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.

 

The Worst Novel I’ve Ever Written

cloud-705729_1280My character is still naked. When I started my latest manuscript, I didn’t think he’d have to be naked for quite this long. Admittedly, it’s causing some funny mayhem. But, it’s at this point when I start questioning if this is the story I should be writing. Will I be able to finish it? Will it be any good?

I know my writing process now, so I know this doubt will continue for the next 300 pages. When I’m done, I’ll say to myself, “That is the worst novel I’ve ever written.” I’ll tuck it away in folder on my computer. I won’t look at it for a year.

I tell myself to persist, though. Without fail, I open the file at the end of the year and actually like what I’ve written. I say to myself, “Hey, this isn’t half bad. Maybe with a couple dozen edits . . . .” That’s the way it happened with my new adult novel, The Miller’s Daughter. I honestly thought that one was going to do me in. It took me longer to write than anything else I’ve undertaken, and when I finished, I was sure it hadn’t come together at all. Now, it’s my favourite.

Living with the self-doubt has become easy. I know it’s coming before it arrives. I know the lies—you’ll never be ableeagle-656437_1280 to finish this one, you’re going to run out of ideas, this MS is never going to come together. So, that little voice chirps out the lies while I keep writing.

I’m not far from the end of my naked scene. I know exactly where the story is going. It’s a terrible story—worst I’ve ever written, but I’ll finish it. In a year, I know I’ll feel differently.

I’ve had new writers tell me they’ve abandoned projects because they don’t think they’re any good. This feeling is normal, but my advice is always the same—trudge ahead. Don’t give up. Maybe it will be terrible, but maybe it will be fantastic. Really, what do you have to lose?

Why This Writer Strives to be a Weed

aaa1Certain things seem like a great idea. Never again having to mow the lawn, for example. Lay down some landscaping fabric, plant some shrubs and perennials and throw down some river stone and, voila, a low maintenance yard, which is precisely what we wanted when we landscaped.

I like the look. I like not having to mow. However, I’m not really enjoying the weeds that pop up faster than I can pull them. Dandelions are particularly difficult. The tap root tap snaps off when I try to uproot them, they grow in rock-solid clay and with little water. They keep coming back. Over and over and over again. Dandelions will still be here, long after other plants have succumbed to the elements.  aaa8

 Their heartiness has earned my respect.

The hours I spend pulling weeds, has given me plenty of time to reflect and philosophize. I’ve decided that, as a writer, I should strive to be a dandelion. The writer’s life, at least, this writer’s life is no place for delicate tropical flowers that can only bloom under ideal conditions. I need to be hearty and tenacious and annoyingly persistent. I need to bloom in drought and bad soil and when homeowners try to rip me, root and all, from the ground.

Dandelions may not be the loveliest of flowers, but they persist. That’s what I want to be—the one who persists, the one that keeps going despite set-backs, rejections and disappointments. The one gardeners may get irritated with but have to admit—that’s a plant I can respect.aaa7