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Category: writing

The writer’s dilemma: carspiration

Any writer will be able to brandish on command the handy-dandy notebook they carry with them at all times for the moments when ideas strike that must be either written down or forgotten forever.  If they’re anything like me, though, these moments almost always happen while driving.

I spend about an hour in my car every day going to and from the office, and cruelly enough, my moments of inspiration usually happen after a particularly difficult day.  I’m one of those who refuses to talk on the phone while I am driving as well, so even if I were to try and make a voice note, it would probably be just as dangerous as writing out my brilliant idea that comes to me in the car.

Writers – how do you deal with “carspiration”?

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New poem up. They should call it NaPoWriMo.

Well, it’s National Novel Writing Month, but I am not writing a novel. I have several reasons, all of which I can back up with my own flawed logic. Regardless, I did set a goal for the month, a goal to finish all the works in progress that plague me. My second goal was not to start anything new until I accomplished the first goal.

So far, I have broken both goals. I have only finished one work in progress, and I wrote a new poem. What can I say? I just kinda happened. Besides, you can’t stifle inspiration when you are lucky enough to get it. Anyway, I was down in Springfield, MO, my old stomping grounds back in college, and I drove by the bar I used to go to several times per week back in my heyday. It was “our bar”, with the other half of the our being my ex-husband. The building is vacant and looks exactly the same.

It inspired me to use it as a metaphor for the dumbest decision I ever made. It’s called Culley’s Pub: An Elegy. Check it out.

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New Short Story: The Camera

Last week I was struggling with whether to finish either of the 2 short stories I’ve been working on for what seems like ages and whose writer’s block has given me fits of semi-insanity, or tabula-rasa it and start over, when a friend told me a crazy story.

It was all about how he found this camera while we were in Lawrence, which I remember, and how he found the person it belonged to, just by the pictures that were on it and his powers of deductive reasoning. Well, the truth might be stranger than fiction, but I’ll let you be the judge of just how implausible this really sounds. Check out The Camera and let me know what you think.

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The winding Internet road

Do you ever start at one place on the internet and end up on a completely different place, with only vague recollection of how you got there?

Today, I was late at work waiting for some other people to provide some stuff for me, so while I was waiting, I decided to catch up on some Google reader. As much as I try to stay up on what’s going on in the industry, it’s really tough, and I often fail. Still, there are a few choice sites that I like to make sure I’m always up on. One of them is midlist thriller writer J.A. Konrath’s blog – A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. I rarely read an entire post end-to-end, because they are often long and I am lazy, but I was entranced by this one. If you’ve dealt with anyone offering you a book deal, which I have and to this day am SO glad I declined, even though I am a nobody, take 5 minutes and read this post. It’s a lot of fun.

After I read the entire post, I did something else I almost never do – I left a comment, and took some time to read some of the other comments. I typically avoid these because I get overly emotionally involved in comment arguments between strangers hiding behind the safety net of anonymity the internet affords and my temper starts flaring. These things never matter, so it’s usually just best I leave them alone. I once read 3 pages worth of comments on an article about Uggs. People have some seriously strong pro-Ugg and con-Ugg opinions. Despite my general avoidance of comment spaces, I decided to troll the comments on this post for A) other writers and industry professionals I can follow on Twitter and B) to see what the response was on this very flagrant post.

One of the comments left was this:

Hi — love the post! I’m an author and I run a small independent publishing company (Bucks County Publishing) and we are primarily involved in paperbacks but we do eBooks too… it is a side thing really because the overhead is so little to do it. We price all of our full length eBook novels at $2.99 and anything shorter is $1.99. Simple pricing. It is ridiculous that these publishing companies want to gauge the customer OR kill the medium…. or both.

I, too, am an author, and I love small independent publishing companies. So I decided to check out their site, and see if they were accepting submissions, because I am a predatory author. As it turns out, they are, and as far as I can tell, it would be a really really good fit for me and my work. Then again, I’ve thought that about lots of book publishers I’ve submitted to who have summarily rejected me. Still, what luck to just find this by link-jumping on the internets. Then, I got to thinking about other neat things I’ve stumbled upon by random internet jumping…

Line Zero: I heard about this new print journal on Twitter. They were looking for submissions for their first issue, I submitted, and I got accepted. Really, I just lucky at the right time with the right journal.

LinkedIn is notorious for sending me down these weird internet paths. Somehow I got from a friend’s LinkedIn page to Smashwords, and that’s how I found out about them. I am still evaluating whether I want to take the ebook self-pub route, but if and when I do, this will be how I do it.

Rose City Sisters: Another Twitter find. The site editor started following me on Twitter, put out the call for submissions, I threw a flash fiction thing together, and decided it would be a good venue for getting some flash fiction practice under my belt. They’ve posted 2 of my stories since.

The volunteer thing I didn’t get: Another stumbly motion on Twitter.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that I found J.A. Konrath’s blog when I was doing some research for a post on this site regarding my distaste for SASEs.

So, if we’re counting, three of my publications came from internet-winding, even if they’re on independent sites and journals. If the Bucks County Publishing people publish me, that’ll make four. Not too bad for just messing around on the internet and finding the right opportunities at opportune moments. Maybe I should just set aside an hour a week for internet “creative space.”

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My first short story publication!

Happy Columbus Day, everyone! I got an email late last night that Line Zero, a new quarterly arts journal, is going to pick up Two Steps Forward! I almost didn’t believe it, but I took a look at the site this morning and on the post with the finalist announcements was my name.

http://linezero.org/literary-finalists/

The issue comes out in November and I can’t wait to see it. This is a brand new journal, just opened for submissions at the beginning of September. I heard about them on Twitter, I think. It just goes to show that it pays off to keep track of emerging players in the market and get in on the ground floor!

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Screw you, spell check! Oh wait, that IS how you spell Wednesday…

Tonight I was plugging away at some submissions/future rejections, and I noticed something both disturbing and embarrassing.  It has been over 3 months since I moved, and I got tired of manually typing my new address, and I figured it was probably time to give the query letter templates the once over anyway.

The query letter for The Redheaded Stepchild misspelled protagonist. The query letter for Two Steps Forward misspelled Forward. Twice. And it’s in the title. It also referenced The Other Dentenia Zickafoose when it should not have. It’s no wonder these magazines have dismissed without a second thought. That, and “I’m not what they’re looking for.”

There are few things I hate worse than writing query letters. I’m sure many of my fellow writers feel the same pain. We’re writers; we want our work to speak for itself. I have part of marketing degree, and I still hate marketing myself. So I spend some time trying to say what I want to say, and save it to a template so I don’t have to think about it every time. Apparently, I’ve been too lazy with this as of late, and as much as I hate, I know that a good query letter is important and a necessarily evil on the route to being a novelist. I encourage all you writers out there to spend 15 minutes to take a look at your query letters, just to make sure they are in tip-top shape. And that the title of your piece is not misspelled.

I am equally annoyed when I see outdated or incorrect information on a publisher’s website, or worse, a 404 or a bounced email.  Since most literary journals are run by colleges, I know they don’t accept submissions during the summer.  News flash – it’s back to school time, so you’re probably accepting submissions again. And if your submission banner reads “We are currently not accepting submissions. We will begin accepting submissions in July 2010” and it is now September 2010, there is something wrong with that.  If you say your next edition is coming April 2010, it should be posted by April 30, not still hanging around as a “coming soon” in November. You want me to not be lazy, do my due diligence, see what kind of work you typically publish and then craft my query letters accordingly? Do yours. Update your goddamn website.

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Weekly writing challenge 9-7

I’ve been struggling with killing a lot of my less-than-stellar ideas for the last few weekly writing challenges. Sometimes, no matter how many ways you try to look at and change a piece of crap, it’s still a piece of crap.

But this week, it was all inspiration and just an eesny bit of motivation and perspiration. I write best when it comes like that. Not to say that this new flash fiction piece is my best work ever, but I give it the stamp of approval instead of the wadded ball in the trash.

This was inspired by an album released early last week by artist who is part of my favorite band, and a word I have hated ever since an unfortunate incident in college. Enjoy 🙂

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Weekly writing challenge 8/25

I’ve been battling iliotibial band issues with my marathon training, and I’ve been going through a whirlwind of emotions about it. Runner’s World had an article the other day about how dealing with running injuries is a lot like the normal grieving process (DABDA) and I think I am finally reaching acceptance, so I felt it was crucial to write this flash fiction piece, just to help me get that much closer to healed.

Enjoy!

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Weekly writing challenge 8-9-2010

For the second week in a row I have honored the sacred weekly writing challenge. This week, I looked to twitter for inspiration, and I had two suggestions that caught my eye. One was simply “chipmunks” and the other was to write from an animal’s perspective. I killed two birds with one stone in this flash fiction piece I wrote in my head while swimming laps tonight.

This was without a doubt one of the most fun things I have written, and I am sure this neglected toy of my dog’s has just as much trouble getting into her head as I do. We’ll see what the Rose City Sisters think of this one 🙂

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New poem: “Meeting Hokey”

I recently (read: two days ago) decided to start giving myself weekly writing challenges to keep cranking out new stuff to pimp to publishers. For some reason, I decided to make this week’s challenge “Finding love during Shark Week”. I am pretty damn amused by Shark Week, and it stuck.

So, I took some creative liberties with an actual story and adapted the facts to fit my little writing challenge. The result is here, a new poem called “Meeting Hokey.”

Got a writing challenge for me for next week?

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