I need to admit something: I am not happy. Every person’s definition of happiness varies, but for me, I can say that I have not truly been happy for a long time now. My pre-existing knack for clinging to the old, the better times, is kicking in but it’s not enough now.
Since I’m the writer of my life, I’m choosing to end this darker chapter of my life now. I need to get myself back to the place I used to be in. I yearn to feel the same excitement and elation that comes with a new bout of creativity—I feel that, slowly, it is inkling back into my life, bringing revival with it.
The scariest part is deciding when enough is enough, and that you cannot settle for unhappiness. Life is way too short to deprive yourself of the things that bring you joy. The best growth I’ve ever experienced during these times is that you can choose to change your situation. You have the power to vanquish its hold on you. So, if you are going through a dark chapter in your life, consider writing its ending, and starting on a much happier chapter as opposed to just waiting for it to end.
As writers, we’re powerful. We craft whole stories, breathe characters into being, create entire universes. We can implement our power to alter our lives, and make it into something unbelievable. No, you may not be the richest or the most famous, but you can be the happiest you’ve ever been, and I’ve quickly come to learn that happiness is one of the most valuable things one can have.
October 10th is Canadian Thanksgiving and the entire month of October Canada Post is offering me free shipping on Tuesdays within Canada. (I’m Canadian.) That means giveaways! Yay!
Here’s the scoop: I will randomly be drawing names throughout the month and sending these winners surprise packages–a signed book.
Is this giveaway open to readers from outside of Canada? Yes. While I only receive free shipping inside Canada this month, I will randomly draw the odd international name as well–names from outside of Canada. These winners, to keep costs down, may receive a book straight from the printer’s which means it will not come signed. (These winners can request a signed book plate sticker from me (Jean Oram) to place inside their book.)
Click to fill out the entry form below to enter in the book giveaway. All names and addresses will be kept private and will not be shared or made public. They will be deleted at the end of the giveaway.
P.S. Must be of legal age to enter. No prize substitutions or cash value. Duplicate entries will be removed. Giveaway runs until October 25th–the last day Canada Post offers me free shipping on Canadian orders.
In the meantime, don’t forget you can get a free book from me right now–Sweet Treats! This is a limited time offer as I’m writing a NEW book for my newsletter subscribers so snag this one before it’s gone!
I have been thinking a lot about retirement lately. Trying to decide at what point I'm going to hang up my teacher spurs and turn to writing full-time. Despite the fact that I'm just in love with my kids again, there are times when I yearn for the ability to do this regularly. Get up early because I want to. Read. Write. Promote. Exercise. As my old friend Dan Daniel always used to say, make every week six Saturdays and a Sunday.
But then I think about just how much I was looking forward to today. A single uncluttered day in the midst of calendar slots filled with school activities and writing activities and church activities. And it takes me back to the summer, when I had great long stretches of days with literally nothing requiring my time. I took them for granted. I took no great joy in them. I failed to take advantage in the way I should have. I mean yes, I did travel a good deal and spend time with people I treasure, but I didn't get nearly the writing done that I could have and I definitely didn't read as much as I could have. Why? Because I had all the time in the world. If I didn't get 5,000 words written today, that's all right--I have tomorrow. Until I didn't. And then I looked back on all that time I didn't use how I could have. I'm not on a guilt trip. It was a good summer. But what I'm saying is that I tend not to appreciate free time unless I don't have it. Intellectually, I know that it's finite, but I'm not always intellectual. Sometimes I'm lazy and unfocused.
But not on days like today. Today I'm like a laser. Reading. Writing. Cleaning up my room. Enjoying the fact that tomorrow, when it's back to the rat race of church and school and ClutchMOV stuff, I'll be able to look back at a day spent well.
Late on in 2015, the Daily Telegraph began changing its main site. Commenting disappeared from some articles. By Easter 2016, virtually all of DT had moved to a new look and feel. The blogging platform, My Telegraph, remained untouched. It was legacy and obviously low priority, a system ready for the chop. This was a hidden community that could have been much more user groups such as Rugby, Finance, Book Club, Job and Careers, Expat, Corduroy Mansions, The Archers Messageboard, Politics,Travel, Technology... there was much potential but these groups just withered for lack of attention. The DT didn't respond to questions about the future of the platform. Users speculated and began to make plans. It was only a matter of time before the plug was pulled, which happened June 2016. Usernames, blogs, groups and platform all disappeared, lost in the final dark of: no servers, no data. History. Ah yes, I forgot History. The link is of course dead.
*As a social site, users were prone to petty acts of spite – they had vendettas and ganged up on each other. Doubtless this helped convince DT of the wisdom of closing it. The community became a net diaspora and survives on Facebook and WordPress. There is a closed group at https://www.facebook...12280382310342/ and several WordPress presences.
For old time’s sake, here’s a memory:
More info on DT's My Telegraph.
Once Upon a Typewriter:
It was a lovely sunny day, on a quiet street tucked away from the world, where Delilah came across a shed, abandoned by time. She cautiously approached the shed and was surprised to find all of the trinkets and treasures before her eyes.
Page 1 (with illustrations)
As soon as Delilah placed her hand on the dusty old typewriter, she knew she had to have it. “Was it stealing?” she thought to herself or was it hers to keep? Delilah decided to that she couldn’t possibly part with her new found treasure. After exploring the run down structure for some other forgotten treasure, she headed home, typewriter in tow.
Page 2 (with illustrations)
Delilah darted through the living room, up the stairs to her room, slamming the door with excitement. She gently placed the typewriter on her desk, clearing space for the new toy. Some of the keys on the typewriter had faded over time, so Delilah would have to do some research on how to properly clean and repair this new gadget.
Page 3 (with illustrations)
As soon as the new typewriter was polished and good as new, Delilah was finally ready to write her very first story. Sitting quietly at her desk, gazing out the window of their old farmhouse, Delilah could see a shadow cast by the full moon that gently touched the trees, yet appeared to be a castle, it was such a lovely illusion. Snapping to it, Delilah knew the topic of the new book!
Page 4 (with illustrations)
“I know!” Delilah gleefully gasped as her fingers started to dance over the keys, as if the story was flowing out of her, with an unstoppable driving force. Starting on page 4, she was so enveloped in her writing that Delilah failed to notice her surroundings changing. She could not believe her eyes when she finally realized what happened. Delilah was IN her story!!
Page 5 (with illustrations)
“What is going on?” Delilah quietly thought to herself, “This MUST be a dream”, panic set in and she felt lost. “Ok, pull yourself together” she shouted to herself. This was all so real. Delilah slumped down on a rock, overlooking a beautiful valley full of flowers, just like in her story. It was just as Delilah had imagined it would be.
Page 6 (with illustrations)
After the initial shock of what just happened passed over her, like a fog lifting. Delilah had a plan but first she would need to find the typewriter that was responsible for this phenomenon. Walking through the tall grass over-shadowed by a massive castle that seemed to reach up past the clouds, Delilah could see something glistening in the warm summer sun, could it be? Was it the typewriter? Running through the field, Delilah eventually came upon the typewriter and typed herself home.
Page 7 (with illustrations)
Book 1 of many!
Just finished Hemato Tomato: Bloodlust. Not sure how I feel about the finished product. I still feel like the story is only half way told, so I may end up writing 10,000 more words on this.
This was my first experiment in Historical Futurism, where historical characters play a role in science fiction setting with plots that cross over between science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance in a very that makes you feel really strange.
It's like suddenly meeting Charlotte Corday at your local Star-bucks without any implication for time travel, and the reader is just suppose to take the plausibility of the romance for granted. They are stalked by magic wielding robot police, and the you have a grand ole adventure.
A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
There's a big push in the publishing industry for "diverse" books (and I put "diverse" in quotations because I'm not a fan of that word - it leads to tokenization of writers and characters of color). Agents have been actively asking for "diverse voices", "diverse characters", etc. Which is great! It is signifying a real shift in the publishing industry.
Or is it?
Whenever I am unsure about the efficacy of an action against racism, I look to the "white gaze". This, I define as the culture that dictates that literature and art that must meet the approval of Whiteness.
The Whiteness I talk about is not just Trump-like confederate flag culture. Whiteness is liberal racism. Whiteness is white feminism. Whiteness is quoting Martin Luther King Jr. out of context. It is idolizing Jon Stewart for saying what Black people have been saying for decades. It is this Whiteness that pervades the publishing industry, and so it is this Whiteness that I am talking about.
Whiteness is a mostly-white industry asking for diverse books and diverse writers while pushing little to diversify their own industry insiders.
Now, I'd like to move the anti-racism rhetoric to something that I hope the publishing community will follow. The problem for writers of color is not only that the publishing industry is made up of predominantly white employees - although this is influential. "How removed from Whiteness is the operations of the industry?" is the question we should be asking.
Even if, in some magical step, the publishing industry hires hundreds of people of color, people of color are not a monolith. They are not interchangeable. The ideologies of the people of color who make up the industry matter. Are the people of color anti-racist or are they yes-men to their bosses? Will they speak up? A better question might be: if they do speak up, do they have reason to fear reactions and discipline from their bosses and colleagues? Are the "radical" people of color not hired by the industry?
Whiteness is when a race-related novel hits an agent's desk and the entire industry's initial instinct is "How will white people respond to this book?" instead of "How will the communities depicted in this novel be impacted by this book?"
Something as simple as "How will the market respond to this book?" has layers of ramifications that can be deconstructed with pointed questions concerning race: "What populations make up said market? What responses are you afraid of?" When race-related novels come to play, the supposed colorblindness of the market that the publishing industry always focuses on is revealed for its whiteness.
When I look at the publishing industry, I see some publications that I trust to be pretty removed from the white gaze (such as AC Thomas's THE HATE U GIVE). However, these are far and removed. A view of the publishing industry structurally reveals that the white gaze is ingrained into every layer of its culture and operations. The race books that are published must be "respectful" enough to not upset white people too much. With white fragility, this goal is almost impossible to achieve.
(Sidenote: the task to publish an "not respectful" novel about race is not impossible. There are a few ways to accomplish it. 1) If the author glorifies the pain of people of color - especially Black people - which people crave to consume and which distracts from their constructive guilt. 2) If the author of color has credentials that no white author would be expected to have (see: Ta-Nehisi Coates). 3) If the book is written with such a high degree of technical expertise that no white debut author is expected to write with. All these reasons should not exist.)
When I look at the publishing industry's anti-racist work through the lens of the white gaze, I am less optimistic that true subversive and anti-racist change is occurring. The white gaze has not been addressed, confronted, or deconstructed; it has only ever dictated which novels can be published and which novels cannot. Whiteness has been the gate-keeper of the publishing industry since its origins, and it has not ended yet; it has simply morphed into liberal racism. The present era of colorblindness has indeed led to the publication of novels about race and writers of color; most of this literature still continues to be dictated by the white gaze.
I think about all the authors of color who did not get published. The books of color which got rejected. The books of beautiful color which got revised into books of beige. What did the editor's red pen scratch out?
Do agents and editors support books that will upset white people because they aren't written for white people? Do agents and editors support books that talk honestly about the rage people of color feel towards Whiteness and white people? (Because God forbid that people of color being brutalized and beaten by Whiteness ever dare to say, "Fucking white people.") Do agents and editors support books that engage with anti-capitalism, books that refuse to say "Not All Cops", books that have Assata-supporters and radical queer activists of color that reject the white gaze?
I guess my point is, do agents support diverse ideas or do they support diverse faces speaking the same White ideas? It is a masterful tactic of white supremacy to have its ideas be spoken by a person of color (see: Ben Carson, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal). The same white gaze that uplifts these people also shuts down those of color who dare speak ferociously against it.
I know the main criticism of my assertion: the profitability of the market dictates what books are published or not, not race. To that, I have three responses.
1) Why not both? The publishing industry, with bookstores and libraries disproportionately in white areas, has structured a market geared towards white consumers. Yet the truth is: people of color buy books too.
2) Why assume white readers won't read books outside the white gaze? If the publishing industry seeks to engage in allyship, it cannot babysit its readers.
3) The profitability bottom-line must be confronted. In a Western world where white people are the plurality and hold most of the wealth, the publishing industry can not say it is anti-racist without troubling its profitability idolization.
So I guess I come back to my initial question: "Do agents and editors support diverse books?" And by this, I mean diverse ideas.
If any agent or editor is reading this, please feel free to comment, Tweet, respond, etc. with #YesIDo. I am SC_Author on Twitter. I want to create a list of agents and editors (right below!) so that writers who seek to find supportive agents might find someone to query.
1. Your name here!
Writers need to know which agents and editors will support them - if any. It's scary to speak. In my own personal case, I've decided that there's no point to me being a writer if I have to swallow what I want to say. So I'm speaking, I'm pushing, and will continue to do so.
What do you think? Please feel free to comment below, and share!
This has been a post part of the Write Inclusively campaign. I'm planning to change its name soon, but if you would like to be up-to-date with the campaign, sign up for the newsletter. We do not email much - in the last two years, only two emails have gone out. We were responsible for #BigFiveSignOn.
Barnes & Noble
But here’s something you may not have heard about in the argument for keeping recess. Outdoor play–and specifically, recess–helps our kids eyesight. I know! Wow, right?
On the website All About Vision, they quote several studies that found all sorts of interesting results. Here are a few quotes I found particularly interesting:
In other words, more time outside means you’re increasing your child’s chance they WON’T need glasses. Think of all the money you’ll save!
The researchers calculated a 2 percent drop in the risk of developing myopia for each additional hour children spend outdoors per week. “This is equivalent to an 18 percent reduction for every additional hour of exposure per day,” they said.
Compared with children with normal eyesight or farsightedness, children with myopia spent an average of 3.7 fewer hours per week outside.
In favour of recess:
The study authors concluded that outdoor activities during recess in elementary school have a significant protective effect on myopia risk among children that are not yet nearsighted and reduce the progression of myopia among nearsighted schoolchildren.
There you have it.
The 12-year-old children who spent more time outdoors had less myopia at the end of the two-year study period than others in the study.
Let’s get outside and play! What do we do in the Oram household? Well, first of all we got a dog. Why? Because not only does it teach our kids empathy and responsibility for others, but our dog gets us outside daily. We walk the dog, the kids ride their bikes alongside or walk too. It’s great exercise for all of us!
Getting a dog isn’t your thing? It doesn’t have to be complicated or strenuous. How about these simple activities that will get you outdoors:
The brain is better able to pay attention, hold things in memory, and show self-control after it has been outdoors.
–Gabrielle Principe, Your Brain on Childhood
9 Ways To Get Outside as a Family
Watch the Sunrise / Sunset
Does the world seem different at this time of day? What colors do you see in the sky?
Find Cloud Animals
Lie on your back and look at the clouds—whoa! Is that a giraffe?
Draw on the Sidewalk with Chalk
Try and Catch Your Shadow
Can you catch it?
Make your own rings out of plastic container lids. Then shove a stick into the ground to toss them onto!
Picnic, BBQ, simply taking your meal out on the deck–it’s still outdoors and you’ll still get the benefits of being out in nature. Both for your soul and your eyesight.
Thanks for playing! See you next time. And if you need more activity ideas don’t forget to check out my book, 1,001 Boredom Busting Play Ideas. It’s reasonably priced so everyone can play.
This story practically wrote itself. The keys were discovered the first weekend in February, the story was finished and through the first critical editing by the second week in March.
The teaser for Boston Knights follows:
The discovery that some ancient stories handed down in the families had more truth to them than fiction sparks a hunt for the real truth of the stories. Told as bedtime stories, three individuals find themselves working together to find out more about their ancestors and where they might have hidden some gold, or if it was after all, nothing but a hoax.
The adventure begins with Steve, whose elder brothers work in construction. Having found an old desk amidst some demolition work of theirs, they call their brother to salvage it and see if perhaps he might want to restore it and some other bits and pieces.
As Steve is an antiquities restoration expert, he is definitely interested. Within the desk, behind some well locked drawers, he eventually finds hints that the stories he was told as a kid, may have been more than just stories. In his pursuit of answers, he finds members of two other families that heard the same stories when they were children.
This begins a delightful adventure that finds the three of them embroiled in more and more details that lead them further and further from their homes.
Eventually, the puzzle pieces begin to come together in Ayr, Scottland when they make the acquaintance of some more members of the extended families, only to find their hopes dashed when they discover any gold that may have existed was quickly squandered. Moreover, any additional clues seem to have been destroyed.
This is what I would call a light romance and adventure. At a somewhere over 63,000 words, it is a quick and easy read aimed at young adults and romantics looking for something a little different.
I will 'clean up' my teaser as I get this book through its final editing. It is, by the way, a finished manuscript ready for presentation to an agent/publisher.
I'm still looking.
Wassup peeps. Last week has been a bit busy, so this is a little late. I meant to watch and review this movie earlier than this but even though I did manage to do the watching part, I did not feel like reviewing it. Why you ask? Because they messed up a potentially epic movie.
Starting off Batman as a seasoned crime-fighter is great. It gives us a perspective few super-hero movies do. However, even though they make him a grizzled veteran, they cannot but help show his origin story of parents dying and falling into a cave of bats. Make that the first scene and we are already into 15 minutes of logos (yeah, call out to cinema sins) and a story shown in a much better and detailed manner in Batman Begins a decade ago. Batman is portrayed decently by Ben Affleck, who has found his acting chops since the horror known as Daredevil- the movie. Thankfully both Affleck and Daredevil seem to have moved on to bigger and better things.
As far as Superman goes, I have never liked Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and I did not like the movie either. I am glad they kept continuity from the movie and turned the mass destruction of Metropolis into a plot point but the story feels hollow even with the bone-structure of a great movie. Superman is conflicted but not conflicted enough to hang up his cape. Lois is ever present and irritating (I cannot believe I said that about Amy Adams) and is supposed to be his human anchor but again feels forced.
Luthor - well...sigh. While they alluded to the fact that this is Alexander Luthor not Lex Luthor, I wonder why they would not pull the trigger on one of the most iconic villains of all time. With the story backdrop, he would have been perfect as a foil to bring down Superman. Instead, we get a Joker ripoff trying to build Doomsday and kidnapping Superman's mother to goad him into a fight with Batman. Talk about lame and cliched.
As far as the fight is concerned, it is a good fight but the end of the fight is contrived and feels...you guessed it...forced. I mean, who in their right mind would say, "Save Martha", instead of "Save my mother"? I want to slap the guy who came up with the cool realization that both Batman's and Superman's mother share a name and would be a cool plot point to use that to stop their fight.
The only breath of fresh air is Wonder Woman who is mysterious and understated and her reveal is very well done. She looks every bit Superman's equal in the fight against Doomsday. The fight was well done and Superman sacrificing himself was a good twist...except that it wasn't.
Everyone and their three next generations know a Justice League movie is coming and Justice League cannot not have a live and flying Supes. Ending the movie without showing his casket move would have been brave for the new Justice League. Let it be formed without Superman. Let him join in a dire hour. Make his return monumental. But nah...DC has no cojones.
And as far as the random teasers for the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman sprinkled throughout the movie, they feel ...gah...yes ...forced and unnecessary. They could have just mentioned their names without having video trailers for each of them. Learn from Marvel, Thordamnit!!
Anyhow, I am disappointed even though I never had much hope to begin with, which shows how poor a job they have done. And I am forced to stop myself from ranting.
As It Should Be is the story of a woman who finds herself with the chance to redirect her path from that of one who is tossed aside and struggling against bitterness, to a woman with new hope - and fresh new purpose for her life. It is a tale of transition: from a seemingly secure marriage, to the awkwardness and uncertainties of singledom; from a life without the responsibilities of children, to the wonders and challenges of pregnancy and motherhood; from the familiar comforts of home - to the possibilities of life and love in a bright new place.
I am happy to forward all or a portion of my manuscript for your review if you are interested. Thank you sincerely for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
Today I am sharing a guest blog post I shared on Books a la mode this past week. It is on the importance of first lines. I’ll post the beginning of the piece here and you can finish reading it on the Books a la Mode website. Also, add a comment in the comments section to be entered to win a copy of WHEN I’M GONE!
Excerpt from Books a la Mode:
Sometimes when you are writing a book you feel incredibly powerful. “I, authoress Emily Bleeker, created this world…these people…these emotions and lives!!!” And then other times you feel completely at the whim of outside forces. “I, secret writer EmilyB, wrestle with writer’s block…plot holes…rebellious characters and self-doubt….” Both of these personas are there, living inside of me (in the healthiest possible way for multiple personalities to exist). But, moments of great power and weakness aside, there is one part of the creative process that I refuse to leave to the whim of my power/humility struggle and that is—the opening line.
I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to first lines in books. I always take special note of which sentence an author chooses to share with the world. All my favorite books have my favorite first lines: Pride and Prejudice, Tale of Two Cities, Gone With the Wind…I could go on. Before I became an author I don’t think I even noticed those first words, at least not in a conscious way. I’d jump into a book and not really understand why it pulled me in, called to me. But now I understand how those first glimpses of your story, your tone, your characters—are incredibly significant and honestly quite fun to create.
For both Wreckage and When I’m Gone I knew the first lines of these stories before I had even worked out all of the major plot points……READ THE REST AT: Books a la Mode!
It's finally here! At last, I know the wait must've been very crucial and long but it is done. Just want to thank my AgentQuery FAM for making this dream come true, thank you so much for your kind DM and loving words, it was much appreciated! Could not have done it without you all! ❤️😭🙈❤️ *** Did not know where to post this,, but wanted to thank everyone for their everlasting support and kinds words*** Being a new author is difficult, props to all authors, but I would really appreciate if you all could spread the love, word around social media !! Thanks a million AgentQuery FAM
SUMMARY: Arielle Platinum, CEO of Gregory Industry, has everything she ever asked for–until she witnessed the death of an exotic dancer. Thought to be a liability by the mob, a hit is placed on Arielle. Now on the run, Arielle finds herself alone and scared. Her life was nearing its end. About to give up, she is rescued by the last person she ever thought of, Jason Hampton-a man she had not seen since he dropped out of high school. Jason, now a wanted criminal for previous crimes, asks her to trust him and together they will defeat the mob.
Blog with the first 3 chapters: Whisperingit.wordpress.com
Lulu link: http://www.lulu.com/...t-22602699.html
iBooks: Coming soon
social media insta: @authorgsw
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