Saturday, January 31, 2009

Short Story DONE! and other news...

Here I am again! I've had a pretty good writing week, in my opinion at least.

First, I finished my short story for The Pen & Muse Romance Short Story Contest. As in, it's done! Written, edited, proofread... D.O.N.E. done! I was very fortunate to happen across a post on The Writer's Beat forum where someone volunteered to do free proofreading so that they could build their resume. As I had read and re-read my story so many times that I knew I was most likely missing a lot of little errors, I jumped on this opportunity. I'm so glad that I did!

I send my ~3300 word story off to Aspen and had it back the next day, well before the 72 hour wait period that I had been expecting. As expected, I had several little errors... comma/semi-colon issues and a couple of instances where I had used the same word multiple times in a paragraph, etc. I'm proud to say that I've learned where some of my punctuation weaknesses are and am working on improving them. I agreed with every suggestion that was offered, even though I was fully prepared to ignore anything that didn't feel right to me; it is my story after all. But that never happened, every suggestion was spot on.

Overall, I would say that this was an awesome experience for me and I would definitely recommend
Aspen's services to anyone in need of a proofreader. I'm not sure how long the free proofreading services will continue, but I would definitely encourage anyone to email and inquire about it. It's a win-win situation, they get experience to put on their resume and you get a cleaner piece of writing along with an opportunity to learn your strengths and weaknesses. You can't get any better than that now, can you?

This shot story contest ends on February 19th and I'll definitely keep you updated on how my story fares. People who have read the story seem to like it and I love the characters, so I guess only time will tell. I'm doing my final read-through on it today and sending it off. I know... I should have sent it off yesterday like I originally planned to, but I guess I'm paranoid. I wasn't able to do my final read-through last night because my writing gremlin hi-jacked and forced me to outline something else (more info on that farther down in this blog). So, once I'm finished posting this blog, I'll be reading over the story one last time and emailing it off. Wish me luck!

Let's see... what else has happened?

Oh yeah! Speaking of my short story, titled On Occasion..., after hearing from two important people in my life who have read it, I wrote up a six page outline to further my new character's stories. I honestly had never considered that there might be more to these characters than what was created in my fever-induced brain when I dreamed them up, but I guess I was wrong. First my friend, M, after reading it, told me that she wanted to know what happened next... I was like, "um... nothing that I know of, I think..." Then, the other day, my husband read it and said that he agreed with M that the story could be expanded beyond what I had, not for the short story, but for another writing project. Hearing this from a man who I'd never imagine reading a romance short story really made me start thinking. If someone who normally wouldn't read this genre likes the story and characters and sees the potential, maybe I should consider it? No harm in asking the characters if they have anything more to share, right?

Wrong! This started several days of my writing gremlin creating, writing, and rewriting Megan and Joseph's story after On Occasion... ends. To be honest, the process is pretty cool to watch in my head... very Butterfly Effect. A scenario creates itself in my mind and plays out as if I'm watching a television show or a movie, then something won't seem right and the whole thing stops, rewinds, and starts again, changed to fix the error. Day and night I was plagued by these characters, just like when I started writing Instinct. At night, I would dream these looped scenes until my brain and the writing gremlin agreed that they were "just right". During the day, I would find myself daydreaming more scenes. Somewhere along the way, I created a playlist on my iTunes and started throwing songs that fit the scenes and characters into it. Then, while engaging in my worst time waster-checking celebrity gossip blogs (I know... but I can't help it...)- I started finding pictures of actresses that looked like a couple of my characters. This whole process is reminding me of the early days when I first dreamt up Instinct. Maybe this YA story will be added to my back burner projects for when I need a break from what I'm doing on Instinct.

Speaking of Instinct, I'm having a blast working on it again. The medications are fully out of my system and I can finally see and hear the characters clearly again. Don't ask me why I could write a short story while on them but not my novel... medicine head is a very complicated ailment apparently....

After reading a blog post from Murderati, I found myself really wanting to write all of the scenes with my villain. After reading a different blog post from Fangs, Fur, and Fey, I suddenly wanted to finish up everything with Casey's love interest. And now that I've started finishing up incomplete scenes and thinking about how I want to begin some of the chapters that I've yet to start.

I can't believe how happy I am to be back writing again. M even commented to me over a Gmail chat that I sound happier than I have been since I had to take my break from it. The funny thing is that I feel happier, more "myself" now that I'm back writing, ya know? It might sound weird, but part of me thinks that I was going through some sort of withdrawal/depression the past month because I couldn't write what I wanted or how often I wanted.

"Hello, I'm Willow and I'm addicted to writing..."
"Hi Willow!"

All right, now that that's taken care of... back to where my writing has taken me since my last post.

I'm actually almost done with the only part of the story that isn't in Casey's POV and I'm liking how it's turning out. I really like getting inside of this other character's head and it works really well to jump to his perspective towards the end of the book. Certain things happen at the end that Casey doesn't experience first-hand that are necessary to keep the plot going. I went back and forth on how I could get her this information when I realized that some of what happens can't be told to her. And since this book is part of a series in my head, I need to have a character experience things in order to subtly place clues to set up future books. Things that the characters don't think much of at the time and definitely not something that they would rush out to tell everyone about. Little subtle clues and hints that, on the surface, don't appear to be much... but when the truth is revealed make perfect sense.

So, what I'm saying is that I'm back writing Instinct and really excited to be back in that world. As confusing as it was, I was even writing on it while my brain was figuring out Megan and Joseph's story. The fact that I was able to go from writing a chapter of Instinct one minute to writing up the full outline of this new story (who's working title is being quite elusive...) makes me believe that I'll be able to work on both as needed.

My main focus is still going to be finishing Instinct- I'm so close to seeing the end of the rough draft that I can taste it! But, for those times when the scenes for it just aren't ready to be written, I now have a back up project to keep my occupied. Can't have me slipping back into writer's withdrawal/depression again. Now I have an alternate story to outline fully so I can get my writing fix when I'm stuck.

So everything is going really well with my WIPs and I can see the glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel for my first draft of Instinct. It's so good to be back!

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, before I forget again... I'm joining a writing guild. At the end of last year I found a website for a local writers guild and decided to check them out. I went to their first meeting of the year on January 15th (a horribly, horribly cold night where I found myself having to fill up the car before making the drive out because my husband forgot to...). Well, during the first meeting, I was able to meet several different writers from all different specialties. Writers of fiction, non-fiction, journalism, even a woman who is specializing in oral story telling. While at 26, I was the youngest person there, it still looks like it'll be a good group. Sadly, I wasn't able to officially join that night because I forgot the checkbook at home (d'oh!), but when I attend the next meeting on February 19th, I'll definitely become an official member.

This group has guest speakers at the meetings, be they published or unpublished authors, industry professionals, or even professors. The speaker at the first meeting was published author, Harry Spiller. He's a local author and retired teacher who has had several books and short stories published. He's even done work with a true crime television show on A&E, pretty cool. He told us about his struggles to find a publisher for his first book as well as the importance of knowing, and adhering to, submission guidelines. While I had already read pretty much everything he spoke of on the do's and don'ts of getting published during my extensive research of the publishing industry, it was still amazing to hear these truths repeated in person. It seemed to make them more real to actually hear someone speak them.

Another plus to group membership is that I'll be allowed 4 pages in their yearly anthology to have my work published. I'm not sure what I'll be able to find that is short enough to fit in the allotted space, but I'll definitely be looking out for something good to include.

They also produce a newsletter and allow members to submit writings to that as well. Maybe I can take some of the valuable information that I've learned through my favorite writing websites and blogs and write up an article for it? It'd be fun to try and I'm sure that someone would find the information useful.

They also have a yearly writing contest, but the fiction category is limited to 1500 words. I would be hard-pressed to write a piece of fiction that short. I still don't know how I wrote On Occasion... in under 3500 words, especially when the maximum word count allowed was 10,000 words. The deadline for this contest is May 1st, so maybe I'll feel inspired by then. If not, well... there's always next year if we're still living in this area then.

But anyway, this coming month I'll be joining the ranks of the Southern Illinois Writers Guild and I'm really looking forward to it. Not only will I be able to connect with other writer's in the area, but I'll be given the opportunity to network with published authors in person. As I've mentioned in other posts, I love the opportunity to ask questions and get advice from those who've been successful in this industry.

I think that's pretty much all that I've been up to in regards to my writing since my last post... If I think of anything else that I forgot, I'll definitely make a new post. So...

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...



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