Archive for September, 2011

Please stand by…

I’m going to take off this week from posting.  I’m still writing and submitting and working away—but I’m just too darn tired to post about it all the time.

I’m hopeful that this will all change by next week.

In the meantime, here are my favorite couple of sentences I’ve written recently:

“As for becoming a stepmother—my stepmother—I’m not sure how much thought she gave the idea.  I became her project.  She treated me as if I were a garage that needed cleaning out so she could turn me into a craft room.”


Friday Grading Time

It’s Friday again!  Yippee!  This week didn’t drag like last week did, and I accomplished quite a bit.  Yay, me!

I turned over another two jobs, so I only have one more to go, and that means that I get another free weekend.  I seem to have gotten the kids into some sort of back-to-school routine, and I’ve begun one for myself, too.

I’ve found something that really works for me as far as getting writing done, and it’s so simple: I turn off the TV after watching for a little bit.  It’s so easy to get into that routine of making dinner, checking homework, making sure the kids are clean and getting them into bed, and then…zoning out while watching TV.  And then the night’s gone.

I don’t think I’m really going to miss that zoning-out time, because I’ve made it easy on myself.  I haven’t done it as an all-or-nothing type plan—I give myself some time to zone out, but then I get to work.  This week, I finished a scene and a half in my short story, and I have the next three scenes planned.  I even started thinking about what the scene in my novel needs, and I’m formulating a plan for that one, too.

But I didn’t fulfill my goal of finishing that second scene, so for this week, I’m going to give myself an A-.

“Quiet” writers

The other day, Jan O’Hara wrote a great post about “quiet” books and writers at one of my favorite sites, Writer Unboxed. I’ve been thinking about it since I read it.  How does a “quiet” writer get through in such a loud, buzzy world?  Especially if you’re a quiet writer with a quiet book?

First, a disclaimer.  In real life, I am NOT at all a quiet person.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I talk loudly and I laugh loudly—a lot.  But in my fiction, I’m quiet.  My sense of humor is there, but it’s not slapstick.  It’s found in smaller observations, sometimes as sarcasm in a character’s voice, and sometimes in the absurdity of a situation.  I like to take the expected and slip in unexpected details.

When I younger and was first playing around with the idea of being a writer, I didn’t think I could do it, although I’d been encouraged by every teacher I’d had and friends who had read my work.  But I was surrounded by writers, and they all seemed to deal with BIG, IMPORTANT IDEAS AND PEOPLE.  And I found myself lacking in that area.

What I wrote about back then, and continue to write about now, is people who aren’t big and important.  There are no explosions.  No murders, no vampires, no mass destruction of humankind.  In fact, the people on my pages lead pretty ordinary lives, and the best thing my readers have told me is that they feel as though they know my characters.  This never fails to make me smile.

But to get back to the original question: How do quiet writers get heard?  Especially when there are so many others cheerleading loudly for themselves and for their stories with a quick synopsis on their Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages, and blogs?

I don’t have the answer to that question, so I’m putting it out there for others to help me answer.  I suspect that I’m going to have to get louder.

Submit to…Monday

A whole lot of good new listings!

One Story

I love, love, LOVE this magazine and its premise—one story per issue.  Their mission is to “save the short story by publishing in a friendly format that allows readers to experience each story as a stand-alone work of art and a simple form of entertainment.”

Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest

I love Writer’s Digest magazine, and I love that each entry receives a personal critique.

The Broken City 

The submission should deal with the theme “This is why I drink.”  Sounds pretty fun, or pretty depressing, depending on your PoV.

Crazy Horse

Another journal I love.  The editors are especially interested in original writing that engages in the work of honest communication. We always ask “What’s at stake in this writing?” “What’s reckoned with that’s important for other people to read?”

Esquire’s Short Short Story Contest

This one is definitely a challenge—a short, short fiction contest.  Each entry can only contain 78 words (in honor of Esquire’s 78th birthday).

Grading Myself Friday

Oh, Friday!  I thought you’d never get here!  This week has seemed so long–like two weeks’ worth of stuff dropped into one.  So how did I do?

Mmm…not so well.  I mean, I completed two freelance projects and I’m halfway through a third one; I managed to take care of all of the kids’ needs this week, including the start of homework for both (I had NO idea how difficult that one would be); and I posted three times this week, as was my goal of last week.

But as for writing…blech.  I wrote maybe two pages’ worth of material that I can either keep or rework.  I’ve been thinking about my stories, and although that’s important, it doesn’t magically turn into actual words on the page.

So I’m going to start scheduling my writing time, as I schedule everything else in my life.  My goal for next week is to have finished two more scenes in the short story I’m working on.  It’s a reachable goal–I think I can, I think I can!

For this week, I give myself a C-.

The Business of Writing

Author platforms!  Social media!  Agent pitches!  Book trailers!  Publicists!  e-books!  Self-publishing!  Writing conferences!

I like taking a look at the big picture–but that doesn’t mean that I’m good at doing so.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m easily overwhelmed.  And when I start reading through others’ blogs and Web sites, that sinking feeling usually creeps up on me until I feel as though I might drown.

Here’s the thing: I know that all of this stuff–the business of being an author and of writing–is important.  My question is this: How the hell do these people find the hours in a day to do it all?

Maybe they’re independently wealthy.  Maybe they don’t have full-time jobs.  Maybe they don’t have children under the age of ten.  Maybe they don’t have a spouse.  Maybe they don’t have any friends.  Maybe they don’t have deadlines.  Maybe they live in the middle of nowhere where nothing interesting ever happens.

Then I begin beating myself up: I should be so much further along in my writing!  Why aren’t I so much further along?  Why aren’t I submitting work twice a week?  Why isn’t my blog being read by more people–what am I doing wrong there?  Why can’t I find more time for updating my blog?  Why don’t I do anything with my Twitter account?  Why can’t I find more time for my writing?  Why am I so freaking exhausted all the time?

I understand very well that writing is a business, but I’ve approached it as if it’s a hobby for a long, long time.  Now that I finally feel ready to be serious about my writing, I really need to get a handle on all of the aspects of BEING a writer.  It’s time to get over feeling ready and time to start being ready.  Time to spring into action.

Submit to…Monday

Welcome to Monday and to my new “Submit to…” feature.  I’m going to share links to contests and places that have caught my interest in the past couple of weeks.  Of course, after I had the great idea of posting links on a weekly basis, many of the places I’d been thinking of stopped taking submissions.  I hope I’ll be able to find many more for next week.

Anyway!  Onto this week’s links!

What I like: Where to begin?  Its judge is Amy Hempel; the winner is given a plane ticket to New Orleans and travel accommodations in the French Quarter; the winner gets to read his/her story in a literary panel and is given access to the literary festival; publication in Louisiana Literature; and $1500.

What I like: Accepted pieces will be printed in a book called Have a NYC: Tall Tales from the City.  All subject matter considered; the setting needs to be NYC (obviously).

What I like: I like this magazine generally; their fiction is first rate.