Thursday, October 27, 2011

Celebrate the Halloween Hop with TBR!!

TBR will be choosing 13 winners who will be announced on November 1st. To connect with the contest click   HERE!

Night Owl Reviews also has a contest - click the ad on side panel to enter!

I remember (in ancient times - ahem!) when I was a child in Winnipeg, Halloween was the day us kids would hurry home from school in a panic to get our costumes organized. Back in “the good old days” my mom used to get a bunch of old clothes out from the closet and my sister and I would fight and scramble to get the pieces that would best fit our vision of whatever witch or old man our mom had dictated as our choices for that year. The money was never there to buy costumes like most folks do today, never thought it was necessary when there was always cardboard, old clothes and paint or whatever else we needed to make up something that would ensure us our ultimate goal - that of getting as much candy as possible.

As the light waned, we’d watch out the window, prancing from foot to foot, praying that the streetlights would come on soon. It was our sign - now was time. Mom would give us each a pillow-slip and some gloves (Winnipeg right??) and we’d be off to join hordes of other goblins all racing to and fro to get their anticipated cache.

Up and down the streets childish voice yelled Halloween Apples??!! Little ones in the care of older brothers and sisters were dragged along, forced to keep up because there were only so many houses in the neighbourhood that would give away candy apples as reimbursement for singing a song. And everyone on our street had practised their song knowing that the reward far outstripped the effort.

Soon we’d have to drop off the first load at the house because the pillowcases half full of apples would be heavier than we could manage, and mom would have warned us that she would be running out and would need reinforcements from our precious supply before the night was over. At first, we always begrudged this necessity, but after stuffing our faces with as much junk as we could force down, it didn’t seem to be so painful to let her pass some of it back out again.

Finally by the end of the evening—we’d stick it out as long as there were lights on in front doors and our frozen fingers and toes could stand the cold—we’d head home to peruse our catch and gloat about the candy we’d stuffed into pockets, hoping that sharp motherly eyes wouldn’t see the bulges.

Because we so seldom had candy, parents in those days knew that the best way to handle this bounty was to pass out daily treats in order to make it last. Funny thing is, by the end of the week, we’d run out. Always wondered how that could happen. Of course, today I know exactly where the stuff went. Darn sneaky parents!!

An excerpt from My Cheeky Angel isavailable here.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Africa's child - A beautiful memory!

I wrote this story because I wanted to share a favourite memory of Africa with you that I'll never forget. Myself, and a carload of women were driving back to our homes from a marketplace in Kamsar, Guinea when I spotted a small boychild—totally naked—running through a downpour while kicking a semi-inflated soccer ball. He was laughing. Not chuckling - he laughed so hard his small frame shook all over as the rain drenched him. His baby-like body moved fluidly this way and that, trying to control the crooked, half-filled toy, and the joy in his face brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't reach for my camera even though the image was priceless. I didn't want to miss one second as we drove slowly past.

Run for Joy started to fester in my brain at that moment and it wasn't until years later that I actually had the story published in a multicultural magazine called Skipping Stones.

I'd like to share it with you now, because if you believe in the human spirit being filled with love and joy when we are children, then you'll understand the overwhelming need I felt to write a story for this boy.

Run for Joy!

Keita is unhappy and listless. For the last few days all he has done is sit and clutch the old soccer ball, his only possession. In the straw-covered “piute,” he prays for a little breeze through the open sides, but it doesn’t happen. He looks over the red, clay-like, sun-bleached dirt and the greying weeds, and he waits. He knows any day now the rains will come.

His keepers, people he is forced to live with since he lost his own family, yell at him and force him outside.

“Go and run, boy,” they say, wanting their space. “Play with the other children, don’t hide in here.”

Curled up like a lazy kitten, he tries to make his thin, lanky body vanish, but it doesn’t help. Swats on his backside convince him to leave the spot. He takes up the same position on the outer walls where the shade not only keeps the sun from his body, but also keeps him hidden. Limply, he settles like a mound of old cloth.

Hearing his name called by the voice of the only person who has ever shown him any respect or affection brings him instantly to his feet. His Madame, the giver of the cherished ball has need of him. She is his only experience of love. Sometime she pats his head, holds his hand and even hugs and kisses him hello.

For the small jobs he does for her there is always water and food at her gate. He knows that her treats of bread, jam, fruit and occasionally cookies are what keep him strong. Once, for a special occasion, she even gave him a soda. He almost choked from drinking it so fast. Afterwards, he spent so much time bragging about it that the other boys in the village started to tease him and call him Keita-cola. He didn’t care. They had never tasted one and he had.

He runs toward her voice and finds her at the edge of the village. She is calling him to come and help her take her dog for a walk. She has told him that she feels very safe with him and Oma, her big black African dog. Keita hides his fear of this huge monster, but the animal senses it anyway. With a snarling grin on his snout, he stares at Keita. Clearly a warning! Madame shushes her pet with a pat on his side and in an instant the animal changes from fierceness to loving silliness. Both boy and dog have a shared affection for this woman, which binds them as long as she is there.

It has been a long time since she’s touched Keita, he notices as she touches her dog. He knows why. Everyone knows. The “Fotays,” meaning white people, dislike the smell of the African body. Why that is he doesn’t understand, but everyone knows it to be true.

Anyone who is hired to work with the Fotays, such as a houseboy or guard, is made to shower before he can start his work. All the white people have showers both inside and outside their houses. The outside showers, of course, are built specially for “their boys.”

The river is so far away that he cannot go there and back without having his body become so sweaty that it defeats the purpose. Using well water for anything but the greatest necessities would bring him a beating. He just goes about as everyone else in his village.

Keita’s Madame hasn’t hugged him for a very long time and he yearns for her gentle embrace. Soon, when the rains come, he knows he will be clean again.

Praise be to God! The very next day his wish is granted. The rains are back. His joy is huge. Grinning, brimming over with happiness, he strips off his tattered faded shorts and his grubby torn T-shirt and he runs.

Naked, kicking the ball through the rain and feeling the mud oozing between his toes makes him laugh out loud. Running, leaping, white teeth gleaming, happy face raised to the heavens, water flowing down his black, slick, now clean little body, the six-year-old knows joy. Soon he’ll be hugged again…very soon!

Thank goodness for memories such as these. If you have any you'd like to share, please do.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The twelve steps I followed to format “My Cheeky Angel” for Kindle Direct Publishing

Because it took me hours of 'How-to' video watching, bombarding my friends who helped me get started with questions and more questions, and then multiple times to finally get my work uploaded cleanly, I decided to write these steps for myself in case I ever decide to self-pub again. Then I wondered if these steps wouldn't save others the frustration and desk pounding that I suffered when I tried to do it without the proper knowledge. Now, having said that, I have no idea if a professional would agree with this guide as I've written it. Maybe there's a better way to describe the procedure, or I might have missed something that didn't affect my work, and if so I apologize. But I wanted to write it in such a way that, if months go by and my memory dims, (more than likely) these 12 steps will remind me clearly and concisely.

1 - Take a copy of your manuscript and clearly rename it so you know which copy you're working on.

2 - If you've gotten the word doc from your Editor, and there are red edits showing, once you have finished making all the changes, go to 'Tools/Track Changes/Highlight Changes' and unclick the box at the top that says 'Track Changes While Editing'. This should clear your document of editing suggestions and changes.

3 - Check for spelling errors…even if you've done this before, it's best to go over it one last time.

4 - Go to 'View’ and click off the 'Ruler'.

5 - Go to 'Edit/Select all' so that your document is highlighted, and then go to the toolbar above and make sure that you are using the 'Normal/Times New Roman/ 12 Font’.

6 - Now you will put on the 'Show/Hide' paragraph option that's on your toolbar and looks like a backwards-P. Once you do this, your spaces, new paragraphs, line breaks and all the inner workings of your document will be visible.

7 - In case you tab the 5 spaces in to begin a new paragraph, (as I do) these must all be cleared. Go to 'Edit/Find/Replace' and on the top line that says 'Find What' hit the space bar five times (nothing will be visible). Then leave the ‘Replace With' line empty and go to 'Replace All'. Then do the same thing again for 4 spaces, 3 spaces and 2 spaces. DO NOT do this for 1 space.

8 - Now clear any spaces before the paragraph mark by going to 'Edit/Find/Replace/More/Special/Paragraph Mark' and then hit the space bar once. Then click on the next line 'Replace With' and go to 'Special/Paragraph Mark'. This will clear away the extra spaces once you click on 'replace all'. I would do this same routine again in case there were two spaces.

If you tab in for new paragraphs, do this same manoeuvre for 'tab characters' and clear them.
And once again for 'manual line breaks' only clear each one of these manually instead of using the 'replace all' feature.

9 - Formatting paragraphs – you will go to the toolbar and click on ‘Format/Paragraph/Alignment' and click on left. Then on the same page go to 'Special' and click on First line, and then go to 'By' and set in 0.5" and last go to 'Line spacing' and click on Double.

10 - Now go to 'Edit/Find' and type in the word Chapter. Starting at the top of your document, make sure that each of the chapter headings are either centered by clicking on the center function on your toolbar, or if you prefer the chapter headings to be on the left, reposition them now so they are no longer indented.
At the same time check to be sure there is a page break before each new chapter. To do this, position your cursor just before the 'C' of the word Chapter and go to 'Insert/Break/Page Break.

11 - Fix any scene breaks (***) by centering them.

12 - Next, go to 'File' and then to 'Properties/Summary' where you should fill in the information—especially the line that asks for the key words for your manuscript such as Romance, Paranormal, etc.

At this point add your cover and centre it, then the copywrite page, and if you want, a dedication page it can be put here at the beginning of your document. Make sure to keep the lines spaced so the writing will fit on one page. Put in page breaks where you wish to have a new page. Remember, if you leave too many empty lines (more than 5) Kindle will automatically leave an empty page.

Now it’s time to go to Kindle Direct Publishing and get started!

***If you feel that this information will assist you or a friend, and you want to show your appreciation, just buy my book for a buck, read and enjoy and that’ll make me really happy!~~

“My Cheeky Angel” is available at both Smashwords and Amazon