweet thing, I will stop here. A novel is a living work and I hope a work of art as well. Only time will tell!  Later darling Lovelies!

Olympics Over

For the last two weeks we’ve all been glued to the coverage of the Olympic Games in Rio. Maybe some of us weren’t watching but I was and for once I actually got to see the Equestrian events. I love to ride and watching these amazing athletes has always been a problem. It isn’t a really popular sport and this year there were some human athletes nearly as amazing. Can you tell I enjoyed the horses?

Now, however, the Olympics are over, so we return you to our regularly scheduled programs and, oh gag, the election is still hot and hideous. I won’t bore you with my “None of the Above” rant, I think many of us wish wholeheartedly for that option but I will share my experiences with classified government documents.

I held a Top Secret clearance back in the dark-ages (1980’ish) while I worked for the U.S. Air Force. It is not easy to get a clearance; they really do talk to your neighbors, teachers, friends and anyone else the FBI can locate. I needed to remember every address I’d ever lived at and provide three character references. Yes, that references part was a struggle, I had a wild youth (think hippie, sorry) so finding names of people whom I felt might give me a good character reference was a struggle. I’m not sure how I managed to get the Top Secret clearance, but I did and the regulations and requirements for having, maintaining and effectively carrying out the obligations of a Top Secret cleared person are long and extremely strict. For those of you who have never encountered the governments classifications process, let me tell you a Top Secret clearance is pennies compared to some of the alphabet clearances out there. I didn’t see anything all that dangerous when compared to the really scary stuff some of the higher up the food chain people dealt with.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, without naming any person in particular, I can tell you that something seriously bad has happened. While I was working on classified documents, I took the utmost care of where I was, where the documents were and how I made sure to secure my work and those documents. A lady working in an office just down from me made a small mistake with a piece (one piece) of classified information and all hell broke loose. She was fired, lost her clearance and was barred from all government work. Holy SHIT!! It was one piece of paper, locked in her desk drawer overnight and she was ruined, shamed and an outcast, it was heartbreaking to watch over one piece of paper.

Anyone who mishandles classified documents, and I do mean anyone!! should receive the same treatment as that poor woman in my building. If you mishandle in any way, classified or maybe it could be classified information you MUST lose your clearance. So, even if there was no “criminal” intent, there should be NO clearance! If someone still has their clearance after egregious mishandling of classified information…. Our government has been purchased, we no longer have America to count on and maybe the world really is well on it’s way to chaos. No, I don’t think I’m over reacting. If you can purchase a government clearance with enough money and knowing where the bodies are buried or maybe money and a new position that pays millions (the CEO of Fanny Mae makes over 35 million dollars a year, just sayin…) then “My Country ’tis of thee” is now “money will buy Everything” and folks we can’t afford to live in such a terrible place.

Time for a Sale!

With my next novel in editing, a big Thank You to #John Hudspith, I think it is time for a sale on my first book: LIGHTED WINDOWS. I’ve been really happy with the sales that I’ve had so far and now I think it is time to have a sale and entice you wonderful followers to check out the first book. The sale is on: www.smashwords.com. Look for Melody S. Lark/Lighted Windows and use Coupon Code: TA76K at check-out to read LIGHTED WINDOWS for a mere .99 pennies! Yes, less than a dollar for a limited time so hurry! This sale will end August 22nd, so wander over to Smashwords and check it out.  Thank you!!

Summer California Style

Yesterday, we hit the eighth day of over one hundred degree temperatures, not a record but only one day short. The sun in our sunny California region is much like a blast furnace. You can’t stand in it for over a minute without feeling burned.

Why should anyone care? Well, the problem with California is water. This is a desert region that will grown many things but water is required, in some cases lots of water. Rice is one of this region’s top crops and requires much water. Jerry Brown, yes that guy who spoke at the DNC (is it just me or does anyone else cringe at those initials? {think female medical}), I am digressing again, sorry. Dear old Jerry, the poster child for term limits, wants to take water from up north and send it to his friends in L.A. It is a mistake in the making but this is a Democrats state, so no one can stop his twin tunnel project. That should matter to much of our country because about 45% or more of the produce we all consume comes from California, more specifically Northern California. Since California is in another year, I believe this is year five, of a drought never before seen in history (can you say climate change?) removing water from this area will cause a reduction in produce resulting in much higher prices at the supermarket.

Where am I going with this? Yes, I know you didn’t ask but if you’ve read this far, might as well crack-on. Many people think “California Living” is the way to go and the place to be. It may have been in the past, but I don’t recommend it. With climate change, this drought may become a regular thing. Watch out at the stores in the next few years, what happens in California may impact all of us. If the rice production diminishes, we will also see our GNP decline as well. All this is what summer in this area is really like. California is no longer the place to be. Go East young ones!

The Book Needs a Name

I’ve finished the second book titled: MIND MATTERS and while I’m pleased to be able to write “The End” I’m not really happy with the title. I keep trying to find a better title but so far, nothing. I’m entering that never-ending edit phase, so it seems appropriate that I will find a way to edit that title.

While still working on making MIND MATTERS a clean manuscript, I’m also trying to keep up my author platform. An author’s ‘platform’ is a fancy way of saying ‘soul-sucking ton’s of techie stuff’ that takes up hours of your life you’ll never get back, like ever! So I try to Tweet (@melodyskylark, you saw that coming, right?), blog here when time allows, make a daily post on FaceBook (www.facebook.com/@MelodySLarkAuthor, I have no shame) and I’ve posted on Instagram but, don’t laugh, I can’t remember my handle! (hanging head in shame) Anyone know how to find my handle?? (stop laughing, and no not that handle, silly)

All of the above is drivel because, today, I spent all afternoon working on my platform. It can make you completely batty (I hear you laughing!) Yes, I was already batty but now I am ‘completely’, so much better that way. I even managed to go to Google Plus and write even more drivel in the form of ‘marketing’. Such an awful word, marketing, but how else to get your books noticed in the tsunami of indie authors. I used to market for people selling their homes and never felt the need to apologize, but self-promotion feels more difficult and icky. However, I will continue trying to work on my social media self. I’d do better on this website if I could only figure out how to work it. Yes, it is marketed as ‘easy’ but it has me screaming really bad words and I’ve paid for this f-ing thing. (sorry, long day)

Enough, bless you all (I think there are three of you) for reading my self pity. I do hope you got a small laugh. I’m off to bang my head against a wall, don’t worry, however, I will use a pillow in between. I’m not a total nut case! Later sweet Lovelies!

Reaching for The End

The next novel is within inches of that wondrous phrase. I’m madly trying to finish this book, it being the one that was flying off my fingers just a few months ago. Now, I am forcing the scenes out of my head and into the program. I can see them I just need the words to write them.

My friend, Cookie, who did the beginning edit of my last novel, has already gone through the first twenty-plus chapters and is awaiting the completed manuscript. Her husband of sixty years is in hospice care at their house, dying of lung cancer and my heart is bleeding for them. Deathwatch is so unspeakably hard; you can’t understand it until you’ve sat at a bedside and watched the life seeping away. My manuscript helps her to cope with the sorrow of her current situation and I’m going mad trying to finish and help my dear friend.

I’ve already contacted the editor who helped me with the first book, LIGHTED WINDOWS and I think he has agreed to do this edit as well. He told me to send him the first chapter or so to see if there is anything we can build on, which is not a resounding endorsement but my first book was a bit amateuristic. I made all the rookie mistakes and the editor, my dearest John Hudspith, managed to make a passable book out of it. I feel better about this one but that phrase is eluding me!

When a scene will not go on the page in an acceptable fashion, I would normally put it aside, but Cookie is waiting. I feel the need to get beyond my “complete-aphobia” and finish for her. It is interesting to me to remember, she was the reason I finally sat down and finished the last book. She’d done a fair amount of editing on the first book and wondered where was the end? Well, with someone waiting for me, that nasty phobia vanished and the climax just happened. (don’t they just! sorry, mind in gutter) What shall I do without Cookie’s final shove?

Enough, my brain is melting! If you’ve read this far, thank you so much. I promise to have a pithy post next time or maybe the time after that, one can never tell. Ciao, darlings

Trump is the Symptom

The disease is Paul Ryan saying Social Security is an entitlement the government cannot afford (hey, Paul, did ya never pay FICA and SS taxes??). The disease is Nancy Pelosie saying “let’s pass (Obamacare) it, see what’s in it” (are you f-ing kidding me). The disease is Orin Hatch staying way too long, Harry Ried and Diane Feinstein suffer from that as well.

The problem that Trump is only a symptom of is each and every Senator and Congressman (or woman, don’t get touchy) that has sold us out for all the wonderful money that flows so easily to them from corporations, insurance companies, the medical industry, pharmaceuticals and dozens of other special interests that own our “representatives”. The disease is our two parties who are more interested in their elected officials “dialing for dollars” as one Congressman put it for more hours in the day then he spends actually doing the job we thought we elected him to do. Each party requires their elected members to bring in several million dollars ‘weekly’ or be frozen out of the party. The list of the evils that exist in our oligarchic government would take way too long to write here.

Did you have to look that one up? The first time I saw it I did. It means government by the few, as in the true one percent that actually run this land. Why do you think Bernie Sanders’ folks won’t vote for Hillary? She’s just another one of the “entitled” white folk and please don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a woman president, just not her. I always told my daughter, a woman would be president only after a man of color (pick a color, I don’t care) had held the office. Surprise, right again! But why can’t we have Condie Wright or someone we respect?

I still wish for “None of the Above”. Obamacare will collapse next year and history will not remember him kindly. Now we have a choice between a better looking Putin or utterly corrupt Hillary. So we don’t have much of any choice this time, much like Barry but that is a whole different post. Ciao!

Finally!

I did it, finally. I’ve been hung up on Chapter Twenty-nine having written myself into a corner. This is the lead-in to the physical part of the story, yes I mean sex, but not the usual romance romp. This is a love story after all, you can’t just write the love scene out of nowhere. So many romance novels are just lots of getting it on and not a lot of getting involved.

Sorry, I was so caught up in the accomplishment I forgot to tell you what the title of this book is. The book I’m working on finishing right now is titled: A MIND MATTER and it has been so easy to write up until Chapter Twenty-nine. I’ll say it to save you the effort, I was failing to climax, happy now? It is all so confusing to me and I’m the author! This particular novel was to be my third. The only problem was, the story just kept coming up and I’d have to stop working on book two to write the scenes of book three that were popping into my head. This story just seemed to flow off of my fingers and honestly, I had to put everything aside and work on this story.

The good news is I’ve managed to back out of the corner and build up quite a bit of heat on the way. Chapter Thirty is the climax or culmination of the relationship between these two characters and I needed to build toward it carefully, these are two very complex, strong-willed and powerful personalities. If it wasn’t done just right the entire novel falls flat. But, fear not, I’ve managed (I think so anyway) to stoke this fire until it is now white hot and the questions that have been floating about are about to be answered and of course, there is a surprise in the mix as well.

And with that I bid thee adieu! More soon my Lovelies!