Posts Tagged With: Writings

It’s a God-awful Small Affair

Bowie101

The Man Who Fell To Earth in the 20th Century

I’m sure I’m not the only one who woke up Monday morning to the news of David Bowie’s passing. Like many in the world, I didn’t know he was sick, as he had not made many public appearances over the last several years. Or if he did, it barely made a blip on the entertainment radar which is overrun with Kardashian/Miley Cyrus/no talent nonsense. So when the illness and passing of a true gentleman and artist was announced, it collectively blindsided the world, leaving many confused with a sudden hole in their existence many didn’t anticipate being possible. Many headlines read “Planet Earth is Blue,” a line from Bowie’s first hit, Space Oddity. It perfectly summed up how we felt. There’s nothing we can do but mourn his passing and celebrate his life. And we truly have to celebrate it. Bowie knew he was dying, and he chose to go on his own terms, even releasing a new album and music video for his fans. Looking back now, the signs were there and perhaps we knew. The difference is we, as a society, rarely see the signs anymore unless they’re wrapped up in scandal. It truly is a sad reflection of humans these days.

I come to write this blog this morning after taking a self-imposed hiatus, in a manner of speaking. It’s been nearly 7 months since my last blog. To put it mildly, the last 7 months have not been kind. To quote another Brit, Queen Elizabeth II, in her 1992 speech to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession, 2015 “has turned out to be ‘Annus Horribilis’”. And it truly has indeed. I had high hopes for 2015. I started last year with a lot of motivation and inspiration. I started the first few months strong with completing about 30,000 words on the Scottish novel, and then working hard in April with another 22k word short story as I tried my hand at erotica. I had a couple of setbacks on a personal front, with my shitty job and our vehicle not only being broken into and all electronics stolen in April, but then the tailgate was stolen a few months later. It’s those little setbacks that steals the concentration from your art and makes you paranoid about everything. But we recovered and our insurance company came through. Items were replaced. After all, in the end that’s all they are. Just items.

Then June came along and the horribilis continued. I started June with a new story idea. Yes, it’s set in Scotland again. And yes, I have ideas all the time. But what made this one special is that it was finally a contemporary romance idea. Truly a first. I don’t like contemporary. My life has always been about history. I rarely read contemporary. Find me a good, well written history or fantasy and I’m entrenched for days. Outside of the erotica short, every time I come up with a contemporary idea (and there aren’t many), my mind goes into screenplay mode. Which is why I’ve only written one screenplay. To me, I can imagine contemporary on a screen, whereas historicals have such an epic depth that they can only be written in novel format and in no less than 150k words (if I manage to contain it in less than 150k – not so much the case.) So needless to say, I was excited on June 1st when this idea hit me and I sat down to write the outline and set myself a goal of 90k and a 3-4 month timeline. It was going to be a nice break from the slump I had found myself in with the historical writing. I was jazzed and ready to go and my muse was having a field day in her new playground. All was set to be a great summer.

I may have said this before, if you ever want to make God laugh, tell him what your plans are.

My father was first diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. First it was throat cancer, then a few misdiagnoses with lung and bone cancer. Finally it was about a year/year and a half ago that he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Just like all the other cancers he had, he fought and won. I kinda thought it would be the case with this one. So at the early part of June when he called all his kids and told us he wanted to see all of us we kind of had the feeling this wasn’t good. He declared he was going to stop treatment and if he was lucky he had 6 months to live. To our surprise, he called us 3 days later and said the doctor was giving him 2 weeks, if he was lucky.

I’ve never been close with my father. Those close to me know I’ve never hidden that fact. The man who raised me was my step dad and he died of bile duct cancer nearly 15 years ago. I considered losing him the loss of a parent, so when my father tells us he has a matter of days left, it left a numbness I wasn’t quite familiar with. A lot of thoughts went through my mind, not all good. But, I did what any dutiful daughter could do and I was there. I stayed in his hospital room the last 3 days of his life and prayed for him and watch him pass from this world, hoping he will find a good existence in his next one. I’m a reincarnationist, I believe that we are born again in new bodies and this is the life eternal that God promised us. So the only gift I could give him in the end was the hope that he finds a good life wherever he goes next.

I wish I could say this is the only death my family and loved ones experienced this year. Every month after my father, it was someone different. A friend in England passed away unexpectantly, again from cancer, the following month. My father’s cousin, who was a pall bearer at his funeral, died of a heart attack in October. My best friend’s grandfather, the next month, and then, the day after Christmas, my sister-in-law’s mother died in a car accident. There are more deaths, but those are the ones that had the most impact. I’ve begun every month since July praying please, don’t let anyone else die. I know we all have to go sometime, that’s a lesson I learned well when my oldest brother died when I was 15, but I feel there needs to be a break in between. And granted, I know life isn’t fair and wanting something on this level is not within my control. But the muse is feeling this all too keenly and so she’s been in hiding for a while.

20151231_232717

2015 Calendars Burning

I ended the year on a very quiet note. I stayed home, dared not venture out and held a calendar burning ceremony in my back yard. My husband and I sat around our fire pit, toasted the New Year with White Russians, watched the neighbors set off fireworks, and at midnight burned every calendar we owned for 2015. We wanted to lift the curse, if that’s what it was, and start 2016 a little better. Maybe it’s superstition, maybe fanciful thinking, but all I knew is that it couldn’t hurt. Bad mojo be gone and bring on brighter, better days for the new year. Amen.

However, Monday came and I had to think on all that had happened in 2015. As I said before, Bowie’s death was a shock. He was someone I had grown up with and I didn’t know how to process a world which no longer had Bowie. But as soon as I read cancer, I wanted to cry. More news came out, and then the video which he made as a final gift to fans surfaced and I realized I’m not as nearly ready to deal with death by cancer as I thought I had. I turned the video on for 30 seconds, saw Bowie in a hospital bed, obviously sick with the blindfold over his eyes and I started having flashbacks to those 3 days I stayed by my father’s hospital bed watching him die. Bowie has never been subtle and every action he ever made had a reason. I don’t think the video was meant to be a nice, cheery sendoff. And perhaps one day I’ll bring myself to watch it completely to discover more meaning and symbolism, but I can’t for now.

Much like the unexpected death of Robin Williams a year and a half ago, Bowie’s death actually brought the world together to remember everything he was as a human and his truly remarkable and generous spirit. No one can say anything bad about him. Everyone agrees he was the nicest man you could have met, gentleman to the core, always up for a laugh, an artist who was always willing to take a chance. That’s a good legacy. One that many of us would be lucky to leave behind.

I’m not quite sure how to end it today, other than I hope everyone has a good 2016. Work on your creativity every day. It’s the only connection to sanity we have.

Wendy

 

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Scotch Eggs!  #scotcheggs!

Scotch Eggs! #scotcheggs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sláinte,

 

Wendy

 

Scotch Eggs

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

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

Ingredients

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

Preparation

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

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

sonsofliberty_gallery_1-P

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

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s The Final Countdown!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week, cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.