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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Friday, January 4, 2019

What do YOU love?

Alaska is under attack, all the pristine wilderness could be gone in a grab for oil that may or may not exist. And in a time when we are flush with oil. The powers that be in this country and in Alaska want to sell off the last remaining untouched wilderness, causing irreparable damage to the many species who live and breed there. The Department of the interior has sped through the environmental impact reports, and are not allowing biologists to weigh in. But they will weigh in, using whatever means they can. So many groups are speaking out about this. So many people will be affected.

 Sadly, Senator Lisa Murkowski has placed herself on the side of those who wish to drill. Why? Because she sees economic growth--yes, there will be jobs, temporarily. But once it's done those jobs will be gone and along with them the wilderness will be gone as well. Tourism will dry up, ethical hunting will be no more. The last place where animals roam free in this country will be ruined--forever.

Why do I write about this on a writing blog? Because it relates to your work as an author. What do you care about? Do you want to ignore your heart and write to sell books, or do you want to reach deep inside and draw out the things that make you sing? I care about animals and the planet and all the magic that lies in these places that are now under attack. I include these themes in my books. I would rather sell fewer books and reach those who resonate with me. I am lucky to have the means to do this and not be scrabbling for my dollars. I am very grateful for this.

The other point I would like to make is this: If you do not write from your heart your words will not carry. Your books might be read but they will not be remembered. Readers know if the words are hollow--they know if they ring true. What do you love?

Thanks for reading and keep on writing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pole dancing?

       I haven't written a blog in MONTHS! but that doesn't mean I have some awe-inspiring words to impart. I wish I did. I'm about to publish book #21--that's about as exciting as I can get. Burning Night was inspired by a woman I met while out walking in the desert. She was fifty years old, living in a utility van, had dyed blue hair, and was a former stripper. I was immediately intrigued. She was here to participate in a pole dancing competition, something I didn't know existed--but when I googled it I was surprised to find out how popular pole dancing is--and it isn't about stripping anymore. It's about exercise. And after looking at the pictures I definitely know why! Those women are STRONG!

       And so I began writing about a woman who was abused as a child and who took up stripping in order to make ends meet. The story veers off in several directions and there is also a sub-plot--the book this character is writing. I called it Burning Night after a made-up festival on the longest day of the year (think Burning Man) It is psychological, and a woman's desperate search for herself, and a love story, told in the first person. Here's the blurb:

This is the turning point…

When Collie flees an abusive husband she’s also escaping her sordid past. But when her money is stolen, the only way to earn it back in time for her trip to Alaska, is to do the very thing she hoped she left behind. Burning Night festival is only a month away and she simply has to be there.

Exotic dancing at her age seems laughable, but the woman who owns the bar thinks differently. Meanwhile she’s met a much younger man who is undermining all her good intentions.

As the past catches up with the present, terrible memories rise to the surface. Can she untangle the threads of her life before it’s too late, or will her dreams be lost forever in the web closing in around her?

The story takes place in the town of Lovell (really exists) close to  the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, and takes the reader on a journey to Alaska for the longest day of the year--(think aging hippies, lots of marijuana and other drugs, as well as rock music, and debauchery) Mysticism and letting go of the past are all themes that run through the book. I found this PERFECT cover at www.selfpubcovers.com. 
Didn't mean for this to be an advertisement for the book, but it seems to have turned out that way. Sorry! 

Next time I will explore the more lucrative marketing I've been doing--my sales are slowly increasing. 

Thanks for reading and keep on writing!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reviews and critiques

Have you ever had a family member criticize your work? It is discouraging, depressing and in my mind, uncalled for. Unless they are an expert in whatever it is you're doing, they have no right to critique or judge. Why can't they just say it isn't their cup of tea?

If this has happened to you it's sometimes hard to get over it, especially if the person is someone you respect who you hoped respected you. Just remember NOT to ask what they thought of it. My problem was just that--I asked. And when I found that they didn't like it I asked why. Bad idea. Little did I know what this would lead to. First it was the 'I'll have to read again to be able to tell you', to which I replied--"if you didn't like it the first time I don't want you to have to read it again!" But they did anyway. And then we had to go through the entire thing over again a few weeks later, but this time it was even more hurtful because the person detailed what was wrong. Of course I had to defend myself, say how it had gotten an award, how many good reviews--blah blah blah...and going on to explain why I wrote it the way I did. Even now as I sit here I want to defend the book!

If the person is a writer, or an art critic, or an expert in your field, he or she has a right to say whatever they want to say--but art and literature are subjective, and what one person hates another person loves. Judgement is never good. And if it is done in a condescending way--"I was just trying to help you become a better writer" it's even worse. It can break up a perfectly good relationship--because what we do reflects on us. Especially in the art world where we are putting our very souls out for others to view. I will take a stranger's one star review over a family member's critique any day!

Keep on writing and don't let the bastards get you down! (and don't ask if they liked it or not) Everyone can be a critic but not everyone can write and publish a book.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Letting go, a follow up

I've been struggling recently with people who do not think like I do--this isn't a problem---until it is. Trying to figure out motivations, reasons for certain behaviors, and what to do about it all, becomes impossible if you're thinking processes are completely different. For instance, I'm okay if a reader doesn't like my book, but I am not okay if they can't say why. I always know why I like or do not like a book! Same goes for people, but where we get caught is in expectations of closeness. (expectations that everyone will love our writing) We are all so very different. It is a miracle that we get along with anyone! But thank goodness there are those with whom we just click. We may not be at all alike but there is a common thread or an understanding between us that surmounts anything else. Dare I call this love? Maybe. Or if not love then some sort of psychic connection--perhaps a past life?  And the most interesting thing about this is--most of the people this happens with are not family. We've been taught since childhood that family is where it's at--family is who we can always count on--family supports us. But family can hurt us more than anyone else because of these unrealistic expectations. We put up with things we'd never put up with from a friend! Just because we are in the same gene pool doesn't mean we can understand one another, agree with one another, or be close--and yet we try and try and try...until that day when we say to ourselves: JUST LET GO.

Letting go. It is a good thing in so many ways. We give up on trying to change people to suit ourselves, we give up on getting along, we decide that their opinions or behaviors will no longer sway us, make us feel bad or keep us from following our path. In other words we go our own way and let them go theirs. Simple and easy. If only it were! It seems that this process takes a lifetime...

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why giving up might be a good thing

Everywhere you turn you see the words, don't give up, follow your dream, never give in, keep on fighting. What if the truth is the exact opposite? That in giving up you find your peace and discover an entirely different path?
It makes no sense to do what everyone else is doing and get nowhere. They may have success doing this thing or that thing, but if it doesn't work for you why keep beating your head against the wall? because the experts told me it will work, is one answer. Because if I do it long enough or the RIGHT way it's bound to work, is another. Because I don't know what else to do, is a common answer. You don't know what else to do because you haven't looked outside the box. There are many different ways to look at a problem and not all of them require you to follow the herd mentality.

But really, I mean REALLY letting go is very very difficult and requires a TON of courage. You don't know where the path will lead and not only that, you can't even find the place where the path begins! How to start? Where to start? You have to trust those who say they know how to play the game, don't you? You give them money and get into the boat with a whole lot of others. The boat is overcrowded and many of you on board will have to abandon ship to save yourselves. And the ones who remain may or may not make it to shore. The boat has a bad leak and the one in charge doesn't really know how to sail. But how could you have known this before you handed over your cash?

Ah, the freedom of being in your own boat with only yourself to blame if things go awry. You can set sail for that small green island in the distance, the one that keeps calling to you. But wait, you say--that island doesn't spell success--that island is isolated and who knows what lives there? Could be Monsters...

The problem is too many people on the water all heading for the same goal--can you tweak your goal a bit, not have to have the same one as everyone else? Maybe it isn't really the money you're after--maybe it's more about the feeling you get while you are engaged in the process. And we all know that fighting never gets us anywhere. We've seen it over and over.

In giving up you open a door. And behind that door could be something new and wonderful to be discovered. Another way. To never give up is to be stubborn and fixated, like a person who refuses to believe in the rain that hits him in the face. To repeat an old quote from the sixties and the title of a book--"Don't push the river, it flows by itself."

Friday, March 9, 2018

Creative versus critical voice

I’ve been reading Dean Wesley Smith’s article entitled: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=4477) and it’s making me think about creative versus critical voice. What Dean says is that we should always write in creative voice even when editing.  Furthermore, he doesn’t believe in the editing we all think we have to do—draft after draft after draft all in the name of improvement.  I’m puzzling over this because of how many drafts I’ve done on my trilogy and what I’ve accomplished—for one thing I know that I did not stay in creative voice.

My husband says the first draft of The Moonstone was the best. It meandered all over, with lots of description with no hook at the beginning. I changed it because I wanted to have an agent pick it up—and so I had a hook in the first line. It didn’t go over the requisite 65,000 words. The first pages moved rapidly into the plot line. Did an agent pick it up? No. But by then I was on my way to cutting and slashing, taking out descriptive passages that “didn’t further the narrative” and making sure that the plot moved forward at all costs. But sometimes this may not be such a good idea--I have one reader who wanted to know what I'd cut out of the book. For her the meandering parts are the best. 

Dean writes his first draft, corrects for mistakes and typos and so on and then hands it to his reader—of course he’s a professional, having written numerous books. We can’t all do that, especially as debut authors, can we? And what about staying in creative voice? I’m not sure I understand how to do so since my internal editor is  strong and opinionated. Clues need to be noticed when we’ve left creative voice, I suppose—I ran some changes by my husband recently—I took out articles, ‘the’ specifically, since I had two of them in a sentence. When I read the sentence with and without ‘the’, the one with flowed better. Maybe that’s a way to decipher the code for creative or critical—reading aloud…

One thing I can say is, if I feel energy behind what I’m writing then I should keep going. If not, wait until the muse is there again, whispering in my ear.

What do you think about creative versus critical voice? Do you know when you’re in one or the other? How many drafts do you do?

(this is a reprint of an old one, but thought it important enough to post again)

Thanks for reading!
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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Where's my muse??

Hi all--I used to get more readers before I moved my blog over to WIX--and so here I am, attempting to gain back all those readers I've lost due to the move! I hope you're still out there...💖

First of all, what do people want to read about? The marketing mistakes I make or the self-publishing mistakes I've made or my general all around ineptness when it comes to selling books...or...my current inability to write at all?

Okay--muse forsaking me it is. This is the first time I've had writers block. Since I've never had it before I'm not sure that's even the proper name for the malaise I feel every time I sit down at my computer! All I know is I can't muster up any enthusiasm for the several books I've begun, and when I try to think about them and where the story could lead, I get nothing. With one exception that is--the Summer McCloud paranormal mystery I began could go somewhere if I let it...for some reason I wanted to write something a bit more...well...serious. But if that's where my head's at then so be it! Two shelves of books on magic at the local bookstore have disappeared right under the nose of the bookstore owner. Who took them and why? Now that Summer and her hubby, Jerry, have a PI business it will be their job to find out...

Since I'm a pantser I'm as much in the dark about the trajectory of the story as you, the reader of this blog. My imagination usually carries the story forward, the characters taking over and showing me the way. Will that happen this time? It hasn't with the other three books I've begun--is the well just dry and needs replenishing or IS THIS IT? Funny that I recently did an interview and said unequivocally that I would never stop writing--maybe it was that one statement that did it--you know, like saying, I'll never drink another glass of wine, or eat another piece of cake--that sort of thing.  Whatever the reason, I don't like it and wish it would go away!

What do you do in a situation like this? Do you force yourself to write or do you wait until you feel like writing again? Do those of you who write to market experience writer's block? What if you have a deadline?

Would love to hear from you on the subject...thanks for reading!

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