Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#11 Financial Realities of Writing

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hee hee, maybe I should let hubby take the reins on this one…

Okay, okay, I know it’s my contest contribution, not his. But he’s the ultra-practical one in our relationship and usually has a lot to say on the subject. I can be pretty practical myself. I’m a couponer. I only have a few pairs of shoes that I’ll wear until they start to fall apart. I made a partial switch to e-books, to save shelf space.

But I’m afraid I’m not so practical with my writing.

I’ve got to let the voices in my head have their say on paper or else I might implode. So, sometimes it means “spending money” to accommodate them. Though I never really thought about what I was doing as spending money, till hubby brought it up.

The chief financial culprits (for me) are taking the kids places so that I can write. The best place for this is the Y. I was already taking them there whenever I have an accidental glutening, because they get supervised play for two hours while I get to curl into a ball and wish for death. But it works as a great writing place too. They have wifi if I ever have to use the internet to look up anything, and black water coffee in the mornings.

But it’s ten miles away. Since I’m not exercising or writhing in pain (or both, if I’ve done the former), hubby considers that a “writing expense.” I consider it an avoidance of spontaneous combustion, but to each is own.

The other expense that I’ve discovered while writing The Stone of Kings is extra research material. Turlough O’Carolan is a character in my book and I didn’t want to misrepresent him. But try as I might, I could not find a library nearby that could even order his biography for me. So yeah, I had to plunk down $35 for that one. Hubby might not see it my way, but it was well worth the investment.

The only other expense I’ve encountered (according to hubby) is time. Now, he likes to chill out as much as the next guy, but hubby has no hobby. Well, no day-to-day hobby, that is. He really likes to travel, so to him time is more or less money. Apparently, I spend too much of it researching and writing.

Such is life.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 8,031 yet again. Unless I have some kind of freak accident, I promise I’ll have time to write today!

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Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#10 Favorite Blogging Buddy Shout-Out

If you’ll be my milkshake buddy, can I be your blogging buddy? Image attributed to Clintus from Surprise, AZ, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Hmm. Okay. I didn’t realize that one could have a blogging buddy. When I think of blogging buddies, I think of Four Foxes One Hound where there are five bloggers for one blog and each person writes a post for a specified topic that week.

I’m over here by my witty bitty self, just trying to come up with something really interesting to say every Monday. Guests handle Wednesdays and my kids usually handle Friday (when they’re not crawling up my legs instead).

I have a lot of writer friends from Astraea Press who blog (Four Foxes One Hound in particular), and I follow several other writer’s blogs. But I’m not sure I have a buddy per se. I’m not really a loner…more of an outsider. I’ll observe you, your group, laugh at your jokes, even tell a few of my own, but I’ll never really have a…connection. The only person I’ve really ever had a connection with (outside of blood family) is my hubby who, well, doesn’t blog.

So, how to write this post?

I guess maybe talk about my all-time favorite blogger? Well, hands down, that’s Kristen Lamb. You don’t even have to be remotely interested in writing to enjoy her blog. Anyone who can make me laugh out loud about her father’s ashes and her mother’s plans for taxidermy is well worth the read.

And if you do want to be a successful author? Well, look no further. Kristen Lamb is the Jillian Michaels of writing coaches. On the rare occasions when she goes on a blogcation or on the weekends when I need a good swift kick in the writing pants, I’ll go back through her archives and look for something inspiring. I’m never disappointed. And it helps to ease the pain of the Kristen Lamb withdrawals. 😉 I would love to say that she would be my buddy, and if she ever offered, it would be more like me hanging on her every humourous word and being too start struck to offer my own.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 8,031. Yeah. While everyone else was a-thoning, I was simply too semi-unexpectedly busy. But starting Monday, schedule’s wiiiide open. 😀

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#9 NaNoWriMo for You in the Past has Meant…

“Wha?”

Yup. That was my reaction last year when I heard that people try to write their book within a month. I was putting the finishing touches on Harp Lessons and settling into a new house last November, so that kind of intense writing, wasn’t in my scope. Besides, I was in the middle of The Stone of Kings. My characters took a vote and it was unanimous:

I wasn’t allowed to abandon them to start something new. Even if it was only for a month.

It took the better part of three years to write the first draft of Harp Lessons (and to my credit, I had my first son somewhere in there), and about another year to decide to submit it anywhere. Not to mention the fact that I write long-hand. I figured I might try NaNoWriMo in a few years or so.

But the next year…

I’ve moved up in color rank in the karate of writing and am ready for the intimidating breaking-boards-with-my-head NaNoWriMo contest. I’m out of excuses. My skills are better, my rambunctious one is in school most of the day, and the little one still naps (more or less). I finished my last manuscript and haven’t yet started the next. And I always have the Y if I need it.

Oh, the wonderful YMCA. If you’re a writer with kids and your Y has child care, I highly recommend it. Two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon to do nothing but write. Hmm, well, I would feel weird using it that much, but I may just do that in November. But I’ll have to make it very clear to the Silver Sneakers crowd, that I’ll be WORKING for the month. (I have a weakness for chatting with senior citizens. 🙂 )

I love the idea that what once seemed a bit of a pipe dream is something I’m ready to tackle!

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 8,031. Still tackling though! 😉

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#8 Thoughts On Writing Contests

Image attributed to mrzeising via Wikimedia Commons.

Other than a couple blogging contests, I haven’t entered a writing contest since high school. Of course, I hadn’t done much creative writing after high school until a few years ago.  Nothing like time-and-energy-draining motherhood to get the creative juices flowing.

I’m not a terribly competetive person. You can thank my dad for that. Even though I had childhood dreams of playing baseball for the Mets (after all, they named their stadium after me 😉 ), I never got to play sports much. He was more willing to pick me up from a theatre rehearsal than driving me around to different games.

But I’ve always found sports “contests” to be easier to understand than writing or other artistic competitions. With sports, there are clear and definitive rules that make for a winner or a loser. There can be rules for artistic competitions, but in the end, isn’t the work chosen as a winner a subjective choice made by the judge?

I’m okay if I don’t win writing contests. It proves to me that I have to work harder at what I do. The challenge is the whole reason I enter in the first place. When I start getting better, then maybe I’ll expect to win or at least “place.” And if I still don’t win, then, well I guess I just didn’t tickle that judge’s fancy.

But that’s the nature of writing.

As an author, you’re not going to get the entire world to enjoy your book. Some people, for whatever reason aren’t going to like it. Maybe you unintentionally dug up a bad childhood memory with your story, and that memory belonged to a contest judge. If all a judge thinks about when reading my piece is how his older bully brother, who had a bed-wetting problem, would stuff his head under the mattress for five minutes and make him breathe in the noxious fumes, well, I could understand if he doesn’t like it.

But I would hope a judge could be more objective. 🙂

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 7279

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#7 Self Publishing Or Publishing Contract?

Image attributed to InfoGibraltar via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the things that I love about Kristen Lamb, is that for as much as she supports a self published writer, she doesn’t knock those who prefer to go the more traditional route.

I think I’ve used up my trust-me tokens on financial investments. “Trust me, spending my last semester at Cambridge, England will make me a better teacher.” Well, that part was actually true until my (then unknown) gluten allergy caused my anxiety and depression to “flare” so badly that I had to resign. But England was a big investment.

And so would it be to self publish.

I hate red tape and “dry thinking.” I’d rather just be creative and write the book. But for the purposes of this post I decided to look into it. It’s probably good for me anyway.

I found this article on Bloomberg about the real cost of self-publishing. And already I’m not liking this. So, let’s pretend that I’ve decided to self publish The Stone of Kings (instead of what I really did, and send it to my publisher.) The first thing the Bloomberg article says that I need is an editor and I’ll go with the $3.50 charge per page. I’m assuming that the pages must be double spaced, since that what I had to do when I submitted it to Astraea Press. Okay, 296 pages at $3.50 per page comes to $1,036.

Can you see that conversation with your hardworking spouse on a single family income? Yeah, I can’t either.

Well, that just made this post easier to write. After editing, I still need cover art, printing, software purchase, and ISBN number. I’m not sure I would do the rest of what is suggested. I’ve got the WANA Way for that 😀

I’m happy with Astraea Press. So long as they like what I’ve got, I don’t have to pay anything. I get full say in the cover art and editing process. I’d rather give them part of the sales later than do all the dry stuff myself first.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 6620

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#6 Things You Wish You Knew (Or Had Known) About Blogging

I’d get a lot more writing done my nose wiggle did the chores. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

#1 I wish I had known that hubby would think that just because I talk about my post, then suddenly blogging is all I did. All. Day.

If I had the chance to work on my blog all day long, I wouldn’t be up until 10 pm Sunday night still trying to figure out what to write for Monday. Because apparently, I’m Samantha Stevens and all I’ve got to do is give my nose a wiggle to get the household chores done with boys underfoot.

#2 I wish I had known that on the day I post something I’d be checking my stats and email more frequently than an old lady pumping quarters into a slot machine.

Seriously! Oh, it’s time to get the kids out of the house to take William to school? Okay, let me just refresh my stats one more time because it’s been 15 seconds. I just got to see if 300 people decided to read my blog since then.

#3 I wish I had known that sometimes the responses I get on a post are as unpredictable as Charlie sleeping at nap time.

I’ll write a post and put my whole heart into it. I’ll even ask friends to critique it for me, because I want to get it “just right.” But the response on the day of the post falls a bit flat. Then, I’ll write-up something that’s just another post. It’s still meaningful to me, but doesn’t hit me like the other did. BOOM! I’ll get three time’s more views and comments than my “little darling.”

#4 I wish I had known that sometimes coming up with a topic to write on is just like writing a scene where you’re not entirely sure what’s going to happen.

Honestly, sometimes I just start writing, and I surprise myself with what comes out. But writing in general is that way. It’s harder to trust when blogging, but so much fun when writing fiction. So now I know, “Just write it!” 😀

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 5039

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#5 How Did You Get Started Writing

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hee hee. I remember being six years old and sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table when I composed the following:

Oh, Miss Dog, please marry me,

For I have not seen a flea.

I beg you on one knee,

Please will you marry me?

Soon after I started a short story called The Blabbacca about an animal made of all sorts of other animal parts. And no, I hadn’t even heard of Frankenstein at that time.

Guess I had a thing for animals.

I later went on to write more short stories and poetry through high school. I was part of a creative writing pilot program at Pinellas County Center for the Arts. But a book? Pfff! How could I ever draw my ideas out for that long?

Then, I started working for Verizon. While it was a great job, it was so dismally dry for me creatively, that my brain finally started screaming, “Write something! Please!”

“Okay! Okay!” So pulled out my trusty journal before my brain got out the big wooden spoon. I was mostly through writing Harp Lessons, when I came up with the idea for The Stone of Kings.

The book ideas multiplied like rabbits after that.

But seriously, that first draft of Harp Lessons (though I was super proud of myself for having written something that long) was so rough, you could have sliced an artery on it. The only writing craft book that I’d read at that point was Steven King’s On Writing. While a great book, my skills needed (and still need) a lot more polishing.

But I got lucky.

Astraea Press took pity a chance with me and helped me tighten my story a little more and in the meantime, they introduced me to wonderful bloggers like Kristen Lamb and voice-of-reason editors like Kay Springsteen. I’ve been reading craft books with as much relish as if they were episodes of Law & Order: SVU.

So yeah, I’m still “getting started.” 😉

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 3,806 Gah!

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#4 Tickety-Type, Scratch, or Erase?

Next time, I'll pick a book with a more inspiring cover on it.
Next time, I’ll pick a book with a more inspiring cover on it.

I’m a nostalgic girl. My parents always teased me that I was born 100 years too late. Before I got married, my grandmother used to complain that I dressed like an old school marm. I made my own wedding dress because I wanted a renaissance style wedding and didn’t have $1000+ to blow.

So um, yeah, I’m a scratcher.

If I could have found the supplies when I had more time on my hands, I might have tried writing with a quill and inkwell. Picture me, scribbling away like Louisa May Alcott…

Well, my two busy little boys popped that bubble. 😉

This issue is why NaNoWriMo terrifies me. I can’t seem to do my initial creation without a pen and paper. Therefore, I’m a significantly slower writer. I’ve participated in writing sprints with fellow authors. At the end, everyone posts their word count; 1432, 1625, 2164, 871 (but that person was interrupted because they had to referee their kids). I have one full hour of uninterrupted quiet time and I usually average (drumroll please) a whopping 600 words.

So yeah, November’s going to be a busy month for me.

To be honest, I get really itchy for pen and paper if I’ve gone too long without writing. When I worked for Verizon, I actually used to yearn to do research papers again like I had in college. I think the atmosphere of creative void is what finally pulled Harp Lessons out of me. But since I obviously couldn’t use my work computer to compose it, I ended up writing most of it by hand during my breaks.

I seem to recall trying to type some of the first draft, but I don’t really remember if I was successful.

There’s something about the fluid movement of the pen on the paper lulling me into the story the way the waves of the ocean lulls a seaman to sea. I become connected to the plot in a way that makes it seem more real than if I stared at a glowing screen.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 3,806

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#3 A Day In The Life of Your Favorite Author (Real Or Imagined)

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Okay, this topic threw me a bit. It’s hard to pick a favorite author. I was tempted to pick Shakespeare, but there’s a topic post on that later this month, so… I’ll go with my favorite author connected with 19th century America. After all, my NaNo book deals heavily on slavery and the Civil War…

Samuel Clemens stood in the engine room and sipped his coffee pensively. He studied the stationary mechanics of the riverboat that he was learning to co-pilot, and marveled about how travel over water had changed in the last hundred years or so. But even modern marvels could not make a boat float when the water was too low. He had little doubt that he would soon see steam powered carriages one day.

He heard a call from outside, “Mark twain!”

The mechanics sprung to life. As much as he would have liked to study them while they worked, he must return to his duties now that the river was at mark twain. No matter. He was just as fascinated by the bridge and eager to learn what he could there. The cry of mark twain always meant that he could continue to persue his dream of piloting a riverboat.

On his way to the bridge, he spied a drifting rowboat. When it got close enough, he saw that there was a little boy inside, laying down with his eyes closed.

“Ahoy there,” Samuel called softly. The boy’s right eye flew open and a vivid look of terror filled his features. His left eye was swollen shut.

Samuel was taken aback by the boy’s horrified expression. He dropped his voice even lower. “Are you alright?”

The boy shut his dark eye tight as if frustrated with himself. Then he opened it and connected his stare with Samuel’s. Finally, without getting up, he looked in the direction of the riverbank.

Samuel scanned the bank trying to understand what the boy silently communicated. At last, he heard shouts, “Jim! Where you at, boy!” This was not the sound of a concerned parent and his helpful neighbors. Well, perhaps the neighbors were helpful of a sort, but they were obviously not concerned for the boy’s safety.

Samuel found the posse of about fifteen men armed with shotguns and axes as if the slave boy in the rowboat were as dangerous as Frankenstien’s monster. He looked at Jim, who again stared at him, this time pleading with his good eye which had filled with tears.

“Ahoy, you,” shouted one of the men in the posse. Samuel looked to the bank and realized that one of the posse addressed him. “You can see in that boat. Is there a runaway in there?”

Samuel looked at the men, some of whom had actually aimed their guns at him, and made his decision. “No, sir. It’s empty.”

“You ain’t seen a runaway floating down a boat at all?”

“No, sir. I’ve been in the engine room for the last few hours. Why would a slave float south anyway? He probably got out somewhere and started heading north. I’d search in that direction if I were you.”

The men muttered to themselves, and without so much as a thank you, they retraced their steps and dissappeared into the nearby wood.

Samuel looked back at Jim, dug around in his pocket and pulled out a few coins. He tossed them into the little boat before it drifted away. The boy’s good eye again filled with tears, but the look in it this time was of gratitude.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 2, 145 (came down with a fever, ugh!)

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#2 How are you inspired to write?

“Oh, look! She just got to the grocery store! I’m gonna hit her with an idea!” Image via Wikimedia Commons.

A cupid-like god sits up in his cloud preening his wings. He looks down and notices that I’ve just turned the water on in my shower…the perfect time to hit this girl with the arrow of inspiration! Then he chuckles knowing that I will spend the next 15-20 minutes frantically trying to keep the idea in my head while I finish my shower, dry off, and dress. Oh, wait! William’s up, gotta make him breakfast before I can write the idea down, otherwise he’ll constantly pester me… Gah!

Okay, mythological god mangling aside, I’m usually hit with ideas, whether for stories or blog posts, at inopportune times. Shower, driving, changing a poopy diaper… all are ripe opportunities for me to get hit with an idea because I can’t stop to grab a pen.

But the actual way I’m inspired? Well, that all depends on what I’m thinking about, listening to, watching, or reading at the time. For something to start a book, I like the Stephen King way to come up with a plot. Ask a “what if” question and explore it. “What would happen if one of Turlough O’Carolan’s guides got stuck in the future and started teaching about who he was?”

What keeps me going is research and chance. Researching for my book fuels the ideas that keep the plot moving. Don’t have an adventure to give to your characters as they journey north? Well, looky there! Wikipedia talks about an undefeated Irish sword of light! That ought to put a kink in anyone’s plan.

These research driven inspirations are exactly why I do the research when I’m not distracted by day-to-day tasks because I’ll get so keyed up by the inspiration, that I’ll probably do the task wrong,… like put marina sauce on a waffle. Maybe one day I’ll write a book about juggling day-to-day with inspiration and how they sometimes blend together in those not-so-pleasing ways.  Maybe I’ll call it Italian Style Waffles. 😉

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 1,971