James O. Youngcliff – Hard At Work

A Nice Pat on the Back

Given the Covid-19 “detour,” I’ve found succulents growing in a dark corner of what most consider a lack of inspiration. So, I can now report that my current fantasy/mystery/horror manuscript for YA is in its last phase of rewrite.

“Whee, for me!” you say? Thanks. But not so fast. The worse is to come. Since I publish my own work, the problematic aspect of book publishing still awaits. For those who are familiar, I won’t go into too many details. And for those who don’t know, I won’t burden you with my laments and only say, “I hate it!”

The New Manuscript, Title, and Cover?

As far as the manuscript goes: I’ve got 60 pages to go with 37,000 words thus far typed. A bit high in word count, but who’s counting? [FYI: I like to do my editing after I’ve physically printed out the manuscript and use a pencil to make my corrections. A little “old school,” I know, but that’s how I can get the most juice out of my oxygen-starved brain’s creativity pool. While I reread the corrections, I may change what I wrote or add more changes to the story.]

 The Title?

In a word: Struggling. It’s been through many major/minor changes. I rather not say here what or its many alterations, but I will say that I’ve made this work a series during the many changes. So, this will be the first book in a fantasy/mystery/horror series. (I’m dying to tell you the title, perhaps I will at the end of this blog—stay with me.)

One more thought on the title: I understand the industry is all about short and catchy titles —mine is not— I guess it’ll doom my novel from the start. Perhaps not. I’ll let sales determine that for me.

The Cover?

It’s for young adults, and once again (See The Pickled Man), I’ve dipped into the old genre of horror covers with a “touch” of psychological/Hollywood mix. I’ve used black, purples, and stark contrasts for the background and white, pale yellows, and light blues for some text and paragraph titles.

I’ve included a central “mystery figure” to dominate, placed inside a graveyard scene, including tombstones and an easteregg. I know, I know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Since you’ve stuck around this far, here’s a detail for those who are interested.

Cover Detail for next YA novel from James O. Youngcliff
Cover Detail for the next YA novel from James O. Youngcliff

You might think me a bit too paranoic with my stuff, but you can’t blame a writer/artist for protecting his work before publishing. And you know what, it’s not just that… I’m not yet “sold” on the cover, so there’s no sense in backtracking later if I decide to change it.

Any More to Say? Yes…

Trust me, I won’t go on for much longer. With a promise to write another manuscript for YA like this in the future series, I must take a break from it and get back to illustrating BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden. I have the cover, and one illustration started with nine or ten drawings remaining. Summer is here, and the artist who will help me out with the more “scientific” plant illustrations (i.e. posters throughout the book) can fit me in her schedule with more illustrations. A special treat for me demands I don’t miss this window of opportunity.

Publishing Dates

For sure, I will publish my new manuscript in time for Halloween, October of 2021. At least that’s a projection I can live with if the editor I like can get the final editing done in time for the holiday. As far as the next BluBerrie adventure? Happily, last quarter of this year—more than likely Christmas. We’ll see…

Okay–That’s It!

In summary, I’ve been fortunate to have had a relatively fruitful inspirational spell so far this year—as ideas go. And what it lacked in getting off my butt and putting to “pen” those ideas remains a lick and a promise to do better.

CYA,

j.o.y. 

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The Writing Goes Slow and Steady

Hello World

Yes, I’m still alive; Covid-19 hasn’t hit, thank God, and the Moderna vaccine. I have just dropped out of the blogging gig for a while. Personal issues have taken quite a bit of my time lately. But everything is fine now, and so is my writing.

The final chapters of my current YA fantasy/horror/mystery novel are coming along and after that, what’s left to do is a fresh edit from the start. Then off for editing bids at Reedsy.com.

New Story Ideas

In the maze of confusion, I did manage to jot down several new ideas for an adult novel and one for young adults that I liked. But unfortunately, my illustrations for my next BluBerrie manuscript are on life support. James O. Youngcliff the writer, is draining all the creativity and won’t share it with the artist/illustrator in him for inspiration.

Not Much More to Share

Yes, there is one more thing: the Stimulus Checks from the Dems have really helped me out. Because book sales have plummeted for James O. Youngcliff–but no worries, I plan on taking a part of the Stimulus money to help with advertising. Problem is, I don’t know where I can get the most bang for the bucks? Amazon? Google? (Let me know if you have any idea which is best on a limited budget?)

I wished Amazon hadn’t stopped their Author’s free Give-A-Ways. I had great participation for a modest investment. I might consider doing “something” like that on a smaller scale.

Having several different hats available to wear i.e. writer, artist, publisher, etc., seems difficult enough but at my age, I’m not sure if I’d like to split my time up anymore. That much effort requires more energy than my vitamines can offer. And I certainly don’t enjoy the “business” aspects of self-publishing.

Even securing an agent or an outside publisher makes me want to puke at the time it would take (if they would consider my work) to find reasonable and affordable help.

That’s It!

CYA, soon. Stay safe. And don’t forget, “Life is but a dream, don’t let it slip away…”

–j.o.y.
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Behind the Scene of James O. Youngcliff’s New Novel

The Inside Scoop

It’s true; I’m almost halfway through writing a new novel for youngsters. And yes, I have some hints about what’s in the manuscript: It’s a fantasy, mystery, and horror novel all roll into one—what else? I guess that’s what happens when an author enjoys telling scary stories to kids.

And, as is my favorite choice of theme in my works (and I’m not going to disappoint), one character, Larissa Blake, will face challenges and life choices in the world of the supernatural beyond her control.

Is that going to be a lot to digest for a young mind? Not really. Lately, I’ve had many a surprise at the level of their understanding of the story process. First hand, I can report I’ve seen these gifted minds in action among my grandkids.

I can tell you that this novel will place our leading character, Larissa, in direct conflict with supernatural powers. She will require independent thinking and logical problem solving to master an escape from her dire predicament.

Like Todd Paul in my earlier fantasy/horror novel: The Pickled Man, there is a moral lesson in my books that the young reader can, if not at the end of the read, certainly later in life, take away. But trust me, it won’t be boring.

And so, be on the lookout soon; I promise to get this new work published by summer.

What About BluBerrie?

Most of my BluBerrie fans are probably wondering when my BluBerrie: The Botanical Gardens will be published? Sorry, I’ve not had the inspiration to finish illustrating the manuscript. Maybe if enough fans request it, I’d get motivated?

That’s it for now. I got to get back to finishing my new story. Remember: Don’t put off what you can do today, for tomorrow may never come to get it done… (Not sure if that’s the way this saying goes? LOL.)

j.o.y.

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Update on James O. Youngcliff’s Latest BluBerrie Novel

BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden Is Coming

The budget for the newest children’s novel, BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden, is adequate for a possible pub date in December. The better news: It’s already edited; the bad news: the ten or so projected illustrations are not complete. Ouch!

Two reasons for the delay, one, I’m also the illustrator, and making the switch from writer to artist takes some “breathing room” before starting. And second, I need motivation; without it, the ten or so drawings that I need to get done won’t happen. At least, they’ll suck if I go at it without inspiration.

I’m shooting for after the Thanksgiving Holiday before I can sit down at my drawing table, put on my artist’s cap and bring back the BluBerrie gang to life again!

One Parting Political Poke

Thanks to my fans and those who are not who voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president. Now rebuilding our nation begins. The road ahead won’t be easy the way we see things going thus far.

Not wanting to poke a hornet’s nest (but I can’t help myself), I must admit, I’m dumbfounded that the 70 million people who voted for this “loser” president couldn’t care that they voted for a racist, sexist, and liar—a man who, at every turn of his miserable presidency, has broken his promise to us. And who has failed to uphold our constitution and the principles of America for his selfish gains? I don’t get it? Do you?

Nonetheless, I’m hopeful that Americans will unite around our new leaders: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; if we don’t, may God have mercy on us all.

j.o.y.

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Vote Blue!

My Opinion:

It is strange, if not in fact, illogical that after almost four years of tearing down America, many Americans can still back the most tyrannical president we’ve had in modern history!

What’s more frightening is the fanatical and cult-like obsession Republicans or Trumpeters have with voting against their best interest. It’s like they have a death wish for themselves, and America and they think it’s a good thing, so long as they win.

A plea for a sane vote goes out to each and every American. Do the right thing for the future of our kids and wonderful country–vote blue!

j.o.y.

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I Must Make One Political Post

PLEASE VOTE!

In this tragic final days of this W.H. administration, Americans can and will prevail from this Covid-19-like-pandemic we are facing by voting out this President and his Republican Senate supporters. Americans need a vaccine to fix what ails us. And the November Election is just that vaccine!

I’ve taken that vaccine–I voted by mail; whatever your political views, you know in your heart that Americans cannot take another four years of abuse and sickness like the ones we have lived through in the past. Please join me in saying we believe in American values, decency, and our Constitution’s principles.

I know it’s hard taking medicine, but you must vote to start getting better. Millions have jumped on the road to healing…

 

BLUBERRIE UPDATE

BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden manuscript is finished and edited, so what’s the publishing holdup? The illustrations are not done, and I cannot get motivated, more like, inspired to finish. I’ve finished illustrating the cover (see below), and that’s it. I know. “Ouch!” Perhaps I’ll start next year. I’m hoping…

BluBerrie: The Botanical Gardens

 

ANYTHING ELSE? 

I’m looking forward to writing another more serious work, it’s in my bones, I know it; once I find the right story, it will not drag. The energy is building up, and so is my desire to tell it–I don’t know what it is at this time. I need a little inspiration during these dark times to bring the story out. Perhaps I should start with a title? We’ll keep you posted…

Sorry for not writing more often; I didn’t feel I had much to say to my fans.

J.O.Y.

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James O. Youngcliff’s Corvid-19 Update

So far, my family and I have escaped the Corvid-19 epidemic. But we have quarantined ourselves, followed social distancing, and we’ve kept our masks on whenever we’ve we go out for essential needs. We urge that you do the same until it is “safe.” Many officials and politicians would have you believe that the worst is over, please think it through. Don’t fall victim to the hype. Do the research. Listen to the news from medical experts. And then, and only then, think what you are risking before exposing you and your family to this terrible epidemic.

That’s my opinion on the matter. I don’t know your circumstances and so, I can only offer you a pray and a hope that you stay safe.

I leave you with this comment from BluBerrie, “Eeeeeeee! Eeeeeeee!”

j.o.y.

 

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Coming Soon Our Newest Adventure–BluBerrie: The Botanical Gardens

The manuscript is finished and edited! Waiting on the illustrations from the author/artist and contributing artist Jennie Navarro Price, to schedule a publishing date. Look for it soon on Amazon: amazon.com/author/jamesoyoungcliff 

 

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COVID-19 In A Few Words

While I live in terror of catching COVID-19 like most Americans, I remain hopeful and proud of the many who have had the common sense, to disregard the greedy politicians’ advice, to relax our concerns for this killer virus. As a Floridian, our state officials, as well as White House officials, have exhibited poor judgment when it comes to the lives of our people. We as a state, and nation must recognize and fight against these idiots’ lapses in what it means to be human!

Like most, I’m concern about our livelihood and our children’s future. But, we must be steadfast. Strong. And most of all, determine to overcome any and all struggles. Listen to the scientists in a pandemic, they are the last voices of reason. As a famous line we’ve all heard states, “Our colors never run!”

Be diligent, not only from the virus but from small-minded people who are easily manipulated and herded like cattle to do and act against their own better judgment.

Stay safe, peace with you…

James O. Youngcliff

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Here’s a Free Short Story for My Fans

 

Sunday Morning Laundry

By James O. Youngcliff

As practical, mundane, and boring a task can be, Sunday morning laundry turned life upside down for Clare. No, she didn’t find a love note, or a hotel-motel rendezvous receipt in her husband’s pants pocket as she inspected his clothes. Undoubtedly, she’d welcomed a broken heart over finding a pair of socks soaked in blood in her laundry basket on top of the washer! And let’s say this right out, he wouldn’t dare cheat because she did all the laundry in their household.

Anyway: incredible that he’d dropped the stained socks ruining the rest of the clothes in the first place, but he did it, regardless of the trouble it caused, both to her with removing the stains or replacing the garments, not to mention the many unfolding questions of sanity, idiocy, and blatant, stupidity for such a mindless act, and to him, for not thinking she wouldn’t turn him into the authorities; in the event, he couldn’t give her a reasonable explanation for his actions.

Immediately and with utmost care not to drip any of the blood out on the white carpets, she rushed upstairs to their bedroom and opened the door to find Charley still sleeping the morning away. Now, left with the arduous task of controlling her temper and coming up with a straightforward question that conveyed her anger, she realized better to ask him right off, “Did you kill someone?”

Knowing her husband, and getting him to wake up early on Sunday and admit to anything, particularly anything incriminating, came with a ridiculous amount of, “I don’t knows,” or “Why do you ask?” or evasive excuses, many that would frustrate a moose’s bowel movements, stressed out on the first day of hunting season.

“Charley, wake up!” she shouted.

“Not now, dear…” he mumbled and turned over to avoid getting up.

“Get your fat ass up and explain these bloody socks in my laundry basket right now!”

As usual, nothing ever filtered through the accumulated amounts of dead brain cells packed into his head overnight, especially, after the midnight pilfering of the refrigerator in search of snacks, or Heaven forbid, he’d find the leftover chicken, she kept hidden with many obstacles in front to discourage his night raids. The cold, disgusting meal lay buried in his stomach, making him toss and turn and snore, keeping her awake, and for that very reason, she seldom made his favorite dinner of fried chicken, white rice, and gravy.

“Charley, wake up this moment!” she screamed at the top of her voice.

“What is it now, my sugarplum fairy?” Clare turned the light on in the room and kicked the bed with her knee to rouse him up. Granted, during the week, the man worked hard nights, and when doing overtime, he dragged his butt in, just as she was taking off to work herself. So on weekends, it seemed fair to let him linger a bit before getting him up to do his chores.

“Didn’t you hear me? What the hell are these bloody socks doing in my laundry?” she repeated, “And please, think about what you will say before you answer, or I’m calling the police!” she threatened.

With all the deliberate acuity of a possum perched on a chain-link fence caught prowling at night, Charley denied knowing anything about any bloody socks as Clare had expected.

“Clearly, they’re mine,” she snapped back, “I must be having senior moments now that I’m in my twenties. Look, Charley, I’ve had it with you! You don’t take anything seriously, and if they’re not yours, then someone broke into our home last night!”

Charley got up and put his pants on and checked the evidence. “Yep, they’re bloody, all right!”

“For Heaven’s sake, Charley, what’s wrong with you? I’m warning you, not one more fried chicken and white rice dinner for you. Understand me,” she poked him in the back with her finger, “Your matter-of-fact attitude about things has gone too far.” Clare’s frustrations with Charley went viral.

“Would you calm down, if I admitted they’re mine?” he said, walking over to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

Clare followed and planted her laundry basket in the sink, exasperated with her husband, “That’s it; I’m calling the police.”

“Yep, they’re mine; these are Alpine Swiss cotton dress socks, dear, they’re mine alright. If you haven’t forgotten, you bought them for my last birthday. A bit too pricey for my dogs, when I go hunting but don’t get me wrong, they’re appreciated,” he amused, trying to defuse her anger.

“Who cares what kind of damn men’s sock these are – they’re full of someone’s blood. My God, Charley, are you sleepwalking?”

“OK, look, if it makes you feel better, I’ll have a look around and check out the windows and garage to see if there’s been a break-in, and if someone’s been in the house, I’ll call the cops myself. But please take the body basket downstairs, and I’ll join you in a minute. OK, my sweet bun cake?”

Reluctantly, Clare took it back to the laundry room but not before saying, “‘Bun cake’ or ‘sugarplum fairy’ me one more time and I’ll send a fairy wand up your cupcakes, Sweetie pie!”

Clare didn’t wait for her husband to have a look around, she set the basket down on the kitchen table and cautiously entered the garage and inspected for anything suspicious. Continuing from there looking for red stains throughout the house, but kept coming up short on clues for the mysterious bloody socks.

She sat and watched as Charley make his way into the kitchen, looking for coffee and found the pot empty. “Make it yourself, Inspector Clouseau,” she mocked him for his easing going attitude.

“I guess you already had a look around yourself,” he asked her.

“Well, yeah, if I waited on you, Mr. Brave Heart, and I’d be dripping out of an intruder’s suitcase next.”

“That’s funny,” he smiled and kissed her on the forehead and started making coffee.

The phone rang, and Clare picked it up, “Yes, who’s this? He is, just a minute, it’s Joe for you.”

“Hi, Joe, what’s up? Ah, I see, well, let me get back with you on that,” Charley’s face lit up with a smile.

“What did he want?”

“Oh, Joe wanted to let us know that while we were away food shopping yesterday, he dropped off a couple of jars of deer blood, leaving them on the upper shelf in the laundry room. And he wanted to remind us to be sure and put them in ice. He also added to be on the lookout, some of the jars contain small cracks and bound to leak!”

 

THE END

 

 

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