Sunday, May 31, 2015

Coming Together

One of the ways in which I get stories in my head is through my lust for observing people, usually strangers. Whenever I'm in a large public situation, such as a concert or at a theme park, I enjoy watching people and imagining what their stories are. It always amazes me just how many people there are in this town, city, state, many different kinds of people there are, and how many tragedies, secrets, joys, sorrows, miseries, accomplishments and just plain ol' regular stories are going on at any single time. And for whatever reason, on this particular day, we were all at Such and Such Concert together, listening to Such and Such sing. Our lives intersected - even if we never speak, never see each other, never enter into a friendship. We all shared a moment.

I like inventing stories about people who might be standing off to the side talking to each a couple standing with their arms folded, for example. I will come up with some story about how they are in the middle of an argument about how he didn't take care of the dog vomit on the back porch before they left and she didn't give him any earlier in the day...but they had these concert tickets, so here they are. Reality is - they could be a brother and a sister, just waiting for their friends to show up, looking around.

There might be a lady with three little girls sitting on a blanket, all looking around. I will come up with some story about how her husband just left her after 11 years of marriage, with three children, for a young hot girl who works at Hooters, and the only way she could make her girls feel better is by bringing them to this concert so they could see Such and Such. Reality is that it could just be some woman and her daughter and her daughter's two friends at the concert and her husband is off at home, helping a friend move a load of bricks off a truck.

When I wrote Scout's Honor, I did so with the intention to build upon that story's characters. It might just be some random character who is mentioned or who has one sentence of dialog. But that person came into Scout's story at one point and time for whatever reason. And that person has his or her own story to tell.

I have shared moments with lots of strangers over the course of my life, and even had a few relationships develop from some of those moments - short or long, for good or for bad, some of which I could've done without and wish never happened at all...and some of which were spectacular experiences of human kindness and generosity and magic. All life stories.

Do people come into your life for some grand reason? I don't know about that. Actually, if I'm being honest, I no longer believe in that platitude at all. I think they come into your life just because they come into your life - you were both at the same time and place, sharing a moment. There is no grand reason. It's just chance. And then what becomes of that situation then becomes just another story in your life - happy one, sad one, indifferent one. And all these stories then build up what we eventually call a life...lived. And then some of that might end up in an obituary when it's all over.

But despite how cheery that sounds - LOL - the stories need to be told. The stories are what makes all of this a big shared human experience. I am looking forward to writing my next one, about a character that appears briefly in Scout's Honor. His name is Buddy and he has one hell of a story.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Industry of Writing

The industry of writing is overwhelming, and wading through it sucks. Not to mention the waiting. As I have gotten older, I actually have gotten more patient. And considering I was borderline psychotic in the Patience Department in my twenties, especially on highways, it's actually at a respectable level now. I let people merge. I let people in front of me. But I do get pissed off if I don't get the little Thank You wave. Seriously, this is the South, I want my damn wave for being friendly and patient. And while my husband will disagree that I do not tailgate...I do not tailgate for the most part....unless you are driving in the left lane at or below the speed limit. Seriously is the PASSING lane. If you want to drive the speed limit, get in the RIGHT LANE. can take the girl out of Jersey but not the Jersey out of the girl...

Waiting on queries, knowing that it will take an out right miracle for anyone to even ask to read my manuscript, and then trying to figure out Plan B... self publishing. There are independent publishers as well, those that you can approach without an agent. There are literally 5 million contests, most of which appear to be for poetry. It looks to me like everyone on the planet is a writer or wants to be one.

As far as self publishing is concerned, I've looked at Create Space and Lulu. Create Space is a more affordable option, but Lulu has great marketing packages, and I love that it is based in Raleigh. That is the key - the marketing - especially in an industry completely saturated with both great unknown work and also a lot of garbage. I hope mine work is an unknown talent and not garbage LOL.

To me, writing is like singing. There is a lot of talent, a lot of real talent among regular people like you and me. And they are doctors, lawyers, salesman, waitresses, housekeepers, bus drivers, teachers...they're everywhere. But it takes placing that talent in the right place at the right time with the right song in front of the right person/people in the right forum in order for it to have a chance to be heard. That's why the singing and cooking show competitions are so popular - we like seeing the Nobody from Nowhere make it. Americans are all about the underdog overcoming the odds.

Like in anything else, the marketing requires that you have to spend the money to get the book out there to be read. You have to pay for The Right Kind of Reviews. You have to pay for a good author website and then a marketing plan for that. You have to have an established social media platform. You have to pay to get your book in book shows. You have to try to get your name and book out there with readings and signings...and really...who wants some unknown author reading or signing in their bookstore? Haven't you ever gone in a bookstore and seen an author sitting there at a table with a pile of books and no one stops by? I always feel bad.

There is apparently still quite a stigma of self publishing, so it actually makes sense to set up your own publishing company in order to publish your own stuff, even if that is still technically self publishing. It is just really One Big Good Ol' Boy Network - just like everything else. And it is always changing.

A huge part of me would rather just set up my own thing and go from there...See where it leads. I don't like being controlled, especially when the creation is mine. But I also know that sometimes, you have to play the game with its crappy rules.

As much as I would like for some Knight in Shining Armor to swoop in and carry my book off, I have grown to realize...and accept the reality...that for a lot of us, there is no Knight. We have to be our own Knight. That also makes for a great's just not as romantic. And well, I am a romantic...