Posts Tagged With: Short Story Writer

Super Darcy Sunday!

Super Bowl Sunday, you say? P-shaw, I say. I’m not a football fan. Hell, I’m barely a sports fan. I can tolerate hockey. Where else are you guaranteed a fight to break out and the crowd stomps together to Queen? But alas, Houston lost its hockey team a few years ago and there’s no other town within decent driving distance in the south to watch a hockey match, thus getting the only tolerable sports fix I’ve managed to accomplish.

PandP101

But I’m not here to talk about sports. While everyone else is going crazy for the Super Bowl, I decided long ago that this sacred Sundays of Sundays would be dedicated to my favorite Jane Austen adaptation. That’s right, the no less than 5 hours long BBC 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Ah, it’s Darcy at his best. And the ONLY Darcy I recognize.

So I’ll leave this here.

Sláinte

Wendy

P.s., enjoy the pond scene as well 🙂

P.p.s., is this movie really already 21 years old?

 

 

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Always.

After my blog yesterday, I really thought 2016 and I had an understanding. Then I wake up this morning and read the news of Alan Rickman’s passing. Again, fucking cancer. Doctors are successfully transplanting penises, but still no cure for cancer. I am just floored right now.alanrickman

So, I’m just going to share two of my favorite roles that Mr. Rickman graced us with during his prosperous, yet cut too quickly, time on earth.

As far as the rest of the year is concerned, “Well, I say we get drunk because I’m all out of ideas.” – The Metatron, Dogma

Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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In A Rut, In The Hut, Inna Nut, Full of Smut

A few months ago I came to realize that I was in a certain type of funk with my writing. Despite planning the wedding and using lame excuses as to why I wasn’t writing everyday like I should, I recognized that on some evenings just sitting down with a notebook to put a few words on paper was becoming the more challenging task. I wasn’t sure why this was. As usual, I was obsessively thinking about my plot, my characters and little points my storyline needed to follow. I could open my eyes and see my characters and their predicaments in everything around me. I could have full length conversations with myself and my characters (and in their respective accents), yet still when I sat down at night with that notebook, I was lucky if I managed two worthwhile sentences. It was becoming a little depressing. I have already officially put 4 years into this novel. At 150,000 words, I would say I’m a good 70% finished, not to mention the long edit I will face after I write that final “The End”. Sometimes it is hard to stay focused, much less motivated on a story you know is a monster from the moment you write the outline, and to stay inspired after it becomes clear early on that the story will not be written within the one-year time frame you originally gave yourself.

writer'sBlockPerhaps the real question is what does one do when one finds oneself in such a rut? Write some dirty smut!

(Am I channeling Dr. Seuss today?)

That’s right! Erotica. Seriously. I kicked around this idea last summer to write something to get myself out of the rut I was in. (The rut has seriously kicked my butt) I’ve always had a healthy respect for erotica. One of my besties is a successful erotica writer, I devoured Anne Rice’s Beauty Chronicles when I was in my 20s and will read any kind of erotica that is well written and doesn’t sound like it’s narrated by a 13 year old. So, why not try my hand at it?

When I first started it last summer, I barely completed the first chapter – a chapter that was about as vanilla as could be. And then, I lost my motivation for that too. I felt like I couldn’t complete it and I had failed at another goal. I recognize that my problem was I tried to write it on the computer. And that was my first mistake. My M.O. with writing over the last several years has been by hand. If you put me in front of a keyboard, I practically become deaf, dumb and blind. I mindlessly stare at the screen and obsess over every word I type. But put a thick journal and a black, medium tip ball point pen in front of me and I’ll write until my hand cramps. I knew that about myself last summer, but instead of focusing on the solution, I thought I’d soldier on and keep at computer writing. Boy, was I wrong.

Flash forward to about three weeks ago. I realized I needed to stop making excuses and get the rut out of my butt. But I was still making excuses not to get started back on the Scottish novel. I still had erotica in the back of my mind. I was reeling with some new story ideas based on the American Revolution and had been brainstorming an idea for an anthology publication this year. I had a lot on my plate and felt I didn’t know where to get started. And finally the answer hit me. Why not do all of them?

2012-10-23_16-22-43_397I’ve been suffering a lament for several years that I can’t start a new story until I get the current one finished – especially a full length story that could take a year of my time. I think that was my first mistake. After all, everyone will tell you to get yourself out of a rut you must try something new. So I did. I got myself a calendar and decided I’ll work on 3 stories simultaneously and pre-designate days on my calendar to work on a specific story. And stick with it! Amazingly enough, this did the trick. I’m working on 3 stories right now: the Scottish novel, the erotica and a short story about a mermaid. I was so pleasantly surprised to see this is working for me. After all, this is kinda how I had to do it in college.  Focusing on one story gives me a certain motivation to get a lot of sentences on paper, knowing that it might be a good three days before I return to that story again. It allows me to put all of my thoughts and day dreaming into that story during the day and understand what I need to write that night. For some, that might be maddening, but for me it was the breakthrough. My first week of doing it that way, I wrote a total of 10,000 words. The second week, I hit the ballpark around 8k (it was St. Paddy’s day last week. I had to catch up on my drinking after all J ).

In a way, I feel I’m back. Granted, I’m only about 3 weeks into this experiment, but I definitely feel positive about it. I’m desperate for a little new material in my repertoire. I’ve just about published every short story I’ve written over the last 8 years and I need to keep the momentum going.   Speaking of which, I actually have one new publication that I somehow forgot about in the wedding bustle. I was featured in the January 2015 edition of the Linden Avenue Literary Journal for The Sanctimonious Lament of the Cake and Punch Girl. I have to give them props for actually getting the title correct. Not to put down Caffeine Presse, but they really wreaked havoc on my OCD. So, enjoy, perhaps again.

In the meantime, keep writing, keep reading and as always, Sláinte!

Wendy

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Get Time Out of Darkness on iTunes today!

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

I’ve been a horrible blogger over the past 6 weeks. Believe me, there’s been good cause, and there is much I want to share with everyone from business ventures, wedding planning, my secret crush on “Weird Al” Yankovic, to a recent lifelong dream fulfilled in the form of a Queen concert.

But alas, that will wait just a few more days. Today I wish to share two bits of news about our anthology, Time Out of Darkness. First, the anthology is now available in printed format. Yes, you can hold it in your hands, and if you’re anything like my mother and can’t figure out the Kindle (I’ve tried sending her a Kindle copy several times with no luck), then you can buy it! Secondly, for the iTunes cult, I mean family, our anthology is available today (July 23rd, 2014) for free! Check out Time Out of Darkness, and as always, we love feedback. Leave a review or a rating. This anthology was, first and foremost, written for charity, so your contributions are already making a difference. But, some writers live on feedback alone. When there is no proof of literary success in the form of a residual check, hearing what our readers think of our work is worth its weight in gold. So please, read it for free today and leave some feedback.

In the meantime, Slan and Sláinte!

Wendy

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Musings From a One-Year Old

Vermillion Literary ProjectI am a year old. At least by WordPress standards. I am now a poet. Or, at least according to my latest publication. I am also insane. But that’s always been a given.

Yesterday I received a WordPress notification that it’s my 1 year anniversary as a blogger. That in itself seems very surreal, since I’ve been at this short story publishing game for about two years already. It was actually in June of 2012 that I sat down and sent out my first short story submission. At that point I decided to keep sending out submissions until I got published. It was a promise to myself that I had failed at before. Numerous times in the past, in fact. After I wrote a manuscript in highschool, I sent out query letters during that summer and pretty much gave up on it after 3 months and a dozen rejections. It’s not that the rejections got to me, but it was the pre-internet age and letters were hand typed, folded and stuck in an envelope with a SASE. It took a lot of effort, and a lot of patience to await those replies. To an 18 year-old during the summer, that’s a lot of work and I didn’t have the patience to keep it up. And these were simple queries explaining that I wrote a book and would so-n-so be interested in reading it. But much has changed in the last 20 years. Now, everything is email or, my personal favorite, Submittable. Not only can you submit an inquiry, but you do so with your completed work. This goes for both short stories and novel manuscripts. I can whip up several query letters in an hour. That made my goal more productive and much easier. Two years ago I decided that every Sunday I would make at least 3 short story submissions to various journals and magazines. Once I got a reject, I would immediately make 3 more submissions. Eventually I had 100 submissions. (today the tally is 221, and that’s where the insanity part comes in.) But my persistence paid off. It took about four months before I got my first acceptance letter, informing me my story would be published in eight months. Yep, eight months. I was freaking excited, of course. But I felt that the wait of eight months was going to drive me crazy. But I waited, and continued submitting. And submitting. And submitting.

One year to the month that I had decided to start publishing my short stories, I had my first publication in the ezine Ascent Aspirations Magazine. As well as two other acceptance letters, about 50 rejections, and about probably about 50 or so still pending. To celebrate my small accomplishment, and at the encouraging advice of one of my best friends, Raydeen, I opened my blog. After all, if there was one thing I learned by sitting through agent and publishing panels is that writers who want to go far have a blog and “web presence”.

So, here I am, one year later, with 15 publications and a book for sale that I co-authored, spreading my author goo all over the internet like Slimer from Ghostbusters. Happy birthday to me!

And as if the year hasn’t been exciting enough as a full-fledged author, I am now able to add poet to my list of creative abilities. Last month I received an acceptance letter from The University of South Dakota’s Vermillion Literary Project accepting a poem I wrote entitled, “Umbrella”. I was literally shocked. You see, I’ve been sending out a few of my poems here and there if I came across a call for submission that looked promising. Sometimes, I sent out the poems just to do something different. Really, I did it for shits-n-giggles. I’m not a poet. And as a writer, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand poetry – not in the sense of how a true poet understands poetry. I started out writing poetry as a depressed pre-Goth era teen after my brother died and I was trying to get the emotions and thoughts of suicide out of my head. It was typical teenage “woe is me, nobody understands me, life is so dark, look at my collection of black clothing, I’m smarter than everyone, look how artsy I am” drivel. And I say that with an extreme amount of affection to my old teenage self. It was poetry that rhymed. And it was poetry sometimes written to the tune of my favorite song at the time. It was as if I was rewriting lyrics to my favorite songs about what I perceived was my shitty life at the time. It wasn’t brilliant, it wasn’t cutting edge; it didn’t make the angels weep. But it did win me the Poet Laureate award of my high school’s graduating class. And it was printed in my high school’s monthly newsletter. So, I supposed that was my first publication.

But despite that, I still didn’t understand poetry. Flash to 10 years later when I was back in college and I had to take a poetry class to fulfill my degree requirement. It was still a mystery, and even more so that, with the exception of sonnets, we read a lot of poems that didn’t rhyme, didn’t have an understandable flow, that, while beautifully written in language I’m still envious of, didn’t make sense in my head as to what made this particular poet a National Poet Laureate over the next. Prose is easy for me. I see patterns in prose, I see methods and craft. It’s a language I understand. Now, while poetry has its own patterns, methods and craft, it’s a language I don’t understand. But I did the assignments, I did the readings, I tried to understand poetry and I made my A’s in class.

Flash to another 10 years later, I submit some poems along with my short stories and here we are – not only has one of my poems been picked up, but picked up by the Vermillion Literary Project, a yearly publication that has a 1% acceptance rating. Maybe I am a poet after all.

Wordcount6-11-2014And after all that, poetry is still not where I want to leave my mark. My calling is prose. It always has been. Exceptionally long prose, if we have to get down to the bottom of it. This is where the insanity comes in again. Yesterday I hit another benchmark with the novel. I’m currently at 150,000 words. And if I’m lucky, I might be 2/3 of the way through. Only if I’m lucky. Chances are I’m barley at the halfway mark. I use the 7-point story structure, so there are more than a few critical pinches and plot turns. As it stands right now, I still haven’t’ reached the novel’s critical climax, but it will happen in the next two chapters. Then after that, most of the mystery surrounding my heroine will be resolved just in time for the final buildup, climax and resolution. I hope I can get that done in the next 100,000 words. Which will put it at what I initially imagined it to be as a 250,000 words. Here’s where the insanity truly comes in. Most publishers only want books between 90,000-120,000 words. So how the hell am I going to sell this when it’s finished? A couple of people have brought up the idea of splitting the book in two, or even three. But I’m not a series type of person. If it can be split, it will be done so at about 175,000 words, leaving the last 75,000 or so to be book two. Not the “Book 1” and “Book 2” dynamic publishers want.  All I can really do at this moment is keep writing, keep building my name and reputation and by the time it’s finished (hopefully in the next 16 months) I can convince a publisher to take a chance on me and my Game of Thrones length “first-time” novel. It’s a gamble, but in the end it’s really about the creation and keeping the story true to itself. I feel it only works as a 1-book story. I pray others do as well.

20140612_135225In the meantime, I go on being me: writer, author, poet, still-to-be novelist. And planter of very slow tomatoes. Yes, this moment of randomness is brought to you by our sponsor, ADD, as I look out my window and wonder why after two months my tomato plants only have a few small buds so far. I was told tomatoes grow in abundance, but one must be patient. I’m patient with writing. Not so much with tomatoes.

Until next time, check out VLP Magazine 2014. Check me out on Goodreads. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who bought our anthology, Time Out of Darkness, you can get it autograhed on Authorgraph. Yes, I’ve had a busy week spreading my slime through the interwebs. Enjoy!

Cheers and Slainte!

Wendy

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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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