Finish Off Friday’s Flash Fiction: The Good Stranger


Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting Finish Off Friday’s. This week’s theme is footsteps in the fog.


 

Credit: Phylor – Lorraine

Footsteps echoed eerily in the fog. I’d left the pub early that night and was looking forward to being home warm in my bed.

I glanced behind me, hearing footsteps following persistently, wishing I had my black lab Iggy with me.

A large hand landed on my shoulder. Turning around with trepidation, I faced a tall man in a hoody. He raised his hands, trying to tell me he was harmless, then handed me my forgotten gold clutch.

He smiled, “I’m a bouncer at The Clover and I know you’re a regular. I saw you leaving and wanted to return your purse.”

“Thank you so much,” I stuttered trying to shove the ten from my pocket in his hand.

He refused the money insisting on walking me home, telling me about his young family.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

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Interview With Melinda Kucsera


Welcome to another edition of my bi-weekly writer interview series. Today I have interviewed the fascinating and lovely, science-fiction and fantasy writer Melinda Kucsera. You can visit here blog here: www.melindakucsera.com


 

Melinda Kucsera
Melinda Kucsera

1. Melinda, Please Tell Us About Yourself?

I’m an IT project manager for an academic journal publisher by day. By night, I write fantasy books, science-fiction books, and short stories. Then, I post them to me blog: www.melindakucsera.com


2. When did you start writing and blogging?

I started building my own world, when I was small and fleshed out a fantasy world for my characters to live in. Originally, my world only had one country called Shayari. But my world grew to include other countries as well as extensions into other worlds and realms.

I used to tell stories about Shayari and its people to my siblings, the kids I babysat, (etc). But I didn’t write my stories down until I was in middle school and even then, I spent more time writing about my created world and its peculiarities than its people.

Around the age of sixteen-years-old, I came across the bookThe Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey at my local library. It was the first fantasy book I’d ever come into contact with and it gave me the idea to write down the stories I had been imagining. I thought, if readers liked Lackey’s fantasy world, then they’d like mine too. So, I began writing all my stories down. And I don’t have to tell you, writing for me is pure joy. I’d rather write than do anything else.

I started blogging a year ago in 2015 because everyone kept telling me I should do it. Blogging seemed like a good way to start fulfilling my sister’s last request. She asked that I publish the stories she grew-up loving so that other people could enjoy them as well.


” . . .I began writing all my stories down. And I don’t have to tell you, writing for me is pure joy. I’d rather writer than do anything else . . . Blogging seemed like a good way to start fulfilling my sister’s last request. She asked that I publish the stories she grew-up loving so that other people could enjoy them as well.” – Melinda Kucsera


3. What Does Writing Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

I write for the joy of it and because I can’t not write. There’s an ever expanding number of characters walking in and out of my imagination, demanding that I capture their life in words. I want to write these character’s stories. Their stories are compelling and they always show me tantalizing bits which make me want to know more!


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?

Writing is the first and last thing I think about every day. In fact, every other thought I have is about a story in progress, or a character, or an idea for a character for a story. My imagination has no off switch. It never takes a vacation and it doesn’t sleep. It’s always working away in the background, no matter what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no logic to what my imagination latches onto and spins into a story or character.


“My imagination has no off switch. It never takes a vacation and it doesn’t sleep. It’s always working away in the background, no matter what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no logic to what my imagination latches onto and spins into a story or character.” – Melinda Kucsera


5. Do You Find There is a Time of Day You Most Enjoy to Write?

No, I steal time for writing whenever and wherever I can. I have a demanding day job which keeps me busy for eleven to twelve hours-a-day, five-days a week, if you factor in my commute time to and from work. Additionally, I’m a fitness and health nut and I walk anywhere from one to three hours each day. Thank God for smartphones, they allow me to write, edit, and walk at the same time.


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Do You Have Any Hopeful Projects?

I have too many projects! I love working on multiple projects at the same time, hence, my day job as a project manager.My most current projects are:

1.Curse Breaker: Enchanted, which is on sale on Amazon at http://bit.ly/CurseMK. Sarn must find out why a child was murdered in the enchanted forest before the same fate befalls him or his son. (It’s a heartwarming fantasy tale). I’m finalizing the Kindle version and will start the print edition hopefully, the week following.

 2. Curse Breaker: Faceted, which is the sequel to Curse Breaker: Enchanted, (Dec 2016/Jan 2017 release). It’s already written and I only need to edit the novel. In this book, odd events happen around an old tower which only Sarn can remember seeing. These occurrences are building up to something and Sarn wants nothing to do with it. But he can’t escape what’s coming…

3.Curse Breaker: Jousted, book three of the Curse Breaker Saga (March/April 2017 release). Sarn and his family take in a joust which takes a deadly turn when extinct creatures show up. Who will survive the hunter’s game?

4.Curse Breaker: Trapped, book four of the Curse Breaker Saga (June/July 2017 release). Sarn’s luck has finally run out. The silence that hid his son for the last four years now dooms him when an old enemy shows up to even the score. Sarn’s two lives collide and his son hangs in the balance.

5. I’m also working on several other novels and extensions for the short stories readers have requested. And I publish a short story a day on my blog so yeah, I’m also working on blogging short stories as well.


” . . . I walk anywhere from one to three hours each day. Thank God for smartphones. They allow me to talk, edit, and walk at the same time.” – Melinda Kucsera


7.  Are You Planning to Publish More Works of Writing in the Future? Do You Have Other Published Works Besides What You Are Currently Working On?

Yes, I am planning to publish my stories. My sister asked me to publish my stories before her death in 2014; it is one promise, I intend to keep.

I published Stars and Angels Sing in January of 2016 as well as Curse Breaker: Enchanted, is on sale right now on Amazon. (See the second link to purchase Melinda’s first book in Sarn’s journey.)


Curse breaker Enchanted Melinda
http://www.amazon.com

Additionally, as stated above, I plan to publish the first four books of the Curse Breaker Saga: Curse Breaker: Enchanted (9/27/2016); Curse Breaker: Faceted (December 2016/early January); Curse Breaker: Jousted (March/April 2017); and Curse Breaker: Trapped (June/July 2017). I haven’t figured out which book will follow book four, possibly a book book five; but I’m not sure yet.


8. Can you Briefly Describe the Process You Are Going Through to Publish Your Curse Breaker Series of Books?

Sure, though I’m making this up as I go along. Consider yourself forewarned. I couldn’t afford an editor so I’m doing all editing myself. For me this means:

1. I submit each chapter to The Hemingway App which is a fantastic writer’s tool. It highlights uses of passive voice, wordiness, hard to read sentences, adverbs, words that can be simplified,(etc). I edit my chapter based on The Hemingway App suggestions and until I’m satisfied with my editing.

2. I also, use an app an on my android phone called Voice Reader. It essentially, reads my word document of my manuscript to me and I edit my book while I walk. I listen to each section in my book two-times.

3. I spell and grammar check my entire manuscript in MS Word as well as double-check the meanings of words to ensure I am using them correctly. To ensure I’m using words correctly, I use:  Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

4. After completing the appropriate steps to self-edit a group of chaptersI send them to my beta reader and wait for feedback while I work on the next group of chapters requiring editing.

5. Once, everything is edited to my satisfaction from self-editing and the comments of my beta reader, I will listen to the entire book one last time, to be certain I’ve caught any missed mistakes.

6. I designed the covers for the Curse Breaker Saga since I know my way around Photoshop. But first, I researched. I browsed audio books and ogled a lot of book covers. I may have bought a bunch of those books. I asked my cube-mate fro, work, who is the web designer from my day job, for feedback on the covers but she didn’t have any.

7. Next, I formatted my book for Kindle which required me to apply some styles in MS Word, slap in a hyperlinked TOC, and I was done.

8. After, I created a new MS Word document and set it up for print. I cut and pasted chapter by chapter, following basic design rules (chapter heads always start on the right hand page etc.) I always chose the ‘paste as plain text’ option AND THEN  I applied the new styles. If the document is set up right this process is boring but painless.

9.  I submitted two documents using self-publishing, one to Amazon and one to a printer to proof and print/put up for sale.


9. How Does Your Writing Process Work? Do Prefer Certain Areas or Genres of Writing and Reading?

I write whenever I can steal a few minutes to do so. I always have pages of my writing, clawing its way out of my head. Also, I love audio books. They are the only books I read anymore. As for genres, I love fantasy and science-fiction. Reading science-fiction, I especially enjoy military, speculative, and hard science-fiction. I also like to read whatever else catches my eye when I feel like reading.


” I submit each chapter to The Hemingway App which is a fantastic writer’s tool [for editing] . . . I also, use an app an on my android phone called Voice Reader . . . I edit my book while I walk. I listen to each section in my book two-times.” – Melinda Kucsera


10. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers Or Anything Else You’d Like To Share Related To Writing or Yourself?

Write because you love writing; write for yourself not for others. Read a lot and if you’re busy, listen to a lot of audio-books while you do other work. Hearing great writing in your ear and thinking about it in your mind is vital. So read, hear, think, about writing, however, you can.

Write On!


11. Please Share With Us a Few Links from Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite Pieces? 

Curse Breaker: Enchanted blurb:

“SARN indentured himself four years ago to pay for his brother’s education. It was a desperate bid to help his brother escape the cycle of poverty. For him there was never any hope, not while his body brims with illegal magic that just so happens to fuel the perpetual glow of his green eyes.

THE BARGAIN…The terms of his indenture landed him a stint with the Rangers who patrol the enchanted forest until a party of travelers is attacked in the forest’s midst and killed. Everything changes when that first drop of blood is spilled, waking the forest’s ire.

THE MYSTERY… Sarn tries to stay out of sight and trouble but one of the Rangers has plans for him. And the ghost of a child murdered in the forest haunts him—a green-eyed child just like his own son. Who killed this boy and the party he traveled with and why? The answer might cost his sanity but to find it, he risks losing the son he’s kept a secret for four years. Not finding the answer might damn his son to share that murdered boy’s fate.

As conflicting plans collide beneath enchanted boughs, one thing is certain. If Sarn can’t get his magic under control, he’ll never find the answers that he seeks. But how far is he willing to go to find those answers? The search might cost more than his sanity; it might cost his life.”


12. Here are Some Short Excerpts of Curse Breaker: Enchanted Below from Melinda’s Blog:

1. Queen Of All Trees

2. Curse Breaker: Kaulayaw

3.The Trouble With Marahuyo


Thank you so much Melinda for agreeing to be interviewed and providing such a thorough description of your publishing process and the exciting book series you are publishing. Here is the link to Melinda Kucsera’s Blog again and the link on Amazon to purchase her amazing first book!


Hope you enjoyed today’s interview. I know I did 🙂 If you would like to share about yourself and your writing in my bi-weekly interview series, please reach-out to me through my Contact Page here. Thanks for reading!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

 

The Most Popular Posts on Mandibelle16 


Prompt: Go to your Stats page and check your top 3-5 posts. Why do you think they’ve been successful? Find the connection between them, and write about it.

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1. MAC Mineral Foundation and Powder – I wrote this article along time ago. It is kind of shocking it is my most popular post. But I know many women love MAC makeup and are striving to use mineral makeup because it is healthier for their skin. Honestly, I’m not using either of these products now. The foundation is not made for people with oily or combination skin. The powder is a nice finishing powder but I honestly like my Clinique Almost Powder makeup better than this powder. I adore MAC eyeshadow and lipstick.I’m coveting some lovely new shades of light pink they have brought out for Spring 2016. Some of MAC’s eyeliners are alright and the same with some of their other products here and there. But honestly, there are so many other better mineral brands then MAC. But perhaps, I should try some new MAC makeup again, it being so popular with my blog visitors. I will think about it, when I need some makeup again.

2. The Sunflower House – My blog has been growing in leaps and bounds lately. This is one of my more recent stories. I think people like cute love stories and the protagonist Kayla standing up for Gram Janice and her sunflowers in this story. The fact, Gran Janice has a handsome Grandson named Devon for her new friend Kayla also helps. In short, I’m receiving many views for FfftAW from people as the next two posts are also from the same challenge. Thanks so much for reading from this Flash Fiction challenge! 

3.The Lady’s Breakfast – Another Flash Fiction piece from Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writer’s. I loved the picture prompt in this piece. There were so many directions I could go with it but I saw the old painting in the back and was inspired. I think the history, of this piece is special and the connection it has to the present day bar is special too. Not to mention, it’s another great love story. The kidnapper becomes the Lady’s beloved. History plus love story plus bar equals a good story. Many people have a favourite place they go for a beer or glass of wine, the history of these joints can be fascinating.

4.A Nice Young Guy – Yet another love story with the involvement of a caring Grandparent — one who has died. Also, I think I wrote this piece only last week, so this tells me the blog is doing well lately. Also, I think the format of this Flash Fiction piece is interesting because Janine finds a letter in her car from her Grandpa. He leaves her a special gift and the story of how he met Janine’s Grandmother. It is a sweet story, how an old car was so important to Janine’s Grandpa and why. You people simply love sappy love stories. You must be fans of Nicholas Sparks too 🙂

5.The Boss Who Foze – I am excited you guys liked this Sunday Flash Fiction piece. Mostly because it is more of a thriller. Cara wakes up and realizes she is late for work. The story is misleading because you think the story is only about her throwing herself together to get to work on time on a blizzardy day. What’s the catch? What Cara finds after seeing the office is closed for the day — her frozen boss. So, happy this is in the top five. Some of you must have been thinking of your own boss. Lol. ;). Plus, I like to write thrillers as well as the love stories the readers adore!

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Thank you so much anyone who follows and/or reads Mandibelle16. You are amazing and I love that you take the time out of your day to read my blog. It is touching that you appreciate what I write.

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©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved

Writing and Blogging: An Experience through Other Writers and Bloggers.


Laptop Writing
http://www.creativenauts.me
The more time I spend blogging. The more time I put into it. I think I have been writing a blog for three or four years now. At first, I wrote randomly and not often. I did not know much about WordPress and how it worked but I have learned many things about blogging and writing along the way.

At first, I was focused mostly on my writing and improving how I wrote. I think it has become a continuous goal for me to improve my writing but I have discovered so many fascinating and informative blogs from others along the way on how to improve my writing. One extremely helpful blog is Ryan Lanz who often has guest bloggers on any number of topics about improving your writing skills. Also, Amirhosein Ghazi has a number of posts on improving your writing.

These blogs and many more have been immensely helpful in crafting my writing. I know there is mistakes in everything I publish. No matter how hard I try to proofread and edit, mistakes always slips through. And if it wasn’t me, it was auto-correct on my Iphone or Ipad. Auto-correct drives me crazy at times! But do know, on my actual blog, I always correct my writing. So, if something is not making sense on the blog sent to your email you can always go to my actual blog homepage and the mistake should be corrected. I adore writing but my weakness is editing. I learned this through three editing courses through Simon Frazier University. I was going to do a certificate in Editing but an editor who only catches sixty or  seventy percent of editing mistakes isn’t good enough to edit professionally.

Courses that have also been of great aid to me have been Creative Writing

Writing Notebook
http://www.awritersprocess.wordpress.com
courses from the University of Alberta and Simon Frazier University online. Blogging courses through WordPress have also been immensely useful. I have meant many other bloggers through these courses and connected. I have also learned much about my writing and how to better be an honest storyteller. I have picked up tips such as ‘showing’and not only ‘telling’ in a piece of writing (thanks to Priceless Joy). I have learnt how to be more descriptive but also learnt one can go overboard with descriptive words. One interesting aspect I have learned is when your characters are having a conversation the word ‘said’  is alright to use over and over again. You can insert a few other words when the situation allows such as ‘shouted’ or ‘murmured’ but in general when your writing creatively in a story, you don’t want to throw your reader off by doing what we were all taught in high school and even in university to do. Do not write ‘said’ a different way every time it needs to be used.

Another great piece of advice given to me by Andy (whose blog I couldn’t find for you) was to make something happen in the story, an inciting incident and/or a problem. He used the example of Lord of The Rings: Frodo has an evil ring and stays home and drinks tea, isn’t an exciting story; but Frodo has an evil ring and goes out on an adventure to destroy the ring, is a great tale.

I have also learned to leave out certain words. It is a difficult objective to achieve with some of these words. These words include words such as ‘very,’ ‘quite,’ ‘just,’ ‘obviously,’ ‘rather,’ and the hardest word ‘that.’ In a writing course in university I was also told never to start a sentence with ‘this,’ but I haven’t managed to not use ‘that’ and not use ‘this’ at the same time. Maybe you will have better luck. If you are not sure if any of these words don’t work try writing a sentence you were going to use them in without these words because your sentence will sound clearer. Certain times I believe you have to use one of these words. Such as maybe something was actually obvious in your story. Or you have to use ‘just’ or another word because it is how your characters talk, In real life most of us talk using these words but talking can be different then writing.

Anyways, I have done many WordPress courses. I have done writing, blogging, and photography multiple times. I have done 101 and 201 courses.Not only meeting and interacting with other bloggers is important but reading varied takes on a prompt. Other people have ideas you would never think about writing about. Each person has their own experiences and imagination to draw from. Other bloggers and these courses fuel me with thoughts for future blog posts. They give me ideas or I become aware of different writing challenges being held such as Flash Fiction writing prompts through pictures, daily word prompts, and events going on in the larger writing community such as National Writing Month for poetry or writing a book. Additionally, the blogging  courses taught me how to improve the look of my blog to be more professional and to expand it to other types of social media. I’m not sure my blog is completely professional looking yet but it gets better through time. And I hope more professional, the more I write and learn how to use WordPress blogging tools.

Writing Desk
http://www.pinterest.com
Something I have truly tried to focus on is adding new bloggers to receive posts from and reading other bloggers work. It is impossible to read every blog I get but I do try to read most of them. The list keeps on growing but there is only so much time I can do this in. Blogging is becoming a career. I spend time writing my blogs, time appreciating other bloggers who comment on my work, and commenting on other blogs I enjoy. It is excellent to be able to have your work critiqued and to critique other people’s work. It adds to your own writing of blogs a great deal. Also, it is interesting to note in challenges such as Flash Fiction, what each writer will perceive out of one picture used as a prompt.

My greatest discovery lately comes from a lady who tells you how to plan

Writing Thank You
http://www.telegraph.co.uk
out a novel in a serious of blogs. I’m excited to try her method and make my novel come back to life. I’m unsure whether to re-plan or start a new novel because I have been stuck on this manuscript for almost a year. But I like my characters a great deal. You can check out what I am talking about here by Georgina Cromarty. I have linked you to part 1 of her Simple Guide to Writing a Novel. I believe she is on Part 6.

So in closing, thank you to everyone who has ever read, commented, glanced, critiqued, agreed, or disagreed with my blog. A blog is supported by a community of readers and writers and I’m thankful for you all.

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©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.