Greetings from the World’s Worst Blogger and Free Writing Results

Greetings. It’s been awhile. Okay, maybe I’m not the worst blogger, but I win for inconsistency. I have a good excuse though. I’ve been hard at work on edits for Subversion, the sequel to Enslavement. I’m not sure what my excuse was when I wasn’t working through edit, but I’m certain I can come up with something. There are so many good excuses not to blog.:)

At my writers’ group, we often do free writing exercises. We’re given a starter topic and five minutes to work our writerly magic. It’s amazing where the brain goes . . . and sometimes a little frightening. Here’s a free write I did a couple weeks ago.

The topic: write a query hook for a novel about a moody teenager.grimace-1012862_1920

Talia Mooney rolled her eyes one too many times. Her optic nerves and tendons stretched and flexed, slingshotting. Her eyes rolled over and over. There’s only one way to stop the rolling and that’s to clean her room. But she’s only got 24 hours to do it before her eyes roll permanently, never stopping. Can she clean her room before her eyes get stuck in perpetual motion and she becomes the eternally moody teenager?

Oh, the raw mush that comes out of writers’ brains. Delicious!

 

 

Weird Stuff People Say at Book Signings

booksigingA couple weeks ago at a book signing, an older gentleman took a look at Enslavement and proceeded to tell me how he didn’t read science fiction by female authors. It was tempting to get offended, but I took the comment in stride. I engaged him on why he felt that way and wished him all the best. It wasn’t the first odd comment I’d received. People have said some weird stuff to me at book signings.

At the same signing, after giving a brief synopsis of my book, a woman told me that the government truly was watching us all. She came back later in the day to remind me, “They’re watching us.”

book signingLast fall, a man seemed particularly interested in my book. He asked what it was about, and I gave him my quick pitch. “It takes place in the future. It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl who is sold into slavery because of her family’s beliefs.” He informed me that the title indicated it could be about S&M bondage. I told him it was definitely not about that, that he may have my book confused with another book. He insisted that it was about bondage. “But, it’s not. I wrote it. I know.” He ended up buying the book, because he was sure I was wrong.

I can’t tell you how many people, after giving my pitch–“It takes place in the future…”–have asked me if it’s a true story. I resist the urge to say, “Yes, absolutely true. I can see into the future and this is going to happen. For $20 I’ll give you lottery numbers.”

My absolute favourite, though, is, “Are you famous?” If you have to ask, I’m probably not.

I maintain my belief–people are weird. But are they ever entertaining!

Do you have a book signing story? Have people said anything memorable to you? Please share in the comments.

 

 

Why This Writer Supports Independent Film

film fest1Because of my involvement in the Winnipeg Real to Reel Film Festival, I’ve been asked on several occasions if I’m involved in film making in some way. The answer is “no”. I’m simply involved because I want to support independent artists. As a writer, I was familiar with the writing and publishing industry, but I was curious about the film industry and thought the best way to learn more was to talk to people involved.

This year I had the privilege of seeing some great independent films, chauffeuring Toronto filmmaker, Zahra Faraji, around Winnipeg and leading talkback sessions for four films. Each time I introduced myself to theater patrons, I opened with the following, which I think encapsulates why I continue to volunteer at the festival:

“My name is Melinda Friesen. I’m an author, and I also work for a local publishing company. I believe strongly in supporting independent artists because not every great book is found on a bestsellers table, not every engaging piece of music makes it to the Grammy stage, and not every worthwhile film lands at the Cineplex. It’s festivals like this one that open our eyes and our ears to new perspectives and new voices.”

I encourage everyone to find ways to support and champion local and independent artists. Not only will you encounter some new and amazing material, but you might even get the opportunity to interact with creatives. You may be surprised what you discover.

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Filmmaker panel.

Author Meets Podcast

I was super excited when a local book club made contact and informed me they’d chosen Enslavement as their November read. They invited me in when they met together to discuss the book. One of the club members also had a podcast called Literally, Katrina. She informed me that she intended to record the meeting for the podcast. Honestly, I really hate the sound of my own voice, but never one to let a good opportunity slip away, I enthusiastically agreed to join them. After I forgot about the microphone, I had a great time listening their impressions of my book.

Take a listen: click here.

Thanks to the whole Literally A Book Club crew! It was great meeting all of you.

bookclub-with-melinda

Back at the end of October, a fellow writer at Comic Con asked me for an interview for his podcast, Just Joshing. It’s short interview, but hey, I’ve never been verbally wordy. I also get to share the podcast with fellow writer and friend, Christine Steendam. You’ll hear her at the beginning, and I’ll show up toward the end.

Head over to Just Joshing to read a short interview, then get more info in the recording: click here.

Thanks Josh for the opportunity!

 

A Peek into My “Completed” Files

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by my “to-do” list. Other times I get overwhelmed by my “completed” list. Why? Finishing a story is only the beginning. Here’s a list of my “completed” projects and where they are in the process of getting them from my computer to readers.

Novels

Captivity (One Bright Future book 2): I’m deep into editing on this one and aiming for a spring release.

Book three and four in the One Bright Future series: Tangled messes. My publisher has asked me to complete the series in three books, so many plot lines and and characters are up in the air as I attempt to condense and finish the series much faster than I thought I’d have to.

Solar: This YA sci-fi/twisted romance has receiving over 80 rejections. I’ve stopped querying this one, acquired some new beta readers, wrote a new beginning and am reworking the solar-flare-601043_1280manuscript. In the spring, I hope to have it ready to start sending out again.

Solar Book Two: The sequel to Solar is hibernating until I find a publisher for Solar.

Solar Book Three: Work-in-Progress. I’m 60 pages into the final installment in the Solar series.

The Miller’s Daughter: This new adult paranormal romance is currently being queried. Several editors and agents are currently reviewing full manuscripts. I’ll be querying this one more in the new year.

Window Pain: My first YA contemporary novel is in third draft mode. I’m currently going through the manuscript with my writer’s group. Once the fourth draft is complete, I’ll start querying this one as well, hopefully before summer hits.

Snodgaard and the Moustache of Power: I still love this humorous middle grade fantasy. I have a mid-sized publisher looking at this one right now with more querying to come.

The Typhon Project: I finished this YA sci-fi during the 3-Day Novel Contest. It’s more of a novella. I’ve considered rewriting to extend it to a full length novel, but that project is on the back burner right now.

Isadora’s Big Bleep: My first attempt at a picture book has been run by my writer’s group, and I’ve received some great advice on how to improve it. This project is  back-burnered as well.

Emerald (workinfull-moon-496873_1280g title): I finished this post-apocalyptic YA novel last summer. It’s probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever written. It’ll remain in rough draft form until I can finish a couple other projects.

Three Moons: My active work-in-progress. I’m 12,000 words in on this YA urban fantasy.

Short Stories

The following is a list of short stories I’ve completed and still in need of a publication:

  • A Life as Twisted as Mine: retelling of a gruesome Bible story.
  • A Thirty Minute Head Start: the visitors will hunt her and use someone she cares about against her.
  • Bread for Five: a historical piece about loss on the frontier.
  • Bread and Butter: a young mother fights to keep her family together.
  • Confusion: A woman deals with sudden memory loss.
  • Flesh and Memory: a detective attempts to solve unusual murders amidst a developing illness.
  • Kicking the Habit: a quirky serial killer that can’t resist temptation.
  • Marriage Enrichment: when an attempt to improve their marriage goes terribly wrong.
  • The Will of Carlo Claeys: what she has to do to get her father’s money will bring out another side of her.
  • Water: all but four colonists have disappeared, have they brought the threat aboard the ship.

I have a lot of editing and querying ahead. Wish me luck!

My Book Goes A-Conference-ing

The book business has been busy, and I’m tired, so I’m going to keep this post short and tangy.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve hit two major conferences. On October 23, I joined part of the Rebelight Publishing crew at SAGE Conference, a professional development day for Manitoba teachers.Sage2

I had the opportunity to share Enslavement with oodles of librarians. It’s great to know young people all over the province will have the opportunity to check-out my book from their school libraries.

Sage1

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to meet readers at Central Canada Comic Con. Author Christine Steendam was kind enough to share her table with me. As you can see below, she has a few more books than I do, but she made space for me. If you’re looking for an excellent sci-fi read, a high-seas pirate adventure or a cowboy romance, she’s got you covered.

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I had made hard copies of a One Bright Future supplemental short story, The Illusion of Choice, to give away with purchase of the book. I’ve been giving away electronic versions of this story to Amazon and Goodreads reviewers, but this is the first time I’ve made a limited number of hard copies available. 

Sage3 

Saturday was a packed house.  Thousands of people wandered past, some stopped to look and chat, some bought. 

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One amazingly pleasant surprise was having people come up to my table who’d already read Enslavement. They wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed it and wanted to know when the sequel would be released. Music to this writer’s ears!

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These events are great for selling books, but even better for making connections with book lovers and other writers. I walked away from both events with a greater network and new opportunities for my book.

 

 

 

 

The Girl Who Burns Down Shadows has Left the Building

Every parent knows that time is relative. The toddler years last about 100 years, while the elementary years last Ariel and mearound three. The teen years are gone in six months. And the three months from when my daughter announced her engagement until the wedding day arrived took place in the span of a deep breath.


The past month has been a whirlwind that culminated in moving all her stuff from our house to her house. The room is now empty. I didn’t find myself tearing up at the wedding, but at the boxes full of her things, at loading them into the van, at seeing the room without her. She’d painted, “You’re the girl who burns down shadows,” on her wall a couple years ago. That girl no longer lives here.Ariel's room

The reality is, she’s not coming back home. This adventure that started with a little pink line on a pregnancy test has come to an end. Now, I know that I’m still her mom, but it’s different now. It will never be like it was and that is a bittersweet realization. 

So, I wanted to share my wedding speech with you. 

A baby is a terrifying prospect. Terrifying and wonderful and overwhelming and beautiful. I was twenty years old and this perplexing baby girl was placed in my unprepared arms. Ariel Ann Friesen has been a great adventure. A small thing I was given for too small of an amount of time.

Ariel is a feisty, energetic story.

Ariel was always getting into mischief. I had to make sure she was well occupied before I stepped out of the room or hell would be unleashed. When she was five, our laundry room was in the basement. I needed to change loads over, so I decided to give her a bag of raisins to share with her one-and-a-half year old brother. I thought, surely that would keep her busy for the five minutes it would take me to attend to the laundry. I hurried through my chore and returned to the living room to find raisins scattered over every square inch of the room and her skipping around, tossing the remainder over her head. I stood in the doorway and asked, “What are you doing?” She froze and stared at me. “Ariel, you have to clean this up.”Ariel and Corban

Her mouth fell open and she exclaimed, “Why do I have to clean it up?”

Her tenacity, at times difficult to deal with, would prove invaluable. I’ve many stories about the mischief she got into, but what you may not know is that she is a hero, a lifesaver. She saved her younger brother, Corban’s life. He was just over a year old when he fell into the baptismal tank at church. She was the only one who saw. She screamed and yelled until she had our attention. We bought her a happy meal for her good deed. I can say with absolute certainty that Corban would have drowned that day without Ariel.

When she was too young to remember, I lost our second child through a traumatic miscarriage. I was heartbroken. I came home from the hospital and held my precious baby girl in my arms and marveled at what a miracle she was. And she was with me, a comfort and a reason to get up in the morning, through losing two more babies. She probably doesn’t know that she saved my life too.

James, if you give her the freedom to be who God created her to be, she will enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine. I wish you both decades of blessings.

 

Ariel and James

It’s been an honor to be a part of her story.