My Writing Exercise

I haven’t published much lately on this blog, as I’ve been looking for dry tinder wood and kindling… so I can light a fire under my butt and get back to writing! I actually have a couple of followers of Lockie’s Lectern, and I want to thank you all very much for reading my ramblings. I want to share with you a couple of my exercises I wrote while taking an online Fiction course, graciously put on by the Writing University the University of Iowa.

The Prompt: “Think of places that have a real resonance for you (perhaps from different times in your life). Recall the people and their way of talking. Now, write a short scene (no more than 400 words) whose characters and setting somehow combine Material from two of those places.”

Because I live near the Atlantic Ocean, fishing is a way of life for a lot of people who live in Atlantic Canada. I came up with the following. We were only allowed 400 words, and this came in at just under 450 words…oops, math was never my strong suit. Oh, and all you writers and editors out there…this is not edited, so please bear that in mind, thanks. 🙂

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Last Day on the Rose Marie
The two men talked in hushed tones on the dock, as the thick mist enveloped the fat bottomed Lobster Boat, and hugged the men in a wet embrace.
The boat’s owner, Gilles LeBlanc was shaking his head slowly
“Lord Almighty. How did it happen Pat? Tell it to me straight now.”
“I’m telling you Mr. LeBlanc, I never seen anything like it. No sir not in 29 years sailin’ the deep did I ever see what I sees today.” The skipper of the boat was holding his hands in clenched submission, like he was praying for anything but this. “Young mister Davis, sir, he…he stood up stock still and ramrod straight. He dropped the fillet knife to the deck and he said I’m coming Mother, and he walked right off the side sir. Into the sea sir. I hears the first Matte holler man over, but we were in a bank thicker n this one here. When I come a runnin out the wheelhouse it was over and done.” The Captain reached up and removed his ball cap, and clutching it to his heart he turned to the sea and said, “Lord, see to the boy’s safe travels.”
“Tell the men to batten down the Rose Marie, and prepare for the wake. I’ll cover their wages. I need to go speak to Janet Davis.”
The fog horn on Long Point sounded, echoing the sadness in the muffling blanket of mist, tonight a mournful cry for the dead.
“Mr. LeBlanc!” He turned at the call of his name. “What will we do with the lads…you know, personal effects.”
He was looking at Pat, standing not more than twenty feet from him, his image disappearing and reappearing in the twisting fog.
“Just hang onto em Pat. I’ll send someone for them later, maybe even tomorrow.”
It was like he was talking to a ghost, he thought, as the image of Pat faded in and out of definition. Perhaps he was talking to a ghost. What in the name of all the saints was in the lad’s mind when he did what he did? The answer was as thin as the moist air, now collected enough to drip from the brim of his hat. He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his greatcoat as he turned to the task at hand.
Gilles LeBlanc, owner and manager of the Rose Marie, supplying fresh fish for his seafood restaurant, being cooked by the wife of the man who caught the fish and who just went to meet his Mother and his maker off the side of his boat. What was he going to say to Janet?

Lots of people weighed in and commented on this very short story, and as they were asked to, also gave their suggestions as to how I might improve. This is the rewrite.

The Last Day on the Rose Marie
Revisited (rewrite)

“Latitude: North forty six twenty nine…Longitude: South sixty four twenty two, copy CG fourteen rescue over.
“This is CG one four rescue we copy your last know position. Be advised. Return to home port. Meet RCMP Officials upon docking. Please confirm fishing vessel Rose Marie. Over”
“Fishing Vessel Rose Marie confirms we copy return to home port. Report to RCMP. Over and out.”
This is madness. Thank god I had me wits about me to check the damn position. And the time…
“Malcolm, come to the wheelhouse now please”
What in all the saints in heaven ever made that boy just walk into the deep like that?
“Yes Skipper. You wanted to see me.”
I could see the strain in my first Matte’s eyes. He was too young to have to see death so soon.
“You got to be steady now Lad. I’m counting on you to hold the boys together out there.”
“I won’t let you down Pat. But this, we, we’re all some friggin wound up from all this you know. We were friends. And we looked for him for long enough, didn’t we Pat?”
“Yes boyo we did. A man don’t last long in these cold Atlantic waters dis time a year, no sir not long at all Malcolm. I heared He never did learn to swim neither, just like me…maybe jus like you too. If ever I goes into the deep like that poor lad, I wants it to be quick. Did you or any of the boys happen to look at the time? Now this is important boy.”
“Yes sir. I know it was seven o’clock on the button, because I never set my watch last time change, and I had it set to ring at six AM.”
The boy was looking out the port side window at nothing but swirling fog.
“Go on Malcolm.”
“Well Captain, my watch started chiming, and Ricky stood up, mumbled something bout his Momma, and he walked over to the side and over he went. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
“That sounds about right then. I saw him through this very cabin doorway, he dropped the pig sticker, and said ‘I’m coming Mudder’ and then he vanished. I heard you holler and…well. I’ll mark the time in the log after things calms down a bit. Alright, get the boys to button her up we’re headin in.”
This godforsaken fog.

One of the things I noticed, was how much fun the revision was to write, and with the feed back I received from my readers, I was able to breath some new life into the story. At least I think so. What do you think? Is the rewritten version better than the first draft? I’ve also been asked by several to write a longer story from this prompt. Any suggestions are most welcome, and as always, I thank you again for stopping by and reading.

L.F.Young

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Polish Your Apples

Polish Your Apples

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s note* My feedback on this story has been invaluable, and I want to thank you all for your suggestions. This rewrite was inspired from comments made by my friend Tovah, and my wish is it will show the process and results of a hopefully good rewrite, and also remind us that our apples can always stand to be polished. The original piece is first and the rewritten and polished piece follows. As always, thanks you for reading.

L.F.Young

Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the great waterfall, there lived a little girl. Now this was no ordinary girl. No this little girl had the promise of greatness in her eye, and in the way she held her back switch straight as she scattered the seed for the chickens. Her father was the sole money earner in their small household. He was a tree cutter for the Lord in these parts. He was paid a good wage, but he worked very hard, from the sun’s rise until the moon was over the edge of the valley.

One day just as the sun was settling to the tops of the distant hills, a young boy came running up to the mother, and in a rush of breathlessness he announced the shock, the news that would change their lives forever. A tree base had split unexpectedly as the old fir tumbled to the forest floor, and the father had died after it kicked back and drove him into the ether. For days they struggled in their grief.

****

When we had cried all our tears and discussed all our fears, we decided that we might be able to make enough money to survive, but  now we had to both go to work. We hatched our plan over the last of the tea. My mother had increased the size of our garden plot, and as she said one day, with four extra rows, and one less mouth to feed we can sell the rest of the vegetables. And that is what we did. We made a box cart and sold our fruits and vegetables at the market in the village. That was my job, to gather apples and berries, and wild spices and seeds. The largest quantity of which were the apples, but they didn’t sell very well at all. One afternoon when the market traffic was slowing down my mother came over to my spot. You have a lot of apples left, she had said to me, and then she picked one up, and looked closely at it.

It was no different than the rest. She then lifted the folds of her dress and rubbed the apple until it was positively shining, and then she placed it back in the basket of apples at my feet. The beautiful fruit stood out from the rest, and as if on cue a woman who was passing by reached into the basket and snatched the glossy apple from the rest, and deposited a coin in the hat beside my leg. She even commented about the beautiful looking fruit.

You have to polish your apples, my mother told me. Make everything you bring to the market shine before you sell it to our neighbors, she had said to me. That day, by close of market there were no apples left in my basket, and we had tea in our cupboard, and flour in our bin, and very happy neighbors.

 

Polish Your Apples

L.F.Young

 

Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the great waterfall, there lived a small family. In their simple home were a mother, a father and their precious daughter. The little girl had the promise of greatness in her eye and in the way she held her back switch straight as she scattered the seed for the chickens, one of her many chores. Her father was the sole money earner in their small household; a tree cutter for the lord in those parts. He was paid a good wage and worked hard, from the sun’s rise until the moon peeked over the valley’s edge.

One day just as the sun was settling to the tops of the distant hills, a young boy came running up to the mother and in a rush of breathlessness he announced the shocking news that would change their lives forever. A tree base had split unexpectedly and as the old fir tumbled to the forest floor it kicked back and the father, knocked out of his shoes by the impact, died instantly. For days mother and daughter struggled in their grief.

 

When they had cried all their tears and discussed all their fears, it was concluded they had to make enough money to survive and that meant they both had to go to work. Plans were hatched over the last of the tea. Mother increased the size of the garden, and she mentioned the reason one day while weeding their precious plot of land.

“With four extra rows, and one less mouth to feed we can sell the rest of the vegetables in the market.”

And that is what they did. They made a box cart from wood scraps and discarded wheels and sold fruits and vegetables at the market in the village. The daughter’s job was to gather apples and berries, wild spices and seeds. The largest quantity of which were the apples, but they didn’t sell very well at all. One afternoon when the market traffic was slowing the mother went over to where her daughter was selling her goods.

“You have a lot of apples left daughter. Why are they not selling?” she reached into the basket that was slung over her daughter’s slender arm and picked out a large dull red orb and looked closely at it.

It was no different than the rest. She then lifted the folds of her dress and rubbed the apple until it was shining, and then she placed it back in the basket on her daughter’s arm. The beautiful fruit stood out from the rest, and as if on cue a woman who was passing by reached into the basket and snatched the glossy apple from the rest, depositing a coin in the little girl’s hand. She even commented about the beautiful looking fruit.

You have to polish your apples the mother told the girl. “Make everything you bring to the market shine before you sell it to our neighbors.” she advised.

By close of market that day not one apple remained in the basket and the mother and daughter had tea in their cupboard, flour in their bin, and very happy neighbors.

 

Dear reader

When we write our poems and our short stories and yes, even our Blog posts, I believe we need to remember we are bringing a product to our readers and we should present the best we have to offer. I try to polish my apples before I publish to the internet. Sometimes there are mistakes, a blemish on the apple. I would welcome suggestions if you notice a misspelled word or something sideways. If it’s sideways and meant to be that way I’ll leave it, but if it’s a mistake I can fix, and shine my apples some more, please do tell me.

As always, thank you for reading. Without you, there is no me.

Me Author You Author

LegendReturns_Cover_sm

On January 15th 2015, there was an exciting Launch Party for my book The Legend Returns, the sequel to the first middle grade reader. My publisher had organized the latest thing, well one of the latest things. An internet virtual party. I thought, at first, this was a pretty hokey thing. Now remember, folks. I am old school. I guess the word they use a lot these days to describe a relic is retro, and I’m as retro as they come. A virtual party, you say? With real people, who are not really at the party, but connected just the same, you say? OH and there was going to be virtual food and drink. Perfect, I thought, as I sipped my glass of Port. Does that mean just a virtual hangover, then?

I chuckled to my wrinkled old self, jumped in and threw doubt to the four virtual winds, and joined the fun. I had a blast. Not a virtual good time, but an awesome real good time. I met so many people who were so nice to come to my party. I mean, I was a virtual unknown (I am not sorry for that terrible pun. Bet it made you smile. 🙂  ) and these good people were kind enough to take time out of their busy lives to come, meet me and have a bit of fun at the same time. Someone brought an amazing cake, with a dragon theme, thank you very much. It was very tasty.The Cake

About a month ago, I received a call from a Journalist who has a column  in the local newspaper. In her articles called Buy The Book (catchy title), Linda Hersey introduces local Authors and their books to the paper-reading public, and she had done an excellent piece on my first book, Ryan’s Legend. She was responding to my email, at her request, to let her know when the sequel was to be launched. The telephone interview was scheduled, and yesterday the interview was printed, for all to read.T&T Article Buy The Book

That article in our local paper marked the placing of the final puzzle piece to complete the whole, at least for me anyway. It meant that the long journey of twenty years from conception to publication, was at last here, and it was as real as it gets, and all this because I simply did not give up. For all you writers out there who are not published yet, I want you to know a couple of things straight from this writer’s heart.

First: Yes, you write and therefore you are a writer. You’ve completed a story or a poem? Yes you are an Author. If you want to be published and if you persevere in your quest to do so, you will, and this is coming from someone who wanted to see his name in print on a book cover, and perhaps leave something for the grand kids to brag about, so I never gave up or quit believing in the dream.

Second: It’s okay to feel a bit jealous when you see all these people getting published, and you, so desperately want to join their ranks. It’s not okay to harbor that jealousy. Let it go, because the only difference between you and a published author is that the right publisher hasn’t seen your work yet. They are out there, just waiting for your manuscript to land on their desk. But guess what? It won’t go anywhere sitting in that notebook, or in that file on your laptop if you don’t send it away. “But Lockie. I did send it away, and it got rejected, twice.” I stopped counting after the fifth rejection and I ended up not even looking at the file for months. Mad at myself that I could be such a fool to think I could ever get published. If you just said yeah, that’s exactly how I feel, then know that every writer feels this, which leads me to point three.

Third: Know that feelings of being “Not good enough” are shared with every writer you have ever read. Now read that again, and let it sink in. I’m not a betting man, but if I was I would put solid cash down on the table and say, Steven King, J.K Rowling and any other writer you care to mention have all felt inadequate and “Not Good Enough” at times in their writing projects.  Perhaps even Shakespeare glared at the scrap of paper in his hand, declared it to be a trollop eating harlot and touched it’s coarse edge to flame. Whoever said we are our own worse critic hit that nail solidly on the head. Yes, that self negativity can be a very real obstacle. This post will not change that. I just wanted to point out that you are perfectly normal to think these things. You are the only one who can chase the negativity away, and you are the only one who can keep that determination and drive to do the best you can.

Lastly, a bit of advice for anyone thinking about self publishing. I am saddened and a bit more than concerned that the book market is flooded with self published books. Not because there are so many, but because there are so many that are not properly edited. If you are like me, you are somewhat put off when you read a published piece that is riddled with mistakes. Misspelled words and bad grammar really distract from the story and ,in my case, does not hold my attention even a little bit. I don’t care if it’s the best story since Romeo and Juliette, if I am struggling to read it, it gets tossed. If I feel that way, so do most other readers out there. You have worked hard writing it. You edited that story fifteen times, and had your high school English teacher do a complete line edit before you submitted it to LuLu, or wherever you self published from. If you want to actually realize sales you need at least two very important things.

1) A professional edit

2) A great, eye catching cover

These two things are a must, and you might have to shell out some real money to get these ‘must haves’ accomplished, but it will make a huge difference in how well the book does. In closing I think the most important thing a writer can do for themselves is no matter what, just keep writing and keep reading. Join writing groups and listen to the criticism. Use that knowledge to improve your writing, and don’t let negatives rule your life.