Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Embarrassment by Twitter

Blog Hop!!
The Easily Flushed Blog Hop, hosted by  Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing and Lovin' It, begins on December 6th.  She is hosting the blog hop to celebrate attracting over one-hundred followers on her blog (Yay, Cassie!) and then also will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift-card to a lucky participant of the blog-hop.  Click here to learn the details of how to participate in the hop, or to go ahead and register your blog.  You can also click the picture of the embarrassed polar bear.

One of the participation requirements of this blog hop is to share an embarrassing story of yourself, or of one of your characters.  Initially I had planned to write about the heroine of my novel, Hazel, but I don't think it would translate well out of context, so you will all have to settle for my own story.

This is where it gets hard, though.  You see, embarrassment is a way of life for me.  It is so much a way of life that I have stopped getting upset over the typical, run of the mill embarrassing situations.  I regularly say the wrong thing, trip over my words, or just plain trip, for that matter.  I have learned how to mentally wave it off, make a joke of it, or to take preventative measures by keeping my mouth shut in most social situations.

I have moved my embarrassment into new and different realms.  Twitter, Facebook and even blogging provides a whole new arena in which I have no choice but to open my mouth, into which I unfortunately end up inserting my foot.  I try very hard to think about how what I say might sound to the receiver, but every once in a while a poorly turned phrase slips past my carefully constructed defenses.
A couple of weeks after I started tweeting, I encountered an author by the name of Colin Falconer.  He has written more than thirty books, writes historical fiction, and lives in Australia.  His blog is Looking for Mr. Goodstory, and I recommend checking it out because his posts always make me laugh or make me think.  On Twitter he was one of very few people who followed me early on, and I enjoyed the links he posted about history.  One of those links was to a web article about the Romans

I laughed, I cried... Well, not really, but I did enjoy the article.  I tweeted back to Mr. Falconer that "I especially enjoyed number one."   

Number one is an extremely vulgar, sexual poem that Catullus the XVI wrote in first century Rome. It was only after I hit send that it occurred to me that I had just commented to a man I barely knew that I had "especially" enjoyed a poem with explicit sexual content.  Granted, I certainly didn't enjoy it for the sexual content.  The sexual content is so over the top that it totally cracked me up, which is why I tweeted that I "especially" enjoyed number one.  It made me laugh.  However, Mr. Falconer wouldn't know that from the tweet, and neither would the hundreds of his other followers since I had replied in such a way that everyone could read it.  I felt a little sick, I must admit.  Here I am trying to build a platform, and I start off by looking like a pervert.

I was so embarrassed that I couldn't even talk to anyone about what to do to repair the situation.  I couldn't tell my husband, who is my social filter much of the time, what I had done.  It wasn't that he'd be mad, but he'd be embarrassed for me, which would heap burning coals upon my own embarrassment.

I decided to direct message an apology.  I am happy to say that Mr. Falconer was quite gracious, for which he earned my undying loyalty on Twitter.  Since that incident, I am extremely careful about what I say in my one hundred forty characters.  I also stick to G-rated retweets, no matter how funny I find those with a rating further down the alphabet!

Do you have an embarrassing twitter story you would like to share?  Feel free to do so in the comments section!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Addendum to Aren't We There Yet?

I told you in the post A Celebration of Blogging that I'm a worry-wart.  Here is my worrying in action.  I have to give clarification about the sentence where I said if I don't finish my novel, I'm not a writer.  I don't want anyone to think that I believe you have to write a novel to be a writer.  I don't.  What I meant by that line is that writers finish stories.  It's that simple.  A novel may not be the avenue for everyone to express themselves, and I love writing short-stories.  But I started a novel, and I have embraced Heinlein's rules, and so I have to finish it.  That's all. 

If the barriers to finishing it were real, such as my family had needs of me, or my job suddenly required me to work a zillion hours, then the length of time I have been taking to finish the first draft would be understandable.  However, it has just been good old procrastination that has been stopping me, and so the blog post.  Now, if you haven't read the post yet, get going!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Aren't We There Yet?

HEINLEIN'S RULES FOR WRITING (from his 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction."

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

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I learned these rules by hanging out on the Writer’s Digest forum.  I believe they are the wisest of advice for writers, and I have always done very well following them, up until now.  For some reason, I am having trouble finishing the first draft of my novel.  I am within five-thousand words of typing those magic words “the end.”  Five-thousand words!  It’s not writer’s block.  I totally know what needs to happen.  I just don’t seem to have the desire to write it down.  I am procrastinating, and I don’t know why.

A week or so ago I downloaded the War of Art by Shawn Coyne and Stephen Pressfield onto my Nook.  It’s short, very easy to read, and very wise, as well.  I think I found my answer to my procrastination issue within the electronic pages, in a chapter labeled “Resistance is Most Powerful at the Finish Line.”  If you want to know what Resistance is, I recommend you get the book and read it, but my understanding of Resistance is that it is the thing that holds us back from achieving that which we are called to be.  Mr. Pressfield states “The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.  At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it.  It hits the panic button.  It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.”

Resistance for me says “You can write it tomorrow.  You don’t have to be in any hurry.   Stop being so neurotic about finishing, it probably isn’t good enough anyway.  It’s a first novel, for God’s sake.”  And I slowly lose my momentum, like a car that gets a flat tire and flops to a stop on the side of the road.

I know I have to finish this novel.  I am not a writer if I don’t.  I am just someone who wrote most of a novel.  And there is no remedy, except to “Just Do It.”  Nike really got it right.  No therapy, no conversation, no reading, no inspiration is going to get me going.  I have to just do it.  Grit my teeth, get my butt in my new office chair, log on and do it.

The thing is, I know that once I do, it is all so easy. I can relax, and let my imagination take me by the hand and lead me down the creative pathway to the finish line.  What perplexes me is that I make it so hard on myself to get to that point.  How silly to fight against such a positive experience.  The fight is what makes me think Steven Pressfield is right.  Resistance is only as big as we make it out to be.  Every day we have to take up the fight to be more and to achieve more than the last day.  No excuses, no procrastination, no fear allowed.  Just do it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Unrecognized Positive of Platform Building

I have a confession to make.  I have been platform-building obsessed.  The fact that last night, when I started talking with my husband about this blog post, my four year old asked me if I had any new followers is proof of it.  Both of my children are knowledgeable about Twitter, tweets, and Tweetdeck.  They know the logos by sight.  But my need for a self-help group is not the subject of this blog post, so I'll continue one.

As a beginning writer, I put platform-building off because it seemed a silly idea.  I hadn’t had any success, none of my writing had been published anywhere, and who would I be talking to, anyway?  However, after it became clear I was hooked on writing, I decided to join in and began platform-building.  I started a personal Facebook page, and then a blog several months later.  My last holdout was Twitter, which I started in August.  Over time, and as my platform has grown, I have begun to recognize some positives to platform-building, the biggest two being support and motivation.

When I started writing, I concentrated on short stories.  I learned Heinlein’s Rules early on, and once I had a finished story that seemed to make sense, I started sending them out onto the submission trail of tears.  Having stories in submission, even if they were ultimately rejected, gave me the feeling of being a “real” writer.  I was engaged vicariously with the writing industry, and on occasion editors gave me favorable feedback, even if they ultimately rejected the story. 
Then I began writing my first novel.  I no longer submitted short stories, because I didn’t have any new ones to offer.  Without submitting, I also lost the sense of engagement with the writing industry and/or community.  That’s when my blog became important.

I moved my blog from tumblr to Blogger last November, about the same time that I started my novel.   I felt pretty sad about the whole blog thing because I had no followers, except my husband, one of my best friends from high school, and my cousin, who also writes.  I sincerely appreciated their kindness, but it did feel like pity-following.  At my cousin’s wise counsel, I soldiered on, and eventually got two non-related followers.  Then I was in business.  The knowledge that there were two people out in cyberspace who expected me to deliver my writing to them on a regular basis kept me blogging, even if it seemed useless because I didn’t even have a book to offer them.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I received a rejection from a big-name webzine.  The typical “what the heck am I doing” started running through my mind.  I thought about giving up, but the knowledge that I now had a few more than twenty followers on my blog and a little under a hundred twitter followers held me accountable to my dreams.  How could I just close up shop when all these people were watching?  I didn't want to be a quitter in front of an audience.

No, the numbers aren’t large, but they are my numbers, and quite honestly, I feel pretty convinced that the followers I do have are meaningful.  Yes, on Twitter especially, there are the people I know followed me because they want to sell me (and my friends) their book, but many of the people I have gotten to know through blogging and tweeting are people that I enjoy hearing how their lives are going.  They are people who have similar thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams.  I have found support through platform building that motivates me to continue down the writing road.

Have you recognized any positives from platform building in your life?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Three Magical Quotes Supporting Writing Regularly (whether you feel like it or not)

Over the last year, I have mentioned in my blog posts, on forums and to pretty much anyone who would listen how writing daily has been one of the best bits of advice I received when I first started writing.  While I was researching this post last night, I read a post-repeat from James Scott Bell about the Ten Commandments for Writers (read it here) where he stressed again coming up with weekly word count goals.  Whether it be writing daily for ten minutes or creating weekly word count goals, regular writing is key to improving your writing skills and exercising your imagination muscles.

Quote 1.  "Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it.  Action has magic, grace and power in it."   Johann Wolfgang

By sitting down daily and creating, a door is opened which allows the magic, grace and power of the imagination (or what some call the muse) out for a little exercise.  Each time the door is opened, our muses venture a little further into the creative realm.  Instead of having to wait for Inspiration to smack us upside the head, our muses bring Inspiration to us.  But first we have to act, we have to open the door.
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Quote 2.  "Love and magic have a great deal in common.  They enrich the soul, delight the heart.  And they both take practice."  Unknown

I am a firm believer in practice making things better, if not perfect.  Two of the toughest things I am trying to teach myself in my life are how to love well and fully, and how to write engaging stories that bring magic to my audience.  I don’t think it is possible to ever reach the pinnacle of either pursuit.  The joy is truly in the journey.  In the case of writing, continuing the trip each day allows progression down the road.  With regular practice, we will find success much sooner than if we sit on the couch and wait until we feel called to write.
Quote 3.  "And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it."  Roald Dahl

Have you ever written something, felt it was totally uninspired and dull, and then when you re-read it the next day or the next week, you were able to take the sentences, polish them up, and they turned out to be crucial to your story's next steps?  That happened to me this week.  I was feeling terribly dried up last week when I hand wrote about three pages of my novel in a notebook.  I was totally convinced it was crap, and I was dumb to think I would ever write something other people would want to read. 
At the beginning of the week, I pulled out the pages and grimly started typing them into the computer.  (Because, dammit, I’m going to finish a novel!)  As I typed along, I added some things, took out others, and suddenly I was kind of digging where the story was going.  A cool idea how I might incorporate a dragon arose from the unlikely place of those dried-up, uninspired words.  Charles de Lint says it perfectly.  “That’s the thing with magic.  You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible to you.” 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Celebration of Blogging

This week, a day apart, the Versatile Blogger was bestowed upon me by both Nicole Pyles of The World of My Imagination and Lacey Ferris of Inside My Mind. Thanks so much to both of you, for thinking of me and Motivation for Creation.

Nicole is an amazing blogger, who managed to entice hundreds of followers within four months of starting her blog.  She is definitely teaching me all about the world of blogging.  Plus, she writes her posts with a fun energy that flows through the keyboard onto the blog page!  Lacey has multiple blogs, but the one I enjoy the most is Inside my Mind, which is a friendly representation of her self.

The rules for receiving the Versatile Blogger is that you thank the person who gave it to you (check!), you give seven facts about yourself and then pass the award on to fifteen other bloggers, if you can.  Coming up with seven facts has been a challenge, but I'll share what I came up with.
  • I love to laugh and hate to cry.  This affects what I read and watch on the screen, more than what I write.  I avoid chick flicks, the Lifetime channel, and any of those books like Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks.  Give me a thriller or mystery and add in a little humor and I'm set to go.
  • I am a drummer.  When I was younger, my sister (who played bass) and I formed the rhythm section of our high school jazz band, and a couple of rock bands.  I haven't played for a long time and I never was all that great, but I miss playing music a lot.
  • Two of my favorite places in the world (besides Wyoming when the wind isn't blowing) is New York City and Cusco, Peru.  They may seem incredibly disparate, but both have that magical quality I wrote about in my post about Star Wars.  I haven't gotten to Europe, yet, so my list may grow.  I've always wanted to go to the British Isles.
  • I am a worry-wart.  Enough said.
  • I guess I really do write Urban Fantasy.  A person may not know that about me, as the stories I have gotten published are horror.  I don't write about vampires, werewolves, or zombies, though.  My specialty, so far, is witches and magic.  I guess magic is a personal theme of mine.  I feel a blog post coming on.
  • I absolutely adore being a Mom.  I am really glad that I got to marry my husband and have two children with him.  My family is the center of my universe.
  • My husband says I am "the most genuine person he knows" and a past supervisor said I "have no guile."  I tried to be devious in highschool, but it didn't work out.  So, with me, what you see is what you get. 
Because many of the people I subscribe to already have received the Versatile Blogger award, I listed below blog sites I visit regularly, rather than people I am passing the award to.  I will let the people who haven't already gotten the Versatile Blogger award know that they have been included on this list, and so have become recipients of the award.
  • Kapehorn: An Author's Adventure - Kaelin Hornsby posts chapters of her novella, Antiquity, which is a fascinating mix of historical and science fiction.
  • Saucy Lucy Wisdom - On Mondays Aunt Gladys, a character from the Saucy Lucy books, shows up to post the irreverant humor of Cindy Keen Reynders.
  • Eric-Blues - the first writer blog I have found with a specialty in technology and how writers can use it.
  • word balloon - La Galerie Kenmore displays Lori Gilbert's artistic talents, as well as those of her eleven year old daughter.  The posts that support the artwork demonstrate Lori's writing talents as well.
  • Onward to the Written Word - A new find, full of fun, original flash fiction stories.
  • I'd Rather be Writing - I totally enjoy Heather L. Reid's voice.  She is conversational and friendly, and writes the most interesting blog posts.
  • Nina Badzin's Blog - My go-to place for social media advice and information.
  • jeff goins, writer:  On Writing, Ideas and Making a Difference - You just have to go see it to understand.
  • Writer Unboxed:  A blog site filled with generous writers at varying career levels, providing information and support on all things writerly.


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