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Your WordCrazy hostesses, Michelle O'Leary and AJ Caywood, welcome you to their blog about writing and hope you enjoy the mind-bending mania. Feel free to join in with your own brand of insanity...crazy loves company.
I'm in LOVE. What do you mean, with who?? Who needs a man when I've got an Amazon Kindle to keep me company?? (I'm a word crazy author and reader--you should have seen that coming. LOL)
I received a third-generation Amazon Kindle 3G wireless ebook reader as a Christmas present and I've been dancing on cloud nine ever since. Granted, this is still the honeymoon phase. The wine and roses may give way to an ugly side after we get to know each other better, get too comfortable with one another...but for now I'm euphoric. As a voracious reader, how could I not be thrilled to have a palm-sized library in my pocket? Okay, so I haven't maxed out the 3500 book limit yet, but I'm workin' on it.
I'm not the world's biggest tech geek--the older I get, the more I seem to miss on the technology front, but even I had heard of the Kindle, Amazon's answer to electronic books. I scoffed. I pooh-poohed. My biggest irritation with ebook readers is that many of them only read specific formats, and the Kindle promised to be one of those inclusive readers, technology that would only work with Amazon products. What good would that do? I disregarded just how large an entity Amazon really is and how many books they have at their disposal.
I won't go into the specs--if you want an outline of Kindle's finer points, check it out on Amazon.com. They do a pretty good job selling it. ;) Mostly, I just wanted to wax poetic on what Kindle does for me. They have tons of free books and tons more titles for reasonable prices, which gives my penny-pinching nature a thrill. They have a great selection of kid's books--my five-year-old son enjoys the Kindle as much as I do. They've got freebie apps that allow me to read Kindle books on my PC, too. (Also free apps for Macs, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc.) How awesome, that people don't even need to BUY the nearly $200 machine to read Kindle books! That's a step in the right direction for ebooks, in my opinion.
Yes, as a reader I'm giggling like a schoolgirl over my Kindle. But the writer in me is also falling hard. I've discovered how easy it is to upload my titles into the Kindle database and be a published Amazon author. It's the perfect home for my older titles and shorts, works that publishers may not consider lucrative. And who knows? Maybe my newer titles will find a home there, too.
Yup. With Kindle in hand, the world's looking rosy. I'm in love for sure.
Today as I look out my big dining room window, everything is covered in white. We are supposed to get up to five inches of snow today, which in some places may not be much, but here it is a pretty decent snowfall. I'll be stuck in the house all day today and maybe even tomorrow. When I look out my window with everything snow covered and quiet, I don't just see that one image. I always end up coming up with what if and from there my mind races with ideas and characters. I can't help it, that's just how my mind works and I bet a lot of writers do that. Sometimes I get frustrated with how many ideas will pop into my head, and having to choose one when the others won't leave me alone distracts me. Sometimes the one idea I choose to start on comes to a standstill. That's when it's a great thing to have other ideas on the back burner. I'm hoping that these next couple of days I'll be able to capitalize on one of those ideas, or make great strides in one of my on-going stories that need to be finished. The snow, the quiet, my coffee and my laptop--a perfect writing invironment for me!
I've had a new essay recently published in a new book titled Answered Prayers by Barbara Popyach. It was a short essay, just a few paragraphs, and it focused on my answered prayer of being able to walk again after my accident so I could raise my daughters. I haven't even been able to read the book yet. I've seen the cover and it is lovely and I know Barbara (the editor) was very happy with how it turned out. I'm still doing readings and signings for my story in the book Appalachian Angels. Those readings slow down during the winter but there is one set for February in Berea. I hope the weather is mild so we can make that one. I am looking forward to warm weather and doing more of the readings and signings.
This year I hope to write much more than last year. Last year was a bad writing funk for me. I do have a few stories out in submission land, and there is one in particular where my query was good enough that my ms was requested. Still no word back from any of them yet. I need to push the anxiety of waiting to the side and concentrate on writing. So now I think I'll refill my cup of coffee, glance out that picture window, and let my imagination run wild. That blank white screen in word is counting on it.
This summer has flown by for me this year. My brother got married and I helped handle the rehearsal dinner while my husband was best man. My youngest turned sixteen and that was a major birthday to plan. We had four birthday parties within three weeks of each other and that sure kept us scrambling. There was also a flood in our area that almost got us and we had to clean up and repair our damaged deck from that. I can’t leave out all the teenagers coming and going with their non-stop activities of summer. Throw in a quickie vacation to the Smoky Mountains and a few book readings I attended and that brought my summer full circle. Now we are reaching the season’s end. I’ve barely written a full paragraph through all of this, and I feel guilty and a little lost. It hasn’t been easy knowing the publisher that accepted and published my first novel closed its doors this summer either. But now it is time to bounce back!
The youngin’ is back at school so I’m hoping the multiple teen activities will slow down now. The house is quiet again. I need that quiet to sit and let my mind wander to create new stories and characters that have been pent up all these months. I’m hoping it’ll be a storm of creativity flowing through my fingertips! I’ve found a few places opening up to accept submissions where I think some of my revised shorts may fit. Once I get those polished and sent I will get back to one of those novels I’ve started and haven’t finished. At this point it’ll be like getting back to the starting gate, only this time I’ll have a lot more experience. Gotta go; I hear the call to head to the gate!
Last month, the electronic and POD publisher DLSIJ Press closed its doors after twelve years of offering publication to women authors. I have been a published author through DLSIJ Press for eight years. DLSIJ Press gave me and my creations a home, taking a chance on an inexperienced, untried, fledgling author. This small, dedicated e-publisher helped me not only to understand the business and markets but to become a better, more confident writer.
I can only guess at the reasons for their closure, but I do know that it's a loss for authors and readers alike. DLSIJ Press was a well respected publisher dedicated to quality work and integrity in their handling of the business and their authors. Though they were small, they offered the kind of personal, earnest attention to detail that's difficult to find in this fast-paced world of quantity-over-quality.
I wish them well in everything they do. Love you Sid.
Fear of failure can be an enormous obstacle. For most of us confronted by an action where the outcome is unknown, it seems that choosing to do nothing is the easier path. At least in that case, the end result and the consequences are known commodities. What if we go ahead with that uncertain action—applying for that higher paying job, changing eating habits to lose weight, making contact with the attractive person we’ve been admiring from a distance—and we fail? Many of us equate failure with being a bad or useless person, but in reality failure is a fabulous learning tool.
I have been a fiction writer for most of my life, but only recently did I consider trying to get my work published. Pessimism and fear of failure worked against me—I believed that my stories weren’t interesting enough or well-written enough to be considered professional works of fiction. What if I sent a query into a publisher and was rejected? Wouldn’t this mean that I was a horrible writer, that my stories were ridiculous and my characters utterly unbelievable? And so I kept my work to myself, only allowing the occasional friend to read a piece in a short burst of courage.
A few years ago, a friend managed to pry a manuscript from my clutching fingers, cannily using my excitement over finishing the piece to finagle a reading. She effused over the novel, which I thought was very sweet and kind, just the sort of thing a loyal friend would do even if the work was ghastly. But she didn’t stop there—she hounded me. “You have to get this published!” she said, and then turned into a scary sort of task master. Under her demanding eye, I queried publishers. And was rejected.
Did the world crash around me? Did I finally see the light and throw out that trash I called writing, giving up the written word for an easier road? Giving up writing isn’t possible, since the creation of new worlds is like an addiction for me, and my friend did not allow me to consider my finished work trash. Under her unwavering enthusiasm and support, I kept trying, learning how to write better queries and considering a wider publishing market. I found an e-book publisher who was willing to consider my manuscript. I became a published author.
Since then I’ve learned so much about writing, revising, editing, and publishing works of fiction, and I’m energized by how much is still out there for me to learn. That e-publisher accepted three full novels and several short stories from me, and I’ve discovered other avenues for my writing, including online article and poetry creation. I have many works in progress and a couple of finished novels that I am attempting to get published in the print market by querying agents and publishers who focus on the printed word. I’ve had a few rejections, but I will keep trying. Fear of failure won’t stop me from reaching this or any other goal, because I’ve learned that failure can only help me refine my next attempt as I rise to the challenges of life.
We had a rough winter in our area this year. Lot's of snow that caused our school systems to extend the school year through to the first weeks of June. And it was cold! I can't even speak of how much our heating bills were. Spring is here now with sunny days, green foliage and colorful blooms, and the itch to get outdoors and enjoy it all. That's just what I've been doing, along with enjoying a new baby in the family, and taking a couple of much needed getaways. I've got lettuce started in the raised garden bed, and my flower beds are weeded and ready for new plantings. I adore to be outside. But then I start feeling guilty because I haven't done much writing.
The warm months always seem to draw me away from my writing. Not totally, mind you, but I end up playing hooky from the keyboard and characters to play outside too much. I know I need to work harder at finding a balance. I've tried being outside while it's sunny, and intend on coming in to sit down in front of the computer to write after dusk. So many times I'm so tired from the days activities that my creative energy is spent, and I end up in my recliner in front of the TV. When I end up pushing myself to get back to a story, it just doesn't flow the way it should. I know I can't do that. Spring fever doesn't last too long for me though, so I don't try to beat myself down over it. I've learned to give myself a little time to take a break, allow my mind to wander and explore new story ideas or replay various scenes I've already written and how to move forward as I'm enjoying my time outside.
My favorite time of day is evening twilight, and so many times I've gone back into the house to get a notebook and pencil. I come back outside to my patio table adorned with flickering candles and enjoy jotting down scenes, dialogue, and ideas. It recharges my creative juices. Maybe my spring fever isn't so hard on my writing after all.
The creation of the short story is a dying art. It’s being killed off by an unwelcoming market and dwindling audience. Publishers (especially print, but also electronic) shy away from accepting short story submissions, since they aren’t nearly as popular and lucrative as novels. It seems the only authors publishing shorts are the well established writers who have already proven their marketability, the desperate authors who offer their shorts for free, and the smattering of authors who enter and win short story contests.
I find this tragic. As a reader, I dearly love devouring short stories, quick reads that usually have some insightful impact or delightful twist. Shorts seem to pack more of a brutal punch than longer works, probably because they’ve got a lot to say in a tiny space. There’s no getting used to the characters, settings, and plot pace—it all comes at you at mach speed and whirls you along for the ride. As a writer, I revel in the challenge of creating shorts. Can I get the reader involved and engaged in the characters and plot in such a confined word count? Shorts also give me a chance to get out my creative juices when my longer works have me temporarily stymied.
But what are short story writers to do when the current market has such a strong bias against shorts? Write nasty letters to the publishers? Well, that might release a therapeutic amount of hostility, but it won’t change that downward trend—no one responds well to anger. Instead of writing letters to publishers as an author, try writing (polite) letters of protest as a reader of short stories. Articles and letters promoting shorts could help, too, on blogs, forums, e-zines, etc. And try actually reading short stories, as many as you can. We are the market. If we can generate more interest, perhaps the publishing world will revisit and rehabilitate the dying art of short stories.