Posts Tagged With: Short story

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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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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Artistic Death at A Funeral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Giant Book Fair

The Giant Book Fair

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

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

All holy hell broke loose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me and Lisa, aka Amanda Jayde

Me and Lisa, aka Amanda Jayde

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

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

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

 

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It’s Alive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cheers and Sláinte!

 

Wendy

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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

Me in Ireland, 2012.

Me in Ireland, 2012.


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

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

Wendy

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Inspiration is The Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sláinte,

Wendy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

LividSquid

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

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

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

Sláinte!

Wendy C. Williford

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A Farewell to Pens ( or Writer’s Block: Ain’t It a Bitch?)

The evil of all evils has returned. The silly of all sillies has befuddle me. The dark passenger of corruption has slipped into my backseat. And nope, I’m not talking about Congress.

I’m suffering a wee bit of writer’s block right now. It hasn’t happened for a couple of years, but it’s gripping me like bad food poisoning in the middle of the night in a house with faulty plumbing. It’s painful and downright stinks.

I was asked last month to write a story for an upcoming anthology benefiting cemeteries in one of America’s spookiest cities, New Orleans, Louisiana. What else can I say about that other than the fact that I felt honored and blessed. I’ve wanted to make my mark on the literary world since I first picked up a crayon, so I know better than to turn down an opportunity such as this: a chance to work with other admired writers, show a bit of diversity with my stories, promote it with my fellow co-authors next spring and really expand my readership as I hit the downward slope of the novel. It’s a big step in the right direction. So, why am I having trouble writing it? Guaranteed publication should be enough of a motivation, but negative thoughts are drowning out the “go me!”s.

I have a great story in mind about a grieving mother tricked by a con-man in a rather infamous cemetery in England. All the elements are there: my setting is in England, I’m writing English characters; I’m writing in 2nd person narrative, I have suspense, drama and mystery. I have a great hook. So what’s the problem?

Granted, I’ve had to take a break from the novel to take on this endeavor. And I’m at a really good place in the novel after having a great month with my October Wine & Write. Like, a really GOOD place with my characters, action, and moving the plot forward. Some writers may say it’s a bad place to stop, but I feel I have a lot to prove with this new short story, so I need to put my entire story telling focus into it. And once it’s over I can get back to the novel, which quite frankly, consumes all my thoughts anyway.

Hell, along with the plotting and writing, I’m even having trouble with coming up with a decent title.

All this whining can be easily categorized as “Writer’s problems”, I’m sure. I want to write something with meaning. I want to write something to impress. Yet, I have fear of letting my fellow co-writers down. This is normal, right?

I know it can be done. It can be done. It CAN be DONE! I’ve been writing solid for the last 2 years. I produced 20 short stories in college, half of which are published or scheduled to be published in the next year. This is only a temporary matter. Right?

Either way, I decided to update my blog today; get my head in the right space for writing and sit down and throw out the excuses. Maybe I just need to open up some whiskey, light a cigar, spear an animal and channel the spirit of Hemingway until I have a first draft. The great thing about summoning the spirit of Hemingway is that you’ll never know what you’ll get in the end. It might be a great story, it might be a shot through the leg, it might be an STD. Let’s hope for the story instead.

Wendy

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It shouldn’t be this hard…..(or, that’s what she said.)

That brief moment of 14-year-old humor was brought to you in reverence to my sisters known as the Slapahos. Why are we called Slapahos? I’ll tell you when you’re older.

It’s officially been 7 months since I stopped working. Back in January I made the scary and difficult decision to quit my job for several different reasons. I know what you’re thinking: why would anyone willingly volunteer to stop getting a paycheck? But in return, I was able to focus on my health, my sanity and my overall happiness. I made a personal oath to myself that I would use my time wisely. I would wake up without fuss each morning, see my fiancé off to his job, tidy the house and spend the next several hours writing and/or working on story submissions until it was time to make dinner. Did that happen?

No.

What my typical routine morphed into was that of waking up an hour or two after my fiancé left for work, stumble around the kitchen to find my tea or coffee, listen to talk radio while I read email and Facebook, do the dishes/laundry if I’m particularly motivated enough, play on Facebook some more, read cold case stories or odd news articles, start working on dinner when Robert gets home, then after dinner, and only then I sit down for my perceived last hour of the day to work on writing. My goal and dream of being a full-time writer producing legitimate literary material did not pan out as it should have. I was not conducting myself as a “serious” writer. Even now as I write this, I got distracted and checked out Facebook. This “serious” writer needs a serious intervention.

This morning I changed up my routine a bit. The fact that I’m writing a blog entry is proof of that. As a writer, I had a great night last night. And the night before as well. For the new novel, I have a habit of writing several chapters over a month-long basis, (that’s handwritten, pen and paper and all), then I spend the next month typing and editing. Some think I’m crazy for that, but it really does help me keep on track with the story and not get too many plot points or details mixed or missed. So, the last two nights I finished edits on one chapter and moved on to the next. Let me stop for a moment and explain something. My chapters are monsters. I am not a light writer. My chapters are rarely less than 4000 words. Some of my best chapters reach up to 9000 words. I think that’s a habit I picked up in college because my prof always cut me off at 4000 words. All of my chapters can pretty much work as short stories. So to say it takes me several days (sometimes weeks) to edit a chapter is not a sign of laziness, but it’s to let you know my chapters are long. They are detailed. They are monsters.

Getting back to my point, the last two nights I got roughly 6000 words edited: well written, well thought out, metaphored, symbolized, alliterated, obliterated, moving-plot-forward type of words. I was ecstatic. Getting a chapter just right and completed sends me into a state of euphoria I simply can’t explain. Other writers and artists understand where I’m coming from on this one. It’s like being in love. And as cliché as it sounds, it’s better than sex. It’s my drug and I have no shame in abusing it.

But the morning after is when I feel the drop. The feeling is gone and I wonder why it doesn’t last. But I know all I need to do is get back to writing to feel it again. (Just as soon as I spend 2 hours fucking around on Facebook.)

I wonder sometimes if I became conditioned over the course of my life to only write at night. Thinking back, in high school I wrote when I got home. As a working adult, I saved my writing for when I got home. As a college student, I broke it up a bit and wrote while at school, but then I was a creative writing student. Back to work, back to writing at night, although I built up a routine to reserve 30 minutes during my lunch break to writing. During some weeks, it was the ONLY time I wrote. After looking at all this, what is it about night writing? Up until recently, writing was defined as my “hobby”. And you don’t do your hobby during the day. Because prior, I spent all my time on improving my mind or winning the bread. I felt like if I was writing during the day, then something more “serious” was getting missed, like my job (that thing I got a paycheck for), house work or my dedication to my family or friends, or looking for work because I would like a paycheck again someday. Something in my life was going to get missed and in the back of my mind I thought I couldn’t let that happen.

Changing my views and thoughts about writing shouldn’t be this hard. I thought it would be a more natural transition. Being a writer is not hard for me. After all, I love it. But finding a writer’s routine is a part of this love affair I’m having difficulty with. What can I do to stop myself from feeling guilty about writing in the morning? Or writing eight hours a day? If I was a “serious” writer, I would stop making excuses. That’s what all multi-published, well paid writers will tell you.

Maybe my blog will help. Maybe I’ll spend the next several hours writing like I really want to. I have a 6000 word chapter to finish editing so I can get back to the handwriting. I won’t ignore the dishes, but I’ll ignore the laundry on the couch….at least for a few hours.

I will edit. I will write. I will breathe and let the euphoria wash over me. It’s my first love, after all, and one I should never take for granted.

 

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