Monthly Archives: July 2015

Break The Mold

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The army of plastics

I’ve been working frantically over the past couple of weeks to check and double-check my manuscript before my deadline, which is this Saturday.  

OK, don’t panic – breath.  That is self talk for me, not the readers. 

I have gone over every call that my beta readers have made,  addressed each item of concern, made a few changes, deleted redundancies, added a few lines – basically polishing it the best I can. In that process, more than one of my readers has asked me the same question, so I am going to address that here.

Is Julia you? I see a lot of similarities in her personality and yours. 

NO! She is not me and I am not her.   As to similarities, I have been wracking my brain to figure out what similarities that these readers see.  We both have dark brown hair, brown eyes, but so do many men and women. When you think of a fashion model, what is the first image that comes to mind? Short, stocky, dark-haired beauty or tall thin blonde?

Yea, me too. So, in essence Julia is the antithesis of a fashion model.  Before Tyra there was Christie. The symbol of beauty in the 80’s, every man wanted Christie, every woman wanted to look like Christie.

I can only speak from my experience, but I know thousands of women can relate so here goes.  From a very young age, I was expected to act a certain way, be a certain way, look a certain way.  My mother was very strict. Even though I was a tomboy at home, barefoot more often than not, outside until after the cows came home ( we lived in the country), unhindered by the dirt smeared across my face, arms or legs, when it was time to go anywhere I had to clean up.

I remember so many times being assaulted roughly with a washcloth, as she frantically worked to clean me up to a presentable child that could be seen in public. Maybe that’s part of  my obsession with being presentable before leaving the house now Freud would be happy with the mental connection! You might laugh at my choice of wordage there –  being assaulted – but to a ten-year old child that was more interested in playing ball  or bike riding with the neighborhood kids, when I was called home to change clothes and clean up, it was akin to me asking my own kids to do their chores or bloodletting which are apparently the same in their eyes. (I had chores, they were done first thing in the morning before I was allowed to go play. I would need much more coffee and time to share about mental scars from gathering eggs. You know back in my day . . .)

This seems so insignificant, yet  it made a mark.  It contributed to the greater idea that I was expected to be something I was not.  I was not the shy little girl who would sit quietly on the church pew.  I was not the pretty girl in the party dress. I was not the cool kid with the stylish new designer clothes. I was not the popular girl in high school. (Really, I knew practically everyone in my high school because it was a small school in a small town but knowing everyone isn’t what constituted popular.) I was not the cheerleader, the pompom girl, or the beauty queen. There were so many things I was not.  It always seemed to be about what I wasn’t, that we were expected to fit into the societal molds put on us and assimilate to the plastic army.

We were suppose to look like Christie Brinkley. We were supposed to be nurses, secretaries, or school teachers. We were supposed to  . . . .. ugh.  The list goes on and on and on until one day you either give in to depression and booze and think that you don’t measure up or you wise up and realize that you aren’t part of the plasticine dream mold, and decide to live as who you really are.  Are you following me?

I’m still working on accepting my own value.  I am very well acquainted with the things I am not.  What I am working on is finding value in who I AM.

In that regard,   my life experience lends itself to my character Julia.  She learns to value herself for who she is and overcomes her feelings of inferiority.  I’d like to say that I was inspired my overcoming my own sense of inferiority but I haven’t.  Perhaps I’m writing it prophetically. Yeah, instead of Chuck the prophet I am Ellie the Prophetess. Doesn’t quite have that ring, does it?  Maybe Sam and Dean will show up to correct me. Shhh, don’t break the fantasy.

My inspiration for Julia is the average woman: Every woman who has ever felt inferior. Every woman who has felt less beautiful than the fashion industry standards. Every woman who has sold themselves short for the attention of a man who  disrespected them. Every woman who struggles with their sense of self-worth. Which I believe includes every single woman on the fac e of the earth over the age of twelve.  Did you know that even Christie Brinkley sees faults in herself? I don’t know what they are, but I know human nature.  Trust me – she sees them.

I am still learning how to be me. I know that sounds weird, but it’s  true. There has always been these expectations put on us by our parents, society, our peers and by ourselves. As life plays out, we discover who we truly are and who we aren’t.  I was never cut out to be a nurse, I accepted that early on. Trust me it’s best for all of us.  I was never cut out to be an Olympic gymnast, my rendition would look more like a Carol Burnett rerun.

One thing I have always been gifted with is a vivid imagination. It got me into trouble – often. That same imagination fuels my mind with story ideas. Well, with the addition of coffee.  Coffee is my catalyst. I think maybe today I’ll have a little Irish coffee.

Do you struggle with aspects of your self-image? Do dudes struggle with self-image or inferiority? How dull would it be  if everyone conformed to the Stepford plan? Variety is the spice of life and some of us are  a little spicier than others.

Till next time –  Ellie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five days

Normally I’m posting some random social media post that I’ve come across that has something to do with the greater process of being an author. I need to find some more golden goodies. Right now, I cannot sit still long enough to look. I’m FIVE days from my debut signing in New Orleans and might as well be walking through a swarm of mosquitos…I am antsy as a kid Christmas morning who has to wait.

The books were all sent ahead since my debut signing is not local, so I haven’t even held one of my beauties in my hands. First thing after we land, I’m tearing open a box to have my hands on one. The Author & Reader Con in New Orleans has shaped up to be a grand experience with tons of authors, lots of titles, and a cowboy or two…are you attending? The signing event on Saturday August 1st is free to the public and parking is cheap too…come say ‘Hi’. I’m going to be giddy to sell one, but secretly hoping to sell out.

Fleshing Friday again

I want to say I have something enlightening to add to the day. I really don’t. The cat is getting ill and whilst there are teenagers at the home, it seems we are incapacitated to act until after we have texted everyone who is not in the home watching it happen.

There are severe storms headed in once again and I am truly fried at this moment. I want a long nap. The kind of nap that is talked about in the Christmas story with sugar plums and kerchiefs & caps in it. The kind of long nap where Hiroshima could happen just beyond my window and I am none the wiser that the earth moved.

Ever been truly that tired? I think some days that the zombie apocalypse is happening now. I think I’m one of the flesh eaters myself staving off the madness with pots of coffee or a highball of scotch. I wonder what would happen if I cut off my vices?

nahhhhh. we probably don’t want to know.

Feature Creep

I’m accustomed to having guests on my blog,   but it’s been a while since I’ve posted on another.  Thank you Eclectic Bard Books for having me over!  By the way, they have this really cool coffee bar in the lounge. It has those flavor things  like  you find at the gas mart!  I noticed what looks like a wine fridge below, but since it was early I didn’t want to be nosy. Well, not too nosy.  Writer’s are innately curious, you do understand that, right? 

HOT DAMN! They have my favorite wine!!

Hi, I’m Ellie.

On to the topic of the day.

Have you ever tackle a home improvement project that you thought was a simple matter but turned into a much larger project?

Our latest home improvement project.

Our latest home improvement project.

For example, a few years ago I decided to update our guest bathroom.  Pain and a few themed decor items would have put the total cost around one hundred and twenty dollars. However,  we ran into feature creep.  The faucet was leaking so that had to be replaced. The commode had leaked and damaged the flooring so the wax seal and flooring were replaced. The shower curtain was torn in the process, so that had to be replaced.  By the time the feature creep had stopped my one hundred twenty-dollar update cost us nearly a thousand.

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The same thing applies in storytelling. Red Wine & Roses is a good example of this. Originally I had posted a flash fiction piece inspired by an image of a red rose with dew drops on Storytime Trysts. Flash fiction is a way to prime the pump so to speak. Some of my writer friends use fan fiction, some use flash fiction,  some use prompts when they feel the pump needs priming, or are experiencing writer’s block.

A few months prior to this, an online friend suggested flash fiction to me. I dismissed it.  Another hosted a flash fiction Friday feature on their blog. Maybe. Then I was involved in a blog hop and one of the assignments was a flash fiction piece.  * head desk*

Fine. If I have to. I guess.

Flash fiction has kept me in the writing habit when I’ve been stalled on my WIP. I have a file that I keep my attempts in, a few I am pleased with. Most are just practice and shall never see the light of day. They will remain locked for all eternity in a closed file within the depths of my computer. AHEM.

Feature Creep.

This one kept  drawing me back, the characters demanding more time than the brief glimpse I had written. An opportunity arose,  a specific call for a publishing house that I felt – this story fit perfectly. In a very short matter of time I had expanded it to ten thousand words, which was the  limit for the call.  Well, in all honestly I had to pare it down to meet the requirements as it exceeded it by quite a bit.

It was rejected. *hangs head* 

The writers come out of the woodwork to tell you that rejection is part of the game.  Stephen King has received X many rejections.  J.K. Rowling received X many rejections. ‘INSERT your favorite author here’- received X many rejections. I know it’s well-intentioned, but it doesn’t make the sting any less painful.

I shelved it. I was frustrated.  I told my closest friends that I  quit. I didn’t write for weeks.

Then Abyrne, in his gentle tactful manner essentially jerked the slack out of me  and my little pity party and put  it into blunt terms for me. I cried.  I thought about it.  I cried some more. (Hey, I’m a woman. It happens.)  Then, swallowing my pride, I let a few out of the file drawer.  Derek and Julia pleaded for my attention. I took a hard look at the rejected manuscript and the deleted scenes.  There  was a larger volume of the story untold.

I had to ask myself -Why do I write?

Because  I am compelled to write.  Whether it’s a psychological processing of  data, or a creative nature, or wild imagination, the bottom line is I write because I LOVE writing. There is a thrill that I’m going to step out on a limb here and compare to an addict. Don’t get all with me for  belittling addiction.  There are many levels of addiction.  I know I have an addictive personality.  With specific symptoms of OCD, and ADD (squirrel!) I am fully aware of the “writer’s high”  when I nail a scene. The euphoric elation when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that  this,  this last part I just wrote is solid gold. Sadly,  it doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

It’s much like a mining process!  Dirt, dirt, rock, more dirt, another rock, bigger rock, crystal ( nice), dirt, rock, GOLD!

My little flash fiction piece has expanded to some 85,000 plus words.

Oh, I might mention that there was much chocolate and coffee consumption during the process as well. It’s good to have real friends that care enough to speak truth to you and not feed you sugar frosted bomb puffs. It takes a village.

Who picks you up when you fall in the mud?  Who walks you hone when you’ve lost your way?  Who sets you back on track when you’ve derailed?

I am  glad they let me come to this village.  I like it here.  They have coffee.

rw&R5

 

Jolanthe’s first blog

The rough draft is done!

I’m celebrating and I’m terrified. On one hand, I completed the first part of the story. Yes, Beyond the Veil of Whispered Dreams is going to have a sequel. I’m not just talking about writing a book, I actually wrote one and it’s on its way to the beta readers.  On the other hand, what if it totally sucks?

Self doubt is an awful, awful thing. The kicker is, we do it to ourselves. We pour our heart and soul into something, whether it’s a piece of art, choreography, writing, whatever our creative outlet is, and then we wonder if it’s good enough. Will it be accepted? Will it be torn apart by the masses? And the answer is, yes, no, and or maybe. We can’t please everyone. We can only strive to put everything into our creation and hope that it appeals to some. For example, I’m not a fan of modern dance, but as a dancer, I can appreciate the training, skill, and heart those who dance modern pour into their art. We can pour our hearts and souls into a story, but in the end, we can only hope that those who do not like the story, for whatever reason, at least have an appreciation for the work done. It’s a toss-up and a chance we take when we expose ourselves to the public and open ourselves up for their criticisms.

joli

 

In the meantime, WOOT! WOOT! I’m on my way to being a published author! I’m going to sit back, drink my cup of coffee, and enjoy that thought.

It’s Up!

I know it’s social media Monday…but I need to take a post to crow. The pre-order link for the e-book of my debut, Viva Zapata & the Magic 8-Ball is UP. The print copies are not far behind so that all formats are available on release day August 1, 2015.

check it out here!

If you’re in or around Louisiana, I’ll be signing on release day at Author-Reader Con at the Holiday Inn Superdome on Loyola in New Orleans.

Sav

 

 

Social Media Solutions for

I love this one! I’ve heard more than one of these from a few author friends. What’s the best advice you’ve been given to avoid novice mistakes with your writing?

Here’s a list of the top 10 mistakes and solutions as reported by one site.

See the list HERE.

 

Fridays pound of Flesh

I just realized that we are almost halfway through JULY. Imagine my surprise. In conversation yesterday with a couple of others from EBB I learned this little ditty and had a brief moment of panic. I’m nowhere near on track with Some Might call it Magick!  EEEEEEP!! Time to get cracking.

I did learn that one of the new authors is going to be starting their weekly postings soon so you all won’t have to wonder what I’m going to blather about every week. Ellie Mack is going to be posting on Thursdays so I hardly imagine you’ll be missing or reading me at all. lol. Fresh blood is a good thing.

But I digress. Not that we’ve had a particularly great summer here in the upper Midwest, more a cycle of rain and well below temps, but I supposed just the same I should put vacation away and get to work on the words. I think we’re supposed to get into the 80’s this weekend so that’s as good an excuse as any to move indoors and take up the pen. If the humidity holds that could be just the right combination to make everyone mosquito bait that braves the yard.

Keep your eyes on the facebook page too for updates. I see that there are quite a few stops on next years run about. Perhaps EBB will be in a town near you with one or a couple of our authors signing and autographed copies available for others. There seems to be more happening than what I can keep track of, so I don’t imagine anyone else is either.  🙂

have a great week. Read something good!

abyrne

Typos & Intrigue

Welcome to Monday everyone! Andrea here.

I know the Monday readers are expecting the social media link, and I see one is in que to post later today, don’t worry, I didn’t usurp the posting. I did however find something that I thought required some comment…

The coffee had not made its way to my hands yet as my fingers were evidently not quite fully awake this morning. I double keyed the directional to open the page, which resulted in getting a listing of items instead of coming straight to the website. I have never searched for questions or commentary about us I didn’t really think there would be any for us at such a young point in our development. Imagine my surprise to find a thread with five of them?!

There are some interesting questions and posts amid those five comments. I want to take just a moment to respond to them because the answers are either not clear, or not easily discernible. I hope this helps.

First and foremost, yes we are ‘legit’ and this IS the website that we have at this time. It is WordPress based, which for our size and situation is sufficient. It was partially noticed, but let me clarify…the blog posts are by the authors on their posting days about whatever they feel compelled to post about, not from the company as a publisher about publishing. It is certainly something we can add. As a house we are about the authors more than the business side. We like to think it sets us apart from the traditional world of publishing.

Eclectic Bard Books formal foundation and licensing date is December 19, 2013, a whirlwind 18 months ago. This site was launched earlier this year (January 2015) when we, the three original owners/authors, decided that it made more sense to work together and build one page than it did to struggle to maintain four. We’ve added two more authors since then and hopefully readers will start seeing their posts soon. For us, it is more important to get them on solid ground before we ask them to run. Please be patient and supportive of them and us as we are still building. This is the infancy of our journey.

No, you won’t find submission guidelines here. Eclectic Bard Books is a small indie press of indie authors. Each author on the label has a stake in the company and each other. We do not accept direct submissions by authors or agents. At conventions or pitch slams we may talk to authors who want to dive into this world, but we do so at points in time when those of us here are fully confident that we can help the new writer, not bring them on and leave them flat. It’s not who we are or how we work. Those interested in becoming part of Eclectic Bard should get to know our authors.

One of the comments was that we sound ‘fishy’ and suspicious, that an author got a contract for two books only days after sending her synopsis in. And, that she is listed as the editor for the house. One, wholly false. She got a contract after several weeks of me talking with her after another author on the label had spoken with her over MONTHS of time. That other author had worked with her elsewhere and recommended her quite highly. The timeliness of her synopsis had nothing to do with her getting a contract. Two, yes she is listed as an editor because she has in fact acted in an editing capacity for two of our authors and credit is/was due. It did not occur to me that some would see her listed as such and presume she was the house editor. She is not.

To the commenter about our ‘lackluster’ author listing not inspiring astounding confidence. I appreciate your opinion. I disagree. We’ll have to leave it at that.

The ‘incomplete’ roster/bios information is a sore spot for me as well that will once again come up to be dealt with. I happen to believe that people should be named even if you don’t have additional information to post. That there are names with nothing more was my call. When you are walking side by side with any of us, you are helping all of us at EBB.

Thank you for the outside observation to help make my point about getting stuff in to be posted. Perhaps this will be the catalyst to make it happen. Every person working for and with EBB has a full-time job somewhere else. We all know the traps of real life pulling us from this side of the adventure. I can only hope this will bump the bios up the priority chain.

Of the comments, the one that jumped out at me as genuinely bothersome was that both amazon book links generated a message of “page not found”. I will find out what that is about. I’m not clear on the ‘both’ part or why the links are not connecting. Thank you for pointing it out.

To the readers…Thank you for sticking with us. Please shout if you notice things like these listed above and are wondering. I happened to come across this thread by accident. We are small and young and one day we’ll look back and wonder how we pulled it all off, but we are, we will, and one day that will become we DID.

Stay tuned. We have THREE debut authors in back to back months getting ready to roll out. Viva Zapata & the Magic 8-Ball from Savannah Verte will hit August 1st with a debut signing at ARC in New Orleans. Ellie Mack’s Red Wine & Roses will hit September 19th with a debut signing at Kentuckiana in The Palace Theater in Louisville. And Jolanthe Aleksander’s debut Beyond the Veil of Whispered Dreams comes out October 10th with a debut signing at Great Lakes Book Bash in Kalamazoo. Mark your calendars.

To the authors of Eclectic Bard…I could not be more proud of the journey we are on and the growth each of you is reaching for daily. You are all top shelf in my book! Keep going, never quit.

I don’t know the author, and I’m now on a quest to find the full lyric, but it is something that my mother used to read to me. These are a couple of lines, that I’m likely to butcher here, but I think you’ll get the point.

Reach high, the finest things in life are on the topmost shelf.

We have to go beyond our limits, stretch our small self-centered selves.

Reach high, the finest things in life are on the topmost shelf,

BUT, not beyond our reach if we will reach beyond our self.

 

Thanks for the read!   -Andrea

 

 

 

More Monday media posting

Are you all doing these?

http://writerswrite.co.za/make-me-care-nine-ways-to-ensure-an-unforgettable-read