Human Behaviour, Human Nature, Humanity, information, Mistakes, Traditional publishing

What’s to Say Writing’s Glamorous?

In a few short minutes a contract was cancelled.

I was lucky to get out of a contract. My publisher, who was editing my novel MS felt too ill to concentrate and diligently work on it. The warning signs were there, but I was excited to be accepted by a traditional publisher after just turning down my first traditional contract. I wanted to be in that less-than-two percent. And I am, but with a price.

No matter how excited you are to get published by a traditional house, make sure you vet them the way they vet us. Actually, do this for self-publishing also.

Check their Web site for the year they started and how many books they have. This is more important than I initially thought. If they have few books compared to the length of time they’ve been publishing, they may be short staffed. Worse than that, you don’t know if anyone is being payed or if it’s a group of friends helping one another get the company going. Books, books and how many tell a story of their own. If no one is collecting a paycheque, the incentive likely isn’t the same. Who works hard and invests themselves for free? Even with the frail promise of a booming future business, most people are not driven if they have a job, and volunteer on the side.

If there are major delays in sending out a contract, keep looking for a publisher. Be aware, fully aware there may be delays in editing, too. There were delays with my MS, and it was frustrating to sit here in my writing lair hour after hour for weeks, then wait for months for a return.

Talking yourself into believing it’ll be okay, is not the way to start a contract or a publishing journey. Once you have a contract, in most cases you’re bound and there is nothing to be done but be at the mercy of your publisher.

I’m grateful my publisher is a fair person, and she wanted me to be happy when I was not. I lost eleven months, but I am on my way with a publisher who needs to be paid, but I get all the support of a traditional house. He was able to help me leave the contract, simply because he knows the publisher I was with. Moreover, he has paid staff.

Be vigilant with edits. Keep a copy of previous edits you’ve worked on. My publisher edited dramatically. Half pages at a time were deleted and her writing replaced mine. Her voice, her style, and ideas. My characters were doing things I never had them do, and they said what I didn’t have them say. She was showing me what I could do in trouble areas, but her text should have been alongside mine if it were to change so much. Had I not retained a copy, I would never have never been able to restore my work and edit in my own voice. I’m sure I would have had a nervous breakdown. I’m serious.

This is so recent, the knot in my neck is still pulling all the way to my shoulder blade.

My intention with traditional was to be accepted as it was important to me. I needed the risk-taking approval of a publisher. I’ve been accepted twice now with a query. I practised my query for a long time, then started getting action. If you are seeking traditional, ask questions. Ask how many are active on staff. Do they have volunteers? Ask how long edit rounds usually take. Ask what your gut prompts you to ask. It is your manuscript. It’s your slow return on book sales.

I have found since being accepted by a reputable publisher, one I will pay, that once the dust settles a bit and I can purchase books to sell, what I pay in is an investment with return as long as I don’t slack off in selling.

If your first book will be self-published, there’re contracts, so be vigilant. Take the time to study, what’s good and what’s not. Google will get you there, just type in bad authors’ contracts. The good authors’ contracts. Take the time to study, and hope you get a good publisher.

I studied hard. My downfall was trusting because this publisher I met in a writers’ group. I liked her. I still do. Keep personal feelings separate from business sense.

Good luck.

Thanks for reading

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encouragement, Human Behaviour, information, Traditional publishing

Is it a Traditional Disappointment?

It can take years to write then publish a book or novel: practicing query letters, and years of learning about market needs, and looking for a traditional publisher. Conversely, one can write a book, choose to get professional editing and professional advice, then go ahead with a cover and choose a printer, then viola— a book on Amazon—in much less time.

It’s up to the author to agree or disagree if “good things take time.”

Notice traditional Web sites. How long have they been operating, and how many books do they have? Is the web site up to date? How do the reviews look? Do the reviews add up to how many books they have published? Any complaints? At times, complaints can come in the form of a review which isn’t detailed with accolades.

A traditional publisher should apply for the copyright. About fifteen percent goes to the author, which is fair considering copyright cost, printing, cover, editing, and typesetting costs, so make sure the contract doesn’t ask you to buy an amount of books as a requirement. It could be an option, but never a requirement. If it is an option, you shouldn’t have to pay full price for books, and be sure you’re not paying for these books to be printed. You should be paying for completed books. At cost would be ideal, but don’t expect it as these sales profits go to the publisher. If you’re selling the books you buy, expecting to receive royalties on these books is lofty. You get whatever profit you can gain. Look for these issues in the contract, and study as much as you can before signing one. Take it to a lawyer, be sure if you are not.

An author, it they’ve invested in their writing with schooling, workshop classes, and courses, works hard on a manuscript. Work just as hard on finding a way to publish, because that’s the end goal.

I don’t have a lot to say for self-publishing as I went he traditional route. But I will say this: with self-publishing you have more control over edits, since you are paying; however, with traditional publishing, you’re still paying as you are only gaining a minimal percentage of sales. Remember that and don’t be shy about keeping your “baby” in the clothes you sent it out in, with the same baby powder scent. Don’t be convinced your characters’ dialogue is all wrong, and have your say about retaining your voice, your influence, your expression, and your experience.

I’m in the middle of my edits now. My editor is not a bully, but has gotten carried away with inserting her voice in an attempt to show me what works well. I am not obligated to take this advice; however, extended deletions and additions in my work have been disruptive to me as well as time consuming to restore my work. Never delete your original manuscript! You’ll want it side by side with your edits. You’ll see good changes and unwelcome changes. We have to let go of an amount of our precious words, but you’ll know what shouldn’t be changed according to the rest of your story. Make sure consistencies, if you editor has not read your story first, are not going to be disrupted.

Edits are necessary. Grammar, punctuation, some copy editing for awkward sentences, but remember this, no matter who you agree to for publishing your manuscript with, it is still your manuscript. It takes courage to send out query letters and manuscripts, so retain that courage when you’re in the middle of edits.

They All Wore Black is my novel manuscript. I don’t have a release date as of yet:

A traumatized, hushed-up family is struggling to learn it’s okay to cry out.

Brad Fadden trudges with his head down and his guard up. His deviant father died, but Brad aches with raw secrets. Haunting memories. His haggard mother is reticent about it. His protective sister fled eight years before because of it.
       It’s 1988. Ganja, cocaine, pills—easy scores. Even so, fifteen-year-old Brad cannot subdue his crippling emotions. He’s off to harass his dead father’s socially inept boozing pal who guards the pivotal truth. The fearful sot may be the only one who knows it
     A peculiar old man intermittently appears to caution Brad about addictions and prying. He’s left to think he’s hallucinating, but he won’t stop getting high and prying. They say, The truth will set you free. They’re wrong.

(Names of characters of fictional, and it is a pure coincidence if they resemble real people.)

 https://www.facebook.com/PennersPen88/

Thanks for reading.

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Dyslexia, encouragement, Human Behaviour, Human Nature, information, Uncategorized

LD or DL: Learning Disabilities or Different Learning

Some call them learning disabilities. They are not. They’re learning differences; a person is differently abled.

I have dyslexia. Sure, I have to triple check for reversals, and spelling errors light up red lines in my manuscripts and Facebook posts, but I’m not a disabled writer.

In fact, dyslexia enables my aptitude for descriptive writing and character development. I see scenarios in my mind, and I hear what characters are saying. I feel their joy, fear, courage, and agony. Emotions swell like surfers’ waves on pages. My imagination is prolific. I see in images, not words. I record with my fingertips, usually hunched over my keyboard in a deep concentration as I take on the fly-on-the-wall role.

This and outstanding spacial skills are the gifts of dyslexia. I’m a good shot; I’ll win all those stuffed animals at the fair with a flimsy gun, and I hang things on my walls in an even row or estimate space and size with no measuring tape.

I am able to read and write, I just have a different way of doing these things. And I ingest a lot of caffeine. It’s one of my coping tools. Cheers!

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ADD, Dyslexia, encouragement, Human Behaviour, Human Nature, information, inspirational

Breaking the “Bound” Barrier

So dead ends lead to new directions? Sounds legit. They say, “Don’t give up. Find the opportunity in loss.” But who are they, anyway? Those who have stabbed a flag in their goal?

It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Clinging to a goal and hanging on in savage winds while sharp edges of crumpled old leaves fly in our wide open eyes? Is it possible to endure that pain but not become jaded? Sure, only thing is, going against all odds is an arduous journey, which includes our personal barriers, like being bound by time, finances, criticism, learning differences, etcetera, plus the ever present competition also.

I have barriers I needed to accept before I could continue with my project, but I’m not complaining. Not anymore.

As you can see, I write. As you cannot see, I have dyslexia. My spelling errors, which are a lack of ability to retain many word spellings in my brain, and mistakes due to reversals, are seemingly endless to edit. Nonetheless, dyslexia serves me with a mind movie kind of imagination. I constantly think in images, creating story scenes with  ‘people’ you can’t forget in realistic fiction. I also turn things and images in many directions, obviously letters and numbers. But I don’t use a measuring tape to hang pictures or curtain rods because of my spacial ability. I know if a piece of furniture will fit a space, and I’m within an inch just by eyeballing. A three demential view of two dimensions is common. Hence, I don’t complain about dyslexia.

ADD is Another Directional Daydream. My mind flits. I form multifaceted stories with this barrier/ability. While writing, I perceive the present, future and past, quite similar to a movie. In the end, just as any daydreamer does, I come back to the present. This forms my plot, subplots and brings the story to a plausible conclusion.

However, beating the odds to have a manuscript accepted is an ongoing battle. This is my last draft—time to find a publisher! Not so fast. It can never be fast. Haste is waste in my world of dyslexia, and ADD takes the scenic route. Uh oh, so not my last draft. Throw on more coffee.

However, I did my time—I did it! I broke the “bound” barrier by respecting my barriers. Accepting what I’m bound by released me. My novel manuscript is back with my traditional publisher while I wait to see if she is pleased with my edits according to her instruction. This is an exhilarating and nail-biting good time!

I studied dyslexia and ADD and discovered what I should expect, and what I should respect about these gifts. My imagination is rich; I must be patient with the side effects. There sure is opportunity in loss.

 
Thanks for reading.

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Bipolar, Human Behaviour, information

Bipolar Season

The disability of the bipolar mind aches for sunshine.

Unaffected people don’t understand how the dim days have such an impact, and even our doctors cannot be empathetic, only sympathetic. But we can understand each other.

We know the reason for trying to stay in bed as long as possible is counterproductive to our condition. But it’s the season. Winter sucks in more ways than one. Everything takes longer in the winter. Clearing snow off cars, driving in slush and snow shaves time off the precious few hours of daylight we have. More layers of clothes take longer to put on. Walking takes longer. Coffee shop lineups take longer, because more people need that hot caffeine—and we with bipolar need more than that.

The problem is, treatment for depression in persons who have bipolar is dicey. Antidepressants can push the brain into mania, and no treatment with medication keeps us in the pit. So we must be carefully monitored by our doctor either way.

It’s bipolar season. We must be prepared each year if we live in areas where winter manifests with gobs of snow and breathtaking frigid temps. It’s cold, the sun makes a rather brief appearance, and the whole world looks grey in our view and in our heads. We need to work on our mood skills. And we can. It’s the middle of January, we have enough winter left for us to work on feeling less like we’ve died and are waiting to be put to rest. We’re alive, our brain needs our efforts. C’mon, let’s get up.

There are things we are able do to help ourselves. Sometimes it dreadfully difficult, but it is not insurmountable. What’s the alternative anyway?

Get up and go to bed around the same time, even on weekends. Our brain needs consistency.

Take medications as near to the same time as possible. Meds work best if the distribution to our bloodstream is regular.

Avoid alcohol. It’s a depressant. A sociable drink or two when you’re well isn’t terrible, but alcohol is easy to become addicted to because of its legal availability and the illusion of remedy.

No one who is depressed wants to go out unless a job pulls us out. If you don’t work outside your home, make yourself go into a mall. The stimulation is more than you’d think. Any reasonable stimulation for our brain is good even though we may not feel it. Go have a coffee or tea somewhere, preferably with a friend. If a friend isn’t available, go anyway. Sit in, finish your coffee or tea while listening to alive sounds of conversation murmurs and dishes clinking in the kitchen. It’s a small step, but it makes a big difference in our human brain, our weary mind.

Play some favourite music. I know it won’t feel like it’s your favourite, nothing really does during depression. So just do it. While it’s playing, go make your bed so you’re less inclined to get back in it. Watch a movie or surf Netflix. It’s helps with mind racing if there’s something to focus on.

Remember to eat properly. It helps to combat fatigue.

Text a friend or two and tell them you feel empty. Ask for a voice conversation. Don’t hide the fact you’re depressed. It shows in your eyes, voice, and body language anyway, so tell a friend you need support.

Accept company even when you’d rather hide in your jammies and mindlessly scroll past Facebook ads. It need not be a long visit, but it’s reassuring to not feel like the last human on earth.

Write yourself a note about how you’re feeling before and after doing something to stimulate your mind. Eventually you’ll see what makes the biggest difference.

Do some housecleaning, especially in the room you spend most of your time. Clear surroundings declutter the mind, too. And colour! Adult colouring books are the best invention ever.

If you’re having racing thoughts, remember it’s just the depression speaking. If you have thoughts about taking your life, call for help. Don’t second guess yourself, call immediately. There are different numbers for various areas, so jump on Google and type in suicide hotline and your city, province or state. Your life is worth way more than you think. No one is going to be better off without you, including you.

If you live with someone, tell them you are depressed. If you live alone, make sure a friend or two knows. It’s a pretty hard secret to keep. It makes us feel very alone.

One of the most important things to do is remember this is temporary. Even a long temporary is still not forever. And you have bipolar, you are not bipolar. Keep your identity with your given name. Remember this always.

We have bipolar. We are creative. We are survivors. We are strong, and we all love it when spring comes—winter is also temporary. We have so much to offer. We have talents and maybe they’re still hidden, but we do have talent; it is a magnificent gift to share. Check out “famous bipolar people” on Google. I could hardly get my fattened head through the door when I saw who I share this big ole bipolar with. We can do this bipolar season. We’re nearing the end of it. Keep your chin up. Give yourself a smile in the mirror. That tricks the brain, believe or not, into thinking we are happier than we feel.

We matter. Bipolar, bipolar, let wellness come over.

Thanks for reading.

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Cat lovers, cats mental health, information

Cats and Depression

Staying in dark, quiet places spells trouble if it is becoming your cat’s habit.

Cats do like dark quiet places to rest, but if you notice they’re spending more time away from the family than usual, your cat may be becoming depressed. If you’re like me and your cat or cats are not merely pets, but family members, you’ll notice their absents rather quickly.

Sax is my Maine Coon. He’s the one with his face showing in the photo. We traveled to another town to get him not knowing our choice would be him. I was looking for a black and white female as I was told they have dynamic personalities. This little girl kitten wasn’t looking for me. She pushed all of her legs against me in protest to cuddles. It’s unusual for a cat or kitten to push me away. My friend calls me Dr. Doolittle when we walk. Neighbourhood cats follow me, dogs strain leashes to get head rubs. Meanwhile, the only striped kitten of the litter had his sights fixed on me and my hubby. We held him and he loosed the purrs instantly. (Wrap ’em up!) He rode in the car like  he owned it, and he has no adjustment period at his new home. He was in and that was that. He lives up to his name, too, entertaining us with his personality and antics.

Sax became more aggressive with me as he got into his teenager-type years, I was his cat friend. I played hide and go seek with him, I roughed him up on the bed for a good ole cat fight simulation, and I taught him many tricks, words and phrases. I let him chase me, and I chased him. But it became apparent he needed another cat to chum with and do cat stuff, like the mutual washing. I adore my cat, but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy cat fur on my tongue. Ew—haha. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

We adopted a rescue. Sax growled for four days. I kept Purrla in a separate room when I wasn’t present. Purrla was the size of a large muffin when I brought her home with blue eyes. Tender loving care was showered upon her as she was abandoned by her mother. When she finally meowed with her teeny voice, the gentle giant realized she was a baby cat and took over from there. He taught her the life of cat ways, washing her and often sitting on her to clean her back feet and her bottom after using the litter box. He showed her how to open the cabinet by the stove, how to toss a catnip toy around, and she was shown how to change the pitch of her meow to get treats. It was sweet to watch.

All was well for years. But Purrla has totitude. She goes out of her way to take swings at him, and she is trying to take over what was first his domain. Instead of fighting back, he tolerates her. He’s a big boy, he could send her rolling, but he takes the abuse.

I recently noticed his absents at night while bingeing on Netflix by the fireplace. In the day I was looking for him, too. He decided my writing lair closet was his safe place.

My husband didn’t agree cats could get depressed. It’s a good thing I know they can.

I went and got Sax to come downstairs with Purrla, me and his dad, who is of course my husband. If he left and went back to the closet, I’d turn on the light, sit with him and gently speak to him, petting him and scratching under his chin, backs of his ears. I’d pick him up and carry him back downstairs. I’d do that a few times a night if necessary. In the day I kept bringing him out and talking almost constantly to him. I’ve been doing this for a couple weeks and the improvement is vast. His eyes don’t look sad now. He’s starting to come when I call him. He’s been sleeping in areas I’m in during the day. He walks faster, he plays with toys, he asks for treats, and his appetite has improved.

Purrla is being disciplined and she’s adjusting her little black and red coat attitude. Yes, it is possible to train and discipline a cat. No, really. Expect a scratch and spit here and there, and you’ll be shunned with tail flicks, but it is possible to reroute their behaviour. Notice she isn’t cuddled up to him? I’m sad they aren’t good buddies.

I caught Sax’s descent into depression early. I’m no stranger to depression, so I could relate to his wanting to hide in dark, quiet places. It’s true. Our beloved fur babies can become depressed. Watch for hiding, appetite decrease, and, although it may seem weird, look at their eyes. Their eyes change shape slightly with cat’s facial expressions, so depressed cats look a lot like they do when you’re loading them up for a vet trip. Also, their tails tell a lot. A cat walking around with their tail up is good. Tails close to the legs indicates unhappiness of some sort. Whiskers, too. Straight out to the side or perked forward is good, pointing to the floor, not so good.

Am I a cat specialist? No. Do I research and learn because I’m a devoted cat mom and the subject has interested me since childhood? Yup. That’s it. I’m a hopelessly committed cat lady.

Here’s to furry mental heath, and ours, too.

Thanks for reading.

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encouragement, Human Behaviour, Human Nature, information

Bipolar! Now What?

That mind-numbing moment when a doctor tells us that we have bipolar disorder.

Fresh hell! It’s like being sucked into a black hole—no air, no light, no hope—no direction. Mouth dries, can’t swallow. We are now labeled—tagged—might as well write mental reject or maniac or lifeless loser on our foreheads with red permanent marker so everyone can be as afraid of us as we are of ourselves. In the abyss, we’re reeling aimlessly. Head rush. We don’t even hear the doctor explain to us what exactly it is. He or she is telling us is, “Take this medication.” We hear the seemingly amplified scribbling sounds of the prescription being written.

For some, a GP will paste this new identity on our forehead after we were brought in by family, a friend or partner—for being “crazy,” the sharp word they used.

Perhaps we have been hospitalized, observed, micromanaged… then the dreaded news comes from a psychiatrist. Now a nurse holds out a tiny paper cup with our pills; sour apple juice. Friends don’t come to the hospital to visit—because we are too ashamed to let them. We may or may not remember what we did to end up in a crisply made bed in a room with no area carpet, no computer, no stuff we recognize as our own. The bathroom mirror is missing. Gone from the ugly rolling table, too. No sharps, not even nail clippers; that’s the rule.

Either way, we have a mental illness diagnosis. Really?

Bipolar, the two-headed Beast. It scares the hell out of us, because we know nothing about it when we’re diagnosed except the standard one-size-fits-all Oxford Dictionary definition: adj. 1 having two poles or extremities. 2 characterized by two extremes. 3 (of psychiatric illness) characterized by both mania and depression. No wonder the general public assumes that bipolar persons are “happy one minute and sad the next.” If only our episodes lasted a mere minute, and if only it was merely happiness or sadness…. Anyone who has bipolar knows that it is so much more than that—it’s anxiety and panic attacks, uncontrolled, scary, weird, negative or delusional thoughts. Inability to fall asleep or concentrate. Hyperrealistic sensory faculty. Lack of or too much confidence, anger episodes, weeping, death wishes or grandiose plans. We float up to extreme highs and regret what we say and do. We are pushed off a cliff and feel dead.

Perhaps we despise this label, bipolar disorder. Yet like a can of food, without a label, we don’t know what it is—what’s in us. Bipolar disorder is manageable—because of the label—believe this.

I was diagnosed in 1984 when they called it manic depressive disease. I lived in a psychiatric hospital during a severe manic episode, psychotic and terrified, then utterly depressed. Upon release after a few months with medications, and settled in at home with my young child, I utilized the library to research my illness. Computers weren’t readily available. I had to own it and educate myself, for me, my boy. I fashioned that section dust free. Discovering I have bipolar type 1 answered my “what’s in me” questions. This gained knowledge is my weapon against the Beast. I never did kill it entirely, but it has been tamed considerably.

The foremost strategy in managing bipolar is to understand it. Learn why people get ill with it (genetically predisposed; severe childhood trauma; nasty drug and alcohol additions in family history etcetera), discover the symptoms in detail as to recognize what’s happening so we can thrust a sword into the Beast before it takes our heads into its jagged-toothed jaws.

I learned what the triggers are, and I learned strategies to help myself—because the doctors talked about medication, gave me more, but never told me what researching helped me understand what I know today. Triggers are persistent distress (like an unhealthy relationship/toxic people, or jobs); missing medication doses or not having a medication schedule and sticking to it; finances not properly managed. Worrying is deadly, and not having a proper sleep schedule is equally detrimental. Negative self-talk has absolutely no purpose.

Added medications from a doctor can be helpful for controlling moods and the many other symptoms I described earlier. If they are not, never give up, try something different. Be assertive with doctors, tell of feelings and moods, research bipolar medications and ask about them. More often than not, medication combinations will help a lot along with wellness strategies. Looking up medications also helped me to understand their purpose, side effects and benefits. I had to be diligent about helping myself, because if I didn’t, who would do this for me?

With internet we are able to research, but make sure a source is given to follow up. My rule is I need to see information three separate places before I consider it to be accurate. After all, the internet is convenient and loaded with information, but realistically, any “know-it-all” can post answers or create a paying website.

I’m proposing a few sites I know to be authentic. First, I found an engaging documentary on YouTube. The introduction reveals what the general public thinks bipolar is; disturbingly, the lack of education isn’t surprising. However, the documentary (video) is highly relatable to persons who have bipolar disorder and, if family members and friends will watch it, they’ll gain insight since it is a series of interviews with people who experience the multifaceted symptoms. Beneficial characteristics are mentioned by the interviewees, too. Intelligence and creativity are hallmark traits. Never forget this. Famous bipolar persons are also mentioned—and our world would be lacking without them. Medications which persons find helpful are also mentioned. It’s worth watching for an hour and 23 minutes. Thus far there are 37 videos one can subscribe to, it’s copyrighted (2013) and likely to available long term, so, Google, “Up/Down” Bipolar Disorder Documentary. There is also, The Black Dog. It is a creative, insightful animation describing depression. An exceptional site is, Psychcentral.com. This site is loaded with various subjects pertaining to bipolar and other mental illnesses as well as medications. Explore it if you will. But! The most gratifying thing I ever did was to google “famous bipolar people.” Best way to get a fat head—try it—I’m left with a lasting impression. We bipolar humans are in a genre of people who are undoubtedly intelligent, entertaining, expressive, creative, and either successful or have the potential to be accomplish much.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance. Stability can be found through lifestyle, educating ourselves, healthy eating, medication(s), and our “I’m going to tame the Beast” attitudes.

Be well, stay well.

 

 

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