Wednesday, January 4, 2017

When Family Reads Your Work

While visiting with my family for the holidays, we talked about my latest published story, "The Keepers of Madleen," and they gave me their honest feedback, which I always appreciate. My dad said it was his favorite story of mine yet.

That doesn't suck to hear, especially as my skills improve with each story I write.

The best moment came when I told them that I had a bunch of stories set in the same world, weaving themselves into being within my head. I told them I could see it becoming a book of short stories. And then I told them what happens in the first moment of the very next story.

The look of surprise/shock that crossed both of their faces was the best gift I could have gotten. It meant that my story was effective!

Keep writing. Keep creating. It's a tough road but it keeps going.
So do I.

So can you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

NaNoWriMo: Daughter of Margaret

It's National Novel Writing Month and if you are doing it then you are also feverishly pounding words into the keyboard, praying that at the end of fifty thousand words some of them make sense. I started participating years ago for the discipline of it, to train myself to do distance running, rather than a series of sprints.

I've tried a different genre of fiction each year, from science fiction to classic fantasy to urban fantasy to literary fiction to supernatural horror. And this year I went a different route. This year I'm working on non-fiction.

I'm writing out the story of the worlds I crossed while comatose. I'm drawing the ways I was able to maintain a positive outlook after I woke up. I'm being vulnerable and sharing a deep truth I would be a fool to ignore. Why waste a good life-defining experience with denial?

I'm writing a lot. The more I flesh out the more my brain remembers. I think if I wrote out every detail of my coma memories, it would tell a year-long tale, far longer than the three weeks I was under. That's disturbing, but also true. I accept it and move on. And it's why I'm writing it.

Maybe after giving it breath, some of it will fall away.

If you're doing NaNoWriMo, you can find me as Daughter of Margaret. I allowed myself a moment to write this out because I'm totally including it in today's word count. But now it's back to my non-fiction. The title is still a work in progress. It doesn't have a name yet.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Recovery Road

It's been a year since the accident that almost took my life. How could I not be thinking about that tonight? In many ways it's been a very long year. And in another way, I don't feel like I have a lot to show for it.

Except I can walk, talk, write, make myself food in the kitchen, put my shoes on by myself, use the bathroom, wipe myself, check the mailbox, climb stairs, cough, etc. I had to relearn all of it. And I did, like a champ. From the outside now, I move slowly, but you wouldn't necessarily know something so almost-devastating had happened to me. Most days that is enough to make me happy.

My recovery has taken me longer than I expected. The more honest answer is that it has taken a lot more out of me than I expected. When I get most frustrated, my brain sighs heavily and says, "You were a pillar of fire."

I was not in a fire. I was the fire.

I spend most of my time preparing-to-do-things, like getting clothes ready to put on, or getting ready to wash up, or getting ready to make the bed. And then I can do one thing to cross off my list. I keep making plans of five things to do a day, but I forget to start the list with all the things I already have to do before any of the extras can get done.

If I get one extra thing crossed off, one new thing done, I call it a win.

And then, at the end of the day, when my exhaustion-induced-naps are over, I write. But two months ago it would have been, "I try to write," so I will embrace the improvement. And my writing spurts sound more like my old voice, and more easily so on my first try. It's not that I had any damage to my brain. But when your body is still using processing points to remember how to step up on a curb, it doesn't want to divert power to imaginary world-building.

And I learned that even then, it's not about desire. It's not about want. It's about can't.

So you have to ride it out. Or you could fight it, but I'm pretty sure that will just tire you out more, requiring more naps than now, and if now is very frustrating to you, it's probably not the best choice.

I have managed to write a few new stories and submit some of my pre-accident ones. Within the last month the story muse has been singing faster than my healing hands can type, so I'm getting better at choosing what to work on and catch-in-the-moment. Better discernment is a good skill to have.

I like to note my silver linings. They make the pain worth something.

I even found a story I sent out the morning of my accident. I couldn't recall the storyline. Once I read it I remembered having the idea for it and drafting it, but I couldn't remember how I ended it at all. How many writers get to say they read one of their own finished stories for the first time and didn't know what was going to happen?

Three of my recent submission responses were we-really-liked-your-story-and-held-it-for-further-consideration-but-it-didn't-fit-with-our-other-selections, and two of my responses were sales. That feels really good. I am not back to where I was, but I am back on track. I lost momentum for a while but I didn't lose my creative mojo.

A year ago I was on fire and they thought I was going to die. Today I am putting pen to paper and birthing a new world. These are good things.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Get Dystopia Utopia Here!

It's been a week... I got a rejection. A submission got bumped up to the next tier- one step closer to a yes. And I just sent a new story in. Then there was an e-mail telling me that the last story I had accepted, "The Keepers of Madleen," was just published!

Check out the book at Flame Tree Publishing with this link!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hitting a Milestone & Receiving Professional Payment

The current professional payment rate in the writing world is .06 a word. So if I write a story that runs 5500 words and then sell it to a publisher at a professional rate, I receive $330 for that story.

When I started sending my stories out, my main hope was to get published, to see my work in print. I didn't have any lofty aspirations besides, please, somebody-who-doesn't-know-me like my story well enough to want to print it. After enough rejections, finding out that you *almost* made it actually makes you happy rather than upset. After months of hearing that you almost made it, it no longer feels as good. That's when you start wondering what's missing from your stories that you can't get grabbed up.

You're always working at being a better artist.

A lot of editors and publishers are also trying to build up their businesses and aren't at a place yet to pay pro-rates, though they wish they could. I have submitted to calls offering .01-.02 cents a word, where that same $330 story would net me $110. And I submitted, because it's still $100 more than what I have in my pocket.

I sold a $287 story for exposure, because it was the first place I had no connections with that read my story and wanted to print it. I sold a $59 story for $10 because at some point, any money is more than the not-money you currently have. I actually sold a $350 story for $30 recently, because I've been shopping it around for three years and someone finally wanted it and I realized that, more than money, I wanted to see that story find a home

A lot of artists struggle with this. After all, if you spend a week on a story, writing, editing, polishing it, that's seven days of electricity, seven days of three meals per that you're hoping to recoup the loss of. Exposure doesn't put food in your belly.

But we do it, if the project is right. We do it because we're working towards being good enough to earn a pro rate.

I finally have, and it's for a story I am extremely proud of, a world I want to explore more of, and a character I want to visit with again. Check out "The Keepers of Madleen."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It Never Hurts to Ask, aka Another Story Sold!

In July I stumbled upon a submission that I thought was a perfect match for one of my most treasured stories, but my story was over 500 words over their limit. I moved on, but there was this niggling feeling in my gut that maybe I should message them and ask if they would still consider it.

That's a worrying thing as a young writer-in-the-business. You don't know what questions are bothersome. You don't know if it's something that will expose your naivete, and whether or not that will red flag you with the editors and publishers you're trying to work with.

I was raised with the idea that it never hurts to ask. As a child, I learned quickly that it's not necessarily true, but I like to believe the best of the world. So I queried the editor, hoping it would be a fruitful quest. I was promptly assured that all submissions were given consideration and encouraged to send it along.

I understood. Everything would be weighed the same, but if it was over, it would have to be good. And I was surprised/relieved to discover that I had complete faith in my story. Maybe it wouldn;t end up being a good fit, but it was a good story. Even a great one.

It was good that I listened to my gut, because the editors liked my story and are going to include it in their anthology!! They did ask for some confidentiality while they send out the non-acceptance letters, which I respect and admire, but I will post more information as if becomes available.

They're hoping for a Fall 2016 publication, so you don't have long to wait!

Friday, July 1, 2016

First Story Post-Accident Finds a Home!

One of my earliest stories has found a home in a new anthology! I am very excited to be working with CBAY Books again! I will post more information as soon as I can share it.

My heart is overjoyed to have sold a story at what is the halfway point of my year of recovery. I couldn't have hoped I would be back on this path so soon. I dreamed it, and today is proof that dreams come true. I was so worried about losing momentum in the face of my accident.