Time Flies!

So, it got to me this morning that there are never enough hours in a day.  There are never as many days in the year as we think, and there are never enough years, period.  Now, I’m not scheming on literal immortality, but the fact of my own mortality hit me pretty hard this week.  It occurred to me that if I really want to leave a body of work behind me in the world, I would have to get busy and finish more than one book.  Looking ahead twenty years seems like a long time, but looking back on how fast my kids grew up, it looks a lot more snappy.

With autumn, and therefore Halloween approaching so very swiftly, I was inspired to create something inspirational for you.  This image was constructed on a website called Canva.  You can design all kinds of stuff on there, and use it in all sorts of ways.  I will likely be using it for book covers until I can hire a designer.

 

Time Flies! (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August Newsletter and the Next Degree

Ammonite fossil
Ammonite fossil

The end of the month brings with it the end of summer for me.  This next couple of weeks are all about the August Newsletter and cleaning house and organizing to prepare for the start of school this year.  This year I ambark on the next leg of my educational journey.  This year I start on the Bachelor’s degree.  This is also the year of my debut novel’s release.  The novel is in post-production now, and will be ready for release by Halloween 2015.  I have been working hard on everything, but right now it’s all about prepping for the next leg and following through on commitments.

If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, you can do so here: 

. It’s free and only arrives quarterly with looks at some of my yet-to-be-released work and photography, and news about what’s coming up with the writing and school and local events.  If you have questions, or just don’t like the web form, you can email tcmedia@hotmail.com and I’ll sign you up.  I will never give away or sell your info, and I won’t fill up your inbox with annoying spam.

So then, it’s on to the housework for me!  See you in August!

~D

Sticker Shock

Sticker Shock

 

When you first venture into self-publishing, you know there are going to be costs involved.  Hey, if it was cheap, it would be a whole lot easier to break in, right?  But there are some things that might escape those keen observation skills starting out and sneak up to bite you in the–wallet. (This post will be updated as I encounter more so stay tuned…)

The first one I’d like to share is the cost of printing out copies for beta readers.  Honestly I kind of wished I’d never considered this, but as I was trying to figure out how much ink I would need to print out six copies of the manuscript, it just kind of happened.  My printer is an hp, and it takes number 61 black and tricolor cartridges. At the local Wal-mart they cost about $15 each.  A ream of copy paper costs maybe four bucks tops.  If I figure my total pages (at the time the page count was just under 250, not a door-stopper, but respectable)

Adding it all up, I reckoned that each copy would use most of an ink cartridge and about half a ream of paper.  $15 + 2 = $17 +1.50 for the box and 8.00 for the shipping =$ 26.50 each one…  Wow.  You can buy two trade paperbacks for that money!

So, while I love my readers, and especially those who volunteer to be guinea pigs for my early stuff, sending everyone the nice signed paper copies might be a little too much for me.  Fortunately, my beta readers chose mostly pdf files, so I only had to send two.

Bone Sliver Complete and More

Friday was a big day for me.  I apologize for not posting sooner, but the first novel in The Nova Chronicles is complete.  I put the end on Bone Sliver at around 12:30 am CST Saturday morning, and I guess I took the rest of Saturday to recuperate and crow a little online.  It’s been amazing, and I’m not done yet.  There’s still a lot to be done if I want to launch it well in October.  I have started a separate blog for Twisted Candle Media, and you can find that and my other blog post about finishing the book here.

I hope you’ll join me for the rest of this fascinating journey.  I don’t know what’s coming around the corner.  My path’s always been a little–twisted.

Love y’all.

D~

Bone Sliver Rewrite Update

So Close I can almost taste it. This is where it gets really scary and really exciting all at the same time.  I think it is finally almost ready for people to see it. Feeling particularly vulnerable right now, so I’m going to go and take it out on Max Edison.  Poor Guy.30pages

Nineteen and Counting

Nineteen

Hey Y’all,

If it seems like I haven’t been posting as much lately, it’s true and here’s why…I’ve been working on finishing Bone Sliver. I’ve got about five or six chapters to go before the first installment of The Nova Chronicles is ready to go to beta readers.  Beta readers are very important in an indie author’s work.  They provide the first voices of input to help get the author where they need to go in the story.  The better the betas, the better the book at the end.

Beta readers have to be willing to give constructive criticism.  That is criticism which helps the author grow and makes the writing better.  By telling them what works and what doesn’t in the work that is read, mistakes are eliminated and the writing is improved.  Sadly beta readers can be very difficult to come by.  Sure, everyone wants to read your new book, but they also have busy lives of their own.  Life happens, and lots of times it is hard to get the sort of direct specific advice the author needs in time to do any good for the first book. Sometimes ever.

This is why time distance is so very important for a writer.  I’m not saying this is wisdom gleaned from working my way up to best-seller status (which by the way I haven’t…yet…) but it seems like good advice to me.  You HAVE to put it away for a while, AFTER your first draft is COMPLETE.  Then do something to further your craft.  Take a class, read, go experience something that affects your heart or your worldview.  Then in a few MONTHS, come back and work on the rewrite.

Though I am only nearing the end of my first novel, and it isn’t even published yet, it is really easy to see what this distance has done for the book I am working on.  It’s literary dogma for a reason.  Normally I don’t go in for dogma, but this shit is for reals.  Lots of things have become clearer after leaving it sit for a year.  Big things and little details that will help readers be able to see my world more clearly and not be bugged by the mistakes every first draft suffers. There may still be some, but hopefully my beta readers will catch them, and help me eliminate them for the final draft.

October is sliding up fast, so I’m done writing here, time to go make words.

For all my writer friends out there… I know you want it done, and you’re really excited, but put it in the drawer.  I promise, it will still be there when you come back to it, and your readers that are pestering you for it now will be grateful you made them wait.

Be Well,

D.

After the First Commencement

At the beginning of this month, my entire life was changed forever.  Perhaps it is a small thing, and perhaps not so small in some ways.  On May 8, I went from GED’d high school dropout to having a college degree.  Granted, it’s an associate’s degree, but it is a degree none the less.  Now, I won’t lie, I am forty-four years old.  It’s been a long road.  I’ve got three grown sons and an extended family that the younger me would have scratched my eyes out for.  But I didn’t do it alone.  Let me tell you what loving support really means.

When my husband and I got married, he knew I was “creative”, and he knew I really wanted a career, but we never really talked about going to college.  To be honest I never really thought it would be possible.  Now, we also haven’t always had what you would call a traditional relationship, either.  To me, it’s always seemed a little lopsided.  Not only had he helped me through my boys’ turbulent (and believe me, they were) teenage years, he helped me through the whole empty nest thing.  He married me after ten years of living together, and took a job as a lake caretaker thinking to get us back to nature.  Of course, as things go completely their own way, he wound up working incredibly long hours, and I had some trouble adjusting.  I really didn’t know how to be relaxed around people the way he was.

I’d always thought, and I know he did too, that we would run the little shop together someday.  The reality was different.  I found myself growing afraid of going down to the shop for fear I would be stuck there, and not know how to deal with things.  Not know the policies.  And it was true.  I didn’t know what to do and not do, and it seemed I was always doing something wrong.  But it wasn’t because there were too many rules, it was because there weren’t enough.  There was no boundary between him and his customers like I had grown accustomed to working retail and food service.  Hubby was eternally patient with me, but I withdrew.

He thought I was unhappy, but really I was just struggling to find where I fit in our new lifestyle.  So I helped with the taxes, the websites and documents, while he did the shop keeping and most of the paperwork.  It still felt uneven, and honestly I had guilt for not automatically falling in love with it.  He worried that I was really hating it.  I was still working at the school as a lunch lady, and the feet were still an issue.  I knew I couldn’t do this kind of work forever.  I needed something that I could do an be good at.  Hubs and I would one day get to where a regular job would be impossible.  I needed to be able to care for him when the time came, and I needed to be able to support myself as well.

One weekend I had all day to myself, and I just sat and thought.  Like all day.  I had always written, why not try to do it for a living?  Well, because I sucked.  I had no education, no training, and while the ideas were there, I spun my wheels more often than not, starting things that never got finished.  I didn’t know anything about the world of publication, or the world of writing for that matter.  What would it take to succeed?

I read lots of stuff online over the next two or three weeks.  I mentioned going to school for writing at dinner, and his only question was, “Can we afford it?” I did some more digging and came to the conclusion we might.  There was some more discussion, and we decided that after the end of the school year, I would enroll in Community College to get a degree in English.  Long (longer than this) story short, he has put up with a lot.

He runs a business, so he works full-time plus.  He’s come home to a dirty house more often than not, dealt with cold or late dinners, eaten out A LOT, made dinner a lot, and generally been a great cheerleader.  If I struggled with a subject, he would be talking to somebody about how I could improve, and if they knew anyone who could tutor if needed. If I needed help getting up for school, he made sure to give me a call.  Taking care of the car, fielding my crazy “Honey I’m lost in Tulsa!” phone calls when he had other things to do.  Taking off early on graduation night so he could be there for me.

Then there’s the kids.  His daughter, son in law and granddaughter and my middle son.  They have been there at every turn of the page for us.  They were there when we met, they were there when we were engaged, and they were there when we were married.  They were there at graduation.  They surrounded me in love, and I didn’t drown.  They kept me afloat.

Even now, I feel like my heart’s going to explode.  This is what they mean when they talk about loving support.  It is what makes a family.  They have been there for me, and by all the gods, I will do whatever I can to be there for them.  They make the success of all this important.  They make me want to be the best writer I can be.  Income is important, sure, but only as a means of supporting them and the writing.  Building a legacy they can be proud of.

Now, after the Commencement, is not the time to rest on an accomplishment.  The relish must be brief, for there is much left to be done.  The next leg of the journey lies ahead.  Knowing I have a lifeline makes all the difference.  Knowing these amazing people are behind me–no, standing with me–sometimes holding me upright–makes all the difference.  It wouldn’t happen without them.

Now, this says nothing of the other people who have encouraged this venture, and there are many.  My parents, teachers, professors, friends and the rest of the family, readers known and unknown… every single one of you matters.  Sure, I’m socially awkward beyond most human understanding, but I will promise to work on it and to keep working on it until I feel as comfortable with you all as my husband does with the folks out here.  Many of his customers have grown to be more like family.  They are working on me too.  I don’t expect to ever be done, but I will keep working, out of gratitude.

I will never feel like I have done enough to feel worthy of the love that has been given me.

Thank you, all of you, for taking this journey with me.  I truly do love you all.

FullSizeRender

 

Now, enough of the mushy stuff!  I got scary movies to watch and gobs of gothic and horror to read.  Two week crash course in gothic lit is half over already!  Whew, getting in on the next degree early.  Got to write a 8-10 page research paper for this one too.  Good news–that’s all I have to do except for journal entries. #gettinschooledincreepy

Entertainment Value: or, There’s This Thing I Won…

When people speak of “entertainment value” they are usually talking about what the audience gets from being entertained.  This is about the other thing.

Last semester a guy in my Writing For Mass Media class named Matt told everyone about the Tulsa Review and that they publish student and faculty stuff and that they would be having a spring contest.  I thought maybe I’d just send something in and see if it would make the cut for publication.  Matt encouraged me to enter the contest, as they also considered the contest entries for publication as well, and you never know…

As it turned out, my little poem was awarded first place.  When they sent the award email, I read it three times before it sank in.  They didn’t say which one won, (I’d sent two) and I half-believed there would be a follow up email saying, “Oops, the last email was meant to go to so-and-so.”  So I shared my teary-eyed news with my husband and Facebook friends (And newsletter subscribers…hint, hint…) and waited for the other shoe to drop.  No email came, so I wrote back inquiring as to which poem won.  They told me it was “Carroll After Dark”, a work I’d sent in on a whim, and asked if I could attend the release party to do a reading.  I figured it would be the other one, which I won’t name here, as it is now under submission elsewhere.  Wiping the gratitude off of my cheeks again, I replied that I would be happy to do the reading.  The release party was everything a budding writer could have hoped for.  Some of my professors were there, and classmates new and not-as-new.  Friends all.

Nervous even after a great practice reading in class, I made it through without too many big fumbles and by the time the whole party was over I was walking on air, and crying as I left.  These were faces I would likely only see in passing for the rest of my life.  If I was lucky.  I was going to miss the talented, kind, and generous people I’d been surrounded by for the last three years.

Once home, my husband told me he was proud of me, and I bounced like a schoolkid.  I doffed the dress clothes, slipped into my comfies and sat down at the computer. The effort had been worth it.  It was the first time I’d ever won first place at anything I’d done with my brain. What’s more they’d genuinely liked something I wrote! They were entertained!  Even now, I sit and shake my head, half-disbelieving.  Hell, you’d think I’d won the Pulitzer.

So that was the charge they all talked about!  That was the high.

It wasn’t so much the winning.  It wasn’t the prize (I really hadn’t remembered there would be one).  It was watching their faces as I read.  All those faces got it!  They laughed.  They enjoyed it.  Irreplaceable. Priceless.  That meant more than anything. I may not always win, and I may never place again.  But it doesn’t matter as long as someone enjoys reading or hearing the work.

I know it won’t be everyone.  It won’t be all the time.  May never be again.  but I will always have the memory of that perfect day just before the first of May, when my readers and listeners were actually entertained, and I got to see it.


 

If you’d like to read “Carroll After Dark”, here is the link to the poem on the Tulsa Review website.  Go check them out, there are a TON of great poems, stories and works of art–all by Tulsa Community College students and faculty.


 

If you love it, consider subscribing to my newsletter.  They are quarterly, so they won’t cram your inbox, but they are crammed with stuff that subscribers will see before anybody else.  I never give out my friends’ info, and you, dear reader qualify.

Beltane Issue Set to Roll Out

The Beltane issue of Twisted Candle Newsletter is set to roll out on April 15, 2015!  This is only our second issue so if you want to get in on this free content and progress report, go to the home page and sign up now!  If you’re the kind of person who likes listening to the band warm up, then you’ll dig this.

Most of it is new poems and short stories that no one has really seen yet, along with some of the photography that hasn’t been released yet.  They won’t be put on the website here, but may appear in an anthology or chapbook somewhere down the road.  The point is, you will be the first ones in the whole world to see it. because you are important.  Stories must have both of us to live.  They only exist in the space between your mind and mine.  Just as the band plays fro those who listen, so the writer writes for those who read.  That’s you. Never forget how important you are.

Hope to see you on Newsletter day!

D.E.

Sleeping on the Scenic Bypass of the Mind

This week has been full of interesting revelations on self.  I would share them here, with you, but I’m not sure I can fully articulate them yet.  The things I am learning are some deep-seated, bad-ass things that will likely impact the rest of my life.  Or not.  You see, one of the things that I have learned about myself is that if I learn something about me I don’t like, I work to change it.

Not necessarily in the direction of popular notion.  For instance, I’ve recently become more aware of the fact that I’m somewhat self-absorbed.  To combat this, I am volunteering this summer with The Nature Conservancy and Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center.  I’ve always cared about nature, but now the need for greater community involvement has become clear.  They need help.  I need to do something worthwhile.  It’s a win-win.  I want to find more and better ways of reaching out to people on the behalf of nature, and help birth the realization that we are the ONLY ones that can do anything to stop the destruction of our planet and the other lifeforms that occupy it with us. (Did I mention I was self-absorbed?)

Not to jump on the soapbox at this hour, but that’s where I am right now.

I want to help. This stuff will help now.  Other than that and graduation, I’m just sort of hanging out right now.  Living in existential limbo.  Sleeping on the Scenic Bypass of the Mind.

Nobody’s perfect, but perfection exists as something to strive for.  Let’s strive to make our world as clean as it was when we got here.  I know we have or can develop the technology to make it happen.

Let’s do it, folks.

Love y’all,

D.E.