Category Archives: Writing

A Blog a Day: Month of July 2017

Plucking of My Heartstrings

 

 

 

 

Cheryl Wright is featuring A Blog a Day for the month of July 2017. Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe is scheduled for July 29th. Check out the variety and scope of the blogs she has chosen. Click on the photo above for a direct link to her blog, Plucking of My Heartstrings.

And don’t miss her Musical Mondays! Cheryl chooses a word or theme and adds songs that have these traits. And then, you can vote on your favorite, add additional songs or just chat about music. Join the fun!

Follow Cheryl on Twitter: @PluknHrtStrings 

Writing Cozy Mysteries

The Hazards of Writing a Cozy

by G G Collins          (Copyright 2017)

Available at Amazon September 15, 2017

Mystery cozies were originally just called mysteries. Even before Agatha Christie, there was Mary Roberts Rinehart. She introduced the “had I but known” device. I devoured  Rinehart’s books but soon attacked Christie’s as well. But I owe it all to a book by Shirley Jackson entitled We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The ending blew me away and it was my introduction to mysteries.

Cozies, a term introduced during the 1980s, have a few things in common. The murder happens “off screen” and is usually poison, a simple wallop to the head with say a candlestick or a clean shot without a lot of blood. Please no hollow R.I.P bullets, a .22 will do nicely.

These murders happened to people and in places where, well, these things just don’t happen: a mansion, bookstore or in my case a book publisher who specializes in mysteries. Did you see that coming? Often the sleuth is an amateur, although they can be a promising amateur.

In the early days, the emphasis was on the puzzle and the suspects. And everyone was and is suspect. The cats, recipes and delving into characters backgrounds and careers is a more modern concept. And if there is romance, it’s discreet. Like those kisses from the early movies that only allowed a 3-second kiss. And please, no bedroom scene unless you only see the lights go off from outside.

But here’s where I got into trouble; swearing! I admit it. I curse. And frankly, I don’t see how a someone who kills people would not use profanity. “Excuse me,” the killer said. “I’m going to cut your blankety-blank throat now.” Really?

Okay, I get it. Cozies are about having fun with murder. Someone gets the axe and we spend the rest of the book drinking tea, petting cats and maybe do a little baking until the perp is identified and all’s well with the world again.

My first cozy is due out in September 2017. I’m having a ball writing the Dead Editor File. But I’ve had a really difficult time, er, not cussing. I’ve even got my protagonist trying not to, you know; swear.

However, there is nothing I can do about her Abyssinian cat, Oscar. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with an Aby, and believe me he could let loose with the four letter words; in Cat of course. He lives on in Oscar. Oscar is known to leave “surprises” for Taylor when he isn’t fed on time or in the way he’s grown accustom to dining.

So I’ll be washing my mouth out with soap and tossing quarters in the “swear jar” before the book is complete as I try to think of clever ways to not write well, you know.

And when I use the term “dang it,” well I think you’ll know what I was thinking. It’s the cozy way.

I hope you enjoy mystery editor Taylor Browning in her first outing in the Dead Editor File. Available on Amazon September 15, 2017.

 

Interviewing for the Fiction Writer

So You Have to do an Interview!

By G G Collins          (Copyright 2017)

Nonfiction writers are accustomed to conducting interviews, but what about the fiction writer? It’s fiction; don’t I just make it up? Some writers may be able to, but the vast majority of us will have to do some research, including the dreaded interview.

Here’s how.

The Interview: Who You Gonna Call?

By Cogiati (own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cogiati (own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe you need location information. Yes, you can Google photos and descriptions, but what if you need specific information about a festival for a scene in your book? How a rescue is performed in a national park? Background on a historical event that occurred in the 1940s? Is there seismic activity in the locale you’re using? I’ve answered all these questions for my books by doing interviews: some in person, others via phone or email. Note: If you do an email interview, be sure to tell your source if you need detailed information and ask if follow-up questions are okay.

There is a wealth of experts out there who are willing to talk with you. Yeah, their boss may make them, but most of them are happy to share their knowledge. I’ve spoken to festival organizers, park rangers, historians, museum curators and university professors. Their enthusiasm for their subject or specialty is contagious. You’ll go back to your computer with lots of ideas because of what you have learned.

Decide what it is you need to know and call the city’s tourism office or chamber of commerce for referrals. Universities are great places to learn about almost anything and don’t forget area historical societies. If you have a question, there is someone who can answer it.

You may need to give them your credentials. If you haven’t published as yet tell them about your debut project, why you’re qualified to tell the story and how far along you are in writing the book. But if you aren’t published, don’t assume no one will talk with you.

The Tools: Reporter’s Notebook, Recording Device, Pens

A reporter’s notebook is thinner than other notebooks. It’s 4 inches wide which makes it faster than an old-fashioned steno pad.

Use a recording device. I still use a small cassette recorder, but there are other options now with smart phones and tablets. Use what you’re comfortable with.

A combination of notes and recording is best. What if air conditioning, nearby conversation or airplane traffic drowns out the recording? I’ve had all these happen. It’s a sinking feeling when you can’t understand the interview. You’ve got to have the notes as backup.

Which Pen Would You Choose?

Which Pen Would You Choose?

When taking notes during an interview or at a press conference, the type of pen you choose can make all the difference. Look at the pens in the photo. Which would you select? The best one for taking notes while someone is talking about 110 words a minute; the round colorful one. Reason? It has a medium ball point.

The other two pens are both fine points, one is a gel tip. Fine points slow down note taking. I’ve found the gel tip to be even slower, dragging and pulling. The medium tip slides almost effortlessly. The rounded shape is more comfortable to the hand. And the rubber strip around the tip assists the fingers in grasping the pen without gripping, reducing strain. Some pens even come with built-in lights. Just be careful where you use them. You don’t want to disturb others. When I review performance art, I take notes in the dark. Yes really.

If you take shorthand or speedwriting, great, but most of us don’t. They are dying skills. If not, you can quickly develop your own with a little practice. Some words like “people” are used a lot. I shorten it to “ppl.” Leave out the vowels. To add “ent” I use a hyphen at the end of the base word: “cont-” for “content.” For “ing” I underline the last letter of the base word: “end” for “ending.” You’ll find your own way.

Questions: The Basic Six 

Wikipedia/Tobias Klenze/CC BY-SA 3.0

Wikipedia/Tobias Klenze/CC BY-SA 3.0

Go to an interview with a minimum of six questions. Let’s say your protagonist is going to get lost in that national park. You’ll want to know the best way for your character to alert someone she needs help. Of course, her cell phone won’t work. Does the park require hikers to sign in and out? If so, how long does the park wait before searching? Would your character need a signal fire or other SOS? How are rescues done? By helicopter? By foot? Another way? You don’t want to say they used a vehicle if there are no autos allowed in the park at any time. Is there a famous person who was rescued at the park? What was the most difficult rescue? Anecdotes add interest.

That’s your six questions.

I add a seventh question: Is there anything I haven’t thought to ask that you think would be important for my readers to know?

What if I’m Anxious?

You probably will be the first few times you talk with someone, that’s why you should be prepared. Readiness makes for less nervousness. Writers are often life-long learners and your need to learn will likely help you relax. Greet the person as you would anyone with a handshake and a smile. Then get to business. They are making time for you and you should take only 20 to 30 minutes of the valuable time for your interview.

A Reporter Notebook is only 4 inches Wide.

A Reporter Notebook is only 4 Inches Wide.

When you get to your final question, tell them it’s the last question. That way they understand you’re wrapping up.

Then thank them for taking the time to talk with you. Say goodbye and leave. Don’t linger. Your work is done. Let them get back to theirs.

It’s always nice to follow the interview with a thank you: mail, email or text. You judge which is appropriate by the age and rank of the interview. Get a business card before you leave their office so you have the contact information.

How to Use What You’ve Learned

Now that you have soaked up the knowledge of your expert, it’s time to write it down, right now, while it’s still fresh. Rough out how you want to use it. It can be blended into location description, insider information to make your prose more realistic or dialogue that adds depth and interest to your story.

You just did an interview!

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Worldbuilding in Writing Fiction

Builder of Worlds

By G G Collins          (Copyright 2016)

I never expected to be a builder of worlds and yet I’ve written two books where I needed to do just that.

Available at Amazon

Available at Amazon

Time travel is always tricky, but it’s also fun. In “Lemurian Medium” I sent protagonist Rachel Blackstone back in time via astral travel to the mythical (?) continent of Lemuria. I began reading about the continent that reportedly sunk into the ocean when a cataclysmic series of earthquakes and volcanoes broke up the island country and the sea claimed it.

When you ask people to buy into a paranormal or fantasy storyline, it’s important to include as much fact as possible, to lend integrity to the story. I began reading the works of Colonel James Churchward, who called Lemuria by another name; Mu. He studied monastery sources in India while serving in the British army.

After getting a basic idea of Churchward’s theories I read Frank Joseph’s book “The Lost Civilization of Lemuria: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Oldest Culture.” There are many creation stories and Lemuria is one for that part of the world. There is a museum in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan called the Mu Museum and is a tribute to the Motherland. In the Hawaiian Ethnic Art Museum in Oahu, there are carvings that seem to verify the existence of a golden race who survived the onrush of the sea.

Frank Joseph's Book on Lemuria

Frank Joseph’s Book on Lemuria

Book The Camino MacLaine

Review of “The Camino.” Click on the book.

To make the city realistic I researched the Romans from their garments to their communal toilets. In addition I read Shirley MacLaine’s dreams of Lemuria as she related them in her excellent book “The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit.” Her description of the Lemurians—some golden, some violet, and hermaphroditic—let imagination fill in the blanks. For homes I went with crystal construction with private areas being opaque. Rachel was surprised to learn she could communicate either from her mind or with the use of Lemurian seed crystals and crystal balls.

Reputed to contain the history of the ancients.

Lemurian Seed Crystal Reputed to contain the history of the ancients.

I needed a villain in spirit and chose Quetzalcoatl, a Mayan god who liked to dine on humans. It is thought that Lemurians who survived the end of their homeland took to the vast water and made their way to what is known today as Central America and to the southwestern part of the US.

When my research was complete I was no longer certain that Lemuria was a myth. I hope readers of the book can entertain that possibility as well.

Next Post: We’ll take a look at “Atomic Medium,” worldbuilding in a much closer era.

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Copyright Laws Apply to All Countries

Copyright Infringement is Against the Law Worldwide!

I can’t believe I’m having to do this. Take time away from writing to attend to someone who is stealing content from my blogs (Reluctant Medium at Large and Parallel Universe at Large) and posting them in another country. Copyright Infringement is against the law worldwide. Please respect all the time and hard work that goes into anyone’s blog and DO NOT STEAL! 

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.” Wikipedia.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.

WIPO was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.” Wikipedia.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Intellectual_Property_Organization

For more information on copyright infringement please refer to my COPYRIGHT/CONTENT/PRIVACY POLICY page on both blogs.

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Interview: Kristen Elise, PhD, Writer, Editor & Now Publisher

Cancer Fighter by Day; Murder Mistress by Night

Interviewed by G G Collins     (Copyright 2016)

Kristen had an idea: Invite crime fiction writers from all over the U.S. to take part in an anthology. Big undertaking—and perhaps a bit bigger than she expected. It’s not like she doesn’t have enough to do; important day job, writing books, two websites and her family. But she gently herded 31 writers from every region, slaved over uncooperative technology and voilà, Murder, USA: A Crime Fiction Tour of the Nation is a reality. Here’s how she did it.

  1. What possessed you to put together the mystery anthology Murder, U.S.A.?

Book Murder USA FinalI got the idea for Murder, U.S.A. from a few anthologies that I have seen recently. Typically, anthologies are short story collections, and they do a great job of offering a sampling of the work from multiple authors to readers. However, I’m not a short story writer. Never have been, and doubt I ever will be. So it got me to thinking: what if, instead of a short story collection, we created an anthology of sorts that is just snippets from the novels of novelists? It might be a great way to offer that same sampling of work without asking novelists to come up with short stories to tell. And it might be more representative of what those authors really write.

  1. Tell us something about yourself. Was there anything in your experience that prepared you for this undertaking? Also mention Murder Lab. It’s a terrific website.

Thank you for the compliment! Hmmm… well, I’m a “drug hunter” by day. I work for a biotech company, and my job is to look for molecules that will eventually become cancer medicines. It was in this work that I got the idea for The Death Row Complex, which is featured in Murder, U.S.A. Murder Lab is a website (http://www.murderlab.com/) that I put together a few years ago with the goal of uniting authors, readers, and basically anyone with an interest in crime fiction. You can see my experience from my day job in the website as both are basically a series of “experiments” — except that in my day job, I’m running experiments to identify the right molecules, whereas on Murder Lab, I and the Murder Lab community are constantly experimenting in what makes good crime fiction, how to sell crime fiction, and other such questions. Murder, U.S.A. was another experiment, by the way!

  1.  How did you reach out to other writers to participate?

I posted the idea on Murder Lab, reached out to my mailing list, and reached out via Facebook, Twitter, and whatever social networks I’m a part of. There was quite an amazing response! I’m so pleased with the finished product because it’s exactly what I had in mind—a very diverse collection from a wonderful group of authors. There is something in there for everyone. If you like to read mysteries, thrillers, or suspense novels of any breed, please download your free copy! http://amzn.to/1TBcjir  (Also available wherever eBooks are sold.)

  1.  What are some of the issues you experienced in compiling the excerpts and publishing the book?

    Author Kristen Elise, PhD

    Author Kristen Elise, PhD

Haha! Well, I’m not gonna lie—it was much more work than I thought it would be. I had pictured that since the excerpts were all from published works, there would be no editing and it would just be a matter of putting them together and publishing. Not so much. There were actually a lot of technical difficulties I had to overcome, mostly based on the fact that everyone’s excerpts came in a different format, and I’m not skilled enough with software to just make them all magically become uniform. There were also some publishing difficulties since this was the first work I ever offered perma-free. And the first anthology with multiple authors. And the first book that was filled with links throughout the text. Etc. etc. etc. Having said that, it was a labor of love and I’m SO glad I did it! And the authors are all super cool, and I made a lot of new friends. So… worth every minute of effort.

  1.  Why is the book always free?

I wanted this book to be perma-free across all channels so that it can be available to anyone. The real goal of Murder, U.S.A. was never to sell it as an entity of its own, but rather, to expose the authors and their works to as many readers as possible. It’s a marketing tool, not a product in and of itself. It is my hope that the authors will help to get the book out there, and that readers will buy the books they like based on the excerpts. It is for this reason that there are easy buy links for every book featured in Murder, U.S.A., right there at the end of the excerpt.

  1.  Explain how the book cover came to be. Why did you choose Damon Freeman’s cover company Damonza.com?

I have now used Damonza for four books—both of my full-length novels, Murder, U.S.A., and a fourth book I’m doing as a fee-for-service for another author. I keep going back to them because they do excellent work for a reasonable price and they are highly professional. For this cover, we asked them to come up with a few concepts, which they did, and then I basically took a vote among the authors in the anthology. The cover with the most votes won. Simple as that.

  1.  What would you want readers to know?

Blog Murder Lab ButtonI’d like readers to know that if they sign up on my Murder Lab mailing list (just click the icon in the upper left corner of the page), I’ll send them a free copy of a spreadsheet I put together which a lot of authors are finding very useful. In short, I once spent a giant sum of money on just about every paid advertising site I could find, and then I kept track of which sites really led to sales and which didn’t. Readers can just click that link for further details. I’d also like readers to know about my personal author site, www.kristenelisephd.com. This site is a bit different from Murder Lab in that while Murder Lab is geared toward readers and authors of all crime fiction, my author site is dedicated to topics featured in my own novels—which, by the way, are historical and medical mysteries and thrillers. AND, last, I’d like your readers to know that if they sign up on THAT website’s mailing list, which is separate from Murder Lab since they have different focuses, I will send them a free copy of The Vesuvius Isotope.

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Interview with Horror Writer Michael Frost

Don’t Go in the Basement!

Caution: Profanity if it offends you.

I “met” Michael Frost on Twitter. He’s noticeable because instead of hawking constantly for customers, he supports other writers through a #ShoutOut, #FollowFriday and #TerrorTuesday which he created. As a horror writer he has some scary pictures to go with his Tweets, but also a sense of humor about it all. You’ll love the last question about children and monsters in the closet.

Pub Date Spring 2016 Courtesy ARO Publishing

Pub Date Spring 2016
Courtesy ARO Publishing

1.   First, the question you likely always get: Why write horror? What motivated you to take this direction in your writing?

For the amount of times I have been asked this, I should have mastered a simple and direct answer, but I find myself retreating back to the overly used factoid of ‘Kangaroo’; to be quite honest I really don’t know.

I didn’t seek it out that’s for sure. It more or less found me.

As a kid ANYTHING horror scared the piss out of me, and just catching a glimpse of the latest Friday the 13th commercial teaser would have me up all night watching the shadows that my small lamp didn’t fill. Yes, I slept with a light on religiously; damn near until I was thirteen.

When I started writing on the level of actually finishing a story I was eleven, and then until I was seventeen it was always fantasy having completed my first 389 paged book just shy of my 17th birthday.  I was a big D&D and J.R.R. Tolkien fan long before any of the movies took to the screens (save the animated ones which were rather good and followed the books pretty well).  Then, one day in March of 1990 while sitting in front of my typewriter and suffering from recently having my tonsils and adenoids removed, the horror in me just woke up.  I know how it sounds, but I cannot be more honest and direct than that; the horror woke up and began to whisper to me, and boy did it had a lot to say.   

Besides venturing across genres here and there depending on whatever story came to mind (of which many forming their own identities and voices in my noggin to suit those genres [and there are a few of those clamoring around in there]), I’ve never looked back.

2. Are you more King or Poe? What writers have influenced you?

Neither one or the other; a bit of each when it pleases me, but I have favorites from both of them.  Older King stories of course; some, but not all of Poe.  There were writers who influenced me, but not much in the guise of horror.  Authors like Pearl S. Buck who wrote The Good Earth, Tolkien naturally for my pursuit at the time of fantasy and Shakespeare in my early years; Philip K. Dick and the works of Margaret Mead came later in my teens, with plenty of Terry Pratchett, Spider Robinson, Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams thrown in. However, when I consider the real Whom I would have to say my father who was a published author during the Civil Rights 60’s.

I know that’s an ‘Aww’ moment, but my father was both supportive and not all too supportive of my writing at the same time, taking a somewhat backwards approach to it.  Sure he got me my first typewriter for me: a big, black and heavy Royal that strengthened the hell out of my fingers, but often when I asked about publishing I was just handed that years Writer’s Market Guide and a new box of carbon paper.  He was obsessed with duplicates.  I guess he encouraged me the most because I had something to prove, and once I got past trying to prove anything to anyone, then I truly started to write.

I miss the hell out him though.

3. “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand,” has been attributed to Raymond Chandler. He was talking about crime fiction.

Finish the sentence, as it applies to horror: “When in doubt . . .

When in doubt on whether or not you’ve killed the bogeyman, keep hacking away at the fucker until its head comes off.  Then it’s dead, the nightmare’s over and you can go home.

PublicDomainPictures.Net

PublicDomainPictures.Net

4. How do you translate terror into words so the reader can feel the fear of your character? What is the difference in terror and horror?

Good one…favorite one…most hated question of all, so I will somewhat combine my answer.  I have a usual response to this, one of which is in my blog under About Michael, and it’s one I have said for years now, but for this let me try a different approach.

Terror can be best expressed in a single thought, an idea which can invade every single person’s life and soul without will or want not of the reader.  It can easily relate to the masses, and to the individual experiencing it, they can feel the breath of the beast on their neck.

A quick example of Terror would be: You are taking a shower and you live alone, keeping the bathroom door closed so to trap the heat and then suddenly, there’s a knock on the bathroom door.

To me that would be terrifying to say the very least, and you are in the perfect place if you wish to piss or shit yourself.

When one looks at Horror and Terror, they are relatively the same thing save the delivery.  When writing Horror, I have pages upon pages to set the stage, to keep the reader on edge while dreading the very next line, however I want the reader terrified, so I deliver the blows which are either expected or not, but they last for a very long time.  Sure the pages might be filled with some very horrifying stuff which makes the reader want to slam the book shut and go watch Babe so to clear the mind and spirit, but like a drug they cannot.  When you as the author can feel it, damn near taste the terror’s climatic surge, you give the reader both barrels with extreme prejudice.  This is not the climax of the story, no; you just keep delivering it over and over unexpectedly like a blindfolded roller coaster rider entering a loop.

I think that covers it, or I can revert to my usual response by stating:

To understand Horror is simplistic really. You never open the closet door…you never look under the bed…you never fall asleep in an unfamiliar place and you never get into a strangers car. Out of all of these I must add, you most certainly never—EVER—run into the woods.

To understand Terror, however, is much more far reaching; darker.  That scratching you hear during the night at the window’s glasscould be nothing more than a branch in the breeze just as your mind has convinced you that it was, or, there really is something standing just on the other side of the glass with sharp claws and it’s watching you—only you—and come morning you never discover which one it ever was.

Old and new, new and old; same ice cream, just different flavors; take your pick of the one that suits you.

5. You are a great champion of writers. In a social medium like Twitter where most everyone is shouting “Look at Me!” you bring attention to writers over and over again through Tweets and Lists. What made you want to take this route?

I smile that you have noticed this about me, G.G, but in all truth I do this because I care; I truly care about each and every writer out there who is hunting for their voice, and if already found, to give them honest support if they are willing to take it.

I can honestly say that during my whole career of writing that no one ever stopped to help me; not a single one.  Whether it was family or friends, significant others along the way, not any of them did.  I envied all those around me who had family and friend support in their pursuits of their dreams, always wondering what that felt like…what it tasted like…was it real or Memorex or more like some Cosby Show episode.

I was completely alone in my pursuits to find my voice, and despite all the spite and rage of being ignored and left to fend for myself, I eventually did find it and came to peace in all my endeavors of doing so.  I was used to people only noticing when I failed, when those rejection letters came one right after the other, and of course I would get the sympathetic comments followed by the soft murmurs of ‘I figured as much’or ‘I told you so’s once the back was turned.  Screw that.  That surmounting lack of support gave me all the strength I ever needed to keep on pushing, ignoring the odds of ever publishing a single thing, and I formed my steadfast motto: If you want Sympathy, just look in the dictionary between Shit and Syphilis and you’ll find it.

It was harder in many ways back then to engage in the act of writing and attempting to publish.  There was no internet to speak of at the time; the world of the web was at its infancy with BBS’s (Bulletin Board Services) and basic dial-up through ISP’s like NetCom.  Hell, AOL and CompuServe were still in their developmental programming stages with only the hopes that they would catch on.  No, then it was query letters and submissions via snail-mail, the demand of Times New Roman 12pt font, double-spaced, proper surname with numbering in the upper right corner of each page following the first (you never numbered the your first page), and all your pages were secured by a small piece of paper in the upper left hand corner with a paper or binder clip so not to dent or crease the pages. And of course, there was the wait; that damn, damn, damn long wait.  Six weeks if you were lucky to get a response, eight at max, and if accepted YAY, and if not, you were then able to submit elsewhere for there was no simultaneous submissions allowed (which thankfully is still the norm).

For all those on Twitter many have never experience this and see only the new age of writing and publishing, and to be very understanding of them, only the process has changed for the most part.  It is still a very hard thing to do, writing is; to delve into your own soul and cleave it apart so to distribute it amongst the masses is a very hard thing to do.  I still find it hard to do even to this day regardless of how long I’ve been at it.  For this I commend each and every one of them, and if promoting them in lieu of promoting myself is what I have to do to show them that someone is behind them, then that’s what I will do.  If I can be there for just one who is floating down that turbulent river alone in the dark, then I have redeemed my own demons in parting of such memories.  Perhaps my support might very well be that light in their distance assuring me that despite all my struggling endeavors that I have earned my place to call myself a writer, and that I have truly learned to listen.

PublicDomainPictures.Net

PublicDomainPictures.Net

6. Many children see monsters in their closet or under their beds. As someone well-acquainted with monsters, do you have any tips for parents trying to reassure their little ones.

For this I have a fun and happy story to tell regarding my own daughter.  When she was just a tot, she swore that there were monsters in our closet and under her bed, and although this story might be a little long-winded, there’s a solution within and a quick summary to follow.

When she was nearly five years old, there was a span of several weeks that she complained about monsters, and unlike her mother’s approach that there were no such things—I having been my daughter at her age in spirit before—I damned well believed her!  So, each night I would do the daddy thing and check for her in all the places she pointed, and although I was brave for her in my searching, it was all a façade because I dreaded the idea of What if she’s right?!

Anyway, one day I got an idea.  I got a box about the size one might get a new microwave oven in and I brought it into her room.  I sat down on the edge of her bed and explained that I know the monsters seem scary and mean, but they are actually scared themselves.

“Why would monsters be scared of me?!” she questioned wholeheartedly with a doubtful undertone which I feared she figured me out before I began, but I continued bravely.

I had expressed that the reasons the monsters were scared is because they wandered too far away from Monster Land and didn’t know how to get back, and what seemed like big mean monsters were actually frightened creatures who just wanted to get back home hence why they hid in the closet and under her bed.

So, I showed her the box and said: “This is a magic box that can send all the lost monsters back to Monster Land.”

“How?” she asked with genuine wide-eyes of wonder and belief to my fatherly lies.

“Easy…magic,” I put on my show, standing while opening the closet which I had previously made sure the floor had space for the box. “See?  We put this inside the closet and call out to the monsters that we have a magic box which will take them all home.  We then leave the room because monsters are shy creatures and when we come back after a while, all the monsters should be inside the box with the lid closed.”

Let me tell you, she was very excited about the possibility of this, so I gave her the honor of sliding the box inside, then—by her good-natured insistence—we placed a pillow inside so that they would be comfortable.  When I told her we were ready, she did the one thing I will always remember and get misty over.  She told me to wait, little paws extended up to me, dashed off to her bed and collected up a little bear and placed it inside.

“This will make them feel safe,” she smiled and I nodded, wanting to pick her up and hug her.

Okay, back to my parental lies and deceit!

We left the room and shut the bedroom door behind us, moving to the living room to play her most favorite movie of all: Aladdin.  After a few minutes and offering her Stix-Sticks (how my 4yr old pronounced fish sticks), I left her to play with her blocks as she sang along with the movie to heat them for her, but not before quietly sneaking into the bedroom.  I quickly removed the little bear from the box and hid it, folded in the flaps and crossing them so they clocked together, quietly closed the closet door then exited away from the scene of deceit.  Then, minutes later returned to the living room with her stick-sticks for her to munch away.

Oh she did inquire about the monsters and I insisted that we give them time which she simply nodded in-chew and back to the singing genie she went.  After a little while, the true magic began.

“Did you hear that?” I quickly said after a little while, sounding excited above a whisper.

“What?!” she beamed just as excited.

“I think I heard the closet door shut!” and before I could breathe after the last word, she was up and dashing to the bedroom with me in pursuit.

“Hold on,” I slowed her as I took hold of the knob. “Now we have to be very quiet so we don’t scare them anymore than they are, okay?”

PublicDomainPictures.Net

PublicDomainPictures.Net

A nod and a ‘thumbs-up’ was my response and I slowly opened the door.  There sat the closed box to her widening eyes as she slowly inhaled with excitement.

“They went inside!” she bounced wanting to scream it, but she mimicked me with a forefinger to pursed lips as I knelt.

“Alright, they’re all inside,” I whispered. “Now, there are some magical words we must say which will send them back to Monster Land, okay?”

“Okay, daddy,” she nodded her understanding.

“Okay, now repeat after me,” I did my best not to giggle as I held my hands over the box like some half-baked magician in a mall’s food court.  “Monsters, monsters, go away; go back home where you can play.”

There in the mouth of the closet we repeatedly said the words I pulled out from thin air, her little palms circling over the top of the box as she copied the actions of her silly dad.  I began chanting it louder with her in suit until we were nearly shouting it and then I slapped my hands down on the top followed by her mimicking and we knelt smiling at each other.

“Are they back home?” she whispered.

“I don’t know,” I replied, leaning an ear towards the top. “I don’t hear anything, do you?”

She leaned in and listened with one finger up signalling for me to stand by, and then rose back to her kneeling posting with a shaking head.

“Well let’s open ‘er up and take a peek!”

Letting her do most of the work, the flaps were pried apart and there, in the glow of the overhead light of the closet sat the void of the box and the pillow.  She squealed her joy and clapped, lunging into my chest for a vise-like hug and clapped some more.

“It worked, it worked!” she bounced on her knees repeatedly as I clapped and agreed.

“It sure did, baby,” I smiled and simply watched her pass the little milestone in her young life.

That night she climbed into her bed and got her hugs and kisses from her mother and me, never once asking for me to check under the bed or the closet or any of the darkened corners for any monsters.

We left her then, my then wife and I, leaving the door opened just enough to let some hallway light in and sat on the sofa for a little adult programming on the tube.  A few minutes after we were settled on some show I don’t remember, I heard her little voice call out across the bedroom: “Goodnight monsters in Monster Land!”

I smiled…not feeling guilty in the least.

To summarize my long winded story?   Well, we were them once—little and afraid—and if for one moment, just one itty-bitty moment we adults put ourselves back into their shoes we can see what they see and feel it as well.  Sure it might be annoying because we know (think)nothing is under the bed, but taking a little effort to prove it and resolve it with their assistance can be the difference of a good night’s rest or bed-hogging toddlers in your bed later on because they can’t sleep.

Children are honest little-folk even if that honesty steams from the realms of imagination, and if they believe monsters are real then you better be damned-tooting they are real and you should feel just a little bit scared yourself!  Yes, I know, you don’t want to humor such nonsense, but have you ever asked yourself this: If you tell them they are not real, and If they just so happen to be real, what then?  Think on that the next time you turn off their light and close their door leaving them to fear the darkness without checking the nooks and the crannies. There might be something lurking there and now it knows exactly what you look and smell like.

<Wink!>

OH! What happened to the little bear from the story you ask? Well, she was rather happy that they took her bear with them to Monster Land, but she also missed it that night come bedtime.  That was quickly resolved by morning.

Early before she woke I retrieved the bear from behind some shoes along the base of the closet and placed it back inside the box.  Before closing it up, I collected a sheet of paper and one of her Crayons and using my left hand—I’m a righty so I wanted it to look more ‘kid-speak’—I wrote a simple note and placed it inside with the bear.  I woke her not too long afterwards saying that I heard something coming from the box in the closet that sounded like her bear.  She dashed inside, pulling open the box, exclaimed “MY BEAR!” and I retrieved the note and read it to her.

It read:

Thank you for sharing your teddy!

It made us very happy during our trip!

We’ve sent it back to you so you can cuddle it.

Think of us when you do!

Love,

The Monsters

Seventeen years later, I still have the monster’s note and her bear.

♦          ♦          ♦

Keep up with Michael and his works on Twitter: @MichaelFrostChi and on his Frost Bitten Blog: http://michaelfrost.wordpress.com where you can sample his stories and poetry.

Author Michael Frost

Author Michael Frost

About Michael Frost: Before writing exclusively in late 2012, I was a senior Wide Area Network, Microwave and Satellite Platform Communications engineer who worked his way up from a lowly help desk geek from the 90’s before there were real degrees in Computer Science and mice were optional on computers (it was still a DOS and OS/2 Warp world for the most part then in the business environment with Windows 3.11 spread throughout).

Father of one fantastic multi-talented, multi-lingual senior University daughter who is my Light.

I have been writing for nearly 32 years (over 25 for horror) and currently write under 5 other published names which I will keep to myself their identities.  Sorry for that, but they are rather selfish-folk inner writers are.  I have published numerous stories over the years in regional magazines across the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, including visual flash fiction. I work for an educational publisher Nelson Education for digital supplements to their high school language arts printed books.

For horror books I dragged my feet to publish for reasons unknown, and although I have written 8 of them in the genre, the very first will be available in print early 2016 (announcement date will be available in October of this year): Eleanor’s Creek. 

Did I mention the selfishness of those other inner-writers?

Michael Frost releases scheduled for 2016: Sowing Seeds, Murder Black, Staad and three novellas Bane of the Black Witch, When Madness Calls and The Fall of Illeana Dubois. And a collaboration with Canadian artist Carrion Trilevel; a “wicked vicious book of dark literary horror and stunning graphic art.” You can expect a “teaser” in the coming weeks.
 

Authors Wanted: Mystery/Thriller Anthology in Works

Call for Excerpts: Murder, USA and Murder, International

How to Sell Your Books Online Without Book Bub

Hello, Murder Lab Community! This is a special invitation/call to action for authors.

I’m putting together an anthology of sorts. In contrast to a true anthology, which implies a collection of short stories, this is actually going to be a collection of excerpts from published, full-length novels–sort of like a compilation of Amazon “Look Inside” features from similarly-themed novels, all in one nifty little, e-mailable, downloadable, linkable, social media promotable package. . .

For more information on this great idea check out: http://www.murderlab.com/2015/07/call-for-excerpts-murder-usamurder.html

Gilda Evans — Girl Talk

The Last Time by G G Collins

How many last times have you experienced? What year did you last believe in Santa Claus? How old were you the last time you played with dolls? When was the last time you said “See you later” to a friend and you never saw her again? This happened to me. . .

To read the rest of the post: http://www.gildaevans.com/the-last-time-by-g-g-collins

Gilda Evans, Author & Speaker

Gilda Evans, Author & Speaker

Enjoy Gilda’s other posts on Girl Talk which range from relationships to writing. There is something wise and wonderful for everyone.  Gilda likes to say, “I have a PhD in relationships from the school of life!” She’s also a 3-time Emmy award winner and a motivational speaker.Gilda writes the Girl Talk Book Series.

A Dear Friend is Gone

Season of Loss: For Tawna

by G G Collins          Copyright 2015

Candles for Tawna

Candles for Tawna, Copyright 2015 G G Collins

I rarely talk about anything personal on these pages, but I’ve lost someone very dear to me. She was a great friend, one of those people who accept others for who they are and never tried to change them. She “got” me on a level that amazed me. Her intuitive skills were finely honed. And she was the love of her husband’s life. They had been sweethearts since high school. Her family was enviable. They told one another “I love you” before they left the room! I once asked her, what do you do in your family when you have a disagreement? She answered softly, “We don’t have them.” When any one family member was threatened, they circled the wagons and they were all solidly there for that person as long as needed. She loved and was loved.

Tawna was a writing muse if there ever was one; both writer and collaborator. Her columns were a delight; the kind you looked forward to and read first. She could brainstorm with the best. We met a couple of decades ago with writing being our connection. But there was more. She was a horsey girl too; had thrived in the dressage ring. Tawna was a candle lighter. I loved it and began doing so myself. There is nothing like lighting a candle for someone. It is almost magical as the flame leaps to life and flickers with devotion.

In the fall of 2010 we met for lunch and a movie. The movie? Secretariat. Just two horsey girls watching a movie about a horse; tears and cheers. Over lunch at our favorite restaurant, Tawna told me “I love you and that’s for a lifetime.” She has always been a demonstrative person, so I didn’t realize she was saying goodbye. But her hug lingered. She knew.

Now I have to say goodbye and it’s hard. Endings always are.

♦           ♦          ♦

To light a candle for someone you love, go to: http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/enter.cfm?l=eng  Or light one for Tawna.

My favorite song after loss is “Life is Eternal,” sung by Carly Simon. These are two beautifully done videos of the song:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eR1ni6sZK4

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTd0UlvTCiQ

Copyscape Do Not Copy

 

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