"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Wattpad Workshop

I don't know if any of my fellow writers out there are the same as me, but I find that if I don't challenge myself frequently (with courses, workshops, writing prompts, etc), then my ambition grows stagnant. I don't feel the urge or the inspiration to write, and my time gets taken over by other things. Suddenly, I'll realize it's been weeks, even months, since I wrote anything.

So, in an effort to prevent laziness and boredom from taking over, I've decided to take part in Alice Kuipers Wattpad Workshop. She's doing a series, the first of which deals with inspiration and writer's block. We're only one week in but I already love it. Our writing prompt for this week was to write from the perspective of someone who's had a brain injury in the part of the brain that controls imagination and ideas. I had so much fun writing it that I thought I'd share it with you. Let me know what you think!

The clock is ticking in the corner. I look at it, try to feel something for the sound it makes. I can remember vaguely a sensation I used to feel when I heard it, the way it used to stir things inside me, things I can now no longer recall.

I sit up and shake my head, turning to stare out the window instead. The rain is pelting down against the window, showering the grass and sidewalk in waves. The sky is grey. The clouds heavy, hovering just above the trees. An optical illusion, I tell myself, as I watch the rain fall.

The feeling of familiarity remains. Rain used to create a similar reaction to the ticking of the clock. But there is no stirring inside, no rush of emotions. Instead, it is simply pretty.

The drops of rain thud against the roof, the percussive sound joining with the clock. Occasionally, the crack of thunder adds its bellow and I sit, listening as I stare out the window.

James should have been home by now. He said he's be home from the gym by four o'clock. His workouts had grown longer and more frequent since I'd come home from hospital, one of the many, almost imperceptible changes in our relationship since the accident.

I would catch him watching me with a strange look in his eye, one I didn't recognize. I know I'd changed. He'd told me so. And there were the feelings of longing, of loss for something I couldn't identify.

I realized it was possible that he was no longer at the gym, that he'd never gone there to begin with. I knew there must be a reason why he wasn't home when he said he'd be. But I couldn't for the life of me think of what it could be. So, I sit and wait, wondering why I feel so empty inside.

There we have it! As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome in the comments section (and are greatly appreciated!) I hope you enjoyed my little attempt, and are enjoying this slightly fiction heavy week. Have a great day!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Grey and Drizzly Monday

Well, I've made it just under the wire. Sorry the blog post is so late today. I was supposed to have a solid two hours between work and other commitments this evening, but unfortunately I ended up having to stay at work for the two hours instead of investing it here. You want to know the funny part? I'm still not finished my work! I was just so exhausted and already late to my other commitments that I just threw up my hands and decided to leave it be until tomorrow.
It doesn't help that today was grey, rainy and windy again. If this is how summer's going to play out I'd better start saving my pennies for a vacation. I can't go through another winter without a whole lot of sun to prepare me.
In any case, I thought the miserable weather was the perfect atmosphere for playing with the imagination and dashing off a little flash fiction. I hope you enjoy it.

Marguerite's Keys

Marguerite has an obsession with keys. She collects them wherever she can find them, in antiques shops, rummaging through limp, dog-eared boxes at garage sales, in pockets of abandoned coats at thrift stores. She's even found them in the gutter, flashing as they catch the light amidst the dirt and leaves. 
Her very favourite few she wears on necklaces, strung on delicate ropes of gold chain. Others she's mounted on canvas or in shadow boxes, while even more remain littered across shelves or nestled in drawers. She keeps the lucky ones hidden around her house, a few on top of the fridge to guarantee she'll never go hungry, one inside her wallet for good fortune, and a few along her windowsills to guard against evil spirits. 
Each key opens something or locks it inside. Some are keys to good and special things, like love, empathy and truth. Others are for ugly things, such as distrust, jealousy and selfishness. She keeps these keys hidden in the basement, but she doesn't get rid of them. It's important to hold onto them, to know where they are so no one else can unlock them without her permission. 
But the most important key she keeps under her bed. It sits in a little wooden box, painted in bright colours. Every so often as Marguerite climbs into bed, she'll slip her hand down and feel for it, running her fingertips along its edges. She smiles as she drifts off to sleep, knowing that she can use it anytime she wants. It's her most important key, the key to possibility. 

There we have it! A cold rainy day ending on the hint of possibility. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have a great evening!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award. I was nominated by Muddy Kinzer of Muddying the Waters. She nominated me for Five Sentence Fiction Fridays, which was incredibly sweet. I love Five Sentence Fiction Fridays, not just for the creative fun but also because of all your comments. I love hearing from all of you!

As usual, these blog awards come with a whole slew of rules that make it seem a little more like a chain letter than an award, but nonetheless I'm very honoured, so thanks Muddy!

The rules state that if you're nominated you should first of all, thank the person who nominated you and link back to their website. Done. Second, you must nominate fifteen other blogs. When I saw that I almost fainted. Fifteen other blogs?! Why the hell so many? I don't even follow that many blogs, and some of the ones I do have already been nominated. So, that left me with a conundrum and I decided to take charge of the situation. I'm nominating ten blogs. That's already way too many and I couldn't come up with any more so it'll have to do. And if I've nominated you, please don't feel the pressure to come up with even this many. Just try to recognize a few blogs you think are outstanding. Here are my nominations:

1. Lillie McFerrin Writes - I had to nominate Lillie for one simple reason: Five Sentence Fiction. She is the creator of the challenge and the reason I received this award to begin with. You must check it out and join in the fun!

2. Bullish Ink - Creativity simply oozes from the screen every time I visit this amazing site. Ruth Long has true talent!

3. Home for Dinner - This blog is run by Amy Jo Ehman, author of Prairie Feast: A Writer's Journey Home for Dinner. Everything on her blog looks delicious, and I love her passion for local foods. This blog is a must see for all the foodies out there!

4. Alice Kuipers - a lovely blog with writing advice and prompts. Her most recent YA novel, 40 Things I Want to Tell You, is a work of literary art. A book every person should read. It's positively riveting.

5. Hip Paris - My husband and I have decided to visit Paris next year for our fifth wedding anniversary, and since that moment I've been devouring anything and everything Paris related. Hip Paris shares so many insider tips, reviews and stories about Paris, I could spend hours reading and perusing their sight.

6. God I Love Paris - This blog is run by Amy Thomas, author of the delectable book Paris, My Sweet. It's a great book, cute funny and delicious! I actually stumbled upon her blog by accident while reading her book. It was kismet!

7. Sweet Freak - This is Amy Thomas' original blog. It keeps its readers in the know about amazing restaurants, bakeries, candy stores, etc. focusing on the sweet. Mostly her focus is on New York and Paris, but there are a few others and either way, she always makes me hungry!

8. Erin Morgenstern - I love her Flax Golden Tales, not to mention her book, The Night Circus. She makes the whole world feel magical and mysterious.

9. Amy McKay - Author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure, she's an amazing writer. I use her blog as a kind of nicotine patch to keep me going while I wait for her next book.

10. The Bloggess - She doesn't need my help or promotion, but that's not required in the rules. I love her zany humor and utter strangeness. Her real name is Jenny Lawson, and she the author of the NYT bestseller Let's Pretend This Never Happened.

The last rule of the Versatile Blogger Award is to share seven random facts about yourself. I found this one actually kind of fun. Enjoy this look into my strange and twisted mind.

1. I have a severe sweet tooth, especially for chocolate, but only the simple stuff. Do not dilute my treats with nuts, dried fruit and other such nonsense. Keep it simple!

2. I'm secretly very shy. People that know me never believe me when I tell them, but it's true. I put on a good show of being confident, but trying new things and meeting new people give me stomach aches of anxiety.

3. I have an identical twin. When I meet new people, I always have to warn them: "if you're out and about, see me and try to say hi and I look at you like you're crazy - it's not me!" My sister used to teach gymnastics to children and I can't tell you how many times random children would run up and hug me and I'd have no idea who they were...

4. I have a Great Dane named Maddie and two bunnies named Poppet and Widget.

5. I don't have a favourite movie, song or book. I find the idea of choosing impossible!

6. I have a weird and sometimes dark sense of humour. I delight in the absurd, sarcastic and self deprecating.

7. I do not have a green thumb (it's more of a putrid black) but I love trying to grow things in the garden. Whenever I manage to coax something up from the dirt I feel tremendously proud.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Silence

Welcome to yet another beautiful Friday. I'm especially happy today, because I've been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by Muddy Kinzer over at Muddying the Waters for my Five Sentence Fiction Fridays. (Wow, that's a long sentence!) I'm very flattered, and you'll be hearing more about it and what it means tomorrow. Today is reserved for Five Sentence Fiction, and today's prompt is silence. If you'd like to participate, or just learn more about it, visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

Tranquil is the night.. I've always found that the night is really only as tranquil as the person walking in it. Tonight, the darkness presses in around me; thick, heavy and smothering. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, the ever present feeling that I'm not alone. It takes me a moment to put my finger on the cause of my discomfort,but there it is: it's entirely too quiet out here.
Despite my foreboding, I don't see it coming, and the only break in the silence of the dark night air is my gasp of surprise; a short burst of sound that ends as quickly as it began.

There you have it! As always, I greatly welcome all of your thoughts and comments in the comments section below. (Not only do I welcome them, I cherish them!) Please feel free to follow this blog via email (on the right side of the page) and don't forget to follow me on twitter @MelanieKCole! If you're still hungry for more Five Sentence Fiction, check out the links below and read my attempts from previous weeks. Have a great weekend everyone!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Foggy
Five Sentence Ficiton Friday - Sombrero
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Candy
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Explosive
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Wicked
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Armor
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tears

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rainy Days

The rain has finally let up. It's been going non-stop (sometimes a gentle pitter patter, sometimes heavy with gusting winds) since Monday night. And it's amazing how rain can affect the psyche in so many different ways.

For me, it depends on the kind of rain. For the past few days it's been chilly, windy and grey. At first, it made me feel cozy and snuggly. All I wanted to do was wrap up in blankets, close the blinds and watch movies or read a good book. The weather outside was so cold it made me want to bake something, just to fill the house with warmth and good smells. But as the days and hours progressed, I grew sick of the chill, the dampness, the lack of reprieve. I grew cranky and ill-tempered, annoyed every time I looked out the window and saw nothing but grey and drizzle.

As it turns out, there's really only one kind of rain that I enjoy and that's a summer thunderstorm. You know what I mean. I'm talking about the kind of storm that erupts after days of sickeningly sweet heat. The kind of storm where the rain feels warm on your skin, where the sky lights up with lightening and thunder echoes menacingly through the walls. These are the storms where I open the blinds, turn off the lights and watch it all play out. Where the only lights I'll allow are candles because I like the way the flames flicker and dance.

Unfortunately, the last few days have not been like this. They've been miserable and cold and wet. Even now, with the rain finally gone, the days remain cold. The sun is remote in the sky, refusing to share her warmth. It doesn't feel like May, that's for sure. At least the rain has stopped for now. We can dry out and cross our fingers that soon the days will warm up again and summer will be around to stay. Cause honestly, I don't know if my husband can take another grumpy, rainy day me. (Not that I blame him)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Charm of Fairy Tales

What is it about fairy tales that so enchants us?

As children they open our eyes to the possibility of magic and good and evil. They assist in the initial stretching of our imaginations and create in us a sense of awe and wonder. Which of us can look back on our childhood and not remember a feeling of glee when Rapunzel cures her lover's blindness with her tears? A sense of foreboding when Hansel and Gretel are invited inside the gingerbread house?

I've found that my love of fairy tales has endured into my adulthood. I cannot shake my love of them, the imagination of their writers. I have a deep, residing respect for the creators of fairy tales. Who first imagined the concept of a mermaid? Who came up with the idea of fairy godmothers, glass slippers, poisoned combs and enchanted apples? I'm inspired by the idea of such boundless imaginations. And today, we re-imagine them. We stretch them and twist them and make them new again, so we can enjoy them over and over. Those past storytellers have given us an endless stepping stone to creating beautiful tales for years to come.

I read just such a tale today. It's called Mermaid, and it's written by Carolyn Turgeon. There have been many who've taken a swing at the classic tale of the little mermaid, some good and some bad. This one was good. In an effort to keep from giving anything away, let me just tell you this: she took the idea, expanded on it and gave it more layers. It's lovely, creative and I had a hard time putting it down. I recommend that you all give it a try.

What are your favourite re-imagined fairy tales? Please tell us all about them in the comments section below! There's nothing better than a good book, and I'm in the mood for fairy tales. Let's help each other out and pass on the word about similarly fantastic fairy tales.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Long Weekend

This long weekend has been busy and wonderful so far, so busy and wonderful that I've neglected to post until now. Not only that, but I don't have much that's interesting to tell you. Highlights of the weekend so far include yard work, pina colada soft serve ice cream (so good!), and tonight: going jogging. This was the first actual workout I've done besides walking the dog in quite some time. And it actually went pretty well. Of course, we'll see what tomorrow brings. Could be that I wake up with legs of jello. So stay tuned! I will be back again on Tuesday, with the long weekend over, ready to bring you far better entertainment. Thank you for your patience!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Foggy

Welcome one and all to yet another Five Sentence Fiction Friday! Are you excited? Of course you are! It's Friday, and not just any Friday either, it's the Friday before the long weekend. So, to celebrate the coming of the weekend, here is this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction. If you'd like to give it a try or find out the details, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. This week's prompt is foggy.

Coming to, I blinked against the bright light being flashed in my eyes.
"Sir, can you tell me your name?"
I looked around as the hospital room slowly came into focus around me; its cheaply upholstered chairs, the small TV in the corner and the stern face of the doctor. This was my only chance. I looked him straight in the eye and lied through my teeth.
"No, I have no idea."

And there you have it! I hope you have a fantastic long weekend, and remember: Be responsible! Do not drink and drive! Do not risk your safety and others by partying a little too hard and getting behind the wheel of a car! And for the love of God, do not leave your discarded beer bottles on my lawn! (Okay, that last one might have been more about me). If you haven't gotten your fill of Five Sentence Fiction,  please feel free to peruse the links below and read my previous attempts at Five Sentence Fiction Friday. Feel free to follow this blog and of course, find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Sombrero
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Candy
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Explosive
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Wicked
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Armor
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tears

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

National Flash Fiction Day

Today is National Flash Fiction Day, and in honour of the occasion I've done just that. I've written a short piece of fiction. I haven't decided on a title, I'm open to any suggestions you might have. In any case, I hope you enjoy it!

"Always lock the door before you leave." His stare was pointed, his face stern as he held the keys just above my waiting hand. "It's very important that you never forget."
I nodded gravely, eyes darting from his to the half finished painting waiting on the easel. The woman in the picture stared back at me, lips curved in a slight, mysterious smile. With a small nod, he dropped the keys into my hand and marched from the room without another word.
Alone in the workshop, I set to work. My job was simple. I was responsible for cleaning and organizing his studio every evening; carefully cleaning his brushes, putting away his paints and clearing away the various piles of rubbish he collected throughout the day. It was a dream come true, assisting such a legendary, albeit slightly quirky artist.
I did my work carefully, taking my time, relentlessly polishing and scrubbing until the entire studio shined. I was careful not to look too long at the unfinished painting. I found the woman's eyes unsettling. It was nothing new for a subject's eyes to follow you about the room, but there was something different about this one. I felt as though she could really see me.
When I was done, I stopped and took one, last, careful turn about the room. My eyes connected with her's and something strange happened. I found myself staring back. She seemed to have been waiting for me, waiting to catch my eye. She stood there, hand resting on the back of a chair, her long, red hair hanging over her shoulders, pale ivory skin gleaming against her darkened surroundings, that small, almost imperceptible smile on her face. Neither of us moved. We stood, facing each other, her eyes piercing into mine.
I can't explain what happened next. I can only say I did what I felt was right. I went into the cupboards, selected a paintbrush and a few paints and returned to the canvas. With careful, precise strokes I drew it in, placing it on the small table beside the chair. I didn't rest until it was done, until it was perfect. I cleaned the brush and put away the paints and left the studio, my gaze catching her's as I closed the door and locked it behind me. It seemed only fair to give her a key.

Happy National Flash Fiction Day! I hope you've enjoyed my contribution. As always, I welcome all your comments below in the comments section. If you've enjoyed this post and would like to receive notices of others, please feel free to follow this blog. I'm always greatly honoured when you do. If you'd like to follow me on twitter, you can do so @MelanieKCole. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Requiem for a Car

I haven't been around much lately. Mostly, because I spent the entirety of the weekend laying siege to my unruly yard (and winning). But also because I've been dealing with my car.

My car, a Honda Civic, is seventeen years old. It has almost 200,000 kilometers on it and I've been driving it since I was fifteen. I bought it from my parents when I was twenty and it's been my vessel to freedom ever since. It's always been an incredibly reliable car. It's gone through countless winters of -50 degrees Celsius without ever being plugged in and it's always started without a problem. It's crazy efficient on gas, eliciting moans of envy whenever I brag to people that I fill it up only once every two weeks. My car and I, we've had some good times together. I swear it can understand me, I've had more conversations with it than I can count. Most of them have involved me begging it to stop as we slid towards an intersection in the winter, but you know what? It always stopped.

But recently, my car has started to show its age. There's rust in a few places, and the battery has long since lost its will to amaze. The oil is always dirty and I'm no longer confident taking it on the highway. I was okay with all of this, I didn't mind treating my old girl to the long way around, to giving her extra long to warm up in the winter, or the fact that the AC stopped working. I didn't mind any of it, because she was still reliable. Sadly, that's changed.

Several weeks ago, my car started making horrible noises when I tried to start it, prompting me to bring it in for a full tune up. Over $1250 later, I was assured that my car still had many more kilometers ahead of her. Until less than a week later when there was a strange rattle and every time I braked my car screamed and jerked like it was being tortured. So, I brought my baby in again. As it turned out, they'd used the wrong caliper installing my new brake pads. (Don't ask me what a caliper is, I have absolutely no idea. In my head it's a metal caterpillar that lives in my brakes). Okay, no big deal, mistakes happen. Until a few weeks later when my oil light came on and my engine would rev at random when I put it in park. So, I checked the oil. They put WAY too much oil in my car. (I'm guessing they had someone new working on my car). So, I brought it in again. They took some oil out and handed me the keys. Finally, all should be well. Until a few days later, when I was driving and the engine light turned on. I drove straight to the mechanic's and by the time I made it there smoke was pouring out from under the hood of my car. I was terrified to say the least.

My car is in the shop as we speak, and I'm not especially pleased with my mechanic. I realize that this last event probably (I use the term loosely) isn't their fault, but I admit that I trust them about as far as I can throw them at this point. This is their last chance with my car before I find somewhere new. I realize that my car is old, and does not have long for this Earth. And so, I'm writing this for my car. You've served me well, beloved source of transportation. If you could possibly find it in your heart to serve me for just another year or two, I would be forever grateful (I just can't afford to replace you yet), but if you can't, I'll understand. You've been a great car.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Yard Work

I know I should have posted a lot sooner, put some time and effort into it, but all my time and effort was invested in my front yard today. I was up early this morning to go grocery shopping (my cupboards were EMPTY), and aside from walking the dog, the rest of my day was spent in my yard.

This year (same as every year) I've vowed to not be "that neighbour". I will not be the neighbour whose grass grows knee high before they cut it. I will not be the neighbour whose flower beds contain only the flowers of infesting weeds. I will not be the neighbour who never remembers to water her lawn, so while the weeds flourish, the grass is half dead and brown. This year will be different.

I've said this every single year since we bought our house, and every year I fail. But THIS year, I won't. I promise. And so far, I'm putting in the time to prove it. The garden patches I plan on keeping are all weeded and mostly planted. I'm turning the other ones into lawn to reduce maintenance. Tomorrow promises to be another full day of gardening, but I have to admit, I've been enjoying it. Last weekend it poured the entire time, and I found myself looking forward to work on Monday. I was so bored. But this weekend I've been loving it all. I can't wait to get back out there tomorrow. Yes, so far I'm doing great. Fingers crossed I don't peter out by the middle of summer. I tend to do that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Sombrero

Welcome to Five Sentence Fiction Friday! This week's prompt from Lillie McFerrin's awesome website, Lillie McFerrin Writes, is Sombrero. I will admit, this one stumped me for a bit. I saw it and thought, "sombrero? How am I supposed to turn that into Five Sentence Fiction?". Well, it's time to see if I could do it. This is my attempt below. Enjoy!

"So, what do you think?" He wiggled his eyebrows at her playfully.
She couldn't help but laugh at the sight of him in the giant, multi-coloured sombrero, a mexican fiesta all laid out on the table behind him. The God-awful ugliness of her day melted away as she pulled off his sombrero, placed it on her head and stood on tiptoe to give him a kiss.
"It's perfect," she whispered.

There we have it! Just in time for the weekend. If you'd like to read my other attempts at Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below. As always I welcome you to leave your comments below in the comments section. If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to follow this blog (it makes me exceptionally happy when you do) or follow me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Candy
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Explosive
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Wicked
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Armor
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tears

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview with Freelancer and Author Extraordinaire: Amy Jo Ehman

It gives me great pleasure to share with you a short interview I did with the very talented writer and journalist, Amy Jo Ehman. She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer my questions about freelancing. I highly encourage you to check out her website http://www.prairiefeast.com/ and her blog Home for Dinner. Enjoy!

After receiving a degree in journalism, Amy Jo Ehman worked at the Ottawa Citizen, Saskatoon Star Phoenix and CBC radio/TV before establishing a freelance career. She currently works from home in Saskatoon. She writes a food column (Home for Dinner) as well as reviews restaurants in a weekly feature called Taste Saskatoon in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and freelances to various media. Most recently, she filed articles to Zoomer, Nuvo, Alberta Venture, and Prairies North, and filed radio documentaries to CBC and NPR. Her book, Prairie Feast, A Writer's Journey Home for Dinner won the Saskatchewan Book Award and was shortlisted for a Cuisine Canada book award. It's available at bookstores and online at http://www.amazon.ca./

1. What attracted you to freelancing?

I worked in newsrooms for many years (newspaper, radio and TV) but I always had in the back of my mind that I would like to freelance one day. I was attracted to the freedom of working from home on projects of my choosing. As in anything, there are pros and cons, but for me, the pros far outweigh the cons.

2. In your experience, what have you found to be the Pros and Cons?

- I don't wake up to an alarm clock

- Cheap coffee
- I can take time off whenever I want
- Interesting and varied writing projects
- Time to pursue personal interests, such writing a book
- I don't wear makeup to work (a relief to a former TV reporter!)

- I took a significant cut in pay
- No benefits or paid vacations
- Workload ebbs and flows through the year

3. Have you found it difficult to make a living as a freelancer? What are your tips and tricks?

When I started freelancing, I wasn't sure I could make a living at it. My husband told me to try it for six months, and if it wasn't working out, I could find another job. That was more than ten years ago. In order to make a living, I have several projects on the go at all times. I'm constantly researching and pitching new story ideas. It's also important to have my personal finances in order so that I'm not relying on a set figure per month. Freelancing can be feast or famine, but I always have a personal project to turn to in the "down" times. For example, my food blog Home for Dinner. I also used my "free" time to write my first book, and now I'm researching a second book.

4. What can new writers expect should they choose a career in freelancing?

I started freelancing after working in the media for several years, so I had a number of contacts already in place before I set out on my own. That was a great base on which to start. Beginning freelancers may find it hard to open those doors. However, persistence and good story ideas will open the doors eventually. Very few freelance writers make "big bucks" so you should expect to trade some aspects of a consumer lifestyle for the freedom that freelancing brings.

5. What advice would you give to these budding writers?

Turn to personal contacts and referrals at the start. Pitch to media that you know well, with subjects that you know well, so that you can position yourself as the right person for the right idea. Put significant effort into your pitch letters and always maintain a professional tone, even in emails. Always strive to meet and exceed the editor's expectations. Never miss a deadline. Be a strong self-editor. Practice the simple skills of communication and negotiation so that you can manage your freelance career as a competent business professional.

Great advice from a great person. Thanks again, Amy! If you'd like to find out more about Amy Jo Ehman's blog or her book, check out the links provided at the top. Your comments are always welcome, so if you have any thought on freelancing or have any of your own tips, trick or cautions you'd like to share, please do so below in the comments section.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

And The Liebster Goes To...

Me! I have been nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by Sarah Nego Writes for my work in finishing the April Platform Building Challenge! I was so shocked and delighted when I saw it there in the comments, but also a little confused as I'd never heard of it before.

Basically, the Liebster is a kind of pass on the love award. It's awarded to small blogs (under 200 followers) for being awesome in some special way. It comes with a few rules, of course. Once you've been nominated, you thank the person who nominated you by linking back to them (which I've done above). Next, you nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers that you feel are worth celebrating. Naturally, you let them know they're nominated, by leaving a comment on one of their blog posts. And tah-dah! The love has been passed on! It's a great way to get the word out about great undiscovered blogs out there.

So, here goes. These are my nominees for the Liebster Blog Award. (A little throat clearing, followed by a drum roll).

Ruth Long - Bullish Ink - Utterly charming and creative, I love taking a wander on this beautiful site.
Claudine Jaboro - Fiction, Family and Science - A mix of the personal and the scientific, you'll be fascinated and entertained.
Shelly VanBinsbergen - The VanBinsbergens - The captivating stories of a very brave woman who moved her family to Africa for one year. Their journey started in February, it's not too late to catch up and follow along!
Lillie McFerrin - Lillie McFerrin Writes - The genius behind Five Sentence Fiction.

Please go and check out these sites, they're absolutely wonderful!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When They Unfollow

Over the past week, I've had five people unfollow me on twitter. It's a natural part of twitter and platform building. Some people only follow you to get a follow back, and when you don't they promptly unfollow you. This doesn't really bother me. I want people to follow me because they find me entertaining or because they're looking to connect and socialize over mutual interests. These are the people I follow back, people with similar interests I want to get to know better.

The ones that hurt are the ones who unfollow because they find you boring, irrelevant or disagreeable. This is to be expected, you can't please everyone. It's better to just be yourself and if people don't like it, then so be it. But it's still hard not to feel a little stung. I (like most people, I think) just want to be liked. The reality that not everyone is going to like you is a hard pill to swallow.

Back in my retail days, there was a fellow coworker that just didn't like me. She wasn't overtly cruel or aggressive, but it wasn't hard to see that she wasn't fond of me. She was confrontational, always disagreeable and at every turn, condescending. She never included me in staffroom discussions and generally just gave off a judgmental, high school type mean girl vibe.

To be fair, I wasn't overly fond of her either. Her emotionally stunted, high school-esque attitude was grating, and her ego was unbearable. At one point, I remember her looking at me, completely serious, and saying that she could "pull off anything". I smiled and nodded, despite the voice in my head chanting, "no you can't! I've seen you in skinny jeans and leopard print!" Nor did it help that she was always muffin topping pretty bad. But mostly, I didn't like her because she didn't like me. I was insulted by her general attitude that I should earn her friendship.

What flabbergasted me - and still does - was how everyone else just seemed to adore her, including one of my favourite coworkers. I'd immediately adored her for her sweetness and goodwill, and yet, she loved this other self important girl, and what was more, she liked her a lot more than me.

At the end of the day, it was one of the reasons I left the job. Working in a store full of women did not do wonders for my self esteem and I picked up the broken pieces of myself and moved on. But it taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason for who people will like and who they won't. There's no point in taking it personally.

I don't kid myself that I'm different or more special than anyone else. I'm just working towards a dream. I'm trying to build a successful writing career. With that comes platform building. And with both it's always two steps forward, one step back. But you have to keep moving forward, no matter how frustrating. Without it you're just standing still.

It's hard to put yourself out there and open yourself up to the criticism and judgment of others. It will always sting when people decide you aren't for them, but remember, for every five people that don't like you, there's someone that really will. And if I touch or entertain just one person, it'll all be worth it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Candy

Welcome one and all to a very special Five Sentence Fiction Friday. This week's prompt on Lillie McFerrin's Website (click the link to find out how you can join in the fun) is Candy. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I could write about candy all day long. It's one of my truest loves. So I was very excited to have a crack at it for Five Sentence Fiction. Below is my take. I hope you enjoy it!

Ooey, gooey toffee, soft, fluffy marshmallow and crisp, fresh peppermint; my hands were undiscerning as they pulled and tugged at the charming candy house. The angry rumble of my stomach quieted as I filled it with treats, licking my fingertips as I reached out for more.
"Poor, hungry child, come inside where the best candies are."
The wrinkled old woman stuck her white feathered head out the window, waving me inside. Still hungry, I did as I was told, despite the echoes in my head telling me I should never take candy from strangers.

So, what do you think? Did I make you hungry? I hope so, cause every time I think of soft, fluffy marchmallows my mouth waters. If you'd like to read my other attempts at Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below. You are more than welcome to follow this blog, as well as myself on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great weekend everyone!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Explosive
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Wicked
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Armor
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tears

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Time for a Tune Up

The pungent smell of rubber
The hideous whir and buzz of machinery
The sharp pokes and scrapes of metal tools
The toe clenching sound of those previously mentioned metal tools

Does it sound familiar? Can you guess where I was today? Yes, that's right. The dentist. I went to the dentist this afternoon for another semi-annual cleaning. And in two weeks I'll be visiting him again for two fillings. And tomorrow, I'm going to the doctor for a physical. I feel like a car going in for a tune up.

I won't lie to you. I'm one of the many, many people out there that hate going to the dentist. And it's not because my dentist is mean or cruel (he actually reminds me a lot of Mr. Rogers), or because the dental hygienists responsible for the cleaning are rude or rough. They're not. They're very pleasant and thoughtful. I go to a lovely dentist office. Even the receptionists are nice.

No, what I hate about the dentist office is the sensorial displeasure. I can't stand the sound of the metal tools on my teeth, the feel of the scraping and picking as they work. I have to close my eyes and concentrate on breathing so I don't tap out and running screaming from the office. The smell of the rubber gloves is nauseating, I hate the way they dry out my lips and leave their taste in my mouth. And the gritty, sand in the teeth feel of the polish has me white knuckling the arms of the chair, refusing to swallow for fear that I'll taste it. I require endless amounts of rinsing and I still swear I can feel the grittiness every time I clench my teeth.

Unfortunately, the dentist is an unavoidable part of life. As much as I hate it, the alternative is far worse. Any time I see someone with rotten or stained teeth, I store the image in my head for when I'm in the dentist's chair. One day (God willing) there will be a book out there with a picture of me on the back. And I want to have a nice (albeit slightly crooked) smile. So really, I do all this for you, beloved readers. Every six months I force myself into that chair and sit nicely through it all just for you. You're welcome. In return, I expect you to (one day) buy my book. I think that's fair.