Monthly Archives: May 2015

Cooking Ingredients for the Mind

stock-002-021

The compelling, music of Kitaro fills my ears, while I sit in an unstable desk chair procured from a former tenant, of another apartment, years ago. My hand-me-down desk and a found, handmade shelf unit act as my work space. These are the ingredients of my office.

Why do I talk about these things? I suppose it’s because I don’t particularly care where something comes from, how little I paid for it, or how strange it looks, so long as it functions in the job I’ve assigned it.

I had an eight-foot counter top. I traded for the desk when we switched apartments. Uniform file boxes, filled with items not in use, stacked to a convenient height and covered with a tablecloth, functions very well as a table. If I’m going to stack them anyway, they might as well serve a purpose.

Right?

I think most of us think along these lines sooner or later. I simply prefer thinking like this all the time. Being a writer only encourages the practice.

stock-003-007How can I say that? Well, examine our daily work.

We create stories. In other words, we’re cooks, disguised as builders. We stake our reputations on our ability to utilize disparate ideas, words, etc. for the purpose of telling stories or relating information. That’s our job in a proverbial nutshell.

Except for verifying information used in said stories and articles, we don’t care where we get our ideas. The same idea could have been used before for something else, dozens of times. I’m not referring to plagiarism here. I’m talking about taking a bit of information or sparked idea gotten from reading a newspaper, magazine, or another book and putting together our own unique scenario using that information.

001-bonus-things-jAn example here is Matthew Bennett’s break-out bestseller for expectant mothers, “The Maternal Journal.” He certainly couldn’t use personal experience for his book, for obvious reasons. He could take information found elsewhere, add opinions and insights from obstetric specialists, as well as experienced mothers, and tie it all together into an easy-to-follow pregnancy guide. Of course, smart marketing helped sell the book, but the idea was built on a personal question and information gathered from elsewhere to answer it.

007-stock-photo-bAbove all else, writing begins with tiny particles of dreams; put together in a blender half-full of words; adding splashes of character-driven action; a nebulous theme that peeks out at the reader at unexpected points in the story; teasingly rambunctious characters who play with the reader’s mind; and pressing the pulse button until all ingredients are smooth and ready for the palate.

The end result depends on the cook, not on the origins of each ingredient. Like the workability of my office—with its quirky desk, computer, headphones, and workspace—the story has arrived on the reading table because of how I use the makings I can find and how I combine them for that purpose.

Writing is hard work in the murky, ever-shifting tides of the publishing industry. There are no clear-cut answers. Many of the deciding factors about who’s published and who’s not stems from an editor’s gut reaction upon reading the manuscript.

stack-of-books-on-white-background-vector-illustration_z1m6_xvdLike all writers, we each have our cookbooks and our kitchen equipment. A good toolbox helps, too. The age/ source of an ingredient or building material isn’t as important as the purpose for which it’s used. Good writing doesn’t depend on how good the computer is, or how fancy the office looks. The expert chef can make use of simple ingredients to make a fantastic dinner.

How do you cook your stories and serve them up? Care to share? Feel free to tell about how you find your ideas, combine your ingredients, or market your wares. I’m always interested in learning another’s techniques.

 

At Home with 2Voices1Song

digital visualization of a chessboard

As many of you know, I have another website, 2Voices1Song, where I collaborate with another poet/writer, Meena Rose.

Today, I posted on my blog there about relaxation, play and problem solving. If you get a chance hop over to 2Voices1Song and give it a gander. You might surprise yourself and find a new way to work on your stumbling blocks to creativity.

Drop in a comment, if you choose, or take a look around. There’s plenty to look at.

See you all again soon. Enjoy the rest of your week and play with a few words when you find the time.

Win-Win Situation

circus_10036010-032114

Happy Monday, all. Hopefully, you’ve had a relaxing and productive weekend.

 

 

Chasing Paper Dreams

Have you chased down your paperwork for the week?  Create a win-win situation. Looking at mine, all the time slots are full. I knew there was adequate writing on my editorial calendar for the month, but somehow, a niggling desire for something more flagged me down and made me stop.

You see, the funny thing is, all the writing on that calendar has a dream attached to it. It doesn’t matter if the writing is for digital or hard copy, it has a history, a plan, and a dream as part of the package.

Happy Girl Making A Wish And Making BubblesYesterday, I was reading an email when a realization hit me. A decision was made before I got to the end of the call for submissions. Excitement always bubbled up and spills over when I  peruse coming deadlines for short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The notice concentrated on competitions for those categories. I found about twenty that had potential.

Some had no cash prize, but they had readers and byline credits. Others had moderate cash attached, readers, and byline credits. The rest had really good cash prizes, readers, credits, and potential for additional contracts in future.

free1And the piece de resistance is that none of these had entry fees. Yep, you saw that right. No Fee.

It’s a win-win situation.

My stash pile has work that can go to several of the contests. My entry needs come down to revision, angle, and submission.  Any competition-specific writing for flash fiction and short non-fiction can come from my story-generating idea list. All of the deadlines work for the current calendar.

As a result, more dreams are created because someone out there wants to see new (to them) writers and new material for their venue. Not just that, but any piece that doesn’t win is available for submission to a magazine or journal. Believe it or not, even Prada has an annual, short fiction competition which is open now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some might wonder what small, seemingly insignificant, contests have to do with real writing. Entering competitions serves several purposes for all writers. It keeps their ideas fresh and their angles sharp. It forces the writer to stretch, sometimes outside their comfort zone, and to develop a more flexible writing style.

Next, it allows the writer to concentrate efforts for a short time on getting a different kind of recognition. You may think that refers to accolades. And the potential is there for that too, but my statement actually refers to personal recognition. Sometimes a writer needs to do something strictly for herself. She needs to know that she has the guts to put her writing up against someone else’s efforts in a controlled environment—that of a judged competition.

Above all, though, the practice of doing contests forces the writer to work to strict guidelines without deviation. Many writers experience a certain leniency in their compliance to guidelines after a while, especially if they’ve been publishing on any level for a few years. Contests force the issue. Knowing that hard work will be thrown out willy-nilly, without being looked at because of  a tiny infraction, keeps a writer sharp.

In the meantime, life goes on as usual.

Yes, other work goals will get done between now and the end of July, which is the final competition deadline in this section. Those projects are already in progress. These contests can be used to fill time that otherwise would be wasted. It’s amazing how much idea/writing work can get done while in a doctor’s waiting room or waiting for the waitress to bring your order.

Speaking of which, I have an appointment. Gotta run. Take a quick look around the cybersphere for some competitions to consider. If you come up dry, check in here. Sign up for the newsletter and have a great time making dreams. You’ll soon find more possibilities than you’ve ever dreamed possible. Good luck.

Have a great week, folks. Keep those words flowing.

At Home on Amazon

Book Cover 02This quick update is to let everyone know that the first of my Short Tales series is up live on Amazon Kindle.

Short Tales of Twisted Wishes carries eight flash fiction stories. Some very short, others hovering at the 1000 word mark. Each of them, whether of Old World fantasy or modern fantasy, holds a wish from one of the characters. And as we all know, sometimes we must be careful what we wish for.

I hope everyone can take a peak to see what’s there. Be sure to let me know your response to the chapbook. All comments are welcome and reviews are much appreciated.

I’ll have another post in a day or so. Have a great week, all. See ya soon.

At Home Update to Launch Date

Book Cover 02

Yep, another week’s flown by. I worked hard getting my chapbook, Short Tales of Twisted Wishes, fully edited, formatted, and uploaded for launch on Kindle Singles.

With everything ready, technical difficulties of the writerly variety curbed the launch. In the end, and after working late last night to try to get them resolved, the only acceptable option was to take a slightly different route and another week. How, you ask? And why?

Length, time, and patience were the culprits. The book was too short in word count. The time needed for vetting the project was too long to do Singles. And my patience level—with self as much as anything—had approached the breaking point; hence, the new direction and an additional week.

One of the things writers learn over time is the flexibility in thought, planning, and execution is crucial to getting things done. And success, too, on whatever level one anticipates. Well, I flexed to loosen those mental muscles of mine. This is my solution.

Another group of flash fiction stories, using the same theme and the original chapbook, will be added. The difference between the two groups is old world vs. modern world. The pairing can work. The only reason the chapbook hadn’t used that formula to begin with was a desire on my part to put each grouping in its own book.

So there you have it, peeps; a longer chapbook for priced slightly higher and a week later than projected. It will go through KDP Select instead of Singles.

Plans are in the works to launch a new chapbook of flash fiction every six to eight weeks in series. Those small volumes will run counter months to the episodes of Wisher’s World, another fantasy story in the works for a while.

Also, now you all have a broader glimpse of some changes being made to my platform and my working life. Speaking of which, I just had a literary short story accepted at an Australian e-zine, Cats With Thumbs. I’ll stop in and post a link to it when it goes live.

U.S.A.My book, How to Slay a Writer’s Dragon, is due for an update in the next couple of weeks, as well. It’s slated to have a new cover, title, and additional text. So, get those cursor’s ready for some serious clicking, folks.

That’s it for today. Stand by for other announcements in future. Have a terrific week and keep the words flowing.