Posts Tagged With: Short Stories

To Be or Not To Be (or I Have No Shame in Ripping Off Shakespeare To Prove My Point)

Validation.  That’s the topic of my sermon today.

Around the beginning of the year I joined a self-publishing group with quite a collection of writers who are at various stages of their writing careers. Some have been published for 30+ years, some are on their first title. I’m really enjoying the good advice and information I’m getting through this group and it has been giving me a lot to think about as I make my journey through writing and that final question I’ll ask after I type that concluding “THE END” on my stories: “What do I do now?”

The answer comes with more questions than one might have had 20 years ago. Hell, more questions than one might have had 4 years ago. Self-publishing is finally coming out of the closet in a way. It’s no longer a dark and dirty word it used to be. In fact, many of the writers I lurk around (I don’t really have a lot of experience to share on that loop right now) seem to have the opinion that if they could do it all over again, they would have gotten into self-publishing a lot sooner in their careers. But unfortunately, the world simply didn’t have the resources and technology for writers back then that it does today. eBook and Print on Demand (POD) has opened the world to the written word that can barely even be measured anymore. Anyone can be a writer these days. Anyone can have a book for sale at Amazon. But in the end, what really resonated with me this week was a fellow writer who stated that she was ashamed to admit, but she still needed the validation of a publishing company to publish her book. It got me to thinking about what exactly validation is and why we still seek out this so called validation from others.

JulieGarwoodLetter

The letter Julie Garwood sent me when I was 16.

As many who follow my blog know, I started writing stories as a child, and finished my first 49K word novel by the time I was 17. I was destined to be a published writer and I knew that one day I would get there. In fact, when I was 16 I wrote a letter to my favorite author at the time, Julie Garwood, in which I told her that I hope to see my own books by hers at our local Waldenbooks someday (Waldenbooks has since gone out of business. Told you, this was the early nineties.) Surprisingly enough, Ms. Garwood wrote me back, stating, “Good luck! I hope to see your name on the bookshelves at Waldenbooks too.” I was ecstatic, and from that good luck wish, I saw clearly my life goal. That was the benchmark I set for myself as “validation”. To have my book on a bookstore bookshelf so not only Julie Garwood would see it, but my family, friends, people I went to school with, co-workers, etc, and so they would know without a doubt I was a “real writer”. And real writers have a big name publishing company publish their books.

After high school, nothing much happened with the manuscript I wrote, and it eventually made its way to dust collector as I started college (and eventually dropped out of college). I still wrote, but at this time I was writing fan fiction. Say what you will about fanfic, and I’ll most likely agree. But fanfiction provided something I never had before. Instant gratification and FEEDBACK. Not to mention, I produced some significant volume of words. One fanfic I wrote was 104k words. That’s nothing to turn one’s nose up at, but it still didn’t mean I was a “real writer”. I wasn’t yet validated. I still needed to share with the world my own characters and plots, and show the world my own shelf at the bookstore, which was now at Barnes & Noble, where I worked during that time.

By the age of 28 I went back to college, because that’s the only real “validation” most of society wants to see (but also because I wanted to). I had a great experience as a Creative Writing student and produced story after story. Validation abounded. I had professors praising my work and not laugh too hard when I mentioned I wanted to write genre specific novels. (Sometimes not the best news you want to give your hard and heavy Literary Fiction profs.) I had reached a certain level of validation, but it wasn’t the big one. I still wasn’t on a bookshelf, still not signed to a NY publisher. Still had nothing to show friends, family and…Julie Garwood.

Since graduation, I’ve gone on to publish all my short stories between various print mags, online mags, literary journals, university journals, anthologies and collections. I was perfectly well validated on a lot of personal levels, but leave it to family to deflate my ego like at super bowl football.

When I told my mom I was finally being published in a magazine, she asked with all seriousness, “Like Ladies Home Journal?” No, mom, not that. “Can I go to a store and by this magazine?” No, mom, but you can buy it online. The info didn’t compute. So, no surprise after my 16th publication and a couple of weeks from returning from last year’s RT conference where I was promoting an anthology, that I was introduced by my mom to distant relatives as “trying to be a writer”. Any validation I had, real or otherwise, felt more like a sudden sting. I was in a book, and it wasn’t the first one, but when a couple of relatives asked about what bookstores were carrying it, I had to say it’s available online. There’s an unmistakable look that comes across people’s faces when they realize that your version of successful doesn’t match their version of successful. They really want to be happy for you, but they can’t because THEY have to make an extra effort to understand what YOUR dreams and goals are.

JulieGarwoodCollection

Yes, kids, this is what books USED to look like.

So, here I am, apparently not meeting my family’s standards and still no closer to fulfilling my promise I made to Julie Garwood when I was a 16 year old. I needed to have a book on a bookshelf and the only way to do that is to get a publishing contract. After all, that’s what the last 4 years of my writing life has been about. I’m writing a monster onus in the hopes that a big publisher from New York recognizes me as the love child of Julie Garwood and George RR Martin and sign me to the biggest publishing contract on the planet with an HBO miniseries option.

And then I had an epiphany.

I spent many years turning my nose up at self-published books. Mainly because I had seen a few when they first came out and they were atrocious. I always held more pride in my craft and art than that. I was never going to go that route, because I thought I was better than that. But over the last year my mindset has dramatically changed. It’s hard to say exactly what the turning point was. I think a little bit of it came when I watched a fanfiction writer steal another writer’s work and make millions off it. All that validation I thought I needed, all those whispers in my head that I wasn’t a “real writer” unless a big time publisher published me vanished when I realized that I am in a whole different ballgame than I was 25 years ago. I want to be a writer, I want to be an author. I hope that doing so means I can pay some bills in order to have more time to write. But I don’t want to write based on what a publishing company or editor’s Magic 8 Ball is predicting to be the current trend. I know I’m a good writer. I’m not being cocky. It’s taken me 25 years, a writing degree, dozens of published stories and honest feedback from honest friends to build up the confidence to say that. I’m tired of seeking out validation, because something will ALWAYS come along that won’t be good enough for one person on the planet.  I have to change my frame of mind. We ALL have to change our frame of mind and recognize good writing regardless if a NY publisher (who’s probably roped a writer into a contract that has stripped him/her of their creative rights) has published them or not. Musicians self-produce all the time. Kevin Smith got into Cannes with a black and white film financed with a credit card. Why are writers made to feel worse if they don’t have a publishing contract? And is there really a difference anyway?

Oh yeah, writers who self-publish or even go with an independent publisher can’t get their books in Barnes & Noble and/or the you-name-it brick and mortar bookstores in the world. Many writers who have proven track records and monstrous sales who have gone the route of self-publishing for the creative freedom and extra income it provides can’t get their book on the shelves. And knowing such, I see I’m going to keep Ms. Garwood waiting for a while.

In the end, I want creative control over my work. I want my vision to be mine alone. If I fail, at least I know I failed with a story I wrote, not what an editor thinks my story should be based on their bottom line. I never, EVER want to give up the rights to my stories. Some 15 years ago I read Prince’s autobiography. His advice to the world is never give up your publishing rights. (Remember his SLAVE and TAFKAP period?) It always stuck with me. Never say we didn’t learn a thing or two from the little purple wonder.

Self-publishing is a scary thought. And I admit I’m still weighing my options. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been before and have no regrets going forward with it. I’m no longer seeking validation. I’m just going to write and go where the journey leads me and remember to have fun while I’m doing it.

Sláinte

Wendy

p.s. Don’t mistake my thoughts about publishing house editors as to say books don’t need editing. THEY ALL NEED EDITING. But just be sure you find an editor who works with you and your vision, not against your vision. Make sure that after your editor has given notes, your writing hasn’t morphed into their ideal book verses your ideal book. Remember, write the book YOU want to read. Don’t compromise your vision and art for anything less.

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Scotch Eggs and Outlander’s version of the Full Scottish Breakfast

Scotch Eggs!  #scotcheggs!

Scotch Eggs! #scotcheggs!

About once or twice a year, I get a real hankering for something called a Scotch Egg. Essentially, it’s a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried until done. The Scotch Egg first appeared on the cuisine scene in the early 1700s and over the centuries has evolved into a picnic food. I first discovered this delicacy at the Texas Renaissance Festival several years ago and it’s always on my Sunday morning, post drunken night of revelry, need something in my tummy before I start drinking again faire agenda. For all intents and purposes, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen in a tasty little time bomb, and ties you over until you’re ready for your mid-afternoon turkey leg or bread bowl. They are THE BOMB. And I encourage everyone to try it at least once in their lifetime.

So, what got me to thinking about Scotch Eggs this morning? A couple of things, actually. Earlier this week, some meme was circulating around Facebook about a bacon stuffed scotch egg that looked to have potential. But at the end of the day, what really drew me to make them for my husband and myself this morning was last night’s episode of Outlander.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I won’t give too many spoilers, but I think it’s safe to say that Jamie Fraser has officially changed the meaning of Full Scottish Breakfast. And definitely don’t interrupt him while he’s having his breakfast. Does anyone need any more innuendo than this? I have this feeling that many a woman around the globe needed a cigarette after the first 5 minutes of the episode, and with good reason. It was HOT! I suddenly want to fill up the page with innuendo, but I’ll refrain because it’s possible I’ll break the internet if I try. But watch it. Or watch it 15 times like I have so far.

Speaking of all things naughty, the erotica is coming along quite well. I’m about 2.5 chapters from completing my first official draft and then off to my beta readers. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I’ve never written pure erotica before, and especially one this dark. The goal of this has developed into a group project with a couple of friends for creating a new erotica series for ePublication. I know what you’re thinking: the world is full of countless erotica ePubs. And truly, you’re right to wonder why mine will be any different. It’s still too early to say if it is. But I like to think I’m doing something a little bit better and I have the writing skills to pull it off. Fingers crossed and pricked thumbs, we shall see in a few months when I release the first one.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Brazil. I’ve noticed over the last couple of months that outside of the United States, I have the highest number of page views coming from Brazil. So thanks Brazil for reading me/following me and I would love to see some comments. I’m always curious who I’m reaching, why I’m reaching them and why they’re coming back. I like to think this blog is more than a random thought diary. I’m really interested in those who are humbling me with their attention! So please leave me a little note. I’ve met some of my best friends over the internet and we are never too old to make new friends.

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for Scotch Eggs. I always get asked to share it when I cook them and post the pics on Facebook anyway. Have a great week, enjoy the Scotch Eggs and enjoy a Full Scottish Breakfast every chance you get!

Sláinte,

 

Wendy

 

Scotch Eggs

I use a wok to cook my scotch eggs in because I believe in multiculturalism

I use a wok to cook my scotch eggs in because I believe in multiculturalism

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk country-style or herbed sausage
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 hard-boiled small/medium eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 raw large egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying the eggs

Preparation

In a large bowl combine well the sausage, the sage, the thyme, and the cayenne, divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, and flatten each portion into a thin round. Enclose each hard-boiled egg completely in 1 of the sausage rounds, patting the sausage into place. Mix the breadcrumbs and flour in separate bowl. Dip the sausage-coated eggs the raw egg, letting the excess drip off, and roll them gently in the bread crumbs, coating them well. In a deep fryer heat 2 1/2 inches of the oil to 350°F. and in it fry the Scotch eggs. This can usually takes about 15 minutes, but cut open one scotch egg to ensure the sausage has cooked all the way. Transfer them to paper towels to drain with a slotted spoon when they are done.

 

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Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From Schoolhouse Rock!

It’s not the most original title, but I’m going for it. The important issue here is that I’m back! After what is a good six month hiatus, the muse has reclaimed me and I can officially say it’s time to get my ass in gear and get some writing done.

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This past week the History Channel brought us a nice little gem of a mini-series masterpiece called Sons of Liberty. I call it a masterpiece because although it doesn’t really have a whole lot of what one might call historical accuracy (it’s about as historically accurate* as Braveheart and the show was sponsored by Samuel Adams beers, which has really nothing in common with the patriot other than his name and an old tradition that he brewed some beer when he wasn’t pissing off King George), but it did, nonetheless, provide plenty of eye candy in colonial garb for 3 nights of my existence this week. As my friend Lisa pointed out, she would have paid more attention to American History if they had told her the founding fathers were hot.  And boy, she wasn’t lying. After the final fade to black, I texted her and effectively coined the phrase “FFILF”. And joyously enough, The History Channel has been playing the show in several back-to-back repeats this week, to which I say God Bless America. As a student of history, I’ve never been much for the Revolutionary War. Hell, I’m an anglophile through and through. And most of the time if a kilt isn’t involved it doesn’t hold my attention very well. (We’ll get to my wedding later.) But I have to admit that Sons of Liberty piqued my interest in a way that I hadn’t felt since I first sat down in front of the TV on Saturday mornings in the late 70s and sang along with my favorite Schoolhouse Rock! tunes. Now I’ve spent the last two days entertaining a new novel idea about the revolutionary war and daughters of liberty. Granted, the idea will stay locked in the vault for a while, sadly. The current novel is still my primary focus, but my muse has been having fun in the days of yore lately, (point of note, did you know that Ben Franklin coined the phrase, “Bat shit crazy”. That’s just one of many history lessons Sons of Liberty taught me. But enough about that, back to the hot guys in colonial waistcoats and trousers.). Suffice it to say, I’m glad the muse is back. I miss her terribly when she’s gone and I hope it’s a good long while before I scare her off again.

*I take it back, they actually got the phrase “The Redcoats are coming” right instead of the wrongly attributed, “The British are coming”. However, some historians will argue the first phrase is incorrect as well.

 

School_House_Rock!But in regards to Schoolhouse Rock!, you have to give proper credit where credit is due. As much as I sometimes wish I was alive in the 50s and 60s during the glorious revolution that was the creation of British rock-n-roll (you know, when people knew how to put together good music – another thing I’m grateful to the Brits for), I’m still quite happy that I am in fact a child of the 70s and 80s. I was only about 2 when Schoolhouse Rock! debuted, but thanks to the heavy rotation of the series on ABC, I truly never missed an episode. Two in particular I learned so well which I could even sing as an adult was “Elbow Room” and “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World”. The lyrics were easy to memorize and the accompanying cartoons, while simple, were indeed fun to watch. Perhaps this is where my love of history and grammar started. After all, the songs were catchy and it provided lessons which I took with me when I eventually started school. It’s no wonder the first full novel I ever read was Little House on The Prairie. Schoolhouse Rock! planted a seed that I am blessed to say germinated and rooted. And what a mighty tree has grown since.

weddingpic1So, inaccurate history retelling and Hottie McHotties aside, the last six months have been a bit of a hectic whirlwind, to say the least.   A majority of my time was spent planning my wedding. Although my husband and I got married last year, I didn’t have a chance at the time to actually plan a wedding. Now, I will offer two pieces of advice at this moment to those who ever want to plan a wedding. The first is DON’T. But if you still feel compelled to have a social gathering to commemorate the vows you and your partner wish to exchange, my advice is do it after you are legally married. That way neither of you can run away at the last minute. Because take it from me, there is no such thing as a simple wedding, and regardless of how simple your intentions are at the beginning, someone is going to try to fuck up your harmony. The batshit crazy will come out (thanks Ben Franklin!). At least by being married first you know you are legally stuck with each other when the shit really hits the fan. I’m just saying. Suffice it to say, it was a beautiful ceremony and we convinced 6 of our closest male friends to wear kilts, along with a very pouty ring bearer.

CaffeinePressAlthough much of my writing was put aside for the planning of the wedding, all was not a total loss. I am sad to say, however, this year I didn’t really fulfill my goal during my traditional October Wine & Write. I started strong, I will say that. I started drunk, at least. But as the month went on, I not only found little time to write, but also little time to drink. That may be the biggest tragedy of all. However, on a good note, I have had a couple of new publications which I’m quite pleased with. The  first was the publication of “The Sanctimonious Lament of The Cake and Punch Girl” by Caffeine Press. The second is a reprint of “Atonement” in Scars Publications’ collection book, The Beaten Path. The last six months of 2014 was lean in terms of publications, but at least I had publications and I will always be proud of that. I still have some great opportunities for 2015 with the monster opus which is “The Scottish Novel” (my newly adopted nickname for it and it WILL have a reference to Macbeth, so break a leg if you must.) Also on the horizon, I will take a little time to write some new short stories – some serious, some for fun, some proper and some naughty. It’s time to branch out and shake things up the bit. The muse is restless and I know better than to leave her in a box for too long.

So, I will leave you with this, “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World” while I drift off a bit with my muse to Colonial Boston, Hottie McHotties, and powdered wigs and waistcoats. Hip hip, huzzah!

 

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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Merry Christmas to All!

I have nothing but a short and sweet post this evening.  Merry Christmas to all!  And updates coming soon!

 

Wendy

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But I’m Really Famous in Japan!

I can’t remember if that line was courtesy of a friend or a friend of a friend, whom upon trying to explain why he/she considered themselves successful in their art (I think it was music), they replied, “but I’m really famous in Japan!” And by Japan, they actually meant one of the smaller islands that had a population of less than a 100. It just goes to show that we artists, whether it be visual, musical or written word, will literally take what we can get to validate ourselves in said art world. After all, we create not only out of desire to quench an insatiable need to get these ideas, visions or demons out of our heads, but we secretly want to be told that what we’ve created matters. I firmly believe an artist who says otherwise is lying.

Sometimes the validation comes in big forms of recognition. Sometimes it comes as one person who happened to see something you wrote and just wants to say “good job!” To me the big nods and the small nods are the same. It thrills me when a friend reads something I’ve written and tells me how excited or sad the story made them, or whatever objective I was shooting for with the story. Yet, it secretly thrills me more when a stranger does it. Why? Because I know the stranger isn’t saying something just to be nice. Not that I’m saying my friends are lying to me or trying to cushion the blow. My real friends know better than to give me fluff feedback. They are writers as well, so they know fluff feedback hurts you more than any rejection letter or criticism can. So when a stranger gives you that positive or creative feedback that actually mirrors exactly what your friends are saying, why does it hold more weight? Any Psych 101 student will tell you it’s because we do anticipate our friends to say whatever will make us happy or feel good. But a stranger (especially thanks to the dark cloak of the internet) will be truthful with you. Sometimes with a happy ending, sometimes with monstrous results. Either way, as artists, we seek truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. When another writer can’t handle the truth, they are obviously in the wrong field.  But no matter what, validation keeps us going, and going, and going, no matter what we do.  Whether it’s as a wife, employee, student, child, parent, king or pauper.  We all like to hear that “good job!”

Bottom line, it’s always an excellent feeling when your work is recognized, nevertheless. And even more so, as I discovered yesterday, recognized in a different country. Yes, I can officially add INTERNATIONALLY published author to my resume!

http://sanitariummagazine.com/blog/
Sanitarium Magazine
, a small publication south of London in West Sussex released Issue 14 yesterday (although their front page and blog haven’t caught up to the fact.) This issue is available in both Kindle and printed format. And as if I needed additional validation that I’m getting somewhere with my writing, I officially have a writing credit through Amazon!

To say I’m pleased would be an understatement. Still not getting a stipend from my writing, but I still consider this a big step. So check it out, buy it if you can (only 2 pounds sterling; I’m too lazy to look up the conversion rate on that. It’s probably about 3 bucks). It’s a nice story right in time for Halloween and will get you in the holiday mood. It might not mean I’m exactly famous in Britain (or Japan for that matter), but perhaps I’m getting there.

Cheers and Happy Samhain!

Wendy

 

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To Post or Not To Post (Does it get anymore cliché than that?)

When I decided to become a blogger, I told myself I would use it sparingly. You know, no more than a couple of posts a month.  You see, I’ve been known to overdo it from time to time on Facebook.  I’ve literally been with Facebook since Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker plotted to put it in every college campus within 150 miles of Texas’ big universities.  At the time, it was a novel new fad, one that my archaeology group decided to use to inform others of archaeology group meetings and lab times.  Those were the simple days, when only college students could join, before corporations started hawking their ads and targeting your likes and dislikes, and long before high school kids were able to join, thus making me painfully aware of the spelling and grammatical issues plaguing teenagers today.    I’ve gone through every incarnation known to Facebook, and along with every change, I’ve dreadfully accepted it, knowing each change would dramatically add to my procrastination schedule.  Believe me, it’s full.  But surprisingly enough, never full enough for whatever new app, game, or new and improved whatever flavor of the day.  And stupid me, knowing full well what I’m getting myself in, will post about it, comment, like, unlike, post a pic, post a video, check out the game or block the game, agree or disagree with the political rantings (of which there are MANY the last 2 days), hide certain people for said political rantings, block people who post pics of dead babies and animals, laugh at memes, repost memes, make a few memes, and react in horror at highly inappropriate memes while I secretly laugh inside, then start the cycle anew the next hour.  Yes, I have a slight Facebook addiction.

And because of that, I swore I wouldn’t overpost on my blog.  I tell you all that to tell you this.  I’m making a new post, barely 24 hours after my last post.  Why?  Because I had two stories come out yesterday.  Just when I didn’t think I could get excited enough about my story, “The Grace of None, Save One” being featured at the Wordsmith Journal Magazine, I received an email from Gravel Magazine, the MFA journal of the University of Arkansas Monticello, informing me they would be posting a non-fic piece that day.  I received the acceptance letter last month, but at the time the journal didn’t know when they would post it.  I didn’t think of it as a big deal since I had another story coming out on Oct. 1st.  But come to find out, I had a two-fer yesterday and that was just a glorious feeling!  I’m quite sure I made about 10 posts on Facebook yesterday about the new publications.  And being that I’m running two blogs now (http://octoberwineandwrite.wordpress.com/), everyone on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. are getting double doses of my postings.  I’m not sure if it’s becoming annoying yet.  Believe me, I find nothing more annoying than people who literally post 20 videos in a row on Facebook, or 30 about cats.  I don’t want to be one of those people.  I remember comedian Bernie Mac once discussed the merits in the entertainment business of “always leave them wanting more”.  I really like that philosophy and personally use it.  And as Oscar Wilde so eloquently put it, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”  If I had to accomplish two things at this stage in my journey, it’s to leave you wanting more and to keep the good chatter going for a little while longer.

So check out my newest non-fiction story, “Toward The Light” at Gravel Magazine.  And a big thank you to my friends and all who follow me on this awesome journey.

 

Wendy

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Variety: The Spice of Life

I started off today’s blog entry by spending nearly 10 minutes looking for silly memes about variety being the spice of life.  I have major focus problems at times.  I’m not sure if it’s because I woke up this morning at 6:45am and decided I needed to get a head start on my blogging, my coffee is kicking in, the homemade egg white and avocado sandwich I just ate has my tummy so full that I just want to veg in my computer chair and look at weird things on Google while I digest, or I’m just really that much of a procrastinator.  It’s a flaw. It’s a mystery.  It’s who I am.  Either way, I finally got my word doc open and am hoping to deliver a thoughtful, well written and witty morning blog.  One can hope.

It goes without saying that variety is essential to the life of a writer.  One must always push one’s limits, try new methods, new perspectives, always keep honing one’s craft.  When I was a teenager, I had the idea that once you started writing, you had to stick with the genre you began in.  After all, when I looked at the writers who were popular during my teen years, book reviews and adverts were pretty clear that Stephen King was the master of horror, John Grisham was the master of lawyer suspense drama, Danielle Steel was the master of romance and Judy Blume was the master of children and young adult lit.  They never really changed.  At least, I didn’t perceive them as changing.  And I was destined to be a master.  By the time I was 18, I thought I understood what writers and the publishing world did.  I was wrong.  I had a typical teenage  view of books and the personal repertoire of books I had read and books/authors I wanted to read was minute.  Tiny.  Pequeño.   Yet, as I grew, as I read, as I approached my mid-twenties, I realized how naïve I really was when it came to writers.  By the time I started working at Barnes & Noble, the real world of books exploded on me.  I became familiar with more authors, more genres, fiction vs. non-fiction, biographies, humor, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and literary fiction vs. everything else.  And more shockingly than anything, I began to realize that authors crossed over.  Stephen King actually wrote non-horror.  Julie Garwood started writing contemporary.  Anne Rice wrote about more than vampires?  And she used a different name?  Hold a tick, so did Stephen King? What is this craziness all about?

The Spice Must Flow

The Spice Must Flow

Pigeonholing an author is probably the worst thing one can do and is something I’ve often done.  I don’t do it intentionally, but it happens sometimes.  I don’t think it had anything to do with my favorite author stepping away from their comfort zone, but there were certain styles and genres that I liked and I stuck with them for quite a while.  Fortunately, as a student of creative writing, I had to get out of that comfort zone and read stories I was unfamiliar with, genres I would have never picked up on a random day at Barnes & Noble, writing styles I would have thought of as foreign 10 years ago, and authors I might have ignored because the book cover was plain or didn’t “speak to me”.  I held a lot of strange beliefs when I was younger about writers and what they were meant to do and I realize now it was a bit detrimental to my growth as an author.

I say all this because while in school, I not only stepped out of my reading comfort zone, but also my writing comfort zone.  I experimented with styles.  I experimented with genres.  I shucked the shell of what my fellow students might have thought of as weird, taboo and not popular.  I wrote the typical funny stories, I wrote characters that were young, college types, hip, rebellious, whatever I thought my fellow work shoppers might find good and cause them the least discomfort.  That changed dramatically my last semester when I decided I wanted to push a personal envelope and write a story with an unusual POV (first person plural) and I went further in writing a story about religion.  It came with its due amount of fear.  One being, I hate people who proselytize to me because they perceive my religious beliefs as different from theirs.  Granted, they probably are, but they are surprisingly similar.  I was raised in the American south in a southern Baptist family.  It’s not a far leap to guess what my religious upbringing was like and what beliefs and doctrines I still carry today.  But they are still different and more than anything, personal.  So I don’t proselytize to others.  It’s a courtesy thing.  So writing a religious story made me nervous.  Having others read a religious story made me nervous, because the story isn’t so much based on proselytizing, it’s based on a speculative view of human nature.  Its base was a human story about one of the most famous events in human history.    I really wondered if my fellow student of differing religious upbringings (or lack thereof) could read it objectively and give me good feedback on the form, the craft, the new style of POV I was attempting and not get their panties in a bunch that I dared to write a religion story and present it to a state college classroom.  It was tricky, but I did it.  Not only did everyone give me good feedback, I didn’t have any students chastise me for “forcing” a religious piece on them.  I hate that I live in a world where people are afraid to speak of religion.  I’m fascinated by religion.  It’s history, after all.  And all I can say is if you don’t want to live your life based on religion, at least live your life based on what history has taught us.  It comes back; sometimes with a vengeance.

Forgive the early morning rambling.  I seriously only wanted to post a little blurb about the new story I have published today, “The Grace of None, Save One” featured in the October 2013 edition of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.  I was happy when this one got picked up, wondering for months if it would be unpublishable in typical literary markets. (the amount of rejections was staggering.)  In the end, I submitted it to a religious based magazine and was happy when I was informed it was picked up,  (with another publishing contract.  Publishing contracts always make it feel more official).  I hope everyone enjoys it as a well-crafted and thoughtful story.  As my personal repertoire of readings has grown over the years, so does my list of publications.  None can begrudge me of that.

Wendy

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