Monday, December 31, 2012

A summary of what I did in 2012

Sometimes I feel like I'm really not getting much done. And then I look at my list. I was surprised by how far I've come in just one year. It may not seem like a lot to some people, but I'm pleased with the progress - slow and steady! And I feel like I've learned a lot from each step. Of course, I have to add in the meetings with my critique group. We try for every 2 weeks. It's good to have a deadline. And it's good to look for mistakes in someone else's work. I think once I see a problem in someone else's work I can then see it in mine.


January
Published Catburglar on SW and KDP
Sent White Lies out to readers

February
Submitted A Loss of Standards to a contest and a magazine (rejected by both)
Published White Lies on KDP Select - exclusive for 90 days

March
Made Catburglar free (289 downloads to date)
White Lies free promo on KDP - 492 downloads
Interviewed on Kris Wampler's blog

April
Published A Loss of Standards on Smashwords and KDP
White Lies free promo on KDP - 68 downloads
Posted White Lies on Wise Grey Owl website

May
Published White Lies on Smashwords and CreateSpace (print)

June
Goodreads Giveaway of White Lies - 607 signed up, 81 added "to read", 5 given away - got 3 reviews

August
Blog's 1st anniversary - a whole year of consistently blogging

September
Truth's Enigma rewrite to readers for feedback
First payment received from KDP

October
Submitted Home Inspection to a magazine (rejected)
Started rewrite on Unintended Consequences

November
Sold a drawing off the blog!
Put White Lies up on ACX (an audio book creation site)
Put Truth's Enigma on back burner to simmer while I finish Unintended Consequences
Entered White Lies in a self-published book contest on Underground Book Reviews

December
First reading at the Asheville Public Library West Branch - sold 1 book!
Submitted Keep Moving to a magazine
White Lies is now for sale in my local bookstore - Malaprops

And according to my notes on Goodreads I read 37 books.



Friday, December 28, 2012

Another rejection

I'm OK with rejections. I learned it in my first drawing class as a kid. But this one was a little different.

I sent a flash to Every Day Fiction and they rejected it. The critique they sent was very helpful. And unusual. I don't always know the reasons why they don't want the story. This will help me tweak it for the next round. BUT - the part of the rejection that really got to me was about formatting. Somehow, somewhere between my cleanly formatted Word doc and the editor's eyes, my story turned into a sold block of words.

Yikes!

Did they think I was an idiot? Or trying something avant gard? Sheesh. Where did my formatting go?

They said things like - It would have been easier to read if the story was broken into paragraphs.

No, no, no...I didn't do that! I wanted to email right back begging their forgiveness for such a grievous error. I would never have submitted it that way...but somehow I did. It upsets me more than the rejection itself, that I did something stupid. It's like I got to the art show and my painting was upside down.

Luckily, with the rest of the comments, it was clear that they rejected the story based on other reasons. So despite me looking like an idiot, I received a thoughtful critique from them. I'm sure they see worse, but that isn't a distraction I care to throw in the way!

So, that is my latest lesson in online submission. I need to double check how they are submitted.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm Local!



White Lies is now available in print at my local independent bookstore, Malaprops. It is so exciting to see it on the shelves! Malaprops has a special section for local authors. There are a lot of writers in the area. It's always been artsy, back to F. Scott Ftizgerald and Thomas Wolfe.

Can you tell it was a brutally cold day when we went there?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Too Dark

I am allowing myself to not finish reading books I don't like. It still feels wrong. Once I start reading a book, I feel like I should finish.

Lately I have been picking up books will nilly. I am pushing the envelope of my usual type of book. Sometimes it works. I just finished reading a mystery set in the 1740's. It was very interesting. However, this other one...just did not work for me.

First of all, the language. I'm not a prud. I don't mind swear words. But this felt especially crude.

Secondly the sex was nasty. Not sexy nasty - slave / humiliating nasty. That almost stopped me there. But I kept reading past that bit. Maybe it was just in there to prove a point. OK. As a statement about a bad character, that'll work. Unfortunately, no, there was a whole lot more.

Third, did not like the protagonist. So when he had icky sex that was a little too explicit, in a sticky - smelly sort of way, it lost me. I didn't like him or his friends or his world. I had no idea what his goal was. And since I wasn't feeling very kind toward him, the icky sex thrown in made me like him even less. Which made me wonder about the choice of putting that scene in there. It underscored the point that he had made bad choices in the past and apparently was going to continue to do that.

I guess that's just my taste.

The book was traditionally published, so someone somewhere thought this had a good sized audience. I wonder what that was? The protagonist is gay. So do they think gay audiences want to read about a man making bad choices? Or do they think straight audience was to see a gay man make bad choices?

I have read lots of books with gay protagonists. Doesn't matter to me as long as the story is well done. And that includes the sex scenes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A sense of place.

In the book I was reading, a man develops an unreasonable fondness for a path as he contemplates a possible marriage. It struck me that there is a strong sense of place in the simplest things.

The other day I was walking and saw something that struck a note. In a backyard there was an Adirondack chair near an old garage. I felt such a sense of longing. Which confused me. The yard was dark and unkempt and the garage needed a coat of paint. Why would I want that? Then it occurred to me that something about the scene reminded me of my childhood home.

 It wasn't the backyard I was envious of, it was the memory of a safe and loving childhood. A memory of a time when my biggest responsibility was making my bed. When the only danger was falling out of trees or skinning a knee during tag. A time of well worn traditions, holidays and routines - school on the weekdays, summer at the Jersey shore, Easter egg hunts and Christmases when all the relatives came to us.

I can remember those strange little things from the house where I grew up: the bumpy roots of the huge oak in our backyard, the shape of the flagstones on the front path, the best way to ride your bike around the old slabs of slate sidewalk heaved up by tree roots.

On fall mornings I would walk to school with a cousin or a friend and we would shush through ankle deep piles of fallen leaves.

One spring, when I was very young, I picked a bunch of the daffodils that lined the driveway. Holding them upside down they became ladies in ballgowns and I danced them all over the backyard.

I was lucky. I had a great time growing up. So I totally understood the man's sudden fondness for a path that lead to his sweetheart's house. Another tool for the writer's toolbox.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quiet One



In my last job, as a bookkeeper for a moving and storage company, one of the salesmen nicknamed me Quiet One. It was a pleasant, anonymous, back room, part-time job. I went in, did my thing and left. I enjoy working with numbers, but they do take some concentration. I tend to just put my head down and work. 
When I commented to my very gregarious boss that because I was quiet people often thought that—
“You’re timid.” She cut me off. 
I was stunned. Timid? Me? Surely not. Suddenly I wanted to start listing all my adventures.
I left home at eighteen and just kept going. I’ve driven coast to coast a handful of times, alone. I lived alone in Boston, LA, and smaller cities. I’ve studied martial arts. I've been in earthquakes and sandstorms and hurricanes. I drove through the Rockies in a white-out blizzard. I’ve, I’ve… and then it occurred to me that telling them defeated the purpose. They saw me as a quiet, introverted, soft spoken spinster. What I needed to do was understand why I was projecting that image.
Over the years I have tinkered with various careers, personal philosophies, diets and locations. My family jokes that I inherited all the wanderlust from both sides. I always pull Tarot cards that say I am seeking. I am of the firm belief that you can achieve anything with enough research and hard work. I was a travel agent when I decided that I wanted to work in the film industry. It was a little over a year later that I was in a soundstage in Studio City painting a brightly patterned floor for a children’s game show.
So how could these people think I was timid? 
Many years ago, I worked for a summer as a camp counselor in Vermont. One morning, as I tried to get through breakfast with the noise of 120 adolescent girls crashing around our small eating hall, another counselor approached me. She was well loved by the campers, very athletic and outgoing. I admired her for her high energy and easy way with the girls. She asked if she could sit by me, because I was so calm. She needed a respite from the chaos. She wasn’t the first to make that comment. I am usually a very calm person. But not timid!
When I was studying theatre design, one of my classmates asked me about my husband and children. When I told him I was single, no kids, he was amazed. He said I seemed like I was married. I like to interpret that as seeming content with myself. 
Just after learning to ski, I was recounting a story of falls and mishaps to my roommate, a ski coach. I told him how I had lost control of the skis. His response was, “I’d like to see you out of control.” My life was lurching along in freeform at that time. I wondered why he thought I was so very much in control of things. Calm, content, controlled, those perceptions, wrong as they might be, were all fine and good. But for Pete’s sake, I am not timid.
Maybe I was just quiescent. I was in between adventures, resting. I was daydreaming and planning and perhaps not enough in the present. Not timid, simply elsewhere, going through the motions to get me through the day. I was passive, observing the people around me without much interaction.
It was a shock to them when I sold my house and moved to a place I’d never been before. Not something a timid woman would ordinarily do, I suppose. However, it was something I have done many times. They didn’t know me, only made assumptions from the surface. Maybe they thought I snapped from all the repressed actions they expected of me. Hard to say since I've lost touch with them. I wonder if I will always be just Quiet One to them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

First reading done!

Whew!

This is a picture of Michael Havelin, author of the Ben Bones series, and me at our first reading. There were about 7 people in the audience, which was a good number for my first event. I wasn't insanely nervous. I didn't plan much, thinking that I would interact with the audience, if there was one. Oops. Not the best plan.

I am a quiet audience member myself. I don't jabber at the speaker...not sure why I expected that to happen. So now I need a plan for the next one.

Thanks to David Pereda for stopping by and giving me some advice.

And thanks to Jim Weikart for filming it. It's very weird watching myself, but helpful!

I'm learning and things will only get better!