Monthly Archives: June 2018

Guest Post: Silently Watching by Coral McCallum, Part 1

Pulling the laces tight on his well-worn running shoes, he glanced out of the patio doors at the reddening sky. Another beautiful summer evening for a long training run. With a nod to his wife, who was curled up on the opposite couch engrossed in a trashy TV soap opera, he slipped out of the front door, closing it quietly behind him so as not to disturb their sleeping children. Nestling his earphones into place, he pressed play on his iPod and set off down the hill at a leisurely pace. No sense in heading off too fast too soon since he had his sights set on at least twelve miles. As the hill began to level off he had a choice – go straight through more houses or take the right fork down a narrow single track road. The sight of a group of kids playing football in the middle of the road ahead made the decision an easy one and he turned off to his right into the immediate shade of the overhanging trees and into a cloud of midgies.

In front of him an elderly woman was walking an equally elderly looking terrier. He regularly ran passed them on his evening training runs and knew the dog wouldn’t give him a second glance, unlike the dog at the house next to the church. It would dearly love to sink its teeth into his tattooed calf! The old woman gave him a smile and a nod as he loped passed her towards the cemetery. Surrounded by crumbling dry stone walls, the village’s crowded cemetery lay a few yards further down the road to his left. At the first sight of the walls, he picked up his pace. Something about that short stretch of road sent icy chills to his very core, despite the warmth of the summer evening.

On the aged stone steps opposite the graveyard, the fallen angel sat hidden by the long evening shadows. She had heard his footsteps the moment he turned down the narrow road and had slipped out from the cool sanctuary of the ruined mausoleum that lay forgotten far back in the trees, to watch for him. For weeks she had observed him as he ran up and down the hill. It was the rich metallic scent of his blood mingled with sweat that had first attracted her. Resisting was becoming more of a challenge each time he was within her range. Once she had followed him as he ran down through the village and along the coast road towards the next town. Soundlessly she had flown just above the tree line until his route had reached the lighthouse. With no trees to shelter her and the risk that the lighthouse’s lamp would expose her, she had reluctantly flown home, tasting his scent in air as she retraced her path.

Tonight the air was perfectly still, no wind to rustle the leaves, and his musk was strong. It had been three days since she had last fed and the mere sight of the ripe veins pulsing in his neck as he ran passed her was almost too much. Licking her lips, she slipped further back into the shadows, deciding to wait for his return journey. She was patient; she could wait….for now.

Two hours later in the last dusky light of the day, he turned off the main street to run back up the hill, safe in the knowledge that a hot shower and a clean bed were waiting at the top. His muscles were screaming at him as he dug deep into the last of his reserves and powered his way passed the church. Loud rock music filled his head, keeping his mind from lingering on the hot pain that had crept into his right foot. Another blister was not what he needed.

The turn off to the single track cemetery road was just up ahead. If he took it the route was shorter but steeper; if he took the longer route he had to make it safely passed that nippy dog. Short and steep won. He turned off and was level with the gates of the cemetery when he spotted the old woman’s little dog sitting at the side of the road. There was no sign of its mistress. He paused to rub its ears, glancing round trying to spot the old woman in the fading light. A rustling from behind the walls of the cemetery suggested to him, in his tired state, that she may be on the far side paying her respects to a long gone loved one. Without a backward glance he picked up his pace once more and headed home.

In the graveyard the angel stood up, spreading her magnificent black purple tinged wings out behind her. Carefully she dabbed at her mouth with her long pale fingers, removing the last traces of blood from her full red lips. She had resisted the temptation of him for now. At her feet lay the drained corpse of the old woman, eyes vacantly staring up into the night sky.

Find Part 2 here.

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From author Coral McCallum:

I live on the West Coast of Scotland and am married with two student age children and am the human slave of four cats. I still work full time for a retail bank as a manager and write in my spare time. It’s my escape and my “me time.”

I’ve been writing stories/poems for a long as I can remember but only sat down to attempt to write my first novel 5 years ago. I write my first drafts long hand then use typing them up as my first re-draft.  My biggest fear as a writer is letting people read what I write so I started my blog at the tale end of 2013 to try to help me overcome that crippling fear. I set myself the challenge to post one “blog” a week for every week of 2014. I managed it and have been posting once a week ever since. I am still very nervous hitting “publish” on each blog though! I use my blog as a playground to try out short fiction pieces or to introduce characters that I am thinking of adding to my books. I’ve interviewed some of my characters to give insight into the books too. The blog is a good medium to connect with readers and give them an update on “book baby” progress.
Currently I am typing/editing/proofreading Book Baby 4 with the aim of publishing it in September. It is a standalone spin off from the Silver Lake series and features the band that appear as a “support act” for Silver Lake called After Life.  I’ve also included a few cameo appearances from other characters in the Silver Lake series so my readers will meet a few “old friends” in the pages.
Silently Watching as a short fiction series has been ongoing for 4 years. I let my dark angel out to play a couple of times a year and hope to add another installment at the end of the summer. I try to tie them into Pagan festivals.
So apart from working full time, writing and blogging, I love my rock music and run two social media fanpages supporting Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. I also write a music blog on occasion covering gig reviews and album releases –  The 525 to Glasgow. I use my own photos in my concert reviews and am a keen amateur photographer.
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Interested in having your work featured on this blog?  Contact me.
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Filed under Fiction, Guest Posts

Writing Exercise – Titles

Writing Exercise #2: Come up with as many titles as you can. You don’t have to know the story behind them (although that can be a fun extension of this idea), but just find some phrases that you think would make great book titles.

  • Not Here, Not Now
  • Like Falling Asleep
  • You Said You Would
  • Let Me Down (I like the duality here of disappointment and physically being put down…could be interesting.)
  • Vibrations of Panic (Poem or band name? You decide.)
  • Parts of Speech
  • Balance
  • Tuesday, 10 a.m.
  • Never Born, Simply Was
  • Do No Harm
  • Dark Threads (I really like this one.)
  • Aren’t You Glad You Let Me Go?
  • You, Too
brain exercising

Work that creativity muscle!

I think another aspect of this exercise could be to list titles of current works by other authors that you absolutely love. These could be book titles, but also the titles of chapters, albums, or poems. The point is to find phrases that you love and see where your creativity goes from there. You may end up with a new story idea, or you may find something that will help out with a piece you’re working on.

What are your favorite titles? Let me know in the comments!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under On Writing, Writing Exercises

Guest Flash Fiction: A Father by Scono Sciuto

Here’s a piece of flash fiction from fellow author Scono Sciuto.  Please note that it is a bit heavy and it may not be suited for all readers.  

© 2017

A Father

by Scono Sciuto

All rights reserved. 

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

Printed in the United States of America.

 

Contact the author: SaviorSatin@icloud.com or authorsconosciuto@gmail.com

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s extremely vivid, and at time disturbing, imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

A Father

by Scono Sciuto

It is so close to the date, yet, your desire will not be denied. We make love, unbridled is our passion. To unimagined climax, we bring each other.

Behind closed lids, your beautiful eyes are now hidden. I lay next to you. My hand, upon the outline of our child. Eager to see the world, he presses against your belly. I kiss your cheek. My love, I proclaim. I am with my family.

We are not asleep long.

A contraction wakes you.

You feel a pop, then a trickle.

It is time. We rush to your house. When we are near, you phone your sister. Within the hour, she will be there.

I am like a kid on Christmas morning. I have never felt such joy. I have never been so happy. A life, one created by our love, will soon be here.

My breathing is rapid.

Our son is coming.

My heart races.

We near your home. Your contractions continue. Less than ten minutes after the last, arrives the next.

Your face turns sad.  As you place the next call, you tell me you love me. My excitation dims. At his work, your husband’s phone rings.

Of paternity, he is unaware. I am the father. However, he remains, your husband. My joy is gone, in its place, despair.

It is he, who will witness the birth of my son.

It is he, who will hold him when our son breathes his first.

It is he, who will sit next to you, to share the advent of the life which we created.

I stop in front of your house. There is little time. You aren’t sure when next we will speak. I reassure you, all is fine. Before darting from the car, you tell me you love me and kiss me. As I pull away, the headlights of your sister’s car greet me.

To the hospital, I hurry. I observe you arrive, close behind, so does he. Blissfully blind to the truth, in he rushes.

I leave. For hours, I drive. I am not by your side. I am not there to hold your hand. I am not there to tell you to push. I am not there to wipe the sweat from your brow or tears from your cheek.

I don’t know how you are doing. I don’t know if you have yet given birth. I don’t know if our son has seen his first sight.

What I do know —

It is he, who our son will cry out for in the night.

It is he, who our son will consider his father.

It is he, who my son will call daddy.

Unexpected and unplanned, but not unwelcomed, was his conception. You attempted to leave, but each time you tried, unforeseen events prevented you. Tears fill my eyes.

I will never know my son.

It is that truth, which leads me to the revolver.

It is that truth, I mutter as I press the barrel to my head

It is that truth, I repeat over and over, as I cock the hammer.

It is that truth, the last words I speak, before the explosion echoes.

The End

 

 Keep an eye on Scono’s Amazon Author Page for new releases.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your flash fiction or poetry featured here?  Contact me.

 

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Finding Freelance Clients

Starting a freelance business (or thinking about it) and wondering where to find clients?  I found myself in that same situation when I decided to make the leap from a “real” job and pursue freelancing full time.  I’d already been doing it part time for a few years before that, and even though I felt confident in my writing skills I wasn’t sure just where the money was going to come from.  Here are a few tips for finding clients for your freelance writing business:

Freelance Platforms:  I’ve had my best luck on Upwork.  I started when it was still eLance.com, before it merged with oDesk.  While some freelancers don’t like the fact that a fee is taken out of their pay, consider this:  Those fees keep you from getting ripped off.  Your client must have the money to pay you put into escrow, so they can’t skip out on the bill.  And if there are any disputes, they all go through Upwork.  I haven’t used any other freelance platforms, so I can’t attest to how good or bad they might be, but I’m an Upwork fan all the way.

Business man with binoculars.

Local Businesses:  This is a great place to look for clients, especially if you’re working on building your CV.  (There will be another post on this topic later.)  Call up local businesses and ask to speak to the manager or the office manager.  What you can do for them will depend on your specialty, but they may need help with social media posts, blogs, or editing their pamphlets.  It may take quite a few phone calls (or in-person visits) to get a business on board, but I can honestly tell you that I have one local client who has been using me steadily for four years.

Little Gigs.  Take something small, even if it’s not exactly what you want.  Yes, I have taken an $8 job on Upwork before.  It might not have been worth the time I put into it, but it gave me work history on that platform when I badly needed it.  That job let others know that I did good work, so it was worth it in the long run.

Work for Free.  I have seen so many arguments about this on writing forums, and people seem to be on one side or the other.  Some believe that you should never write a single word without getting paid, while others believe that doing work for free is where you build your chops.  Sure, we all want money, but you’ve got to be able to prove you’re worth being paid!  Ask your local charities if they need help with their monthly newsletters or creating flyers.  Small businesses who don’t feel they can actually afford to hire a writer might be willing to work out a trade deal.  Either way, you’re getting credits on your CV!

will work for books

Be Flexible.  If someone offers you a job that isn’t entirely in your wheelhouse, take it!  (Of course, my advice doesn’t stand if the job is something you can’t do.)  When I was offered my first ghostwriting job, I really didn’t know what I was doing.  But guess what?  Almost all of my freelance work is now ghostwriting.  That first job helped me find something that actually worked out better for me than I ever could have imagined!  So even if you’re a little scared, go for it!

Follow Up.  When you’ve finished a job for a client, let them know you’re available for more work.  Tell them you’d be happy to work with them again if anything comes up.  If they’re happy with the job you’ve done, they’ll come find you again!  Sometimes, they’ll also refer to you to others in the industry who could use your help.

Remember that freelancing basically means you are constantly selling your skills.  Don’t be afraid to get out there and tell someone what you can do or even point out how you can benefit them.  When putting in a proposal, be sure to include your CV and any clips that might be applicable.  Good luck!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

 

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Filed under Work, Work-at-Home Mom, freelancing

Help Me Name My Snake!

We added to our zoo last Monday!

I’ve been wanting a snake for quite some time, but I’d never gotten around to getting one. Honestly, what stopped me the most was the idea of feeding mice (ew.) But my husband got a corn snake last fall, so I’m getting a little more used to the idea. I mean, I already feed big ugly bugs to my bearded dragon, so why not?

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This guy showed up on a sale group on Facebook. We talked about it as a semi-joke for about a week until I finally decided I wanted him.

He’s a banana California king snake, and my immediate nickname for him was Bob Dole. (Cause, you know, Dole…bananas…). But I’d like a permanent name for him, so I’m asking for your help! Mr. Dole is about 2.5 – 3 feet long and just over a year old.

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Not a good pic since I hadn’t put a light on top of his tank yet, but here he is showing off his length and his beautiful markings.

I’d love to have something literary, Star Trek related, artsy, or vintage-y. I’m considering Lore and Mr. Rogers. Flood me with your suggestions!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under Animals

Tips for Starting a Freelance Business

If you’re thinking about starting a freelance business, then you probably already know that there is a ton of information out there about it.  I started freelancing full time four years ago, but I had been doing it part time for quite a few years before that.  I’ve learned an awful lot from trial and error.  While everyone is going to have a different experience depending on specialties, interests, and even location, here’s a little bit of information that may help you get started:

Office Space:  You need a place to work, right?  For most freelancers, it makes sense to work in your home.  You don’t have to pay a separate fee for rent, and the commute is always a short one.

That being said, though, home can be incredibly distracting.  Kids, pets, spouses, and the sink full of dirty dishes can keep you from your work.  Find a dedicated space in your home for your office, and use it.  I love to work from the couch, but I’m not nearly as productive there as I am at my desk.  Headphones are also great for drowning out distractions and keeping you focused.

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Polish your CV.  Just like when you’re applying for “real” jobs, you need a resume to show your skills to potential clients.  Have you had an article published somewhere?  Done any work for a local company that relates to your expertise?  Let everyone know just what you can do!

Brush up on your skills.  Spend a little time each week on continuing education.  It doesn’t matter if you have a degree; there’s still more out there to learn!

Have a plan for getting work.  Don’t quit your day job and dive into the freelance world unless you have at least some idea of where you’ll get clients and how you’ll get paid.  Determine what kind of work you want to do (copywriting, editing, ghostwriting, etc.) and where you can get jobs in those categories.  I’ll be going into more detail on another blog post about how to get clients.

Schedule your due dates carefully.  Got a gig?  Congrats!  If you’re just diving into the freelance world, you might not have an accurate idea of just how long it will take you to finish a project.  Give yourself more time than you need when making promises to clients to avoid running late.

Set a goal.  Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you can’t have goals, bonuses, and business hours.  Set a goal that works for you, whether its by how much money you make, how many jobs you land, or how many hours you put in each month.  While you’re in the beginning stages of your freelancing, you may just set a goal for how many proposals you put in or how many businesses you contact about your services.  Don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet that goal!  Personally, I like to buy myself something when I hit my monthly income goal.

But seriously.  You might find that others don’t take your work seriously, and you may have that problem yourself when you’re sitting at home working in your pajamas at three in the afternoon.  But this is still business!   Get up and get to work on time (whatever time that may be) and don’t just skip out on work because you feel like you can.  It’s great to have a flexible schedule, but that’s not the same as blowing off your work.

As exciting as it can be to make the jump to freelancing, remember that you’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days.  You may have a week where you get no work at all, followed by a week where you’re offered so much you can’t possibly accept every job. Don’t give up!  It can be a little difficult to get your career off the ground, but it’s not impossible!  As you get further into career, you’ll find clients who use you regularly and make meeting those monthly goals easy.  I’ll be making more posts about freelancing, so be sure to look out for them.  Good luck!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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