Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Driving Around Without a Map...

I've never use an outline. Period. I know in my head where I want the story to go. I usually have an idea, I know the ending, pretty much (but it can change slightly to suit), and I may have a beginning. I will flesh out the characters before I start. Or sometimes they simply come alive on the page. I've often wanted to just go down a country road without knowing where it went just to find out. I'm an adventurer in that respect.

I've been working on a short story, lately. I'm going to offer it to Dark Moon, eventually. It's their "women's" issue. I thought the title "Mother Knows Best" would nail down that this is a woman's story.

I don't normally write short stories. There's a reason. I want to go on and on with the story, get into every one's heads as to what they are doing and make the plot twist and turn and... well, that's impossible to do with a short story. The novel and short story may seem similar to some, but they are very different. You have to tell a story within so many pages--like five or eight or ten. We're given a 6,000 words max, so I've got more than enough pages to play with.

I knew the story long before I began this or decided to write this for the anthology. It was a section taken from my first vampire novel, and saved in a discard file. You never want to absolutely delete all your hard work. These may offer you new ideas for new stories.

It has taken me a few weeks to pound out more than the three pages I struggled with at the beginning. I've now got 8 pages. I'm not pushing myself, because I can't work under that sort of pressure. I don't tell myself I have to write X amount of words or pages in a day. I'd rebel. I'm in charge of what I do, where and when and I've got the keys to this car and when I say we go, we go.

As I began this short story, I knew it would involve a vampire (of course), and a teenager who meets him, and there would be a rival. The rival would be her friend. But, after I lingered over this idea, I liked the old jealousy rage story less and less.

While I fiddled in facebook, and took on a new blog (actually it's not "new", just that I am now captain of the ship, so to speak), I allowed my mind to wander. Give it a break, because I had just been working on edits for the third book, and I think I was tired and needed a little fun time. (keys to the car, remember?)

The story sat at the bottom of my desktop. Once in a while I'd have something to add, and that was about it.

Then...I don't know, but maybe I relaxed enough, let the wind blow through my hair. Had a little fun choosing new backgrounds for a couple of blogs (like this one???), and working with another writer friend who is teaming up with me on the aforementioned blog.

I was at another blog I follow earlier where they spoke of giving yourself permission to do this or that when it gets a little scary when you write and wonder about things. Giving yourself permission to relax, maybe take a walk, get away from the manuscript for a while, helps me. I think we writers put too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to getting something done. Deadlines and so forth. If they work for you. Fine. But if you feel as though you've driven yourself into a wall. Stop it. Give yourself permission to sit back and not write but have a little fun.

Go for a ride.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

I was sitting in the backyard this past week, enjoying the sunshine, warmth, birdsong, etc. I usually have my journal with me.

It reminded me of some distant moment in the past--possibly 9 or 10 years ago. I was struggling with getting anything published. I couldn't even get a lousy poem published! I made up my mind to work on poetry first. It seemed the easiest for the moment. Keep in mind I had been writing over 25 years by this time, trying to get a book published/accepted by an agent.

So, I'm sitting there just the other day thinking about how I felt at that far distant time. I was very frustrated, moments of depression overwhelmed me. I figured this was an impossible dream.

That year I did get a poem published. You wouldn't think it would be so hard, but it was. I found a very nice place that gave budding writers a chance. It was nice to have my work accepted. Everything I sent Ruth Brookshire, editor of Weeds Corner was accepted. I published with her journal for 4 years. The pay was little, and then she had to ask people to subscribe. I understood. I simply moved on.

But the novels I tried to get published was not gonna happen. At that time I didn't understand the industry. I understand it better today--how it works--but it got me no closer to finding an agent. The last straw was when I was about to turn 50. You go through menopause, ladies, the injustices of life simply get to you and you decide to take things into your own hands. I was sick of waiting for rejections. Enough was enough.

I decided to self-publish my light fantasy, Spell of the Black Unicorn. I paid to have my book printed up. I formatted the whole thing and drew the picture for it. I was very excited! Finnally my book in print, and there I am in this picture signing them for people in a bookstore, no less!

That was in 2008. Things moved very quickly in the self-publishing industry after that.

Even though I wrote the sequel, I sure couldn't afford to get that done too. Even with $50 off they offered me. I had to move on. Again.

I next worked on my vampire novel. It was something I needed to do--I had always written one and tried to get it published--and so wrote it and tried to find someone who would take it. I thought I had until they offered to edit it for me for $$. The amount was much more than I would have paid to have it self-published. I declined and tried everywhere again. I tried agents again. Stupid me. Hadn't I learned? Agents really are fussy, and it really irked me I had to go through this again. I went an posted the first chapter in sites.

Then, someone saw my first chapter on a site I used to belong to.  He said he found nothing wrong with what I'd written, and to send it to him. He turned out to be my publisher, Wilfried Voss of Copperhill Media, a micro publisher, but a publisher all the same. He saw something in my writing or style and took me on. I've given him my second book, and that's been published. I'm about to send him my third, but I need to get my editing done!

So theres my story behind how I struggled for a very long time--30 years. I did NOT quit. I kept on hoping that someone would find my work interesting enough to take it.

Sure am glad I didn't quit. My husband wouldn't let me anyway. He told me to keep on writing because I LOVED to write, and forget about what anyone else thinks. And that's a good thing to remember. Of course now with being so easy to get your books into smashwords or amazon, I guess it's no big deal. But I didn't want to try and do this all by myself at that time. I'm not sure how I'll feel later. I want to take my rights back for Spell and get it up on some format myself as an ebook so that I have more control of the price and not have to take royalties.

So, here I am, I should be editing my third book in the series. I just wanted to stop in and write about my thoughts on how time goes by and you think back to how things were and look at where you've been. Sometimes things just work out when you least expect it. It's hard to wait things out, but sometimes, in the end, it is all well worth it.