Welcome to WordCrazyAuthors

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.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gettin' Back in the Saddle

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!

My best to all,


Friday, July 2, 2010

Epitaph of an E-Publisher

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.

Peace and love,

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Will You Know Unless You Try?

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.

Peace and Love,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Fever Writing Blues

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.


Friday, March 26, 2010

The Glory of the Short Story

Although my partner in crime, AJ Caywood, already did a marvelous post on short stories, I don’t think we can talk too much about these miniaturized adventures. For Anna’s take on shorts, zip over to her post with the following link:

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.

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Very Merry Un-Birthday

I’m excited to announce the release of my latest work, a short story based on my first published novel, The Huntress. This short titled Very Merry Un-Birthday is the fifth in the Huntress short story series published by DLSIJ Press. It’s available at the DP Online Bookstore as an ebook.

In Very Merry Un-Birthday, Regan continues to baffle her shipmates with her strategies to strengthen familial bonds, in a story that combines humor with heartwarming character interactions. While this short is part of the growing Huntress universe, it can be read separately, as can each of the short stories. There is a chronological order to the shorts, but it’s not critical to read them that way. For readers who want the timeline breakdown, however, the Huntress universe progresses as follows:

The Huntress
A Stone’s Throw
A Far Cry
Heart of Stone
Leave No Stone Unturned
A Very Merry Un-Birthday

I’m always thrilled to receive feedback, so please feel free to post or email me your opinion of this work. (michelleoleary1@yahoo.com) For the fans of Mea, Stone, Regan, and the rest of the Huntress crew, there is a sixth short waiting in the publishing wings and a seventh in the creation stages. So keep an eye out for more!

Peace and Love,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bringing Readers and Authors Together

One of the big challenges for authors is connecting with an audience, finding readers who are interested in their work and are willing to follow their exploits. Many readers are looking for the next great read and like to explore different authors and their works.

The following list are reader sites that allow authors to either create their own pages or input information about themselves and their written work, often offering some interactivity like comments, blog posts, and works-in-progress.

Amazon's Author Central: https://authorcentral.amazon.com

Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/

GoodReads: http://GoodReads.com/

Library Thing: http://LibraryThing.com

FiledBy: http://FiledBy.com

WeRead: http://WeRead.com/

Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/

Hope this helps both readers and authors! If anyone knows of other similar sites, please share.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Writing Inspiration

I’m sure every creative writer has been asked at one time or another, “Where do you get your ideas?”

For many writers, the answer is as much a mystery to them as to their readers. It’s easy enough to say that the world around us is an endless source of inspiration, from the goofy neighbor that’s just asking for characterization, to books and movies that offer infinite imagination, to historical and current political and social issues. Sure, the world is a hotbed of ideas. But how does a long-ago bloody battle and creepy historical figure get translated into a full-fledged, infamous story about vampires? Where is the point in a writer’s mind where interesting facts become a fictional story?

For some aspiring writers, this is a question of deep, abiding interest. How do they take information and morph it into an absorbing story? It’s a very good question that unfortunately has as many answers as there are writers. One of the basic foundations of creative writing is to write what you know, which is a great place for any new writer to start. But this method is complicated when entering the realms of fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, horror, etc. Personally, I’ve never visited another planet. But most of my characters have.

For me as a scifi writer, books and movies play a large part in building my foundation of knowledge and creative imagination about science fiction. But I still can’t tell you how I go from a kernel idea to a convoluted storyline complete with cast of characters. (I suspect magic. Or perhaps a mental defect.) As a very visual person, I often “see” the action in my mind, like a movie unfolding. This helps to put me into the world, to build the scenes and flesh out my characters. It also helps me remain in a specific point of view, or smooth out a switch in point of view, which can keep reader confusion down and enhance their immersion in the story…but I digress.

Or maybe I was just avoiding the question. Because the truth is storylines and ideas often pop into my head from no source that I can pinpoint. And with my highly character driven writing style, my stories often seem to get written without much discernable input from me. Scary? Um, yeah, I’ll admit it can be disconcerting. But it’s also the most fun I’ve ever had.

For those still looking for a source of inspiration, keep reading and keep writing, as often and as varied in subject as you can. Very likely inspiration will find you. ;)

Peace & Love,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

2010. Wow. I always heard that time flies faster the older you get, but this is ridiculous! I blinked, my son turned four, and 2009 disappeared. By the time I'm a granny, I'll have to stop blinking or I'll miss everything!

Do I make New Year's resolutions? No, because then I'm never disappointed in myself. This year I did say I would try to be a better mom (you know, be more patient and understanding), but I always say that, so that's nothing new.

The one thing I did do to start off 2010 right was to finish writing another full length novel--Woohoo!! Of course, that's the easiest part of being an author. Not that writing is easy (though it's so much fun), but then comes editing, proofreading, querying, hopefully publishing, promoting, and marketing. Ugh. It's all part of the job, but it's not nearly as entertaining as the creation of beloved characters and story. Then again, the compensations are meeting new readers and getting invaluable feedback, plus hopefully receiving an income from the work.

I have great hopes for 2010. I hope I can see my son through preschool and into kindergarten without either of us going crazy. I hope my friends and family find the happiness they deserve. And I hope I become rich and famous. Okay, maybe not famous, but I can handle rich.
Happy New Year and All the Best.