Posted in Personal

Magazine Arrived!

As I said before in a previous post, I’ve finally gotten a story published! IdeaGems Magazine accepted my flash fiction “Ghostly Visit” for their Special Fall issue. I received a free PDF copy but I wanted a hardcopy (of course) so I went to the printing site (the magazine is printed on-demand) and ordered a copy for myself. It said it takes 1-2 days to print and then another 1-2 weeks to send out. Well, it took the 1-2 days to print but it arrived less than a week later!

I got it in the mail today and I was so happy to see my name, face, bio, and story printed in a real magazine. It was a dream-come-true!

When I got over my excitement of seeing my work published and my name under the title, I went on to read the other stories in the magazine. I’ll be honest – some were good, some weren’t. One was just plain confusing. Something about five words and “I love you” and being locked in a dingy hallway. I didn’t get it.

I’ve heard conflicting advice on how to write – treat your audience like they’re smart; treat your audience like they’re dumb. This writer I think treated her audience like they were smart. Obviously I wasn’t smart enough. Either that or she wasn’t. I like to think she wasn’t smart enough to write clearly but that’s kind of mean of me so I’ll go the middle route between being mean and being self-deprecating – her style of writing didn’t match my style of thinking.

Her style of writing was vague and, possibly, creative. My style of thinking tends to be more logical. I’ll usually tell it how it is and not make vague references to what’s going on. I’ll give explanations and descriptions. She did not. So I’m stuck wondering why is this woman locked in a hallway? Who locked her in there? What’s going on? The writer doesn’t say. Others reading it probably thought it was very deep and mysterious.

Others might find it thought-provoking. I found it merely provoking.

Read that sucker over nearly 5 times but made minimal progress in my search for answers. I think I’m too literal and logical for that story.

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Posted in Magazines, Personal

Published!!

Just when I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write about today, I’m hit with BIG news! HUGE news!

I’m published!

IdeaGems Publications has finished their Halloween Special 2013 issue and it is now out to buy! You can either get it from a link on their website or you can go directly to the printing site: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/645900?__r=20783. They print on demand. It takes about 1-2 days to print and then another 1-2 weeks to ship. The issue is on sale right now for $6.70 +tax and there’s a free digital copy for those with an iPad. At least, I think it was only for those with an iPad but I could very well be wrong about that. Considering the file is in PDF format, I’m willing to bet that I’m wrong. Adobe opens PDF files after all.

My flash fiction, “Ghostly Visit,” can be found around page 24 along with two other pieces of flash fiction. I’m so excited! It’s been a lifelong dream to be published and now I am! True, I didn’t get paid for it but that hardly matters.

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!!!

Two thumbs up for IdeaGems’ editor Laurie Notch who put up with my stupidity during this process. Everything in life seemed to be happening at the same time when she was working to get my story into her magazine and then the Shutdown happened and I felt I’d go crazy because my husband has a government job. I’m afraid I gave her the impression that I’m a total ditz (which is only half true really) but she ignored it and was very pleasant and professional to work with. It’s been a wonderful experience (and quite easy on my part considering I didn’t have to create the magazine) and I hope I’ll be able to work with IdeaGems Publication again sometime in the future.

Naturally, everyone should buy a copy. Or two. Yeah, everyone should buy at least two copies. I mean, what if you lost the first or it got damaged? You’d need a backup, wouldn’t you?

Posted in Books and Authors

William Tudor “Theo’s Tricks and Other Greek Yarns”

William Tudor, author of Theo’s Tricks and Other Greek Yarns, spoke at my local library on Thursday, 10/17/13. I had never been to a reading before except when an author came to my class while I was at CSU. He had some good advice but mostly, considering he had only published one book (and it was pretty boring at that), he seemed pretty full of himself. The only good tip I remember from him was “Don’t quit your day job.” Too often people will publish one book, quit their job to write full time, and then end up poor as dirt and unable to pay bills because their work doesn’t take off the way they thought.

Theo’s Tricks is about a girl named Cora and her mother and sister, Demi and Sophia. One day Cora disappears and her mother and sister go in search for her. They’re guided by Uncle Theo who leaves subtle clues to show them they’re on the right track. Along the way they have many adventures and encounter a variety of people.

William Tudor has taken the Greek myth of Persephone’s abduction by Hades and respun it to his liking. Cora is Persephone while Demi is Demeter and Sophia is Hecate. Other gods make an appearance such as DeVille (Cruella anyone?) as Hades and Yellow Pants as Helios. He never said which god Uncle Theo is (despite the question being asked) but I’m laying odds on Hermes.

I asked him how he went about getting his book published – self-publishing. He went through a subsidiary of Amazon.com and had to pay them a little something in order to publish his book. I did not ask how he went about getting his cover designed, though I should have, because it did not pertain to me. It wasn’t until an hour later that I even thought of the question.

I almost asked him why he chose to self-publish but decided against it as my courage had deserted me with that one publishing question. However, upon reflection as I drove home, I’ve come to the conclusion that Theo’s Tricks is probably a form of self expression. He had a particular story/idea that he wanted to convey and he wanted to do it in a specific way. Everything in that book shows the things he likes. I may even dare to say that it shows the things he’s passionate about.

He spent about 15-20 minutes of his 30-minute lecture speaking solely on his love of words and their origins. Most of what he read was read with those words in mind. As soon as he started talking about words that had Greek origins (not all originally from Greece but they could all be traced to Greece as being the country that spread them around), he lit up like my son did the other day when he saw that his reward for doing a good job in school that day was two new Star Wars Clone Wars movies from the library. Pure bliss. In that moment I almost laughed because he reminded me so much of my dad. He’s really curious about etymology as well. Can you spot the Greek word I just used? He turned his reading into a lesson for his audience – make a noise when you hear a Greek word. Of course, he’d pause for every Greek word.

And there were plenty of them.

Too many, I think, for his targeted audience. But did he target an audience at all? I’m not entirely sure because I haven’t read the book. But, from the parts he read to us, it sounded like it would’ve been gear toward Middle Grade kids. Except there were a bunch of large words that he playfully stuck in everywhere. This is one reason why I think he chose to self-publish rather than find an agent. I believe that, in order to put it in a catagory and fit the market, an agent would’ve made him change a lot of what he had so much fun putting in.

What would happen to his self expression then? It would no longer be something fun that showed his interests; it would be trying to sell a book to an audience. Maybe he didn’t care about making money so much as sharing what he thinks is super interesting. It certainly seemed that way at the reading.

All in all, the reading was an enjoyable event.

Is this book a good buy? I don’t know. I haven’t read it yet. The concept was interesting and the imagery he read had merit. I have it on hold at the library and will read it when the others are done with it. Hopefully soon. Or maybe not hopefully soon because I’m currently on an Agatha Christie kick and am scouring the shelves of my library for Christie’s Poirot novels.

There’s one thing I’m not quite certain about and that was his description of his Sophia character. He said she represents Hecate but, from what he read, she seriously sounded like the goddess Sophia. I’ll have to look up info on both goddesses to refresh my memory as they’re not in the main pantheon and they’re not popular or very well-known. Tudor should know his stuff – he said he’s been fascinated with Greek mythology for goodness knows how long – so I have to assume that he has his characteristics straight. The only explanation I can think of is that the two goddesses are very similar in intellect and there must be more to this character than he read that would point her to Hecate.

If you’re interested in buying William Tudor’s book, you can find Theo’s Tricks and Other Greek Yarns at Amazon.com. I have a feeling it’ll be a fun read if only to figure out what Greek myth/god matches what situation/character. Or, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may be able to get your library to order a copy for you. Perhaps other libraries across the nation have it as well. I’m not sure how library systems work with all of that.

Posted in Advice/Helpful Sites, Agents

Tips from Agents

I was reading the Oct 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest this morning to refresh my mind on what to write and what not to write in a query letter. Very informative. I instantly went about rewriting the basic query letter I’m using for my Night’s Treasure manuscript. I think it’s better than it used to be but it won’t be used for quite some time as I have to go through revisions to the manuscript itself before I can show it to another agent.

The article I’ll find most helpful later on when I’m querying agents again is the Meet 28 Agents Looking for New Writers by Chuck Sambuchino (whose helpful advice can also be found at the WD website). He names 28 agents and gives information about each of them, also listing tips from each agent. These I found just as helpful as the Agent’s Wish List article by Kimiko Nakamura which I used to refresh my mind on query letters etc. Here are some agent tips that I found particularly useful:

Agent Tips:

Some of the advice given above seems fairly obvious but sometimes people need a reminder. And sometimes what seems obvious to one person is not obvious to another.

When I first began to seriously write, my husband told me to “write what I know.” He meant write about daily life kind of stuff and make it interesting to others. Real life stuff. But that isn’t usually very interesting to me so every time I sat down to write about it, I’d end up staring at a blank screen with the cursor blinking at me in a relentless fashion. Very boring. As boring as all the real life stuff of which I was familiar. I do believe he was right with advising to write about what I know, but I don’t think it needs to pertain only to real life situations. “Write what you love” is also important else you’ll be doing what I did – sitting at your desk, staring at an empty screen with a cursor blinking at you. Maddening.

So I combined the two bits of advice – Greek mythology. I know about Greek mythology and I love it. It seems obvious to me now and the solution might seem obvious to many others but, at the time, the answer might have been hidden in the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert for all I could make it out.

Hopefully others find these tips as helpful as I did. Happy writing trails!

Posted in Advice/Helpful Sites, Personal, Writing Challenge

New Adult Category

I’m editing my manuscript again. I was going to wait another 2-3 weeks for the last of the agents to respond to my queries by e-mail or by silence but I’ve decided to go ahead and start now. I’m pretty sure the last handful will reject me…with silence no less and I believe I know why.

I’ve known for about 1-2 months now that my beginning needs to be completely rewritten because it’s an info dump. I tried to make it interesting but an interesting info dump is still an info dump. There’s no getting around that it can be written better by insinuating the information throughout the story and resisting the urge to dump it all at once. What I didn’t know was that I may have been misleading agents by telling them in the query that the manuscript is for YA. I thought it was. I wasn’t aware of a new catagory called “New Adult” that covers my story’s age group much better than YA did.

Young Adult – ages 13-17

New Adult – ages 18-29

So when agents read my query and saw YA, they expected one thing but the manuscript gave them something else hence the rejection. The only personalized rejection I received was from the one agent whom I commented to about the specific ages my manuscript was geared toward. She was looking for younger and I said I thought my manuscript could be stretched to fit the older half of her desired age group.

New Adult

So! What do we know about this new catagory other than the fact that I rarely see it mentioned in an agent’s list of what they’re looking for?

  • Burgeoning/Controversial catagory/genre for fiction that lies between Young Adult and Adult
  • Word Count: about 60k-85k
  • Ages 18-29
  • Examples of published works: Cora Carmack’s Losing It, Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster, and Sylvia Day’s Reflected in You
  • Themes/Chief Features (generally): childhood innocence fades with life experience, sexuality, leaving home, careers, life, young protagonists, etc

There’s a blog, NA Alley, that was created back in 2012 that promotes New Adult fiction.

Conclusion:

Reading over the information I’ve found about New Adult fiction, I’m forced to see that I’ve been duping myself this entire time. My manuscript fits into this NA catagory perfectly. No wonder I’ve been getting rejected this whole time. When I’m done editing the info dump into the story, I’ll work on writing a brand new query letter and finding agents for that again.

And the process begins almost anew. Can you hear my half-stifled sigh?

WEEKLY CHALLENGE:

As a writer, I know you must have written something by now. Truth be told, you probably have tons of things you’ve started to write. Maybe you’ve finished them, maybe not. This week, go back and edit something you’ve written. Even if you only manage to edit one page this week, do it. Obviously I’m not talking about poetry unless you write poetry that’s epic in length like Beowolf or something.

Good luck and have fun! This is one challenge I excel at…if you consider sitting staring at my computer while drool drips down my chin excelling…

Posted in Magazines, Personal

IdeaGems Publications

My flash fiction “Ghostly Visit” will be appearing in the October 2013 issue of IdeaGems Magazine. Yay! They can’t pay for published submissions at the moment but they’re a reputable bimonthly magazine. I ran across their magazine in the book “2013 Writer’s Market” by Robert Lee Brewer some weeks back.

I’m not sure what it was about my cover letter that grabbed the editor’s attention but there must’ve been something about it because, when she couldn’t open the attached file for my story, she gave me a second chance and asked me to embed it in an e-mail. I wrote the normal things you’d put in a cv – title, word count, kind of story (short, flash, horror, fantasy, etc), story description, short bio, thanks, and a personalized paragraph that says I know something of the magazine to which I’m sending my story. Cover letters are very boring but at least they’re easier than queries because I was told it’s best to be boring and stick to the basics.

However, I was so amused with my mistake on what was needed that my personalized paragraph was more personal and with more my voice than I had ever done on any professional letter yet. The story behind that can be found in my Submission Guidelines post.

I admitted my mistake in my cv. It’s something I debated about, wondering if it was too casual/not professional but I suppose I made the right choice for this particular editor. She could have tossed my submission into the virtual trash but, as luck would have it, she didn’t.

She then sent me their consent form etc and I proceeded to lower myself in her opinion by acting like an unorganized airhead. At least, that’s what I assume she thinks of me now. So many important things were happening at oncet that I couldn’t get my brain to settle down and think properly. For a few days there I honestly felt like a headless chicken.

But I think she’ll forgive me as I was honest about that too and told her it was my lifelong dream to be published and now that it was really happening I was too excited to think straight.

So, I guess, honesty and a good story are key to getting a story published in a magazine? And really good timing I think. And good luck perhaps.

Posted in Personal, Writing Challenge

Audiobooks

I’m going to keep this short because my eye still hurts from my son’s attack on it last night. He looked at me and then literally jammed his finger into my eyeball. Though it didn’t bleed, it hurt and teared so much I thought for awhile that he had scratched it. But the pain went away and only returned last night when I cried while watching a movie. However, I’ve found that it hurts today as well and I think it has something to do with my eye drying out. I forget to blink when I’m working. Argue as much as you want about it being an involuntary action, but I know people can forget to blink. Just watch people when they concentrate really hard on something. They blink less often. Doctors suggest eye drops to heavy computer users all the time because of their eyes drying out from lack of blinking.

But what does a book lover do when she can’t read for long periods of time due to a scraped eyeball?

Audiobook!

I discovered audiobooks sometime last year. The site I prefer is Audible.com. I can download them directly to my computer and put them on my ipod to listen to when I run. It’s amazing how long you can go when your brain is somewhere else. The one problem is that they’re really expensive. I have a cd player so I can listen to them at home but quite frequently they might have some adult language or content that my son shouldn’t hear so I have to wait till he’s asleep or use headphones. It can be quite annoying as then I’m tied down to when I can listen to the book or where I can go when I am listening to it.

The library is an awesome place to go for free audiobooks. Right now I have technically 3 audiobooks out but as one box contains 3 different books by Jane Austen, I actually have 6. Will I be able to finish them all by the time they’re due book? Probably not. But that’s hardly the point. The library has been a huge friend to me since having to cut back on our spending. And audiobooks have been a lifesaver with my dry eyes. Now that one of them is hurt, I rely even more on my audiobooks to while my free time away.

My chosen book of the moment is Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.” It comes in 8 cds and is read by Michael Page. Does anyone else think it’s odd that a man is reading a book where the main character is female? I was hesitant at first and very much doubted it would work. How could a man’s voice transport me into the life and story of Anne Elliot? His voice would sound very silly and false. I was wrong. Michael Page does an excellent job of reading and assuming different voices for all the characters, female and male. I recommend this unabriged Brilliance Audio version of the book.

Weekly Writing Challenge:

Last March I was doing a March Madness writing challenge at Nephele Tempest’s blog – Writing and Rambling. One task she had us doing during the month was to think of 20-30 writing prompts. A writing prompt is a snippet of an idea or a few interesting words put together that might inspire a story.

I’m not asking you to write prompts of your own this. This time I’m giving you a prompt that my friend H.L. Henrikson gave me.

*A girl’s transformation begins with a simple, white skirt.*

I challenge you to make a story from this prompt. Doesn’t matter how short or how long.