Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ups & Downs

The statistics say that one in four people has some kind of mental illness. I have a feeling that if you just include writers in the equation, the figure would be a lot higher than that.

It's not too surprising, really, if you think about it. What other profession has your emotions riding high and low more often than a roller coaster? Actors, artists and musicians ride the same roller coaster, but it's unique to the more creative vocations.

When a WIP is going well, I am jubilant. This is the best thing I've ever written. I finish it off, send it out for critique, and it gets soundly ripped to shreds. Then all of a sudden it becomes a piece of crap, and how could I ever have thought what I was writing was any good? If it's had a particularly harsh flaying, I might go crawling into a corner thinking I'm a completely rubbish writer and I should stop pretending I'm a writer and focus on the day job instead.

However, maybe I get through all that, and eventually the book gets accepted somewhere. Celebrations ensue. But then after it gets published, the royalty statements arrive and it's not selling. Or there aren't any reviews. Since a lot of online reviewers will only publish favourable reviews, not getting reviews is amost as bad as getting an unfavourable review - since I then start to assume no reviews means everyone hates the book. And I'm depressed again.

Then suddenly something appears online, out of the blue, from someone saying how much they enjoyed reading my work, and I'm riding high once more.

Sometimes I feel I'm on the brink of something really exciting. Life-changing exciting. Other times I feel as a writer I'm making barely a ripple in an enormous pond, and really no one will notice or care if I remove myself completely.

Even the most well-balanced person can't help but be affected by all these constant ups and downs. No wonder so many writers feel like they're going a bit mad.

But. Here's the thing. We're all on the same roller coaster. Every single writer I know, without exception, from the beginner writer to the one with several best-selling novels under their belt, goes through the same ups and downs.

All you can do when the ride gets rough is hold on tight and wait for the calmer bit to come along. Because it invariably will, and when it does, you are reminded why it's all worth it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's a Mad, Mad April

If you're a college basketball fan, you're probably aware of a phenomena called "March Madness". This year is particularly exciting for me because the Final Four pits two Kentucky teams against each other. From what I understand, the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville have never played a Final Four against each other.

Much as I enjoy watching the games, I also look forward to "April Madness BIAM Writathon". What is this? Only a month of dedicated writing or revising. Unlike National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, BIAM (Book in a Month) is flexible. I usually use it to work on revisions or shorter pieces. This year, I hope to revise my vampire Victorian and another draft of my angel urban fantasy. If you'd like to join in the fun, click on the link above.

April is also the Southern Kentucky Book Fest and the Kentucky Writers Conference, a free event in Bowling Green. This will be my third year attending the conference.

Am I finished? Nope! :-) For you screenplay writers, there's Script Frenzy. Challenge yourself to write a 100 page screenplay in 30 days. Am I in? Don't know what I'll write but I hate to pass up a challenge.

Good thing I have the month of May to recover. :-)  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SOUL SCREAMS Cover Revealed!

Stumar Press have an updated announcement about SOUL SCREAMS on their website...and the cover is revealed. Which means I can broadcast it here.

I am quite excited about this cover. The idea behind the title is that this is a collection of stories all about the angst and darkness within the soul. And I think the screaming woman sums that up rather well. I also like the blackened trees and bats in the background, against a dark brooding sky...

Release has been confirmed for June. And, as mentioned before, there will be a print version of this one. So, if you're one of those people who insist that paper is better than e-book, there's no excuse for you not to buy this one.

We've got some nice cover quotes, too. For more information, check out Stumar Press's website.

And so the countdown to the next release is on! Keep an eye on this space. As soon as the book is available to order, you'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring Equinox!

Today is the first day of spring, although here in Kentucky the winter was unseasonably mild, so spring came earlier than usual. We hit 86 degrees today which, if not a record, comes close.

Spring is traditionally a time of renewal and it's no different with writing. I'm taking a class on Deep Story and have already thought of ways to improve two of my works in progress. It's almost as if those ideas needed to lie dormant (winter) before growing into realization (spring). 

Sometimes I feel guilty for being such a slow writer. Not only do I try to plot my stories and work on characterization, I often do extensive research. Then I might write upwards of several drafts before turning the WIP over to my critique partners/beta readers. Only problem is while they're reading, I'm revising yet again.

One skill I'd like to develop is being able to write first drafts that are more developed, thus hopefully making revisions easier. I was doing this with my vampire Victorian when my file vanished into cyberspace. I now have to go back to a previously saved file (under a different name) and basically start revisions from chapter one.

Lynn Viehl has a writer's tool called The Novel Notebook which I've found very useful for plotting and developing characters. I think I'm going to use it in conjunction with two other writing programs to flesh out my stories. I used The Novel Notebook to plot the aforementioned vampire story and have not had as much of an issue with revisions as some of my other work. I think it's because of the questions Lynn makes you answer about your characters and plot. But that's just my humble opinion. :-)

Back to work. Research for a short story and another online class await. Until next time - happy writing!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Day, Another Short Story

Earlier this week, I submitted my second macabre short story to a publisher. I'm currently working on an idea for another short story involving necromancy. Then there's my mystery short, "Death by Fresh Air" but that's on the proverbial back burner for now.

Don't let anyone fool you. Writing short stories isn't easy. When writing a novel, you need to make every word count. This is even more crucial with short stories. There's also the fear of falling into info dump territory. Some stories are not made to be short. (I learned that lesson.)

Besides the aforementioned stories, I also have a blog, The Sepulchral Library, with a few flash fiction dark genre pieces. Feel free to check it out, if you like.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


When I was a little girl, there was a game I used to like to play with my dad. We called it the 'Hand Stand Game'. He would lie on his back on the floor, arms above his head, palms up to the ceiling. I would plant a foot in each one of his hands. Holding onto my feet he would slowly raise his hands, then sit up, then get up into a standing position, all the while with me balancing on his hands. Besides what it says about my dad's upper body strength (I know I can't stand from a lying position without using my hands), I think we gave my mother heart failure whenever we played this game. As a four-year-old, I ended up pretty high off the ground. And yet I did this with confidence, and without fear. Until I got to about nine, and then suddenly I lost my nerve and I couldn't do it anymore. I had acquired fear.

Fear is a learned emotion. We don't possess it as children. Two things teach it to us. Firstly, we learn fear through consequence. If you get stung as a small child by a wasp, you learn to be afraid of wasps. If you touch a flame and burn your finger, you learn that fire is to be feared. The other way we learn fear is because the adults around us teach it to us. "Don't play too close to the water; you'll fall in and drown," they say. "Don't climb to the top of the climbing frame. You might fall off and hurt yourself." The concept of falling hadn't occurred to us before then. But once someone plants the idea in our head, it's there forever.

It is the same with writers. Why do so many of us get discouraged? We fear failure, perhaps. As a child, I happily wrote story after story. I wasn't really thinking about whether or not they were any good. I wrote them because I wanted to, and I didn't really mind who read them. But then I hit puberty and my self-confidence took a pummelling. What if the stories I wrote really weren't any good? Like George McFly in "Back To The Future", I decided it was better not to let anyone read them, than have to deal with rejection.

I had to overcome this, of course, because I'd decided I wanted to be a published writer. I had to face my fear of rejection and start sending stuff out. I learned that rejection hurts, but it doesn't kill you. I also sought to learn how I could improve my writing, and thus increase its chances of acceptance.

I think it's this acquired fear that holds many of us back. We fear what we've written isn't any good. If you've got one book published, you then fear that you'll never write another one of publishable quality. You fear your book won't sell. You fear you'll never finish the one you're working on. There are so many things that we fear. But we have to push on despite that fear.

So we are afraid of falling. That shouldn't hold us back. Yes, we might fall. But if we do, we can get up and try again. Fear of falling shouldn't stop us from the climb. After all, we might not fall at all, and in addition discover that the view at the top is spectacular.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Read an E-Book Week

Need I say more? :-)

I'm a digitally published author. All of us here at Write Club are published with Lyrical Press and other electronic publishers.

Why did we choose this instead of agents and the traditional publishing route? I can't speak for others but my stories don't meet agents' word length requirements. Digital publishing gives me places to submit my short stories and short novels. (I could also self publish, but that's a topic for another time.)

The first e-book I read was Personal Demons by James Buchanan. I read it on my PC. Now I have Nook and Kindle reading apps on my iPod, tablet, PC, and laptop, plus I have a Kindle.

If you've never read an e-book before, here's a perfect opportunity to try one. Don't have a Kindle or Nook? You can download a free app from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Worried about paying for a book you might not like? Check out free reads or download free samples. Many authors are giving away free or discounted reads during Read an E-Book Week.

To learn more about Read an E-Book Week click here.

Finally, to help celebrate Read an E-Book Week, one lucky commenter will win a Smashwords copy of Bites - Ten Tales of Vampires. Just leave a comment by midnight, March 10. To learn more about Bites, click here. The anthology is also available on Kindle.

Happy e-book reading!