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Archive for the ‘Prose from the Pros’ Category

Just an Innocent Question

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This Co-Hosts this month are: Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

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Just an Innocent Question

I was stumped on this month’s topic at first. I couldn’t think of a favorite or least favorite question about my writing. It turns out that I do have a least favorite question. Oddly enough, it usually comes from other writers. But what’s strange is that the question itself isn’t annoying – it’s my response to the question that gives me thought.

“What do you write?”

My face flushes. My tongues wraps around itself. My response is a garbled mess. I’m a writer. I work with words. You’d think that words would flow effortlessly from my lips.

Not so.

I stammer and become almost incoherent.

“Umm….everything.”

Obviously not everything. I don’t write horror. I don’t write erotica. I don’t write dystopian tales. I don’t write….

But, the list that I do write is even longer. Fiction. Nonfiction. Magazine articles. Blogs. Short stories. Novels. Children’s stories. Historical fiction and vintage tales. Contemporary fiction. Essays. Memoir. Family stories. And in my spare time, I’m dabbling with some middle-grade stories and plotting out my first cozy mystery.

I can’t imagine writing in just one genre or for one market. My crafting is all over the board. I weave, spin, sew, dye, knit (a very little), crochet, fuse glass, mosaic, make paper, garden, craft with garden products… I rescue cats and have had a menagerie of different animals over the years, including turtles, snakes, a chameleon, four llamas, turkeys, chickens, goats, a sheep… I read all over the board. (Except for horror. Stephen King’s fault. My son was two years old when I read Pet Cemetery and his rendering of the little boy’s death gave me nightmares for weeks.) My musical interests are all over the board, depending on the day and the mood. Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Rammstein, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Glen Miller, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Tom Jones, Enya, with some occasional Vivaldi or Pachelbel…

I’d be bored if I only had one interest or activity. So too, does my writing reflect my eclectic interests. I’d be bored to tears if I had a one or two-word answer to the question.

I want to retort back, “Don’t try to define me by what I write.”

Truthfully, they’re truly not trying to pigeon-hole me. They’re making conversation and trying to find some common ground.

So why do I get so defensive?

I think because at times I feel unfocused with my writing. I want to write so many things, try to do too much at the same time, and feel like I’m spinning out of control, not accomplishing what I want to in any one avenue. And I don’t like having someone else bring that to light – even if done unintentionally.

I also don’t like the feeling of being unprepared, lacking a coherent response to a legitimate question.

Since this is New Year’s Day as I write this, the first day of 2019, it’s the perfect time to reassess what I’m doing in order to mitigate the feeling of being unfocused and darting in a multitude of directions. It’s a good time to sit down and pick one major goal for each month to focus on. If the major goal is finishing up a historical short story collection, there will still be other minor stepping stones throughout the month, such as a children’s short story that needs to be submitted, or a query for a nonfiction magazine article. But similar to the thought of having a ‘Word for the Year’, I’ll have a ‘Focus for the Month’ and by doing this I can touch on several different bases throughout the year and feel I’ve made significant progress on each path.

As for the other problem, the one of not knowing what to say, that solution is easy. With our books, the experts recommend that we develop an elevator pitch for each one – one or two sentences that convey the essence of the book in a quick and easily practiced answer. That’s what I need to do here. Work on my elevator pitch. Develop an answer that delivers the information I want to share, in a quick soundbite that I can practice and have ready for the next time I’m asked.

Now that I can celebrate my first officially written 821 words of 2019, I’m off to go polish up a short pitch!

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Only Five?

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This Co-Hosts this month are: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

Only Five?

Oh goodness, Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) – you ask about five objects you’d find in my writing space? Only five? Since my writing room doubles as a crafting room also, I could list more like five hundred objects. Although I could see where most people would either quit reading or fall asleep – at least by item Number 47. So perhaps five is a nicer number to play with. Besides, after so many notebooks, paperclips, pens and staplers we’d all be snoozing, including myself. Many writers will probably have what I’ve listed first, but probably not the other four writing accessories.

IMG_0685[1].JPGStack of query and submission ideas

Many writers will have this item, a supply of possibilities to send query letters or essays to, or other publishing options to pursue. Although many may have a more organized approach, I am a pile kind of person. I have a notebook – two of them – that are supposed to hold these possible markets. Three years later the notebooks are gathering dust in a corner and the pile system is entrenched in place. And growing. I think for every one market I query or submit to, three or four other markets replace the one that’s gone.

IMG_0687[1].JPGA bunch of carrots

A few years ago, after I’d started writing in earnest, I had a dream. I was in the backyard with bushel baskets standing in front of four small garden plots. I was harvesting carrots. Two of the plots had a meager harvest, one had decent harvest, and one plot produced a bountiful carrot harvest. The bushel baskets on that one were overflowing with produce. I realized that with my writing I’m planting carrots. I’m planting the seeds of future harvest. Some seeds may not grow very well, giving me few carrots. Other crops may produce abundant supplies of the golden vegetable. I purchased some carrots from the local craft store to remind me that my words are simply planting seeds for future crops. I may not see immediate results. And the results will vary from scanty to plentiful. I just need to keep planting my carrots.

IMG_0686[1].JPGPieces of the past

Shopping malls don’t tempt me. Not in the least. I can live the rest of my life without going to another one. But antique stores…they’re my catnip. I adore pieces from the past and my home is filled with many family heirlooms and treasures gleaned from visiting antique stores in many different states. The ‘curtain’ in the window in front of my desk is a 1930’s quilt top, completely hand stitched and picked up for a pittance at a yard sale – the same one where I bought a set of 30 1934 quilt squares that I’ve since taken to a museum in Iowa. Handstitched dish clothes from the same era, vintage books, antique pottery, Depression glass, vintage bottles…they’re in here too, adoring the shelves along with books filling five book cases.

Wind chimes

Yes, wind chimes. A whole window full of them. Hey, if I put them outside I’d rarely see them. I spend much more time at my desk now than I do in the garden. So I installed a dowel in front of the window and hung a dozen wind chimes.

IMG_E0602[1].JPGTator Tot

Tator Tot is the newest addition to my writing space. My writing/craft room used to be (notice the used to part?) the only cat-free room in the house. We’d been watching one of the feral kittens outside for several weeks. One was extremely lethargic and listless. It got worse. We picked it up one day and its gums were so pale they were white. A month ago we made an appointment at the vets and brought it inside. Not knowing if it was sick or not, we couldn’t have it in the main part of the house with the others. So in my room it came. Tator Tot turned out to be a little boy and was extremely anemic, had roundworms, and was severely underweight. (1 pound when he should have been 2-2 ½ pounds) The vet said he probably wouldn’t have lasted another few days, and was doubtful if he’d even make it now. He made it and a month later is a little demon, never still until he wears himself out and plops down, now exhausted from hours of play instead of simply no energy.

So if my writing’s slowed down a bit over the past month, I’ll blame it all on Tator Tot. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll still keep him for Item Number Five in my writing space. Now…if I can only figure out how to have him help me harvest a few carrots.

IMG_0683[1].JPG

No Thank You

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?’

Although I typically go with the proposed question for the month, this month I’m going another route and talking about something else. Rejections.

rejected

No Thank You

Being an insecure writer – which is why I love this group so much – I hate rejections as much as anyone else. Especially on those days where several of them hit your inbox so close together. It can feel crushing and can make me feel inadequate and less confident.

I read another viewpoint of this last week though that is changing how I think of it. The author mentioned that rejections aren’t a reflection on you or your writing. It’s simply a ‘No Thank You.’ They likened it to going to a restaurant. Your heart is set on a certain dish. Perhaps you’ve been craving a nice, juicy steak. The server offers you their special – grilled salmon. Maybe you don’t like fish. Maybe you do, but it’s just not what you want for that meal. So you simply say, “No thank you.”

She asks – does the cook break down in tears because you ‘rejected’ their offering? No. It’s not a rejection of their cooking, their skills, their talents, or their person. It just doesn’t fill a need you have at that moment.

I need to apply this attitude towards the rejections headed my way. It has nothing to do with my talent, my work, my piece, or my person. It’s simply a ‘No thank you. Not right now.’

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

KDP Print vs. CreateSpace (Comparing the Little Details)

There’s a lot of great information here on the differences between Createspace and KDP Print.

chrismcmullen

KDP PRINT VS. CREATESPACE PAPERBACKS

I have published dozens of paperbacks with CreateSpace over the years, and have recently published some books (under pen names) with KDP’s new print-on-demand option.

While in many respects the two services are comparable (and both are Amazon companies), there are quite a few little differences.

DIGITAL PREVIEWS AND PRINTED PROOFS

There are several differences relating to printed proofs:

  • With KDP print, you don’t have to go through the manual file review process before you can order a printed proof. If you know what you’re doing, this saves 12 to 24 hours, but if you have a big mistake in your PDF files, CreateSpace’s manual file review would help to flag the issue before you waste time and money on a printed proof. However, both offer digital proofing tools to help catch mistakes before you order a printed proof.
  • KDP’s version of an interior reviewer…

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Making Me Think #IWSG

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?’

making me think

Making Me Think

What are my ultimate writing goals? What an excellent question that’s really making me think. I don’t suppose I’ve ever really sat down and tried to clearly define what my ultimate goals were. I wanted to write. I had stories I wanted to tell. And it went from there.

Along the way my current lists have changed. I’ve added stories and books. I’ve added far more than I’ve ever crossed off as deleted. My directions have changed slightly here and there. But I think overall is that I just want to write the stories that are in my heart. Which makes it a very nebulous and undefinable goal.

In order to keep writing, and pay for book publishing, and buy paper and ink cartridges etc. it’s necessary to have some money come in. Hence the articles and submissions for paid writing spots, along with book signings and classes at local libraries.

Eventually I’d love to be able to make a living from my writing, so that the part time job can go away. But yet, without a clear plan, or an idea of how many dollars a month I need and how I’m going to make that number – it’s not likely that it will happen.

Instead of the July goals I currently have of finish the writing workbook for the class at the end of the month, add to Embracing 60, revise Memory Gardens, and organize my short stories into a cohesive list (written, WIP, and dreamed of), I need to add one more goal to July. Search deep within myself and determine what my long-term ultimate writing goals really are.

Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the kick in the pants (pardon the cliché!) I needed this month that highlights a vague and undefined end wish.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?’

names from a hat

How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

A Sarah here, a Sarah there…how many Sarah’s can an author have? This month’s question for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was an easy one. Definitely choosing names are more difficult for me. The titles always seem to come with the germination of the book idea itself. And while they many change as I work on and complete the book – that is rare. I almost always go with my first instinct for a title.

But names, that’s where my own personal difficulty lies. I don’t have problems with naming characters, it’s just that I seem to always go to the same names. Sarah and William seem to be particular favorites to me, but I have no idea why. It’s like I have this internal list of ten to twelve favorites that my brain always accesses first. On my short stories spreadsheet, I had to add a column for main character names, so I don’t repeat names.

Another small glitch I find is that I can easily end up with two or three character names that all begin with the same initial. If I don’t consciously watch it, I’ll have Sarah and Sam with a dog named Spot. It must be that alliteration fascination coming back to haunt me.

Alas, if these were the only troubles I had to contend with, I’d be one happy author. Names I can change all day long. Now if fixing plot holes and characterization problems were just as easy.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

Writing the dreaded synopsis! #amwriting #writingtips — Alison Williams Writing

Like writing the dreaded blurb, writing a synopsis can throw the best writers into a panic! This is something else I’ve written about before, but is definitely worth repeating. I’ve worked with lots of writers who can compose the most beautiful prose, bring scenes to vivid life, make me care about their characters, keep me […]

via Writing the dreaded synopsis! #amwriting #writingtips — Alison Williams Writing

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