Happy Friday!

I was hoping to have some updates for this week, but alas, there’s been nothing much to speak of. So in lieu of a long, thought provoking, wit-filled blog post, I will keep it short and sweet this week and post the Circle of Seven Productions’ book trailer for Time Out of Darkness. Of course, the eBook version is still available on several bookseller websites, so I encourage everyone to purchase a copy. The profits from the book are being donated to New Orleans’ “Save Our Cemeteries” charity for cemetery restoration in the very spooky “City of The Dead”.

Secondly, I now have an author page at Goodreads.com. I’m still learning the ins and outs of it and it’s very modest at the moment, but feel free to add me or send me a friend request.

Have a great weekend to all and see you on the flipside!

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

 

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Artistic Death at A Funeral

As I wrapped up my stay at the RT Booklovers’ Convention in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, I was given a great piece of advice by fellow author, Sheila English, in regards to my efforts in marketing myself as a writer. “Get your own domain name,” she said as we walked toward our meeting spot for the St. Louis #1 Cemetery Tour. “What you have now is okay, but you need something with your name on it. You can keep the paperback one, but have it direct to your name. That’s what publishers want to see.”

So, here we are. If you look at your address bar you will notice you are now visiting http://WendyCWilliford.com. I’m a dot com! Celebrate with a glass of wine. So what if it’s barely mid-morning. I’m sure you’ve done something to deserve it already.

A few days after I came back from New Orleans, some bad news made its way to my mother. One of her cousins had passed away from cancer. Unfortunately I didn’t know this particular cousin very well, had maybe only met her once or twice as a child, but I knew her from several of the stories my mom had told me over the years. Being that the funeral was only about a 45 minute drive from me, I offered to go with my mom. She declined me attending the funeral with her, knowing that I didn’t remember this cousin very well, but asked me to meet her at her cousin’s house afterward for the after funeral lunch. I’m not sure if this is the thing in the north or even in other countries, but here in the south, after a funeral we have a potluck at the house of the deceased. And it’s not this catered nonsense either (unless you count the 50 count box of chicken from Church’s Chicken catering). Nope, everyone brings a covered dish and enough of it so that the grieving widower doesn’t have to cook for himself for the next month. I weighed the implications of just showing up for the lunch. You can call me many things, but never call me tacky. I asked my mom if it would look rude for someone just to show up for lunch and she assured me I would be okay. Afterall, several of my other aunts would be there and a couple of same-age cousins that I hadn’t seen in a long time. You can call me many things, but never call me late for dinner. So I agreed. I made sure I had something other than blue jeans to wear and drove the 45 minutes to Cleveland, TX for after-funeral (which I didn’t attend) lunch with my mom.

I get there just as everyone is arriving, many faces I’ve never laid eyes on in my life. Sometimes I’m horrible in unknown crowds. Even worse when it’s family. Being in a crowd of complete strangers I can always fake it pretty good. I can read a book, write something, listen to music, play candy crush and keep myself generally amused. When it comes to family, you actually have to make an effort to get to know people. Blood ties won’t let you sit back and be a wall flower. I’m an introvert in a family of southern Baptists extroverts. Sometimes it’s very hard to breathe in situations like this, but I do my best. As I said, a few of my aunts were there that could fall back on and sit by that don’t necessarily force me to talk.

After a few rounds of food, I’m walking through the living room with my mom and she starts introducing me to some important members of the family, (mainly the preachers) and I would like to add these are the relatives I’ve known all my life. For whatever reason my mom was convinced I didn’t know any of them. I assured her I did, especially the preacher-cousin who conducted the service at my dad’s funeral. I have a great memory, which my mom routinely forgets. Anyway, she begins to introduce me and says, “This is my daughter, Wendy. She’s trying to be a writer.”

I’m not sure what look flashed across my face at that moment: sarcastic, sardonic, odd eyebrow-furled disbelief, but the words “Et tu, Brute” definitely flashed across my mind. I’ve had great accomplishments over the last year – fifteen publications and a book in the top 100 of its genre on Amazon. I’m not trying to be anything. I am. But I played it cool. After all, she’s my mother. We’re at a funeral. One does not make a scene.
“I AM a writer, mom,” I say.

She laughs. Not a “forgive my blunder” laugh, but the “oh, yes, whatever you say” laugh. “Yes, sorry, this is my daughter, the writer,” she corrects herself.

And that’s pretty much where I want to leave the scene. I’m not here to bash my mom. My mom is one of the three most import people in my life; my husband and my brother being the other two. I get it that she doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand the writing thing. I don’t think she ever has. I’ve only been doing it since I was 8 years old, but she doesn’t get it that it’s who I am. She views talent in a different way. She views talent on a person’s ability to pick up a musical instrument or sing a church song. Visual and literary art, she has trouble seeing on the same scale. I’m reminded when I told her about my first magazine publication of a short story, she asked if the mag was something like “Better Homes & Gardens” magazine. Er, not quite. My mom rarely reads my stuff. And I get that too. I write very differently than what she reads. She’s a true crime/biography type of reader. I’m a very wordy lit-fic short story writer. If she goes for fiction, she goes for non-threatening, non-graphic stories. I question religious dogma and kill babies in my stories. Several years ago I tried to get her to read my screenplay. I don’t think she made it past the 5th page when all of a sudden “blowjob” appeared in the dialogue. Literary style wise, I’m not my mother’s cup of tea. And I don’t hold a grudge against her for that. My brother plays guitar and I don’t go out of my way to listen to his stuff. He plays death metal and his vocals are nothing but screaming, to put it kindly. I’m more of a classic rock type of girl. I am supportive, nonetheless.

FCMSo, we get through the funeral lunch and I bid my mother adieu. As we’re walking back to her car, I give out several book flats to my mom and aunts, with extras to give to the cousins. I wouldn’t have dared do this at the funeral lunch. Like I said, you can call me many things, never call me tacky! I point out to my mother that the book is only available for download. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have an eBook reader. That might be my Christmas present to her. But, that’s another thing she doesn’t “get”: electronic books. It’s not that my mother is that old, it’s just different. And I don’t think she every really knew how to handle a child that was different.

Was this depressing enough for you? It wasn’t intended to be. But that’s the rambling thoughts I had in the bath this morning. Artistic expression and parents not understanding the art you’ve chosen kinda filled my thoughts this morning. It reminds me when Aerosmith were inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of fame about 12 years ago. Tom Hamilton humbly accepted his induction and stated to the crowd: “Mom, I haven’t forgotten my promise. When I get this out of my system, I’ll go back to dental school.” I have a feeling Tom’s mom is still waiting.

In the meantime, I wanted to take a moment to talk about my newest publication. Happily enough, when I came back from New Orleans, I found in my mailbox my contributor’s copy of Floyd County Moonshine, featuring my non-fiction story, “Toward The Light”. This one has appeared online before in Gravel Online Journal, but this is the first time it’s been published in print, so it makes me happy to see it getting out to new readers again. I’m proud of all my work, no matter the format it’s presented in. If you have a chance, look at their website. If you want to experience new writers, poets and some great non-fic, buy a copy and support your struggling artists. When I get this out of my system, maybe I’ll go to dental school.

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

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The Dark Side of The Con (or Observations From a Book Con Squatter)

20140514_170102I’ve been in a strange Pink Floyd mood for the last couple of days. It started while I was driving home from New Orleans, LA from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. It’s roughly a 7 hr. drive from NOLA to my home in Houston. A very boring 7 hour drive, mind you. About 2 hours in, and in a struggle to keep alert, I found my Dark Side of the Moon CD and popped it in. What occurred for the next 5 hours was a continuous loop of DSoTM with my loud vocal accompaniment on “Great Gig in The Sky” and “Brain Damage”. There isn’t much to speak of between NOLA and Houston (although the dead alligator on the side of the road provided a little amusement) and yelling at the top of my lungs is the closest I can get to entertainment and caffeine induced alertness. I’m sure it’s entertaining for the drivers who passed me. However, in the confines of my Silverado quad-cab, it was equivalent to the greatest Pink Floyd concert minus the laser lights and acid trip. In other words, it rocked.

I kicked off last week with the announcement of an anthology I appear in, alongside fellow genre writers and friends Amanda Jayde, Sheila English and Jocie McKade. Time Out of Darkness hit Amazon running and by Sunday we were #45 in our subgroup. We’re out of the top 100 now, but it was great for the few days we were there and I’m sure with the exposure we’ll get at ComicCon next month, that number will jump into the top 100 again. I am very hopeful. This is the first project I’m involved in in which I can have a direct hand in the marketing and getting the word out. I’m invested and I’m happy to be so. I’m also happy in the fact that I might get feedback on the stories. I’m still not sure of my place as a writer and I lack the proper litmus tests to know if I’m on the right track. I’m not even certain if I’ll end up falling into a genre category with my writing. I consider it an amalgamation of literary fiction and historical fiction. It’s definitely historical, but my writing style is so dense that it feels more lit fic than anything. Not sure if there’s even a word for my writing style. I’m on the lookout and will be happy for any suggestions.

So, let’s get to the con! And Con! indeed. (I keep hearing Wm. Shatner’s voice in my head in the iconic moment when he shouts out Khan’s name after Spock dies. But this “Con!” has the same meaning in my head and you’ll soon find out why.) A couple of things I will explain starting off. The 2014 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is not my first. I can say this is the 3rd time I’ve been to one, although I was only registered for the 2011 Los Angeles convention. I spent the last year unemployed. Forking over $500 for the registration was not fiscally responsible on my part, but other writers paid their dues, in more ways than one. Although I was in the hotel (I paid my share on the hotel bill) and participated in the mingling, the schmoozing, promoting and left with my fair share of swag, I was a squatter at best. Lumping myself into group of the writers that paid for the con feels a little overly pretentious on my part. For clarification, regrettably, I can’t call myself a full-fledged participant of the con.

SWAG, or the real reason I go to these cons.

SWAG, or the real reason I go to these cons.

The week started out great. And to be fair, it remained great. I arrived on Wednesday and by Thursday I was already in the thick of things. To me, going to this convention in particular is more about hanging out with my friends that I only get a chance to see every other year or so. A few of the ladies I hung out with I hadn’t seen in 7 years, a couple others I hadn’t seen since 2011 in L.A. So, it’s about friendship for me. The first full day for me ended with hearing about some recognition our little book was getting. The book cover ended up on a cake, which is pretty bad ass. (I’m not going to repost it here since I didn’t take the pic, but it is on my FB Author Page if you want to take a peek). Heading into Friday was another great experience. Although I didn’t participate in any of the workshops and agent/publishing panels, I kept myself busy in the bar (it was definitely the hub of the con) with talking, rubbing elbows, and Amanda and I took some time out signing our book flats. Again, a first, so I was thrilled and felt like a rock star. Aside from that, we did much people watching and sometimes that’s what it’s all about. Watching how other writers interact is great fun. Seriously. Anytime you think your geek flag is shining too bright, just check out other writers and you’ll know you are in the right company. The other highlight is watching how the other writers promote themselves. This is usually done in the form of SWAG! You know, promotional items that every writer hopes will entice you to buy their book or books. Some of the swag is great, others not so much. Some you can tell the writers spent a lot of money on, others you can tell couldn’t (hey, I’m a poor writer as well. I don’t have several hundred dollars for holographic book flats and personalized matchbooks). Those who don’t have a huge marketing budget, they get creative in their promo items, which you gotta commend. Sometimes it’s as simple as a bowl of chocolate (they get my vote) or a crocheted wineglass cozy. I might go for the LED glowlights because you know, shiny, and I get distracted easily, but it’s the personal touches that readers remember. However, my secret obsession is with pens. I do all my writing by hand. Pens are like the crackpipe that fuels my addiction. So it’s no secret I left with a collection of about 40 pens. (I think I left with twice that many in L.A.) Swag is awesome and it’s only a matter of time before I will have my own personalized swag. Hopefully when the time comes I can be just as clever.

The Giant Book Fair

The Giant Book Fair

Saturday is what some consider the reason the con comes together: The Giant Book Fair. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a humongous book fair. Just about all genres are represented, although its primary audience is romance. Over the last few years, more teen, young adult and new adult has made its way into it, but romance and erotica is what drives it. It’s the bread and butter, so to say.

This is where I feel compelled to stop for a few minutes. Some things did not happen, shall we say, according to plan in regards to the book fair on Saturday. In years past, the con averaged about 700 or so authors. I hear this year was 2000. Big names showed up. Tickets to the book fair were grossly oversold. Authors were relegated to 2 feet of table room to meet and greet fans. The fire marshal threatened to shut it down and delayed the start by about 45 minutes. There’s a lot of talk on different blogs since Sunday about the fuckups that came out of this year’s book fair, more notably the separation of authors from traditionally published to small press/eBook and self pub. When authors registered for the con this year, they were told that all writers would be in the same room for the fair, a break from their previous year’s tradition of having the eBook fair on a different day. This was a major stepping stone on the con’s part and about damn time many felt. But good intentions rarely play out. When the map of the author placements came out, we discovered that there were 2 different rooms for the writers. Lots of feelings were hurt and disappointments arose, but none so much as the biggest scandal that came out of it in which a convention volunteer told readers that the room for small press, e-book and self-pubs was for “aspiring authors”.

All holy hell broke loose.

I will not spend the rest of the blog discussing what other have been discussing. Google it and I’m sure you’ll find a lot authors weighing in on that. I just want to discuss my own personal thoughts on the choice of wording.

I admit, I am still skeptical of self-publishing. I’m not so old that the new technology scares me. Far from it, but seeing that my goal as a writer when I was young was that of being published, it’s hard to determine yet if self-publishing is taking the hard work out of being legitimately published. That’s every writer’s goal. It’s a goal that one works really hard for. It’s years of honing your craft and sometimes years of going through painful rejection letters. Those rejection letters are what make some writers better. Sometimes it’s because it’s not your time to be published, sometimes it’s just you didn’t find the right publishing house, sometimes it just means you need to get better at it. Sometimes it’s just because the douchebag on the other end didn’t understand your work and didn’t want to take a gamble on it. All the big name writers went through that. And rightfully so.

Self-publishing in the past was considered vanity publishing. It was reserved for those who wrote business books, specialty books of local history, church books and for those who couldn’t get a big publishing house to touch their work but had the $10,000 to fork over to see your book in print. Only people who were SERIOUS in their need to have a book published went through vanity publishing.

Fast forward to the new century. Self-publishing is now considered print-on-demand. Anybody can publish now and only be out a few bucks for each physically printed book. ANYBODY. No longer do you have to consider selling your kidney on the black market to see your name in print. You just have to give up your daily latte. If that. This has been a great advancement because the bottom line is that this has allowed writers to take control of their writing and make the money they rightfully deserve. It cuts out the middle man. And these are good writers who are doing this. There are many, many NYT Bestsellers out there that are going the path of self-publishing. Think of it as a popular musical band who decides to open their own record label instead of using RCA or Geffen. It’s about liberation and being the master of your creative fate.

Me signing book flats.  I'm in a bar, by the way :)

Me signing book flats. I’m in a bar, by the way 🙂

On the down side, there are some really BAD writers out there, which is why self-publishing is still suffering a very bad stigma right now. And not only bad stigma, but downright loathing and aggression from those who are still in the traditional publishing camp. I get it, believe me, I do. I’ve seen some very poorly written self-pubs and with very poorly designed covers (some are so horrible I want to gouge my eyes out). Some will say self-pubbing is ruining the art and craft of writing, and I can agree to a certain extent. On the other hand, self-pubbing is finally giving really great authors a voice and a vehicle to get their work out. There are some really deserving writers out there that had to go the route of self-pubbing simply because a man in a suit in a NY publishing house didn’t “get it”. I commend these writers that took this chance in self-pubbing and they are flourishing in the career they were born to be in.

But the crap is still out there. And that is why I’m so on the fence about it.   But regardless of my fence-sitting ways, when I heard that the room that my friend was in, not only promoting her small press paperback and eBook, as well as our anthology, referred to as an “aspiring author”, I rose up with the same sense of outrage at the affront. Again, I was not registered at the convention, but my book, the anthology I share a ¼ writing credit with, was being promoted. I have been published in 15 university literary journals, small press magazines and e-zines over the last 11 months alone. I have had work accepted by literary projects that have as little as a 1% acceptance rate.

And I was called an “aspiring author.” The fuck I am.

The organizers of the con claim that this was a mistake of one volunteer who “misspoke” and was duly corrected. But it was the insult heard around the literary world. The damage was done. And I’m afraid the convention organizers are going to feel the repercussions over the next year as a result. Many writers are vowing never to go back to the con because of this insult. After all, the con rolled out the red carpet for a certain writer whose name I will not mention, but she made her millions on erotic Twilight fan fiction. While the rest of us are only “aspiring authors”. Money drives this convention. All authors, regardless how they publish, are charged the exact same registration fee. (although self-pubs and small press pub author were charged an extra 20% fee on the books they sold at the book fair, but that’s a whole other different bitch fest). I imagine the con organizers have major damage control to get through over the next year. The next convention will be in Dallas, Tx – my homestate. Still a 5 hour drive at best. I’ve told my friends I’ll be there. I will not pass up an opportunity to hang out with some of the best women on this side of the planet. But if I register for the con is another matter. I might return in my squatter glory. It seems to be working so far. After all, if I’m just an “aspiring author”, why should I pay dues for the country club that rejects me and a certain growing demographic of new and highly successful writers?

Me and Lisa, aka Amanda Jayde

Me and Lisa, aka Amanda Jayde

Oh, and you should see the segregation/civil rights rhetoric that is showing up on some of the blogs by people who weren’t even there. It’s sad and amusing. Mainly sad. But that, too, is another bitch fest for another day.

So, see you in 2015. Maybe. Eh. Who knows? Depends on the cake situation. You know I’ll do just about anything for cake.

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

 

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It’s Alive!

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

Just a quick update as I pack for my trip to New Orleans in the morning for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2014. Our book is now live on Amazon!

Again, I can’t express how thrilled I am to be a part of this project and see how well it does over the next few months. The book came about as a charity project to benefit cemetery restoration in New Orleans.

I encourage readers to check out these talented writers. Different genres are represented here from horror suspense, steampunk, romance, erotica and literary fiction. There’s a little bit for everyone.

Enjoy and I hope to have a few updates here and there from the convention!

 

Cheers and Sláinte!

 

Wendy

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It’s The Final Countdown!

Every time an exciting event is just around the corner, my brain likes to pick out the oddest songs in its internal jukebox to mark the occasion. One week from now I will be traveling to New Orleans, LA to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and to celebrate the occasion, my brain has been on constant loop of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” all morning long. Seriously. ALL. MORNING. LONG.

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

But the excitement is for more than just the convention. Next Tuesday also marks the publication of the anthology I contributed to earlier this year. TIME OUT OF DARKNESS is four stories inspired by The Brompton Cemetery Time Machine, a mausoleum designed and built between 1848 and 1853 in Brompton Cemetery in the Kensington borough of London, England. While the mausoleum was certainly an odd structure in its day, with its imposing size, polished granite and hieroglyphics on all four sides, it’s the only structure in Brompton that doesn’t have its design plans on file. That, along with the fact the structure has a key which no one possesses, has led to its legend over the last 150 years that its designers, Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi and torpedo inventor, Samuel Warner, may perhaps have invented a time machine instead of the mausoleum for which they were commissioned. (Google it for more exciting theories). Commissioned by a mistress to a famous MP and her two unmarried daughters, some theorist believe the builders used them for their money and gullibility, and what we’re left with today is a time machine in plain sight. And thus, we have the inspiration for our stories.

The anthology, co-authored by Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade and yours truly, Wendy C. Williford, combines all of our talents of writing steampunk, romance and psychological thrillers and paranormal adventure in one nice little package. Not only does the anthology display our talents of our genres, it will also benefit cemetery restoration in New Orleans. I’m super excited to be promoting this next week at the convention and sitting in at the Romantic Times Book Fair!

The book will be initially released on Kindle on May 13th, 2014, with paperback editions soon to follow. My contribution entitled “The Bitter Taste of Time,” is about an elderly woman still mourning the death of a son who died at the Somme who encounters a man with a fascinating tale of time travel. As he weaves a tale over tea, she allows herself to believe the impossible and contemplates giving up everything she has for one last moment with the son she so dearly loved. The ending will surprise you. Hell, it surprised me when I decided to take it the direction that I took it in. It’s definitely horror/thriller and a nice scary note to end the book on, especially considering half the stories take place in New Orleans.

More updates will come next week on its release day as well as at the convention. Thanks to everyone who checks it out and helps to spread the word.

Until next week, cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

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The Writer’s Sandbox: The Best Place to Work, 2014.

Grandpa Ian and Grandpa Patrick

Grandpa Ian and Grandpa Patrick

I’ve been seeing a lot of pictures lately of Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart touring around New York City as they end the Broadway tour of NO MAN’S LAND and WAITING FOR GODOT. If you haven’t see them, I dare you to Google them and not come away with a smile. The pictures are a testament to true friendship and a “never too old to have fun” philosophy. The pictures show a campy, comical and simply adorable friendship of two gentlemen as they pal around New York City striking silly poses, holding hands, and being typical goofballs, all while wearing bowler hats. Seeing the memories these man are creating makes me wish I was 8 years old and these good Sirs were my grandpas. I would have my hair in pigtails – naturally Grandpa Ian would be in control of my hair. I would be wearing a bright yellow summer dress with strappy, clacky sandals. We would all three hold hands as we stroll the boardwalk, stopping at every ring toss and ball throw, each grandpa promising to win me the biggest stuffed animal. They would buy me ice cream and cotton candy and argue over the fact if it’s safe for me to ride the pony – Grandpa Patrick approves, Grandpa Ian says no. We would ride the elephants on the carousel, get sick on the Ferris wheel and end the day walking into the sunset with my corndog and balloons. Ah, such a beautiful ending to a perfect day.

Then, alas, reality kicks in (or the alcohol wears off, take your pick) and I’m a little sad knowing it will never happen. Despite that, these two men are hopefully inspiring future generations of friends to remember even in old age, cherish your friends and the moments your make together, take time for fun, don’t take yourselves too seriously, always allow time for a silly pose, hold hands and love your friends! You might not get the chance to do it again. Oh, and always make time for a silly hat.

Fantasy is a writer’s sand box. It’s the safest place we play, come up with ideas, think without criticism, let our minds wander free without a care, knowing that what we create can be both scary as well as silly. No one can come into your sandbox without permission. That’s the best part about it. Try as they might, outsiders try to get in and they show horrible jealousy when they are denied. It’s unfathomable for those who are lucky enough to have writers in their life that a place exists of complete imagination and writers are actually HAPPY there. I remember as a child listening to my English teacher explaining the meaning of introvert and extrovert. While the general definition of extrovert was outgoing, happy, popular and fun to be around, the next explanation of introvert was horrible by comparison. Introverts don’t like others. Introverts are loners. Introverts aren’t comfortable around others. Introverts aren’t popular. Introverts are losers. Okay, so perhaps the teacher never said “loser” but she might as well have because my interpretation and the others’ in the class pretty much fell in line with that characterization. Thereafter, I came away with the notion that I didn’t want to be an introvert because I would never be popular, despite the fact I secretly hated to be around others, would rather have stayed in the back of the class unnoticed, would rather have a book than the most popular in school award, was content scribbling in my notebook, and was happier with my 5 closest friends than going to a party of John Hughes proportions. It was the 80’s afterall.Ian-and-Patrick-11

But then, it followed me into the 90’s and beyond. Whenever I took personality quizzes in college I faked my answers. When I took personality assessments for jobs interviews, I knew how to answer so that I would seem like an extrovert. Many companies want employees who are outgoing, team players, work well with others and possess those can-do attitudes. Afterall, why else do they want to know what fraternities and organizations you joined while in college? What do you mean you didn’t join clubs? Do you not like others? I’ve had to hide the answer many times simply because I wanted a job. Despite wanting the most creative workforce imaginable, being comfortable enough to work completely alone was not really what they sought for in an applicant. I became pretty good at lying for 15 years about my true personality. Truth is, I hate working with others. Sure, I’ve had some great coworkers in the past, but it’s the others who I couldn’t stand. Every office has them: the mixers, the gossipers, the backstabbers, the ass-kissers, the nosey-Rosys, the liars, the micromanagers, and the ones I really hate – the cheerleaders. You know those, the ones who will promote every initiative that’s handed down from management as the next greatest business and management tactic while everyone can see the pure illegality and unethicalness of it. There is nothing worse than working for a company you hate for lack of morals and ethics. That’s where pretending to be an extrovert finally got to me.

So, I quit. I don’t lie about it anymore. I like being in my space. I like not having 20 co-workers to greet every day. I like having my safe space to work in and be as creative as I want to be. I like texting with my friends in other states than making friends in the office. I like spending my lunch time with writing than going to team lunches, and analyzing business plans and talking about how I plan to make a difference in the company. I like knowing that if my personality clashes with another that it’s not going to end in writing an action plan about how to be a better team player. I quit the bullshit. And if an introvert can tell an extrovert the true meaning to happiness, it’s that we don’t have time for the bullshit.

And I’ve never been happier in my life.

 

Down In The Dirt magazine

Down In The Dirt magazine

How does this lead to the bones of my newest update? It doesn’t really other than it ties to the fact that since quitting my job I’ve been steadily publishing short stories. The offices of Wendy C. Williford are happy to announce the release of my 10th publication! This month I have a short story, Atonement featured in Down in The Dirt magazine. Again, I wrote it several years ago but still another one I’m fond of. I’ll be celebrating in the kitchen with cake and wine. Leftover donuts will be in the break room for the remainder of the day. The management would like to remind you to keep the cheers down, as others are still working. If you wish to take an early celebratory lunch, you have my permission, but it’s on your own dime. Before you leave today, be sure to fill out the survey with expertly worded questions that will prove we are the best place to work in the city. After all, your success makes us successful. We appreciate all you do. Be sure to approve your time clocks at the end of the day.

 

So check it out, or purchase a copy of Down In The Dirt magazine via Createspace. Support the underpaid writers in your life. It takes a lot to fill up the sandbox (and the wine cabinet).

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

What else can I say other than cheers and Sláinte on this magical day that marries together all things Irish and all things drinking. Here are a few little facts that you might not know. These are random facts I found on either Facebook or some other obscure place on the interwebs, so forgive that I don’t quote a source. They’re just fun, silly “facts”.

Me in Ireland, 2012.

Me in Ireland, 2012.


• St. Patrick was not Irish.
• There are more Irish-American’s living in the U.S. than there are Irish currently in Ireland.
• St. Patrick died on this day, so we are celebrating the day he was brutally murdered.
• St. Patrick was originally associated with the color blue.
• The odds of finding a four-leaf clover is about 1:10,000.
• The Irish didn’t freely start drinking to celebrate the day until 1970 because it was a day of religious observance, so the pubs were shut down.
• Wendy needs to get back to writing.

So, until then, Sláinte and Erin Go Bragh to all my fellow Irish-Americans out there and have a great day!

Wendy

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Inspiration is The Key

Today I sat in a doctor’s office trying to fight off the newest little bug I’ve caught in the never ending cycle of hot and cold weather that has been known as Winter 2014. While I can certainly feel sympathy for my friends in the north who have had never-ending low record temps, snow, blizzards, more snow and more cold, I’m sure it can be as frustrating as experiencing business closing snow flurries on Monday and by Thursday running the air conditioner again because the heat and humidity inside has raised to a uncomfortable 85 degrees. Along east Texas and the gulf coast region we literally experience all 4 seasons in the same week. It’s a clever joke that been meme’ing all over Facebook and your favorite social media site for the last 8 weeks, but there is a lot of truth behind it. And while in Texas, you can joke that if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change, the harsh reality is that while you’re waiting, the extreme changes in the weather is playing havoc with your immune system. Thus, we set our scene in my doctor’s office this morning and my receiving a 3rd prescription of antibiotics since the beginning of the new year.
Inspiration

While waiting for my doctor to come in so I can announce my clever self-diagnosis (once you have one upper respiratory infection, you pretty much know every time you get one), I notice a new poster on the wall sponsored by the latest/greatest anti-allergy medication diagraming the parts of the head: the nose, the ears, and the throat. One thing that caught my attention was the diagram of the Larynx. One part of the picture described the larynx as the “Inspiration” and the other as “Phonation”. As I sat there examining the picture regarding the “Inspiration” I couldn’t help but wonder why that word was used in relation to the throat. A google search later, I come to the definition in accordance to this example as inspiration being synonymous with inhalation, or the movement of air into the lungs. To breathe is to inspire. What a truly amazing thought. A few deep thoughts later, I come to thinking about perhaps the best result of moving air into the lungs – and subsequently moving it back out – and that is song. Music. Making music with your mouth. Birds have been doing it since the creation. The first human instrument was the mouth, creating a song with nothing but pursing one’s lips together in order to imitate the songbirds. Next came wind instruments, which inspired the need for more instruments until we created the plethora of percussion, brass, and string instruments and everything in between. What a glorious inspiration music is. And what this world has created simply out of the inspiration of music in itself is to feel nothing short of an overwhelming awe-inspiring shudder that shakes me to the core.

Music has always had a strange effect on me. Sometimes a well-placed song at the right moment when my soul really needs a lift, a song can give me the same exhilarating feeling as being in love. It moves me, affects my soul. It inspires me to create and create the best art my soul is capable of. Sometimes it’s nothing but an instrumental, sometimes it’s a complexity of sound and voice that I often find in Queen, The Beatles, Zeppelin or The Who. And it’s just not the rock gods of the 70’s and 80’s who move me. (Although they are the best). Contemporary artists can do the same. Gaga is one, for all her over the top theatrics and showy-showy camp style, she can sing, and she can write great music. And great music, true talent inspires other true talent.

As I’m fighting off this latest illness, it’s sometimes hard to even get out of bed and place myself in front of a computer with enough wit and motivation to be creative. When I have to take to my bed, and in those moments before Nyquil takes over, I send my thoughts into the deep recesses of my mind to commune with my muse and work out the already plotted ideas that are waiting in the vault. I’m sure every writer has that vault: a place in your head that houses the most creative ideas, patiently waiting, gestating until the moment they are either born on paper, sound or medium. It’s the ideas that you don’t have to write down because they are so powerful that you’ll never forget them. They live simply because your brain created them and they don’t have to exist on the outside just yet to be real. They breathe. They inhale. They inspire.

Despite being sick, I am still using this time to create. I’m back to dictating the chapters I wrote during the late fall. Hopefully I can wrap up the editing in the next month and get on to the next chapters. I have roughly 20+ more to finish the book. Sounds huge, and while it is, I see the end a little more clearly. I just need to keep the inspiration coming. I need to keep my ear open to the music that inspires me and creates that euphoric feeling which wills my hand to pick up the pen and put brain cells on paper.

So, what exactly might that be? What is the key of inspiration? As our fairy godmother might say: C Minor, darling. Put it in C Minor.

Sláinte,

Wendy

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My Writing Process Tour

First, I’d like to thank Jocie McKade for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour. You can check out other writer’s blogs and follow the tour on Facebook at #‎mywritingprocess‬ and on Twitter at #mywritingprocess.

I have to admit I was thrilled and nervous when asked to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour. As I get further into this world as a published writer, I still get overwhelmed at how vast the world is and how small I feel in it. I’ve been writing for what feels like 30 years and have only been able to call myself published for the last 8 months. Comparing myself to other writers with multiple books feels awkward and undeserving. Yet, the further I advance in the publishing world, the more wonderful people I’m meeting, all whom remind me we all have to start somewhere. I still allow negative thoughts to take over in regards to simple things: Am I good enough to participate in a blog tour? Do I have something worthy to add at this point in my career? Do I even have a fan base to make a difference? Will anyone even read this? I suppose there may be a few. But it’s for the few that I write this and it’s for the few that I always express my gratitude for following my little world.

It should come as no surprise that I am currently working on a novel. As of yet, I haven’t settled on a title other than The Heiress. I was told by a writing prof that I should avoid one word titles. However, when no other title will do, you have to stick with what feels right. When I finish it, we’ll see if anything pops out to me. The story is about a young woman who gets caught in a baron’s war in England, only to discover she has important ties to Scotland and her lineage is tied to the Scottish War of Independence. That’s it in a nutshell. A nutshell that currently has 130,000 words behind it, 3 years of writing and a nutshell that is only halfway done. Sometimes I feel there will be no end. And then I remind myself that J.K. Rowling claims it took her 5 years to write the first Harry Potter. Perhaps I am on track after all. But I’d rather take my time than rush through with subpar writing. I want to present the world my best work in the end.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? That’s a really good question and I hope to have a logical answer in the future. I’m not really sure what genre it’s going to fit in right now. The heart of it is historical fiction. I’ve spent months and months (and years when you get down to it) pouring over history books – both scholarly and peer reviewed publications – to set my characters in the right years, situations, and political climate to make the plot as hole-free as possible. I’ve studied 13th century horse breeding, clothing, food, drink, marriage customs, castle maps, land configurations, language and church law to ensure the least amount of anachronisms. The story is history. Yet, at the same time, it is a love story. It’s about human connection, human nature and the psychological implications imprisonment and death has on the mind and shapes a person into who they are. Although the story has sex, it’s not sexually driven. I am using all of the craft I learned as a literary fiction writer to write something that can’t be pigeonholed as genre fiction. So, what do you call something like this? I have no idea. I have a feeling it will be too long for romance, and some scenes too sexy for historical. Where it will land, I’m not sure. I’m sure when I start presenting it to publishers, maybe I’ll have a better idea or be lucky to find someone who will guide me in the right direction.

In regards to why I write what I do? I suppose it has to be my love of history. The first book I ever read was the Little House on the Prairie books. History settings have always been simple. They are more focused on human interactions rather than the distractions we face in modern society. Characters are more in tune with each other than their electronic devices. Campfires and candlelit rooms create a more enticing ambiance than a hectic boardroom or a disco. When characters travel together, it’s for days, rather than a short plane or train trip. When they make promises, they are kept. And romance and love is an act to be savored, rather than rushed. Courtly love and chaperoned dating brings more anticipation and appreciation than a quick hookup at the club. I typically don’t even read contemporary. It bores me very quickly. But give me a book that presents me a world I’m not familiar with and I savor every word and interaction. That’s what I want to bring to readers. Something they haven’t seen before and a world that they can call their own because it’s one they don’t live in everyday.

As to how my writing process works? I want to answer with a loud guffaw! It changes every time. When I was in my teens, I wrote by hand because I didn’t have a computer, just a word processor (yes, I’m that old). In my twenties when I came up with an idea, I committed it to memory and wrote strictly on the computer. If I had an idea, I simply thought about it, what I wanted to accomplish with it and then wrote it. I had a 104,000 word fan fiction piece I did that way. In my late twenties when I decided to write a screenplay, I realized I need to be more organized. For the screenplay, I actually created a scene by scene outline, wrote a lot by hand because that’s the only way I could do it while working, then wrote my scenes with a screenwriter program. When I got into short story writing, I spent a couple days brainstorming the idea, made some notes and typically wrote it on a computer with very little handwriting. That process changed again when I started working on the novel. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: the novel is a beast. After 2 months of initial research I wrote an outline that was 98 pages long. In other words, it was 36,000 words. It was extremely detailed. Every scene, every chapter, a lot of dialogue and every plot twist, plot hole and transition was ironed out in painstaking detail. Some think that’s crazy, but that’s how my mind worked it at the time. Now all I have to do is write out my paragraphs, rework the dialogue and fill in on what I wanted the chapter to do. I add my craft to fill in what is needed. It’s still a long process, as I’m 3 years into it and only half way done. I have maybe an hour to write a day. Somedays I get a few pages, some days several. I am often asked by other writers about how to get started. I honestly don’t know what to say. I know what works for me. When I mention a 98 page outline, a shocked, blank expression usually follows. So, I tone it down and simply suggest a notebook to get your thoughts out. My second piece of advice: write every day. Whether it’s a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter, do it every day. It’s the habit that you have to build. If you have the habit, the story will get written. I’m reminded of an interview of Jack White by Conan O’Brien regarding how does Jack write so many songs. His answer was simply: create every day. I took it to heart and printed up a little sign and stuck it to my computer. CREATE EVERY DAY. Some days will be great, some days will be shitty. But you have to do it to know the difference. If you have the patience, an end will come. Expect to take a while. See it through to the end. Every writer will say it’s hard. If the only compliant you have is that it’s too hard to do it, you’re not meant to be a writer.

I hope someone out there finds what I write is interesting and brings to them a little more knowledge about the writing process. It’s never easy, by a long shot. Writing is solitary and lonely. My friends know this. I have missed social gatherings and dates because I have to get something written. My hands and fingers hurt at the end of a particularly productive day of writing. My back and shoulders hurt because I forget proper posture when I’m sitting at my computer. My eyes hurt from staring at one word on my computer screen, pondering for 20 minutes if that’s the right word to make the sentence say what I’m intending. When I walk away from the computer at night, I feel pins and needles in my legs and feet because I’ve been sitting down for hours on end. It’s not easy. But nothing you have a true passion for ever is.


To wrap this up, I want to send another thanks to Jocie McKade for inviting me again. Until next time, cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

Up next:
Ray Dean was born and raised in Hawaii. Working in live theater led her to the delights of living history and from there it was a slippery slope to creating her own worlds. Find her blog at www.raydean.net.

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New Year, New You (or, Is this thing on?)

It has been a hell of a year, and we’re only 34 days into it.

I tell people, ad nauseam, that my Falls are pretty busy and sometimes my writing is sacrificed here and there because of the different commitments I have.  It’s been that way for years.  So, how do I handle my already busy fall schedule that barely leaves me room to write my name, much less extra chapters on the already bigger than Ivanhoe manuscript I mapped out 3 years ago??  That’s right!  I get married and start a new job, all on the same day.   As if the signs of my masochistic nature weren’t apparent enough, let’s add more items on the Fall “to-do” list. NewPlainsReview

I am a glutton for punishment, in more ways than one.  I am a writer, so the fact that I’m also a procrastinator should not even be in question.  It’s a usual charming characteristic of most writers and true artists.  It’s a burden to be blessed with the imagination to craft either words, music, song or art, only to have your muse abandon you all together and block your creative juices at the most inopportune time.  There is no word for it; it just is.  And there’s no remedy for it.  It’s one of those things that you have to push through, by either writing yourself goals, notes or making commitments to yourself.  Having a network of other friends or artists  helps (it helps if they’re both) who support you (because although they say it to your face, not all truly support you, i.e. haters) and are willing to hold you accountable to your end goal: completed story, completed manuscript, completed [art].

Sometimes procrastination shows up in the unlikeliest skin.  What I discovered is when I have a lot on my larger than usual plate and already plagued with the burden of procrastination, I volunteer to take on more projects. More notably, I was asked to write a short story for an upcoming anthology benefiting cemetery restoration in New Orleans.  I jumped at the chance because not only was it an opportunity to get another writing credit and get my name out there again, but the anthology will be represented at ComiCon this year.  (insert Squee here!!!) Secondly, I will also appear in a book side by side with one of my dearest friends, Lisa (both artist and friend who truly supports me), who has always been there with a shoulder to cry on, a hot British guy to drool over, or a word or two of encouragement when I feel that ugly procrastination demon rear its ugly head.  And despite given a great opportunity to write alongside a friend, a guarantted publication and representation, I still procrastinated on the story.  For a 13K word story, it took me about 10 weeks to complete.  And I’m still not there yet.  Upcoming is still editing the fellow writers and re-editing my own.  However…… don’t for a minute get me wrong.  I would never complain.  This opportunity was a blessing and I am happy to have it.  Not only am I a published writer, but I became a writer with a deadline.  I love it!  It’s stressful in a sense, but I love it!

So, without further ado, here’s a recap of the last 4 months!

ArtnottouchThe fall brought about 4 unexpected appearances in both literary journals and anthologies.  First, and one that I’m most excited about, is the publication of “The One About The Pig and The Silk Purse” in The New Plains Review.  The reason I am thrilled about this one is because it’s one of the first stories I submitted when I took a creative writing class in college.  Although I had always been a writer, I didn’t know my university offered creative writing as a minor, much less a major.  After my professor read and graded the story, he asked to see me immediately to talk about changing my major.  I was pleasantly surprised and thunderstruck as well.  It was the first time I gave myself over to thoroughly entertaining the idea of writing in a professional sense.  Granted, it’s years later and I’m still trying to break through, but I would have never gotten where I am today if I didn’t take that class and allow myself to believe (with a newfound sense of conviction) that I am talented and that talent can (and should) be recognized.

 

BareMinimumSecondly, I saw the reprint of “Encore” in two anthologies: Bare Minimum and Art Is Not Meant To Be Touched.  Although it’s a reprint of a story first published in the summer 2013, I am thrilled at getting more exposure and potentially a bigger readership.  It might just be one story at a time, it’s a well written and well plotted story I am very proud of.

And lastly, a new literary journal, Livid Squid, picked up the story which I have considered for the last 3 years unpublishable.  “Games Best Played Alone” is about a schizophrenic who thinks he’s secretly Superman.  I say unpublishable because every mag/journal I’ve sent it to has either claimed they can get it past legal or they mistake it for fan fiction.  The fact that they mistake it for fan fiction makes me wonder if they even bothered to read it.  (I’ve written fan fiction in the past.  I know what fan fiction is.  And this was not it.)  Getting it past legal, I can understand that sentiment.  The schizophrenic in the story asks his shrink to call him “Clark”, and in return he refers to his shrink as “Bruce”. I can see the issues.  But I will always maintain it’s not a story about Superman.  It’s about a lonely man, suffering a mental disorder and off his medication.  It’s the first story I wrote in 2nd person narrative and the story in which I realized I had a talent for.  I’d like to thank Livid Squid for having faith in the story and picking it up (even if they can’t seem to get my name right)

LividSquid

As far as the novel goes, I will say I had a successful Wine & Write in October.  I completed 100 handwritten pages, which came out to about 22,000 words.  And wouldn’t you know it, just as I finished that small feat, procrastination reared its ugly head, and despite starting the cemetery anthology story, I haven’t come back and gotten it into my computer yet. Thus I have my next goal.  Spring is on it’s way, and with it, the birth of new chapters!

In the meantime, April will bring two more publications my way and I look forward to getting back to submitting my short stories again.  I still have about 5 more I’d like to have published over the next 4 months.  Afterward I plan on seeking out publishing my own anthology of the short stories.  It may or may not go, but at least I’m going to try it.  I’ve proven to myself time and time again in my short experience in the publishing world that I have no fear over a rejection letter any more.  It’s literally like water off a duck’s back now.

So until the next update, cheers and let’s keep the art flowing!

Sláinte!

Wendy C. Williford

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