Posts Tagged With: Wine

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Sláinte,

 

Wendy

 

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

Grandpa Ian and Grandpa Patrick

Grandpa Ian and Grandpa Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

And I’ve never been happier in my life.

 

Down In The Dirt magazine

Down In The Dirt magazine

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

 

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

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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

Me in Ireland, 2012.

Me in Ireland, 2012.


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

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

Wendy

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My Writing Process Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wendy

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

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