Saturday, October 1, 2016

NOLA Storycon

Guess what I'm doing this weekend!

I'm meeting and greeting some very talented authors at NOLA Storycon.  ( NOLA is the acronym for New Orleans, Louisiana, in case you're not familiar with it.

A friend who is an avid romance reader was going and asked me to tag along. I don't normally read romance, but I do indulge in the occasional paranormal romance. So here I am, and so far I've met and gotten signed books from: Sophie Jordan, Lara Adrian, Jenna Black, Ilona Andrews, Jeaniene Frost, Chloe Neill, and the great Charlaine Harris who writes the Sookie Stackhouse series that became HBO's show True Blood. How cool is that. Finding lots and lots of inspiration here. Tomorrow's the last day. Although I can't wait to get home to my husband and son in Houston, I have really enjoyed being a total fan girl on this bookish nerdy adventure.

Me and author Charlaine Harris at NOLA Storycon.
I'm not one for crowds and chaos, but I put my anxiety aside this weekend to create these wonderful memories and get all the cool swag items they gave out. Who knows. Maybe some day, I'll be on the other side of that table, signing my books, greeting readers, and giving out swag.


Yep, I'm a dreamer, but luckily I'm also a go-getter. So I'm off to scribe some fictional thoughts while I have down time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A byline I'm so proud of

And it's not mine. It's my son's. My university kid is now a published writer (‘Did He Really Say That?’ The Inversion of Language on College Campuses). Talk about a proud mom moment!

I've been coaching him on the ins and outs of getting an article published, and it's such a wonderful feeling to see, not only his work published, but how thrilled he is about this accomplishment. He's already contemplating his next piece.

He looks nothing like me, but I guess there's a resemblance within. To think, I was already overflowing with pride that he's an avid reader and book collector. Now he writes! I must mention that he's ghost written for theatre publications before, but this is his first official byline. I warned him it's not always this quick and easy, so he's been prepped for the inevitable rejection-letter continuum.

Speaking of rejection letters, I received one today from a submission I sent to Tin House 14 months ago. That would be my longest wait time yet. No worries, though. I have a long list of possibilities yet to explore.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rejection means progress

Since my last post, I turned 40, had one job interview, submitted a couple essays, and collected a few rejection letters. Not too bad as far as a month of progress goes.

In the writing world, the word "rejection" isn't always a bad thing. To me, it means that I am making some kind of progress. When the editor of a big-name publication takes a few seconds to send me a note (no matter how vague) to tell me my piece wasn't a good fit for the publication it means I tried. And just as I was taught when I was little, I will try and try again.

Rejection letters often sound like break-up talks. Every time I read one, I swear I hear, "It's not you, it's me. I need some time. Maybe you're better off with someone else who can appreciate all your wonderful qualities. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors."

Lately, I've been focusing on essay writing. I'm still very intent on landing my first fiction byline, but for now, I'm following my writing cravings.

I was looking through my "Fiction stories in the works" folder on my desktop. It contains 105 files. In my Non-fiction folder, I have 47. Can you imagine if I were to finish all of those stories? Imagine the tsunami of work I could flood the industry with. Oh, the thought. It's mighty invigorating.

On that note, I better get back to it.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The byline high

I promised myself that 2016 would be the year of writing. Yes, they all are, but this one is different. No procrastinating, putting off story ideas, no writer's block, no hurdles whatsoever (aside from the unavoidable ones life tends to throw into one's path).

Now, I'll share some good news. Last week, I got an email that made me smile all day. Not just a normal smile like the ones I display while I'm seated at my desk scrolling through social media sites looking at cute animal videos. I mean, smiling while at the grocery store inspecting white onions and green peppers, at random people, while filling my gas tank, while paying bills. (I never smile while paying bills.) What caused such a happy uproar? The one thing, besides money and food, that makes this writer's day—a new byline.

Check it out. My six-word memoir about my first celebrity crush has been included in this new book. The fact that Stephen King's name is in this, too, gives me a super-size thrill. He's my favorite author, and I'm currently in the process of trying to own everything he's ever written. Don't even get me started on the other fab names listed. Talk about an outstanding lineup of famous wordies. I'm just proud to be one of the obscure. I'll stand in their shadows with my cheesy smile any day.

Other Words

Happy to say, I've done well. It's the 13th of the month, and I have 13 submissions out there in editors' boxes, meaning 13 potential bylines. Meaning, I've managed to send out at least one piece per day this month, something I've never done before. I think my record is five days in a row. Essays have been my writing flavor of the month, cranking them out like a baseball pitching machine. I have at least 10 more that I'll finish by the end of this week.

The way I see it, I'll never reach that sparkly dream of being a truly successful writer unless I do the work. Long gone are the days of lying on my couch watching Lifetime Movie Network all day, dreaming of writing stories like that. Earning a byline, to me, is a pinnacle of rewards, the fruit of my tenacious efforts that involves lots of coffee, candy, and frowning. I celebrate just as much when my writer friends tell me they've been published. Hitting close to home is reason enough to shout for joy and schedule a celebration lunch date, especially knowing how tough it is to score in the world of publishing these days.

It's a learn beforehand AND learn-as-you-go process. On and on we go.

Tomorrow I'll take a break from the wordie-life because my "baby" turns 18. Fun and exciting times ahead. And cake! Chocolate cake! But that's a post for another blog.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Memoirist of the Month - SMITH Magazine

February is looking bright thus far. Lots going on this month, but one item is at the top of the list.

I was given the honor of being the Memoirist of the Month (MOTM) on Smith Magazine's Six Word Memoirs (SWM). Any serious writer knows how important it is to build credibility in the writing world. Every success scored means a query letter with more clout. Talk about exciting.

If you're not familiar with SWM, it's definitely worth a look. My first look turned into a year's worth of memoirs (more than 1,500 written and posted, a couple contest wins, a Six included in a book [see previous posts for more on that] and now the MOTM). The site's title is self explanatory. The posts are six words long and describe something personal. I've posted Sixes about work, writing, reading, family, the autism life, marriage, and random everyday things. With each post, there's an opportunity to write a back story that can be very short to lengthy with the option to include an image with each post.

Hope it's not bad luck to tear a fortune cookie fortune.
To maximize this great opportunity, I've made a decision. For each day I am the MOTM, I will write a flash fiction story. Three written so far, so I'm going to try hard to end with a full deck of 29. Ending with 29 finished pieces will make the special month an even more wonderful and memorable experience.

I admire published flash fiction writers for their ability to come up with something so short yet captivating enough to get published. Similarly, I admire novel writers who have the patience to dish out 80,000+ winning words. I fall somewhere in between, I think. I'm an essayist and short story writer for the most part, but I'll finish that personal  memoir one of these days. I have 30,000 words of it written.

I have a job interview tomorrow. Spent the day getting organized for that. Tonight, I have no idea what I'm going to write my flash fiction story about, but hopefully I'll come up with something awesome within the next 4 hours.

Here goes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Writing goals for 2016

First of all, happy new year!

Every Jan. 1st, I wake up feeling energized. New year, new chance to make my mark in the writing world. I realize it's just another day, but the cool thing is that it symbolizes a new 365 days (or rather 366 since this is a leap year) of possibilities.

With each new year, I set "updated" goals for myself. I say updated because they're always the same. Write more. Read more. Submit more. In 2015, I scored two noteworthy writing credits, which still has me overjoyed. Day 2 of 2016, I sent off a new essay to an online publication after answering a call-out for stories. No response from the editor yet, but I'm reveling in the satisfaction of having finished something! I'm notorious for dwelling on a piece for weeks and weeks, which often turns into months and months.

So here are my specific writing goals for 2016:
  • Sunday is my designated writing day.
Of course, I can write on any day, but Sunday will be my no-excuse day. And it's also my must-update-blogs day. So no more of this willy-nilly posting
  • Produce one finished product per week.
To take the pressure off, it can be a piece of flash fiction, a short story, an essay, anything, once it's FINISHED.
  • Submit one piece of writing or more weekly.
I'm applying the same rules as above on this one. Doesn't matter what it is, as long as it's finished and ready to get tossed out into the world of publishing possibilities. This will be good for me because the last several years, I found myself trying to score with the same 2 short stories and neglected to push myself to have more finished work. Maybe that's why Santa didn't visit this year. I was being bad.
  • Finish writing 2 novels. 
I wrote a fiction novel back in 2011-2012, and to date, it's the only one I've finished. I have no shortage of ideas, just a short attention span and minimal amounts of solitude for writing. I've been working (very gradually since 2010!) on an autism mom memoir. Think of all the new data I've accumulated with those extra five years of procrastination. I want to write a sci-fi novel, as well.
  • Read at least 1 book per month 
I've learned time and time again that reading gives my writing endeavors a serious boost. It's a huge source of inspiration. Plus, with each finished read, I have a new writing opportunity in the form of a book review.

I'm such a ravenous reader lately that I am juggling three different books. Do you ever do that?

Five goals is enough to keep me in line this year, methinks! Cheers to more writing and reading! Day 3, and so far so excellent.