Posts Tagged With: writing

The Vulnerable Author

When I decided to self-publish I felt the excitement of holding that very first book in my hand.  It was real, and really happening.  It was much like giving birth when you’re amazed something you’ve known to happen to others could actually happen to you.  It wasn’t just a dream anymore.

The awe-struck feeling didn’t last long enough before another feeling slowly crept in.  It was the awareness that others would now know who you are and what you had done.  That set in a little fear of others judging you based on the work you did.  What if no one liked it?  What if it was really bad and only you thought it was good?  The nagging inner voice of doubt has struck.

I begged for others whom I trusted to read my work and assure me I hadn’t failed in my attempt.  It’s taken two years and more unresponsive or noncommittal friends and family than genuinely responsive, then a few very good reviews before the slow process of believing in myself began.  Even though I now accept I can write well and many will like it, the occasional nagging inner voice of doubt lingers.  I wonder if its good enough?  I think it will be a continuous up and down battle to close off that voice with each new publication.

As more and more strangers report good things it gets easier, but it’s not like the eleven books, with a total of seventeen publications (some just ebooks), in two years brought in a flood of fans.  At least not ones who actually buy the books.  Few Indie authors experience that.  It’s the gifts and free giveaways that you hope will feed your doubts with good reviews, but never materialize that really disappoint.  We are such a vulnerable lot, and very egocentric when it comes to these feelings.

We support each other with likes and votes and sharing posts, with occasional purchases, and sometimes reviews, but it’s still a difficult road to travel down.  We’re mostly alone.  It’s the nature of our craft.  Continuing to immerse ourselves in imaginary places with imaginary people doing imaginary things keeps us busy.  If we stay busy maybe the fear won’t come, maybe the doubt will stay away and maybe even a few books will sell.  Of those maybe a few reviews will materialize to help erase any remaining doubt.

All of us go through this to some degree.  HERE is another blog with steps to follow to overcome some of these feelings of vulnerability and help you keep on keeping on so no one is shattered by disappointing comments or downright meanness.  Become strong because the naysayers are out there and when things begin to look good they could strike you down.  Be prepared.  Become strong.  Then it won’t matter if others don’t approve.  Enough will.

shattered

Categories: About Writing, Random Thoughts to Share, Reviews, Self-Publishing, The Trolls Wars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Characters Die

After reading How to Kill off a Character on this site – http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2014/01/kill-a-character.html – I had this to say:
These comments contain spoilers so proceed at your own risk if you haven’t read any of these books.

In my latest novel, On Unicorn Wish, the main character is recovering from a horrific accident that could have killed her, and she had setbacks, while at the same time reliving in memory (or is it real?) a magical time when she was ten. She was invited to Evernow, a placBest Unicorn Front BookCoverPreview.do copybetween time and no time where only those with a pure heart go when they die. On her return to her grannie after her adventure , as the child, she is having trouble remembering it. She is to meet someone from there she already knows who will help her forget, and it has been set up he visits her in that world as an adult to help her with her memory. At that point she, as the adult dies, because she was doomed from the beginning, but she returns to Evernow where she is a very special person, so her life goes on a little differently. Reviewers, so far, think the story okay for their children. I have recommended it only for older readers through adult, so the physical death of the main character doesn’t seem to be a big issue since she continues to live in the alternate reality.

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In the first novella of Painted Tree: Two Novellas, one of the character’s dies. He has to in order to show his remorse – lack of will to live – BLOOD Front BookCoverPreview.doBookCoverPreview.do PT frontfrom what he has done because of the vengeance he felt. His death affects all other characters since he was a charismatic character, and had his own story line. In the second story about the victim recovering she dies in the end, but as a old lady who found a way to fulfill her life in spite of her handicap from what happened to her.

In Ariel’s Cottage/A Price for Love the main character was a victim of a horrible crime, and is dealing with the psychological demons resulting. But physical problems are hinted at, and another important character returns after many years to see her, only to find she has died from an injury created during her horrific experience. The character who cared for her during those years found he could A'sC caps & smug FrontBookCoverPreview.donot live without her and commits suicide. A reviewer remarked of the emotional roller coaster ride, but that it felt in the end like she’d read the story of a real person’s life.

In my trilogy, Where the Horses Run, I have a character in Book I, connected to the main character and who plays a very small role, get murdered. The crime investigation, though mostly done by others out of scene in Book II, helps the main character and her companions make some discoveries. Also her grandparents’ deaths are spoken of and information left behind also helps. A major character dies in a car accident in Book III. It was a shock to me when I realized I’d have to kill him. I thought about it for a long time. But it’s his death that helps them learn some things they need to know, and spurs them on along their path of discovery even though a lot of time is spent learning to deal with his loss. His memory and what he had to offer is ever-present, so he’s not really out of the story.

In one of the stories in TREE & SKY: The Secrets of Meshyah’s World the grandfather is remembered at one point, having died, though the death is never spoken of, only what the main character, being a child, feels for her grandfather and his BookCover4T&Smemory. They had been very close and interactive in the prior stories. This is a children’s book and there have been no comments about how awful it might have been to read it. He was very old, and it happens.

I have an anthology of short stories and poems where characters die, mostly when they are old. One is a story with a child as the main character, so I also published it separately as Miracle Belle, A Horse with a Secret. The main character grows up when, later on she and her Miracle Belle Front BookCoverPreview.dohorse go to a special place without dying. It’s a spin-off of my trilogy.

My two children’s picture books are the only ones where no one dies. In fact, in both, someone/something is saved.

I have a middle grade story, only as an ebook for the first part of a series that will become a book, where only one is expected to be killed, but eventually someone else will die. Even in Harry Potter, a children’s book, many good characters die.

Of all the stories I have in the works I can think of only one where there is no death of an important character (so far), but rather a major life change, as is also the case in another middle grade children’s story. In another there are serial murders and a suicide; another with sword battles, and another adult spin-off of my trilogy where I don’t know yet if anyone dies, but a main character disappears never to be heard of again. In that series it the “other place” they are seeking to go to for safety from an expected earthy catastrophe. It’s not a heaven, they don’t die, though those who you think of as having died are there. I just can’t tell more without spoiling it all entirely.

I had someone say they couldn’t read any more of my books because they were tired of dealing with death. I find that it’s a rare book where a death isn’t at least mentioned.  Maybe there could be one where the story only takes place within a few hours of a day and the character is focused on an issue that doesn’t involve death. But death is part of life and it does happen so it makes sense to kill off characters, even if they are favored. It’s a natural progression of the story and I didn’t worry about doing it so much as how to do it properly for the story.

Unless I write the story spoken of in Ariel’s Cottage/A Price for Love (Murderous Intent) that involves her horrific experiences, I haven’t had a lot of mayhem involving the main character physically suffering. It’s mostly psychological, and dealing with memories of the pain and New PfL FrontBookCoverPreview.dosuffering that’s already happened.

If you want to review synopsis of any of these or my other books you can see them on my Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Judith-Victoria-Douglas/e/B007KCUA2Y

Categories: About My Books, About Writing, Random Thoughts to Share, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Yes, Roy, Writing is Hard

Though I could also say writing is hard, I have B.J. to thank for making it easier.  Her sudden loss put me on my own after working through that first book with her, Where the Horses Run.  She’d only started the second of that trilogy.   She’s mentioned in the acknowledgments.   I’m still writing, as you know.

I didn’t reach out to a publisher because my point of self-doubt, which Roy mentions, continues to some degree.  That and age put me on a faster track to publication by doing it BookCover4H1myself.  It has given me more jobs to do than I intended and made the work that much harder.  But it’s also been a road of discovery, both of my likes and talents.  And a decreasing budget forced me to take on parts of the requirements for publication I never intended to be faced with.  I have felt all alone though all of it.

We writers crave self assurances to keep going.  I haven’t had the contacts Roy has to keep me going, but keeping on going is what I’ve done.  Why?  Because once something’s discovered inside that has to come out you just can’t quit.

With a deadline of age I am focusing on finishing as much as I can before I can not longer do the work, then maybe I can focus more on the marketing end.  While I do some of that now it is frustrating to have work I’d rather be finishing.

Enjoy Roy’s road to success.  I did and it’s always good to know it can still happen…and to some of the nicest people.

Thank you, Roy, for your easy friendship.  All the best, always.

The kindness of others…

.. Posted September 19. 2013 by Roy Dimond

I’m going to state the obvious  – writing is hard.  But hang in there with me, I might surprise you, as well as myself, and share something insightful.

But first, back to my original premise, writing is hard. When I originally sat down to write my first novel, I had sweet naïveté sitting upon my shoulder.  That carried me for 6 months.  Then enthusiasm carried me for another 6 months.

Into the second year of my first novel, I began having an odd feeling.  I heard it first, then felt it in the pit of my stomach.  It came from over in the dark corner of my writing cave.  I even remember the date, July 6th at precisely 9:40AM when I stopped pounding the old keyboard and said out loud, “Who’s there?”

Silence was the response, so I started again, ready to tap out 2,000 words of great prose.  With 500 done, several of the brilliant variety, well, I had at least a comma that I was fifty percent sure was in the right place, when I heard it again.  It sounded like a snicker, but I knew it for what it was — self-doubt.

That was the day I became a writer — my naiveté had been replaced by doubt.  I took my year’s worth of work and rewrote the entire manuscript.  Another three years singing-bowl3passed and finally, I had my first novel, The Singing Bowl.

Next, I learned about query letters, publishing houses, and agents.  Believing myself to be prepared, I made the leap and sent out my manuscript.  I leaped naked into the great River of No…rejections came and writing was not only hard — it hurt — a lot.  Most rejections were polite, many were form letters, some were encouraging, and one or two had an attitude.  And not the spunky, you can do it ‘tude,’ that would have been so very much appreciated, but a sniffling, looking down one’s nose attitude.

But I love writing, so I started a second book and then one day — THE CALL came — a publisher wanted to see the entire manuscript of my first novel!  Then the follow up… they want it!  Eventually, more book contracts were signed, I found an agent, and the writing world became a little easier — not writing itself, just the world around it…

So here is the insight I promised.  People who are in this profession are REALLY… REALLY nice.

I have talked with dozens of publishers, scores of agents, and writers uncountable, and I can honestly say, the more successful, the more respected, and even revered, the nicer and more approachable they are.

So if you are just starting out, take a risk.  The icons of the industry will try to share the little time they have, they will laugh with you, and they will respect you.  They will freely share their experience, and they will be, most importantly — helpful.

Yes, even in this cold, hard, and harsh world of writing, there is kindness.

Thank you, to all those who have been so generous.  It is sincerely appreciated.  Especially now, as I turn back to the keyboard, and my self-doubt sits patiently smirking in the dark corner of my writing cave.

http://roydimond.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/the-kindness-of-others

Categories: About Writing, Introductions, Random Thoughts to Share, Recommendations, Self-Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Inspiration of a Picture

You’ve probably seen pictures — either a painting, sketch or photograph — that reminds you of something you’ve read, like this one reminded me of Robert Frost.  Here is the beginning of the poem, the one I live by, the picture brought to mind.

wood path

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

Being one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

I’m not sure if there are two paths, and it isn’t a yellow wood, yet it reminded me of the poem.

You have probably know of contests with a word(s) or picture as a prompt.  Writer’s Digest uses them monthly and they are good to keep the old creative juices flowing. There is one that posts on Facebook.  I’ve shared it on my new book promotion site at Novels, Novellas, Ebooks & Children’s Literature.

Occasionally there are the rare instances when I come across a beautiful photograph on my tumblr site, Menagerie, that inspires.  Don’t get me wrong, I come across such beautiful pictures all the time on that site.  It’s apparently best suited for them.  Great colorful renditions of birds, up close or in flight, breathtaking landscapes and great vistas that make me stop to catch my breath.  The ones I’m talking about have something unique, something that sparks the creator inside and brings out words, a few or many, in a way I don’t often express.  It may not be first-class, but it’s mine.  My heart was touched.  And it’s from the soul…the spirit of empathy and love that shares the moment transforming the vision I see.  From the picture or photograph’s two-dimensional state it again becomes alive in my mind’s eye.  I can envision the very moment the artist or photographer’s action froze it in time.

If it hasn’t happened to you yet it may be something to try, or at least, be aware of so when the moment comes with the right picture you will recognize it and allow it to flow.

Here are a few photos with my inspired words I’d like to share.  When looking back for them I realized last October was a rather prolific month for me (and I’d thought I wasn’t writing during that time).  Where available I’ve given the photographer, or at least the contact from which the picture came.   I’m sorry they can’t be larger for the full affect of their inspiration, especially the one with the night sky filled with stars:

Kitten listening to music

coolcatmatt:   via Inhabitude.

And the kitten sat there long moments, poised in the stillness of its straight posture, looking up, frozen by the rapture of the boy’s musical tones, tapping heel, moving fingers and slightly swaying head.  His eyes were closed, but hers were not.  She could see it all and it was magic, she was sure of it, because she could not move nor utter a sound to disturb it.

White Wolf

wild-earth:  Lakota Wolves

It was soft, coming from afar.  He listened intently, knowing the call of his mate, how he missed her.  There, her tiny silhouette, posed singing her lonesome song to the first morning rays streaking the grey sky.  He knew only one thing to do until they could be together again.  He gathered his voice.  He would sing his longing to break the distance between them.  She would hear, her loneliness abated.  He would travel on, the lack of sustenance for their pups kept to himself until they met.  Maybe he would yet be successful.

stars in the night sky

theflow-theme

Empty chairs and empty cares

My concern o’er trifles gone.

No longer will I worry for

The heart without a song.

Ended then or ended now

It matters not to me

For heaven is a hallow place

A gaze my eyes can see.

branches as a church window

http://treeporn.senezio.com

(this photographer was very happy the photo inspired a short poem)

Church Window

Peering through the darkness, a wonder I did see

But nature’s own cathedral peering back at me.

Park bench

When hearts are distant and unforgiving

Anguish lurks the soul

For none can hurt so deeply as a heart

Grown hard and cold.

There are occasionally those photographs that are just a beauty to behold and no words can describe.

Vista

blacksheepboy-:   (by AcuraZine Dan)

For some vistas there can be no words, just sighs…and sometimes, tears

Leaves

via Inhabitude

Some pictures are art and worthy of a long look because of the connection to life they give us.

In the rare moment a picture might not let you go.  It will keep you until some part of the story it illicits is complete.  The portion below for the cottage with the blue slate roof is a slightly edited version of what I wrote initially, but I have been given a wonderful gift and this is the inspiration to compliment it.  I found a photograph I wanted to use for a book cover picture, but after contacting the photographer I decided on another.  Once the photographer and I communicated I was given the use of the photograph for a book cover for the small price of 3-4 copies of the book. I won’t post that photograph until it’s a book cover, so suffice it to say, and for you to keep in mind, its a beautiful little girl kissing the muzzle of her white horse.

Now for a story…

I remembered this posted on my tumblr site with the idea of a story, and just the kind I wanted to tell.  It might take a while to complete, but the seed from last October will bear fruit sometime this year.  It’s an opportunity I can’t allow to pass for too long.  Immediately upon reading the paragraphs I’d posted it began to grow.

Cottage with blue slate roof

woodendreams:    (by Owen O’Grady)

There was the stone house at the turn in the road.  Its slate roof so blue it stood out against the greenery of the forest trying to hide it.  Ivy caressed its outer walls and the ends of dusty curtains fluttered outside over the window ledge.

A path lead to the big pond, an open expand of clear crystal-blue hidden in a surround of thick trees and undergrowth.  It felt the same secret magical place I visited as a child.  A whiff of granny’s biscuits, pies and cookies filled the air.  She loved to bake for us.  And we loved devouring all her goodies.  She’d laugh, thrilled to watch us as much as we enjoyed eating. We were allowed to break all the etiquette rules there, using our fingers, stuffing the great chunks of wild apple, grapes and berries from the pies into our overstuffed mouths, giggling.  It was so much fun.  Yeah, those were the days.  I have always cherished time spent in that magical forest, especially after I saw…well, what I saw I now doubt could be true, but it has to be.  It just has to be.

It was like a tiny white fawn, no bigger than a minute.  It looked like a fawn, barely creeping through the forest floor on its stilt-like legs.  When it saw me its eyes got…just…so big.  I wanted desperately to touch it.  It didn’t look real…almost iridescent against the shadows.  Turning it scampered the best it could.  I followed, Indian-like, and hid when I saw it duck into the undergrowth between some trees.  It was still panting, its tiny sides puffing in and out from fear and its struggle, when its mama stepped up to check.  She wasn’t big enough to be a doe, and all white.  But her horn told me something was there that wasn’t supposed to be there.  It was a unicorn, sure as I’m standing here telling you.  A real live unicorn.  Beautiful.  Last thing I remember was it turning to look at me.  When I woke up it was gone, but all the signs showed it’d been there.  I won’t ever forget. ***

Now, this is to become a story of magic and unicorns who can make little girls’ wishes come true.  The great gift of the cover photograph will be honored with a story of wonder to delight the photographer’s niece who modeled for it.  Sometimes photographs can inspire more than a few words, but a new world where other life is born.  We are gods, we creators of visions through words and pictures.  And we should feel the awesomeness of the task as the gift it was meant to be.

Well, there you have it.  Pictures of inspiration.  If you visit my Menagerie site, once it’s pulled up look at the address bar and change the page number to 755.  It should get you in the vicinity of these postings.  You may have to “go forth” or “wander back” to find them, but it’d only be within a few pages.  As I add to page one the number of the page they’re on will change.  I hope you enjoy them in that setting and full size most flattering to their beauty and inspirational value.

The multitudes of wannabes and fly by nights we have in the publishing fields at this time will find a niche or vanish.  We creators will remain finally unmolested by those who find our field fascinating and lucrative.  We can survive this onslaught, this invasion of our territory, our well known lands, if we keep at the craft.  Then creators we must be and something else — writers, the real writers who can be called Author.  It should humble us, but the pride we feel deep inside for being good at what we do will give us the glow to keep that soul in us alive that finds wonder in a photograph, inspiring us with a picture.

Categories: About Writing, Random Thoughts to Share | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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