What Your Editor’s Notes Really Mean

What Your Editor’s Notes Really Mean

This is hilarious. Must read for any writer struggling with a long list of red ink from your editor.

101 Books

If you’ve ever worked with an editor, you know that receiving a colorful track-changes-filled document back isn’t uncommon.

Some editors are straight to the point. Others can be a little too friendly and encouraging when tough love might work better.

In both cases, editors have their own little language with accompanying symbols. So it helps if you can interpret what they’re ACTUALLY saying and read between the lines. Having been brutally edited more times than I’d like to admit, I’m well-versed in editor speak.

So here’s my little guide to interpret what your editor actually means:

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Bittersweet Valentine’s day…

Today is a day of love and romance for many. For me, it is also one of reminiscing for a different reason. My grandmother, who I spent most of my young life living with, was a Valentine’s baby. She was a guide and role model for my life that I could not be who I am without. She would have been 85 this year, but she was taken from us almost 3 years ago. I know in my heart there isn’t much that I could have one to spend more time with her, but I still wish I had had one more day, even one more hour. We celebrated her 82nd birthday at my home, she laughed and joked and we had a grand time. 3 months later i was camped in her room at the nursing home when she took her last breath. The emotion is raw still, especially this time of year. While everyone else is buying roses and chocolates, I think of a very special woman and all the advice and wisdom she imparted to me over the years. A few years before her health started to decline, I worked third shift and would visit with her in the mornings when I got off work. I am sharing something I wrote during that time. There are times now that I still have to fight a tear when I pick up a pack of playing cards.

Spending Time with My Grandma

There are mornings where I have a new pastime.
It involves a visit with my aging grandma.
We sit and talk and play a few hands of cards.
While I talk to her about my work and day,
she listens intently, always with a few kind words,
or a bit of advice to help me on my way.

Staying with my mom, she is right on the way
home from work. This new fun pastime
of mine is sometimes hard to put into words
what it truly means to me. When I visit grandma
she always tells me she misses me every day,
and is quick to bring out the deck of cards.

Her shaking, aged hands shuffle the cards,
everything on the table cleared out of the way.
With school and work I can only visit every few days,
but nothing can take away the joy of my pastime.
The time is precious that I spend with grandma,
and the hours spent is more important than any words.

We pass the time in laughs and exchanging of words,
shuffling, dealing, shuffling, and dealing the cards.
“I am going to beat you this time,” says my grandma,
getting three aces and clearing the cards out of the way.
I think she has as much fun as I do with our pastime.
With excitement I wait for the visits on those days.

When it is time for me to leave at the end of those days,
a sadness creeps into my heart. We put into brief words
the happiness and comfort that comes with our pastime.
The table has been reset, the scorecard and the cards
have been put in the drawer and out of the way.
With a hug I leave, saying, “I love you grandma.”

The time with my grandma on those special days,
will always outweigh the advice or the words,
or the little deck of cards of our favorite pastime.

The year was 1995…

The year was 1995 and I was just entering my teenage years. Boyz II Men and Ace of Base were cleaning up at the American Music Awards, both albums I had on cassette. In fact, the Boyz II Men cassettes might be in my basement in storage. Amazing the silly things we hold onto from our childhood. Baseball had a nasty strike and the nation cried when Christopher Reeve was paralyzed.

That summer I turned 13. My best friend and I spent alot of time at his parent’s farm. Playing video games and chasing cattle. That year I shared a birthday with the release of Batman Forever, a movie that I watched more than once since then. Growing up in South Carolina we were all horrified by Susan Smith murdering her children. As a father now, while I may be disappointed or frustrated at times, I could never fathom harming my child in any way. There has to be a special place of torment in the afterlife for those who harm or kill children like she did.

That fall, Carolina rejoiced as we saw the beginning of our own National Football Team, the Carolina Panthers. I had grown up a Redskins fan thanks to my grandparents being from the Maryland/DC area. For the first time we could say we were rooting for the “home team”. They lost their first game in overtime. I was very disappointed.

That fall saw the publishing of the Unabomber’s manifesto by major newspapers. We also witnessed the Jury deliberation of the OJ Simpson trial. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” becomes a joke used repeatedly across the comedy world, as well as in my little part of the world. While he was later found not guilty, there were no riots in the streets like in recent years with Ferguson and elsewhere. No one seemed to think “taking to the streets” would bring any other sort of justice for a white woman killed by a black male. How anyone thought doing the same when a black male was killed by a white male, is beyond my understanding.

On a lighter note, my home team Carolina Panthers did get their first victory against the NY Jets in October, while I tried to master the French Horn in my 8th grade band. I did manage to take a chair at Regionals so that was something. They also began looking for volunteers for a special advanced college prep program to be started in my school district. While it would mean starting high school without most of my friends (as it was being held at a different school in the district), I was excited for this opportunity. Between my parents moving our family twice during my senior year, I did not complete the International Baccalaureatte, or IB program. I often wonder how different my life might have been if my high school years had not been filled with so much upheaval. I know I would not want to change the course my life has taken as it has brought me to a very happy place. It is still food for thought, and perhaps a short story or something in the future. We shall see.

As the year draws to a close, there were a couple significant events. Toy Story  was the first full length animated film using computer imagery. Something done many times since to mainly Disney and Pixar’s success. Revolutionary changes in computer graphics have shaped the movie special effects industry and given us much to enjoy in the years since. There was also the official end of Desert Storm. While too young to have been involved in any military action, I did have family that participated. Thankfully they all made it home safe. Later in the 2000s, when we returned to the middle east, my little brother would serve two tours of duty in the same regions. I am grateful that he made it home safe as well. I am thankful for all of our military personnel that have served (My grandfather was a marine in WW2 as well), those currently serving, and encourage any who are considering it to go for it. Although I would later begin the process of enlisting in the Air Force as a translator (German was my language in High School), other events would take that route off the map of my life.

The year was 1995, and while probably not the most dramatic year of my life, it was still memorable.

Finally Reviewed…

So, it has finally happened. I logged into Amazon to look at my book, something I have done from time to time since I self published this past July. To my surprise, this time there were two reviews.  I have copied the link below.

http://goo.gl/ll70IU

This is huge for me. I have had family and friends tell me they enjoyed my writing or encourage me to continue writing. These are complete strangers who picked up a copy of my book on a whim and liked it. Or, dare I say, they loved it? This is the kind of thing that I have dreamed about since I first started writing.

I do not know what other authors do, but I have been wary of the paid review and blog services. I wasn’t sure about getting honest feedback. Since I am paying a stranger to review my book, my skeptical mind says that they will tell me good things to make sure they retain my business. Now that I have a couple honest reviews like this, I feel a little better about reaching out to the marketing, blog tours, reviewers of the world.

Anyway, going to go be excited about my reviews now. Enjoy your weekend and happy reading, or writing if that is your thing.

“Hack the Planet”

Dade Murphy: I don’t play well with others.

The Plague: Kid, don’t threaten me. There are worse things than death, and uh, I can do all of them.

The Plague: There is no right and wrong. There’s only fun and boring.

Dade Murphy: Mess with the best, die like the rest.

A recent Daily Post challenge is to take a quote from a movie and make that the title of a post. Unfortunately, I cannot pick just one from one of my favorite movies of all time, Hackers. Here is a little story using the above movie lines.

Charlie sat on his bike near the edge of the woods. The older boys had thought it a joke when he started following them, especially his older brother James. James knew that if his mother found out he left Charlie somewhere unattended, he would be in serious trouble. For that alone he had told his friends to just keep an eye out for his kid brother. Charlie sighed deeply and began to slowly pedal after the laughter of the older boys just inside the tree line. They were already jumping off the natural clay ramps of the trail ahead.

No one remembered when the trails were formed, they had always just been there. It was like a rite of passage when one graduated from the normal flat roads to the rough, hard packed clay of the woodland paths. The natural hills provided ample opportunities for jumping from peak to peak for the more accomplished rider. Charlie was nervous when he came up to the first long circle that his brother and the other older boys were on. This trail doubled back on a sequence of small hills that the boys were trying to clear in one jump. Charlie sat there until the group had moved on towards the relatively flat spaces deeper into the woods.

As he stopped at the top of the first hill, Charlie looked down and trembled visibly. Just then another rider came up the trail behind him. When he looked Charlie paled, it was Derek, the biggest bully in their little subdivision.

“Move kid,” Derek said as he started down the trail in Charlie’s direction.

Charlie was frozen, but he finally got his mouth working at least, which probably wasn’t the smartest move, “Leave me alone or I will get my brother.”

Derek came to a stop next to Charlie and glared at the younger boy. He knew he could pound this little pipsqueak into the ground, but something stopped him. His hands flexing on the grips of his bike, he said instead, “Kid, don’t threaten me. There are worse things than death , and uh, I can do all of them.”  Before he could push off to go down the hill there was a sound of bicycles sliding to a stop behind him.

“Hey, what are you doing to my little brother?” James called to the bigger boy. He was roughly the same age as Derek, but where James was lean, Derek looked built to smash bricks with his fists.

“Nothing. I don’t play well with others. Best you just move on,” Derek adjusted his feet in preparation to pedal off.

“You shouldn’t harass little kids,” James spoke up, walking his bike up the hill towards the bigger teen. When he reached the top he continued speaking, getting between Charlie and Derek. The top of the hill was very crowded with all three of them standing there. “It isn’t right to pick on little kids.”

“There is no right or wrong. There is only fun and boring,” Derek laughed as he shoved James backwards into Charlie, the two brothers tumbling off the side of the hill into a heap in the brush along the trail. Charlie began to cry as Derek pedaled away.

Charlie started crying and James got mad. Sure, he found his little brother annoying at times, but no one else is allowed to harm his little brother. James jumped to his feet, stopping his friends with a look. They backed off as one, seeing the fire in their friend’s eyes. James grabbed his bike and started down the trail towards Derek’s retreating back. James could barely make out the darkly dressed teen as he flitted down the trail. Pedaling hard, James started to gain a little on his quarry.

Looking back, Derek sighed when he saw James straining to catch up with him. He had hoped to have a little fun by shoving the smaller boy around and then get lost in the woods for a little bit where he could smoke in peace. His aunt didn’t care for his habit in her house so he was forced to go elsewhere when he wanted a smoke. He had found several places deep in the woods adjacent to his neighborhood conducive to peace and quiet. As he reached the point where the trail leveled off and ran parallel to the train tracks, Derek slowed down enough to allow James to catch up.

James noticed Derek slow down and braced himself for the bigger teen to stop and face him. When that didn’t happen, James kept pedaling hard. He came up alongside Derek and, mimicking a police pit maneuver, rammed his front tire into the side of Derek’s bike.

Derek was not expecting this. Caught completely off guard he went hard left off the trail. The ground dropped sharply before rising back up at the railroad tracks and he careened down the hill to land face first in the pile of granite rocks at the base of the tracks.

James nearly lost control of his bike himself but recovered to stop and watch the bully crash. He then shouted, “You are right, that was not boring at all. Next time be careful who you pick on.” James began pedaling back towards his friends and little brother.

Derek sat propped against the pile of rocks, sharp edges digging into his back through his t-shirt. He pulled out his cigarettes and lit one. After taking a long pull of the smoke he smiled to himself. “That guy has some serious balls to try that. Maybe he isn’t so bad.” Derek laughed and took another pull from his cigarette.

When James got back to his friends, they had Charlie up on his feet. The younger boy was still brushing dirt from his clothes and looked up, eyes full of concern, when his brother came back into sight. “Is he coming back?” Charlie asked fearfully.

“I don’t think so,” James slid to a stop. “When I left he was lying face first at the bottom of that ramp that goes over towards the train tracks.”

“Really?” Charlie and the other teens were incredulous. Then Charlie said, “You are the best big brother in the whole world.” He threw his arms around James and hugged his brother tight.

James grinned, “You know what they say, mess with the best, die like the rest.” He shared a high five with a couple of his friends and then the boys all headed for the pathway that led back to the street. Their adventure for the day was done.

The Word of the Day is Proud…

The word of the day is Proud…

Another Daily Post idea, again I am a day late on this one but I wanted to go a step further and talk about someone that I am proud of, versus just their question of the last time someone said they were proud of me.

The last few years have seen a lot of changes in my life. I try every week to get better at this fatherhood thing, and everyday my son teaches me just how much I do not know about being a father. We have our good days and I have my bad days where I am sure I come across harsher than I really mean to. I also finally published my “life’s work”. I know my grandmother is watching out for me from the other side of life and is proud of me for finally accomplishing that dream. I have been rather successful this year so far with controlling my temper. I think it has been off putting for my wife as I know there have been times where she has expected me to blow up, and I didn’t. I would have to say that I am proud of myself for this.

The last week has seen a major change in my household with regards to my son. When I was growing up, my little brothers and I had specific chores that we did. We made our beds (most of the time), washed the dishes by hand (we didn’t have a mechanical dishwasher back then), as well as vacuum and dust the house. We also helped fold and put away laundry before graduating to running the machines ourselves. In return we got that treat that I am sure a lot of people relate to, an allowance.

My son, who is ten this past October, has entered the world of allowance earners. I think it will be good for him once he adjusts to the routine a little more. My wife and I started simple. Mostly things he does already, but giving him an incentive to do them without being asked multiple times. He is to make his bed, feed and water the dogs, empty the dishwasher when needed, clean/vacuum his room at least once a week. The goal is that he will learn the responsibility of working for what he wants, which generally revolves around some new video game or Lego set.

This past week was Week 1. Based on the Lego Set he has his eye on, he needs at least 6 more weeks in order to earn the money he needs. He is after one of the more expensive kits. We had a few bumps in the road, but all in all, I am extremely proud of the progress he made. When I get home from my day job today, I get to sit down with him and give him his first allowance. It is one of those moments in fatherhood that I am excited to experience. Here is to hoping he keeps it up the rest of his life and learns the value of a hard earned dollar.

Crikey! No Thanks Mate…

The Daily Post had a question for us bloggers and, though I am a few days late, I thought I would take a stab at it. I am supposed to explore a place that I would never want to visit. I could be callous and mention any “third world” or “developing” country and be labeled an American Elitist, but the truth is, there are many impoverished parts of the world that I think I would enjoy seeing for the history and culture that exist there. Eastern Europe, much of the old Soviet Union, even the non-touristy portions of France, Germany, Spain and the UK. To see the ruins of the European empires would appeal to a history lover like myself.

If I had to pick somewhere to absolutely not visit; perhaps the Australian Outback. Now, I am a big fan of Crocodile Dundee, but I am not a big outdoors person. Tromping through the heat and damp, dodging insects and reptiles that would be trying to kill me, not my idea of a good time. I “camp” on a lake in the summer but it is in my RV and within 30 minutes of pretty substantial signs of civilization. I would not do well in the life or death struggle of surviving in the Outback. This city boy would drive any poor guide insane within hours. My luck they would leave me somewhere to fend for myself.

I suppose the Amazon could be added to this list for some of the same reasons.  The amount of poisonous or deadly species discovered and being found in that region of the world make it clear that it is not a place for me.  I have no need to tangle with snakes that could swallow me whole (which might write off Florida as a place to visit soon with their python problem) or schools of deadly flesh-eating fish. I will leave those adventures to people with a little less desire to live than myself.

While we are at it, let’s add the African Sahara. The desert is no place for a city slicker like me. A place that can kill me just for standing outside of shade is not a place I want to visit. I applaud the people who have survived in those conditions for centuries. They are a strong people who should be proud of their heritage.

I guess this post went a little longer than I thought it would. I suppose there are more places than I thought that are just not meant for me to experience.

What being a Father, Writer, Logistical Wizard means to me…

I have been very happy with my blog title. I think it was a stroke of creative genius. So I thought I would take a moment to elaborate on what this means to me and why I chose it.

 

Fatherhood, for me, was not something I thought was in the cards when I was a younger man. My biological father has been a constant source of disappointment my entire life. I vowed that I would never be like him. Part of that, to a younger me, meant that I wasn’t going to be a father myself. I met my wife when I was 21, and she not quite 19. I was enamored and in love. She said I was too serious. We lasted a few months. Some years later, we both are a little wiser and a little older. We start dating again, but she doesn’t immediately tell me that she has a child. When she did, it took only a moment for me to realize that, while I had no idea how to be a father, that I wanted to be a part of this little boy’s life. He has brought so much joy, and a few challenges, to my life as I learn exactly what it means to be a father. Previous examples in my personal upbringing did not prepare me for this rollercoaster of emotions.

 

Writing, and reading, has always been a passion of mine. From a young age I wrote simple rhymes and thought myself a poet. Short stories and the decade long process of my first novel has taught me many things, and I continue to learn more about myself and my Voice everyday. I used to spend alot of time in my younger days playing tabletop RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons. I created continent spanning stories in worlds I drew on graph paper myself. The Science Fiction/Fantasy genre has captivated my imagination my entire life.

 

Logistical Wizard is two parts actually. My day job is dispatching fuel trucks to gas stations and assorted bulk plants or terminals. Routing and trip planning, timing to get to the gas station before they run out of fuel; It is an enigma every day that has to be solved. I have often described it to other people as opening a new puzzle every day. Some of the pieces are the same, and might even fit together similar to the day before. The hardest part is when someone throws extra pieces at you when you are almost done and you have to start over. At the end of the day, I get to look at the finished scene and know that I created it.

 

As for the Wizard part, well, it is a nickname I picked up at my day job. They often call me Word Nerd/Wizard as well, due to the lenghty hand off notes and reports I have filed. I also in my life have had some unfortunate experiences with people who call themselves Christians. I have no problem with the faith and its teachings, for the most part. I feel that there are great moral lessons to be learned within organized religion. I just became very disenfranchised with the hypocrisy I encountered personally. Because of this I have classified myself as Pagan for a long time. This led to being called Wiccan, or Witch, Warlock, but my favorite has been Wizard. It conjures up images of Merlin and Gandalf and all the other sorcerors of literary legend that I have enjoyed reading about.

 

So, come along with me on this journey of being a Father, Writer, and Logistical Wizard. Should be fun…

New Year, New Who I am and Why I’m here

My name is Andrew Ferrell. I started this blog in order to push myself to share things about my life and my creative work that I barely share outside of my immediate family, and sometimes not even with them. I wanted to talk about being a father, a role I would have laughed at you about if you had asked me as a younger man if I even wanted kids. It is a role that I learn something new about daily and I would not trade it for the world. I wanted to share the ranting and raving that often occurs only in my own head.

On these counts, I think I have barely risen above failing. I have shared a few poems. I have pushed a few rants, commentaries on life, and even a chapter of my first novel. I haven’t really addressed any deep and meaningful issues from my life. I have really skirted around sharing much with any of the people who have been so kind to read my words. 2015 will be a better year. I promise.

I am the oldest of three boys raised in a southern home. Sweet tea, pecan pie, yes ma’am, no sir and all that comes with it. I have other siblings on my biological father’s side, but that would take another whole post to account that craziness, which isn’t really my focus here except how it relates to my own journey as a father. I am married to a wondeful woman who somehow puts up with my crazy perfectionism and peculiarity on a daily basis. No way can I be the easiest person to live with, so I love her all the more for putting up with me. She is my rock who keeps this sometimes airy Gemini grounded. My brothers and I have our separate lives and separate families, but the last year has seen us become a little closer and I am elated about that.

My goals this year are to share more of my writing and the challenges I see as a self-published author. I also hope to finish one of my other manuscripts, which will begin the journey of looking for an agent and publisher as well. I also want to share more of the challenges and lessons of fatherhood as my son is now ten years old and really starting to take on more teenage personality traits.

I hope that others will find a laugh or maybe some inspiration in my posts. I am ok with either. I have always been a bit afraid of opening myself up to even those around me. As I get older, I am realizing that I am not letting people in. Being just an observer in my own life is not what I want to be remembered as. There is an old country song where they say they want to be remembered as – a father, brother, neighbor, and a friend. That they want to be a good man.  I want to be remembered for those things. Perhaps along the way I can connect with this vast community out there on the world wide web and find some common ground with my readers out there.