Tag Archives: Writer

It’s About Time! It’s about What the Kid Did!

Grandpa holds Chase 3 days oldThough it has been nearly two years since I have posted to my blog, I now have something new that’s worth writing about!

I have been blessed with a new grandson! This event inspired me as a dad (now a granddad) to put together a new book about kids… my kids, your kids… a book about every parent’s experience in raising kids.

Everyone has a story, whether it be from your own childhood, your family or your friends. Somewhere in your memory, there is a happening that involved kids, their logic, their determination, their raw and innocent responses to situations. Many of these recollections are priceless treasures that beg to be shared with others.What the Kid Did.indd

I have collected a few of these stories, along with some of my own experiences and recollections for this first volume of What the Kid Did!  I hope that this little book will inspire others to reach back into their memories and recall some of their own childhood adventures and happenings. New hardcover copies are available now. (See below).

This post is an early call for entries for the 2015 volume of What the Kid Did! If you have kids, I know you have stories, and I’d like to hear from you. Send me your story, and if we like it, it could appear in our next issue to be published in late November 2015. All published contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the new hardbound edition by mid December… just in time for Christmas! It will make a great family gift to be enjoyed by young and old alike.

 

Here is an excerpt from What the Kid Did!:

The Dummy

—Michael Faris

I was about twelve and my brother, Kevin was five. We shared a corner bedroom at our home on NW 6th street in Fort Lauderdale. Mom and Dad’s room was adjacent with a thin wall between.

It must have been past our bed time, because Dad was watching the late news in their bedroom. However, Kevin and I weren’t quite ready to call it a day and were apparently a bit too noisy.

“You boys better get it quiet in there!”

Dad’s stern voice was usually enough to mitigate any unwanted activities, and it did, for a short while. But restless young boys…

“If I have to come in there…!”

We settled down again, some. But by and by we were at it again, and after the basketball bounced off the middle wall, Kevin dove for the covers.

I could hear Dad’s belt jangling as he dragged it off the dresser. I hurried to make preparations for the inevitable confrontation. There were only a few seconds…
The hall light came on! I slipped into the closet just as Kevin lifted his cover to peer out. He saw me and decided to follow. He whipped his covers back and started out of the bed, but he was too slow.

Dad was angry. He didn’t put up with any tom foolery. He grabbed my brother up and gave him a couple of whacks with the belt.

Dad was stern, but he never really beat us. Just a few slaps with his leather belt on the legs was enough to get us in line. I think it hurt our pride way more than any physical damage.

Kevin jumped back into bed and Dad turned to my bed. He whacked the lumps concealed beneath the bedspread.

He tore away the covers, revealing a football, a dump truck and various other toys contrived to resemble a sleeping twelve-year-old… a dummy in the bed!

My little brother lacked the experience that I had in dealing with adults. He didn’t know that a laugh on his part was inappropriate at the moment. However, as the covers on my bed absorbed the first assault from the belt, he laughed out loud.

“So, you think it’s funny?” Dad whirled around and slapped at Kevin, who had by this time returned to the sanctity of his covers.

“Daddy… now wait a minute, Daddy. I want to tell you something!” he blurted out. Dad pulled the covers back. Kevin was halfway between laughter and fear. He pointed at the closet.

“Mike’s in there!”

Well Dad could no longer contain himself, Though he tried. The skin around his eyes began to crinkle and his mouth twitched.

By the time he dragged me out of the closet, we were all three laughing at my prank. As it turned out, I never got the spanking like Kevin did. He reminds me of it to this day, more than fifty years later!

 Get a hardbound copy of What the Kid Did for only $20 (free shipping).

To order, contact me via email:

mfaris1950@gmail.com

or call me on my cell:

541-954-6724

Check out my Judeco website:

www.judeco.net

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Zodiacs and Genres

Graphic: Genre Spinner

So what’s your sign?

Labels… so many labels that attempt to define who we are and what we do!

It seems that everything is classified according to some standard, pigeon-holed along with countless other folks that may or may not agree on most things. Yet it’s the way we begin to evaluate a new idea or thing of which we have no immediate knowledge. We compare things in order to begin to understand them. We always ask the question, “What’s it like?”

Arbitrary categories mean different things to different people and require even more sub-definitions to clarify our concepts. For instance, if I told you I was a fiction writer, what would you think?

I have just placed myself in a general category that basically says I make up my stories, but it doesn’t convey any sense of the types of stories I write nor does it indicate anything about my style. As far as you know, my work could be anything from crime mysteries to fairy tales, mythology to science fiction.

So now I say my work is fantasy-adventure, which narrows it somewhat, but it still encompasses a wide range of possibilities… still pretty near infinite, I’d say.

I could suggest that my work touches on science fiction and involves crime mysteries. But that tends to widen the field again.

How about if I say my genre is sci-fi-fantasy-mystery novels with a touch of humor? Sitting astraddle of a handful of these categories somehow makes me uncomfortable and really clouds the issue. Perhaps I would feel better just going back to the general fiction classification, but it wouldn’t serve well.

So how should I go about defining the type of writing I do? I could say I was inspired by such writers as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, E.R. Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, O. Henry and others. But does that do anything to clarify it? Not really.

Maybe I could find another writer that produced work similar to mine and compare myself to them. But that would tend to dilute my image as a writer with a unique style. Hey! I blaze my own trails! I’m not a copycat and I refuse to try to model myself after anyone else’s style. Like most writers, I feel my work is unique. It doesn’t really fit wholly into any one category or classification, and I’ll be damned if I will try to make it do so.

So maybe I should invent a new genre? How about MysSciFiHumFant? Say it real fast and it sounds… well, silly. But am I all alone? How many writers have difficulty classifying their work? What if you write several specific kinds of fiction?

I not only write novels, but I have tried my hand at poetry, songs and short stories, all with different styles and I’m not sure you could classify any of them. I prefer to think of my genre as undefined and without limits. I’m a free-thinker and I want my writing to reflect that.

Too often my attempt at genre classification will turn some people off. They will say “I’m normally not a fan of sci-fi (or fantasy or mystery… whatever), but your book was really a fun read.”

So it seems that the best strategy might be to give ’em a little taste without telling them what it is. My mother (and my wife) have both tried this technique in order to get me to broaden my horizons and try new things. I must say it has worked on some occasions and I have indeed expanded my experiences for the better.

I’m suggesting here that whether you are Scorpio, Pisces or Sagittarius, you could actually step outside your assigned preferences and check out some of the unclassified literature being  produced by some very talented writers.  Genres be damned!

I hope to be interviewing some rogue authors in the near future to find out how they see themselves and what they are doing to promote their work.

As always, I invite comments and suggestions about the business of indie publishing and ways to help fledgling authors be seen and heard. What’s your genre? How do you classify your work ?

About Time Publishing

Photo of Michael Faris sitting at desk

Michael Faris

I have three books available at present. Check out the links at the very top of this page.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac

http://literature.pppst.com/genres.html

http://genresofliterature.com/

http://webclipart.about.com/od/businessoffice/ss/Chinese-Zodiac-Calendar.htm

Its the same old story…

Photo of Michael Faris sitting at desk

Michael Faris

I’m often asked, “Where do you get your ideas for your stories?”

I get them from everyday news events, from personal experiences, friends’ suggestions, from happenstance situations, satisfactions, disappointments, absurdities and ridiculous occurrences that are all around us… or maybe from a wish, a realization that things could be much different than they are. I have only to open my eyes or lend an ear and there are things to write about.

I probably have more trouble narrowing ideas down to a reasonable size so they don’t become a career project. For me, it really becomes a matter of deciding what’s important and sticking to that thought.

These what I call “career projects” become an awesome burden, mainly because of the time invested. I somehow cannot let go of them, desiring to see some kind of reward for my efforts. It’s like I won’t admit to myself that I acted on a bad idea.

What happens is that it gets stored away in a box or on DVD for future reference, (just in case I want to pick it up again).

One day I realized I had dozens of these “great ideas” all at various stages of development, any one that I should be able to pick up and finish with a little more effort. But somehow, yesterday’s ideas just don’t provide the inspiration that today and tomorrow promise. Or is there something else is at the root of my problem?

I know I have trouble finishing stories with sketchy plots. Attempts to outline the project ahead of time just never seem to pan out. Once I get to writing, my imagination just takes off and leaves the plan in a ditch somewhere. To heck with that outlining BS, I’m too busy having fun!

My first novel took me almost ten years to write. I went through three computers and swapped platforms twice before I cobbled together a meager 100,000 words. That’s about 27 words per day.

The sequel only took two years to write… (comparable length of 100K words). I was now working five times as fast now at 135 words per day!

Novel number three was also taking two years. But I could see an underlying problem here that made finishing very difficult. I was getting bored with the project and enthusiasm waned.

As much as I enjoyed writing, I couldn’t seem to finish a project. I asked myself why and could only blame it on the size of the undertaking. So I decided to concentrate on short stories.

This presented a whole new set of rules. I had a lot less time to develop my characters and to execute the plot. They tended to drag out because I couldn’t effectively tell my stories in so short a time… the very reason my novels became so long. So what was my problem?

I decided to join a writer’s group and get some pointers so I could effectively improve my work to the point of writing more complete material in a shorter length of time. I had no idea about how a writer’s group was conducted. I just wanted to get some of my work out in front of some guys that didn’t ‘love’ me. They would all be strangers and that seemed a good way to find out if my stuff was any good. So I found a fiction writers group on Craigslist and joined.

It has been about four years now since throwing in with “The Write Guys”, a very informal group of six members that meets twice a month. I have found it to be very rewarding and I have grown because of it. I have also followed and enjoyed a lot of superb stories from the rest of the group. Good fellowship. Great medicine for me as a writer.

The Write Guys try to get three readings in per meeting, which keeps each member’s presentation down to around 20-30 minutes and allows them to read about once a month. Each of us reads the next chapter from our ongoing novels, then the group discusses the story, pointing out things that we liked (or didn’t), and making suggestions that might help to improve the work.

The guys really seem to like my writing, but I’m still having the same problem. I can’t seem to finish a story because the plot isn’t well defined. I’m starting to realize that beautiful sentences do not make a story. It takes more than that.

The writers group experience has been positive, and I thought we were doing reasonably well, until I ran across Kristen Lamb’s blog. Her perspective has radically altered my thinking and presented a few challenges that I know will help me to grow as a writer.

Kristen’s advice and tips on how to effectively write and critique fiction are terrific! She also has some excellent advice on promoting fiction using social media, together with a couple of books that every serious fiction writer should read. Check it out at warriorwriters.wordpress.com/.

Now I think I will go cut a few projects down to size.

Michael Faris

About Time Publishing