Sunday, December 28, 2008

My First Interview--Ahem!

I couldn't resist the graphic to accompany the link to "my first interview".

These were the questions I was asked to respond to after "A Very Kate Christmas" was named as Editor's Selection in the Words of Belief Holiday Writing Contest. I am ashamed to admit that I forgot about it (or maybe that's a good thing, who knows?), but I thought of it today and checked their website, and voila! There it was!

So please tell me I didn't come off as a dunce! The other author's answers were so well-thought-out and professional, while mine are just me.

Honestly, I'm not preening myself as little Marie Aristocat, but I am saying that it's a lot of fun!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Exercise in Fives

First let me say that this idea came from The Muffin, which is the Women on Writing blog--check the sidebar for the link. I don't think it originated there, but I've been unable to track down the actual source. So I'm stating, for the record and the sake of not infringing on anyone's copyrighted idea, that the exercise came from somewhere! Here it is:

What were you doing five years ago (December, 2003)?
  • spending the first Christmas without my parents who died within 9 weeks of each other in January and April of that year
  • teaching in a middle school language center in Fort Worth, Texas
  • learning to be "on my own" with no one to answer to for the first time in 59 years
  • writing fan fiction for The Big Valley website
  • beginning to think about retirement in the near future

What are five jobs that you've had?

  • cafeteria server (in college)
  • library assistant (in college)
  • residential assistant/switchboard (in college)
  • front-desk receptionist and general flunkie
  • educational consultant for a software company
  • teacher

(I know that's six, but I learned a lot doing all of them!)

What are five things on your list today? (Since this is the end of the day, I'll list 5 things I've accomplished)

  • organized notebook of possible writing contests, submissions
  • updated "to do" lists re: writing
  • installed new magicJack plug-in and software to provide internet phone service with free incoming/outgoing 24/7
  • changed sheets
  • sorted laundry

What are five snacks that you enjoy?

  • popcorn
  • chickenfeed
  • chocolate
  • string cheese
  • nachos

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

  • Have a fund from which to contribute to so many worthy causes that crop up daily
  • Buy a motorhome
  • Travel in Europe
  • Visit Washington D.C.
  • Build a writing retreat (like right outside the back door!)

The possibilities for these excercises are endless and interesting--and make one remember the past and think about the future.

I recommend The Muffin. It comes to my inbox on a daily basis and is great reading!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Done!

Yesterday I finished Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to Where Is Papa's Shining Star? , the novel due to be released in print and as an e-book by The Wild Rose Press sometime next year. It is a first draft--and has a long way to go in revision before it's ready for submission and, hopefully, a contract. However, it's done, and I can take a breath, let it "percolate" for a few days, and move on to other things.

I keep a projects chart/folder in which I record particular projects I'm working on, what I did with them (submission, research queries,etc.), and what resulted from the action (acceptance, rejection, answer received etc.). There are pages and pages of contests and other places for submission, sent to me by friends or received through online newsletters, that I haven't been able to study yet. As a teacher, I was good at multi-tasking. As a writer, it's all or nothing!

So now I can sit back with a highlighter and see what possibilities are out there--hopefully with a $ "reward". The prospect is pleasing. In addition, I have three novels in first-draft which need editing and revising. The prospect is daunting!

In addition, I would like to find a publisher for Four Summer Days, which is, I feel, the best thing I've ever done. I had copies printed on my own (this was in the days before I knew what I know now about submitting with an eye to publication), and the response from those who read it was gratifying. There's got to be a publisher somewhere who will take a chance on it. It has a sequel, too, but it's less than stellar--and I can say that because I wrote it, and I think authors are brutally honest about their own work.

As this year comes in an end amid cold, gray days, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I've learned a great deal and made some progress. I can call myself a writer because that's what I DO--not because my name is a "household word" or I've "made a bundle". Neither of those will happen, and I can honestly say that those are not even at the bottom of my list of goals. The small achievements are, for me, the very best simply because they are mine.

One of the most exciting prospects for the new year is watching and waiting with other writer-friends for the achievement of their goals. You know who you are out there---and I can't wait to share the joy of your successes!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

End in Sight!

Today I hit 50K words for Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to the novel already under contract. The end---65K---is in sight. Then comes revision, but I'm rather anxious to get to that. As I write, I think back to the weak spots in previous passages and want them fixed ASAP!

The story has taken a turn that I didn't expect when I first conceived WIPSS. It was all one story then, but it was becoming too long. So, I cut it off and took up the story ten years on.

I've had to do a lot of research to get the historical facts straight. How wonderful to have the information available with the click of the mouse!

Also, today I discovered Windows Movie Maker and played with it a bit. When I get the pictures I need, I'm confident I can make a "trailer" to add to my website. One of the marketing "tips" I picked up somewhere was to put the trailer on a DVD and take a portable DVD player to a book-signing. I have the little portable player, so now all I need is the trailer to "hook 'em in"!

My goal is to get the 65K words written before Christmas, allow the file to "sit" while I work on some short stories which will, hopefully, bring in some revenue for the marketing fund.

January will be for revising and submitting a synopsis to Nan, the lovely editor who is working on WIPSS with me. Recently the Wild Rose Press Blog had an entry about "trusting your editor". Believe me, I do. She has been so patient and open to questions, and every comment she made on the ms was right on target. She has scheduled the second read-through for this week. Then the staff will be on a much-deserved vacation for two weeks.

I'm not sure where 2008 went, but a lot has happened in the past 12 months. I've done some things that I never expected to do and learned a great deal. But there's more to be done and more to learn. . .so I shall trudge on!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's A Full-Time Job

No matter how you look at it, anything you undertake with some seriousness is a full-time job. I'm finding that out about writing.

I'm almost 30K words into the sequel for the novel to be published. The end goal is 65K, so I'm not even half-way there. And that's just a first draft--you know, one of those raw eggs waiting to be fried, scrambled, or poached in order to be edible! While I do a little editing as I go, the finished story will not be a finished product.

Then friends keep sending me fantastic links to periodicals looking for submissions, as well as tantalizing contests begging to be entered. Not to mention the two other novels that need to be revised before I can do anything with them. Not to mention short story ideas that are beating down the door of my mind trying to get out.

So much to write, so little time!

Also, I have to come up with a marketing plan for the novel. The publisher has a marketing department, but in the end, an author is ultimately responsible for selling her published work. Even the "big" publishing houses, as I understand it, do limited promotion except in the case of "big" name authors! I'm trying to convince myself that this can be a real adventure, full of good times and meeting new people.

Fortunately, the "marketing kitty" is growing fatter with some revenue from other writing, and I do have some ideas of how to spend it.

I find myself busier, actually, than when I was teaching. Sometimes I have to take a break or suffer burn-out. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever see the forest for the trees. Maybe a small portion of it anyway.

I have no excuse not to write. Hanna still takes lovely long naps and then plays contentedly in her little play yard in the study while I tap-tap-tap away at the computer. I have four full days to nyself. So whenever I am tempted to cave in to the pile-up of this new work, I can't justify it.

Speaking of no excuses, writing this blog is not one either, so I'd better get back to work!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Being a Tortoise

It occurs to me that I have started off with something of a bang, which could easily fade away without so much as an echo! That thought alone should keep my feet on the ground!

I have been "in consultation" with writing friends. One read and passed on the interview questionaire sent out by the Words of Belief Holiday Writing Contest. I told her I wanted to sound neither dumb nor nose in the air. I knew she would tell me if I leaned toward either extreme!

The second has critiqued my website and offered some valid suggestions for improving the look as well as practical tips for such thinks as links. I'm working on it.

How lucky I am to have these two friends with unique talents!

Speaking of the website, I emailed Words of Belief and asked permission to use the judges' remarks, the excerpt they chose, the book cover, and a link to their website. They gave me a thumbs up, so it's done, and I've now asked them to check it out to be sure that I've not infringed on any material copyrighted to Words of Belief. Hopefully, all is well.

If I am being a tortoise instead of a hare, so much the better. I don't have to get where I'm going in a hurry, just get there. Also, it might be nice to figure out where I'm going and not get lost in the rush!

I've long wanted to publish---and at this point in my life, it's something I want to enjoy, not stress over. I'm not going to get rich. My little tales aren't going to be on The New York Times Best Seller List. I'm going to continue to collect rejection slips along the way. (Someone told me once that you are not a "real" writer until you have a rejection slip file!)

It seems to me that the greatest reward is a sense of accomplishment, kind words from readers, and the sharing of success (and failure) with true friends.

There is a certain lingering sadness in the knowledge that my mother would have reveled in all this. To her, despite any evidence to the contrary, it would have been a monumental event! Mothers are like that, of course. I miss sharing each step of the way with Clair, too.

When the "bang" has faded to an echo and then into silence, the tortoise will plod on. . .and on. . .and on. . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Awhile back, my good writing friend Donna sent me the link to a holiday contest story with two prizes (1st and 2nd) and 13 finalists, all of which would be published in an anthology. I sent in a story, hoping to be one of the finalists. This morning I woke to an email notifying me that I have won 2nd place! I squealed for a full 5 minutes, something that is totally out of character for me. Lady even came running in to see what was wrong with Mommy!

Obviously, I am pleased (to put it mildly), but things are happening almost too fast for me. Getting some stories accepted, the book contract, and now this---it's just hard to take it all in. How do I explain how painfully shy I have always been about being in the spotlight? Just seeing my name and the kind comments on their website ( look left and click on contest winners) made me squirm. And there is the prospect of marketing Where Is Papa's Shining Star? and, hopefully, its sequel. It must be done---and I wish I had a clone to do it!

Can an old dog learn new tricks? I'm not sure. Maybe the question should be, does an old dog want to learn new tricks? I feel rather like I've been caught in an avalanche and am not sure I really want to be rescued!

Someone send out a St. Bernard with a keg full of courage!