Finished Projects and WIPs – June 2018

Happy summer, my friends! Just a quick update on how far I’ve come and where I’m going…

Finished Projects

I’ve added a new page to the site here titled “Finished Projects” that I hope will be a helpful guide for any literary agents or publishers that happen to be stalking me (And yes, stalkers of that nature are more than welcome!). I’ll be updating it on a regular basis as I finish projects or as pieces find homes. I guess you could call it an author portfolio of sorts, or perhaps a constantly changing resume.  Either way, here’s the overview list thus far:

Novels:
Kira’s Tale  (self-published)
Hope’s Journey (New Adult Fantasy, seeking agent/publisher)
Ghost at Grandma’s (Middle Grade Fiction, seeking agent/publisher)

Short Stories: 
“Wizard’s Task” – Children’s. (615 Words)
“The Price of Fine Art” – Literary. (2,200 Words)
“Home Sweet Haunted Home” – Horror/Paranormal/Suspense. (3,300 words)
“Revenge” – Horror/Supernatural. (1,100 words)
“The Banquet Hall” – Suspense/Horror. (1800 words)
“Worthy is the Lamb” – Suspense/Horror. (5,100 words)
“Train Wreck” – Suspense/Horror. (1500 words)

Not bad, I don’t think, especially because these are polished pieces I am proud of, not just half finished drafts. There are a few short stories not listed because they are ‘in the shop’ so to speak – they are waiting for me to get around to editing and revising, and not ready to be submitted anywhere.

WIP (Work in Progress) Projects

A writer never stops just because we finished a project. There is always something we’re working on, and most the time it’s about a hundred different projects all at once. It’s the beauty of being a writer, really – having the ability to wake up every morning and decide on the spot what you want to work on today. Like the majority of writers out there, I’ve given myself plenty of projects to work on, just in case I’m not in the mood for a specific one.

Here’s what I’ve got going on right now…

Horror/Adult Novel
I’m a sucker for a good old fashion ghost story. Over the winter, I satisfied a life long dream of writing a children’s ghost story like the ones I fell in love with when I was a child. Now that I’ve grown up, I love adult ghost stories, but again find the genre is lacking some ‘good old fashion’ ghost stories. It seems “paranormal” has been changed to “paranormal romance”, and I’d like to pull back the reigns on this merger. Ghosts rarely ever get the spotlight, either, and many stories are focused on the living people instead of the ghosts. I’d like to solve both of these problems, while also honoring a few of my deceased relatives by ‘bringing them back to life’ with mannerisms and speech that were unique to them.

Young Adult/Teen Fiction Novel
I haven’t touched this novel for months, yet I’ll mention it anyway. It’s a half finished story of a teenage girl who discovers her necklace has power. There is family drama, magic in a real world setting, some twists and turns, and no plan as to how/where it will end. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing that I’ve been able to connect fully to the half that is already written. Maybe this is what other writers are talking about when mentioning ‘plot holes’. I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon, as I’m not ready to give up on the story. I just need to finish some other projects first.

Short Story – “Lost and Found”
Normally I wouldn’t have time to even mention a short story, since usually by the time I mention I’m working on it, it’s finished. This one is a bit different. It’s a rather long short story, especially for me. I expect it to be somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 words, which of course can be quite long for a ‘short’ story. This one seems more important somehow, probably because the idea behind it has been lodged in my brain for weeks. A girl from out of state is stranded, and she experiences… well, my community. We are a different kind of people out here. When someone is lost, they aren’t lost for long. If you are genuinely in need, we come out of the woodwork to help. This is the message I’d like to offer in this story – that my neck of the woods is a beautiful place to live, and places like this still exist in the world. I think what’s taking me so long is making sure my details are in order (I’m getting picky with it), and that the message comes across loud and clear.

Additional Short Stories and Publishing Projects
I have a few other projects on the back burner (some of them WAY in the back) worth mentioning because they are specifically for publications/contests.

The Sun Magazine is something I’ve recently subscribed to and absolutely adore. There is no way I’m prepared to submit a regular piece, however, they have something called “readers write”. I love this idea, and feel it’s less terrifying than submitting to ‘the real’ slush pile. I’m working on something that will need to be sent in before the end of the month.

Midnight Dreams/Midnight Nightmares will be an anthology of short stories. I love the idea behind it, and let’s be honest, what writer is going to turn down a paying market? I don’t believe any of my current pieces ‘fit’, so I’ll be creating something new to submit. The due date isn’t until November, but I’ve given myself until September to finish something, that way there will be plenty of time to revise and edit without overloading the editor too close to the deadline.

– Penny Fiction by Haunted Waters Press is an interesting concept. Basically the “stories” are nothing more than 18 words. What is published is a poster that features everyone’s “stories”. I love this because it’s like a writing exercise, but with the potential of being paid and published. Due date is the end of July, but I plan to submit my “stories” (you can send more than one as long as its on a single page) by the first of July. Almost finished with this one, since I have a specific number in mind that I plan to submit.

That’s all for now! Obviously the list will change, although this is what’s on my plate for June and July.

Happy reading and writing!

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Author Beware: My Experience with a Bad Publisher

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Disclaimer: This post is not here to “out” anyone or to point fingers. I don’t name names or publications. This is post is meant to show how important researching the publication is, and outline the red flags I spotted along the way.
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First let me say, I don’t claim to be an expert of the publishing world. While I’ve been writing for over 20 years, I’m also not a ‘best selling’ author or authority on writing. I have, however, written a few fiction novels, short stories, and poetry that I am quite proud of, but I am also still learning and perfecting my craft, as well as trying to find the perfect ‘home’ for all my pieces.

That said, I’m relatively new to the submission scene, or rather, what it has become since the last time I wrote fiction to submit a decade ago.

As I wrote the two novels I’m currently querying for, I also wrote a few new short stories to submit to publications. Why not? My thought was, the publication credits would be nice, as would ‘getting my feet wet’ with the submission and publication process before I started querying for novels. I understand and expect rejections, and even look forward to them sometimes (weird, I know, but it proves to me that I’m actively trying and constantly learning. Plus there is sometimes that random bonus of feedback that truly helps us as authors learn).

For several months I submitted short stories on a regular basis. My first acceptance came in January 2018, from a brand new publication I had decided to take a chance on. Again, why not? Everyone has to start somewhere.

I very soon found out why I should not have given them the benefit of the doubt, and should have dug deeper into the editors of the anthology.

My first red flag came when the editing process began. The story was given a major overhaul, and she attempted to more or less plagiarize a well-know author. I was horrified at the idea of my first short story having this association, and pointed it out. It took a bit of arguing, but she finally changed it. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when it came to her editing skills, assuming she had at least some professional experience editing. I found out later she did not.

The second problem of the publication became the launch date. All along, we expected a release of April 1st, 2018. The closer the date got, the more the problems compounded. There were too many submissions, the issue was being ‘split into more than one volume’. Then there were layout issues. Then there were page number problems. Then Createspace booted the publication out due to some type of issue (which, of course,was blamed on the authors, but also blamed on Amazon). By the time the publication finally made it to self-published market, it was TWO MONTHS past the original date.

Now thankfully, my piece (ironically titled ‘Train Wreck’, which is exactly what the piece was accepted into) was to be in one of those ‘next volumes’. I felt relieved, actually, that it wasn’t a part of their first release. But watching how they had handled all the missteps, seeing another editor step in to ‘take over’ because the first editor was having a mental breakdown or something, I decided I’d best contact them to have my story removed completely from their clutches. The final decision came when the original editor and headmistress of this hair-brained idea had spewed out all kinds of information about herself and reasons why she wasn’t ready to handle a project like this. She stated she’d been writing since May of 2017 (no that’s not a typo), had a handful of things published (which, you guessed it, you can’t find), and had a degree in economics that told her there was a market for this type of stuff.

At this point, I’m sad that I’ve left my short story be edited by someone that probably shouldn’t have. I contact the ‘new’ editor, a young pup who’s been ghostwriting for a whole 8 years (also, can’t see his stuff, ‘cuz you know, he’s a ghostwriter), and tell him to kindly do not use my story in future publications. I get zero reply. Concerned he didn’t get my email, I take to the Facebook group, under where he’s stated to ‘please email him for removal’ at his yahoo email address (another huge red flag, folks). His reply to my request was less than professional, and he proceeds to make a huge deal out of my method of contact and demanding to know why I’d need them to reply (So I can take my story elsewhere without concern, maybe?), then stating they purposefully didn’t ‘engage due to conversations like this’. Huh? Why would you be afraid to say “Okay we’ll remove your story from our files”?

As if the above wasn’t fishy enough, he proceeds to get even nastier, stating “your story would never have been accepted at this publication had I been the one to read through it, or any other for that matter. ” And then ‘muted’ me, so I would be sure to read his comment in the private group, but not be able to reply (and yes, mentions in the reply that I’ve been muted).

RUDE.

Rejections I can handle. Feedback I can handle. Constructive criticism I can handle. Unprofessional, childish, and rude behavior I do not tolerate. Especially from someone that claims to be a publisher. Every step of the way this group has been unprofessional, which is mind boggling to me if you are trying to BE a professional.

Now, authors, here’s my biggest issues with all this:

  1. They’ve wasted 6 months of my time
  2. They’ve held my story for 6 months
  3. They had no marketing plan AT ALL, and expected the unpaid authors to volunteer for marketing.
  4. They were unprofessional, unprepared, and are too stubborn to admit it.
  5. They have put the authors attached to this project at risk, because they have absolutely no idea what they are doing in relation to publishing or marketing.

Honestly, I think they all saw dollar signs and are lashing out because it’s not going according to plan, and publishing/marketing is a lot harder than any of them dreamed of. They had no experience with self-publishing before hand, and thought they would learn as they go.

What I learned here is to do my due diligence and RESEARCH those involved in any project or person I plan to trust with a piece of my writing. YES a bad publication can damage your reputation, especially if they are marketing poorly. YES the publishers need experience in editing and publishing (NOT JUST WRITING – I can’t emphasis this enough! Having a little experience in writing does NOT make you knowledgeable in publishing!).

NO you aren’t stupid for running as fast as you can from projects such as this. You don’t NEED that credit, nor do you need ‘the exposure’. You as a writer need paid, not ‘credit only’ and advertising duties for someone else’s publication. There are PLENTY of markets that either will pay, or actually provide you exposure and a recognizable credit without you having to market for them. And if all else fails, there is always the avenue of self-publishing and promoting yourself or your own writing.

Above all, authors, do not let a bad experience, bad advice, or bad people prevent you from writing. Let them sink in their own problems. Listen to the actual professionals in the publishing and writing world that have hands-on experience, research, and keep writing!

The Journey of Hope’s Journey

It started two years ago. I wanted to write a book. Or rather, I want to write another book, since I had already self-published a few times on Amazon.

That’s how the story of all books start, I realize. Yet there is no other good way to start out talking about a book. I had this idea one day, and it wouldn’t go away until I wrote, most authors will tell you. I am no different.

When I started Hope’s Journey, my intentions were to traditionally publish through an agent. That’s exactly what I did when I was finished with it – I started sending out query letters to agents. Not many, though, as I was still ‘testing the waters’ and making sure I was doing it properly. After a few queries, I tossed the project aside and began working on a middle grade book (which I’ve since finished and started querying for as well). That was in October 2017.

Directly after finishing the MG project, I thought about poor little Hope. When I got an email from Amazon about their “Kindle Scout” program, which is more or less a traditional publishing platform run by Amazon, I thought it would be the perfect home for my fantasy novel. The idea was, Kindle readers read your MS, vote, and you are potentially given a publishing contract by Amazon. Cool! Worth a shot, right?

I decided at the time, though, that I should do another read-through and revise the book, which is exactly what I did. I worked hard to polish the MS, making it as perfect as possible. I also hired an artist to do the cover, as I had a PERFECT idea for what I wanted it to look like. Just as he was sending me proofs and asking what size the graphics needed to be, I went to double check, and …

“We’re now closed to new submissions.”

*GASP*

Plans shattered. $100 spent on a graphic I may or may not use (which honestly, I’m not upset about at all – the price was obviously a REALLY GOOD one, because it was someone local I know, and if nothing else, I’ve supported his talent). What really made me freak out was having no idea where to go from here. What now!?!

I worked far too long on this project by now to simply abandon it, so I decided to dive back into the query trenches. I finished my revisions as planned, polished my synopsis, pitches, and descriptions, and made a huge list of agents to research. I took a step back, looked at the appropriate market, and decided on the target (New Adult Fantasy, ages 18-24). One by one, I wrote query letters for appropriate agents and sent them off, careful to follow each and ever one of their guidelines.

And now, we wait. (And write more in the mean time, of course). 😉

Novels and Works in Progress

It’s been well over a year since I decided to get serious and “become an author”. Sure, I’ve written everything imaginable in my life, so I’ve always been a ‘writer’. But a little over a year ago was when I decided “author” was the title I really wanted. And in order to be an “author”, that meant I had to write books and/or short stories that were sold to ‘real’ publications and agents. (See the post about Hope’s Journey if you are curious as to how I stepped back into writing books after several years). For the last several months I’ve been plugging away at a chunk of short stories, while getting started on two different (new) novels.

So what now? More writing, of course! I’ve put short stories away for awhile (aside from editing, revising, and submitting), in favor of working on two novel projects.

 

Young Adult Fantasy
This novel started as a random short story. A teenage girl named Caitlin began to tell me a story about a magical necklace. 10,000 words later, I realized it wasn’t a short story at all. Yet at 30,000 words, the ending is still a mystery. I’ve had to put this one aside for now, since my teenage daughter may be interested in co-authoring and helping me with the ending. I’d much rather work on this one with my daughter than all by myself, especially since Caitlin is only 2 years older than my daughter. I think my teenage daughter can help tremendously with the POV on this one.

 

Middle Grade Ghost Story
It’s always been my dream to write a children’s ghost story like the ones I grew up reading. I vividly remember as a child scanning our Scholastic order forms in search of ‘ghosts’ or other horror/mystery for kids. These type of stories hold a very special place in my heart, and I’ve even recently gone back to read my favorites (Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss, for example, I just read for the 100th time in 20 years). Right now, this is the WIP that I jump into every morning, excited to tell a tale about a 12-year-old who just moved into a haunted house in the middle of nowhere. This story is so serious about being written that it already gave me the start of a book-cover description and notes for a query letter. Crazy, right? The stuff you normally scramble to do after the book is finished is popping out left and right at me. I’m THRILLED!

I’ll end this post with the description of the middle grade WIP, since I’m hoping it will be done within the next few months. Here’s hoping this one reveals its ending soon, so that it does actually get finished in time.

 

The Ghost at Grandma’s House
Twelve-year-old Abigail Adams had a perfect life, until her family moved in with her grandmother. Stuck in the middle of nowhere at her grandmother’s creepy farmhouse with her mother and fifteen-year-old brother, Abby begins to realize they aren’t alone.

Work in Progresss (WIP)

I often see authors use the term “WIP”, which I’ve learned stands for “work in progress”.

This is a funny term to me, especially because it’s often used suggested it’s the only piece they are working on. Maybe I’m misreading or maybe those authors are a whole lot more focused than me, but I almost never have a singular “WIP”. In fact, I often feel my life as an author is one big work in progress. Aren’t we all, though? Isn’t every day a new chance to work on something new and exciting? And sometimes that ‘work’ isn’t even writing.

Here’s what I would consider as my “WIP” list:

– Finding a Literary Agent
This WIP is more waiting than work. I haven’t submitted query letters for several weeks, because I’m mostly waiting to hear back from the handful of letters I’ve sent. I’m also researching additional agents and attempting to get a few short stories published. It’s one of those WIP running around in the background, yet I see it as the most important. If nothing else, it’s forcing me to learn how to be patient.

– Submitting Short Stories
There are several stories of mine I feel are ready to submit to a publication. Problem is, I don’t know where those publications are just yet. Researching publications, reading other short stories, and finally submitting takes a whole lot of time. I’m very thankful I purchased a copy of the 2018 Writer’s Market. Currently I’m reading/researching Ellery Queen and have a pretty good idea of the story I’d like to submit. (Great stories, by the way! There is a good reason Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock have been around so long. They publish really great stories.

– Editing
I have a growing stack of short stories that require my attention. I’ve lost count, even. One in particular has my immediate attention. Although it’s still a slow process, and the pile keeps growing. Sometimes days I have to actually tell myself to stop writing, else I’m never going to get through that editing pile. I don’t even want to talk about the novel I’m in the middle of editing.

– Writing
Oh, where do I begin. I have so many pieces, bits, and parts I often don’t know where to even begin for the day. There’s a single novel, the bare beginnings of another novel, and LOTS of fragmented short stories. Since the novel is over 30k words, I’ve been trying really hard to stick with it more than anything else. Yet then the “holiday season” began, and I find myself even more fragmented and lost as to what I should right. Then, of course, I look at my pile of editing and think, maybe editing is where my focus should be? It’s a daily battle, that’s for sure. After Thanksgiving, I had to dump a family story out of my head because I just couldn’t get back into the novel. But then directly after, I began immediately worrying about Christmas shopping, so there has been zero word count being added to my daily totals. Now that shopping has been put to rest (and I do think I’m done with my kids, for the most part, so it is a HUGE weight lifted off the holiday plate), maybe I can push back into some meaningful writing. And I suppose that is what this blog post is about – a sneaky way for me to unload and cleverly slip in substantial writing time.

So there you have it. When asked what my “WIP” is, I guess it’s a plethora of you know, ‘author stuff’. Writing, editing, trying to juggle all the things that make up the writing career in general. And you know, maybe making some money along the way. It would certainty help to pay the bills. 😉

NaNoWriMo 2017 – My Thoughts

If you are a writer, you’ll know it’s almost time again. That month that turns novelist and novelist wannabees into raving lunatics. Like zombies with one thought in mind – WORDSSSSSS!. Big ones, little ones, hell, they don’t even have to make sense. Progress is progress towards that end goal of 50,000, right?

Not exactly. At least, not for me.

I’ve done NaNo in the past, and one of my books is the result of one of those years. But I know I won’t join this year, and probably won’t ever join again. Why?

Lots of reasons. Here’s a few:

1. Novel already in progress (I think?)
A short story that just kept on rolling along has hit over 10,000 words. It’s not finished yet, not even close. I still don’t know what it is, exactly, but I know I’m not about to abandon it for a new project. I may let it sit for a few days, yet never for a week, and certainly not a month. It will die if I walk away from it that long. We can’t have that.

2. Short Story Season
I just came off a longer novel that took a year for me to feel satisfied with, and now I’m focused on short stories. Not just writing, but submitting them to publications as well. I enjoy being able to float in between shorter projects without being bogged down with a single story for 30 days.

3. Schedule Conflicts
Not just the short stories, the whatever-it-is story, or other writing projects. I also have a family. Sometimes they are extremely needy. I’d get serious stressed if I held myself to a word count requirement on one project. And when I don’t meet goals, I feel depressed. Just best to pass on added stress.

4. Agent Searching
Last but not least, I’m looking for a Literary Agent to represent Hope’s Journey. That’s work. It’s the nitty gritty stuff that needs some serious attention to detail if it’s to be done properly (which I am, hopefully, in the process of doing). So, no time for counting words. That’s not where my focus needs to be.

All that said, I do with those doing it this year the best of luck. I think National Novel Writing Month is a fun journey to take for any writer, as stressful and overwhelming as that journey may be at times. I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines as much as possible on Twitter. I hope your prepping is going well if you chose to do that this month, and I hope you make your 50,000 words with plenty of time to fully enjoy Thanksgiving. 🙂

Best wishes, fellow writers!

2017 Update / Hope’s Journey

Several years after disappearing from the social media scene and scrapping my last novel, it’s not that hard to guess what I’ve been doing. Yup, you guessed it – I’ve been writing another novel.

In the summer of 2016, it started with a single line.

“It’s almost time.”

That haunting line would become the first line of the novel that was to be, with only a small inkling of an idea of what adventures were to come.

“It’s almost time,” the voice of Bridget whispered in my head, pulling me out of a peaceful dream.

The stage was set, and characters already in motion. This story – or rather, the entire world the story is based – has been floating around me for more than a decade. The characters already knew who they were, and what they were suppose to do. So I began to write.

Just a few weeks after I started, I lost my dad to cancer. We didn’t have a lot of time left in the end (who ever does?), yet I was able to have an extremely rare opportunity to sit down and have a long talk with him less than 48 hours before he died. It was the kind of conversation that left me feeling complete, and that everything had been said. I told him I was writing another book, and that I was going to be an author. He told me, “you’ll be great at it”. There were other trivial things and matters discussed, yet the discussion about the book was the spark I needed to keep going.

Here we are a year later, and my hunt for a literary agent begins. I have no desire to self-publish this time around, as that requires a special skill set that I’m not prepared to venture into. I would much rather work with experts in the book marketing field and focus on writing. That’s what authors do, after all, isn’t it? Write?

Be watching for updates on Hope’s Journey soon!