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Island of the Misfit Stories and What To Do About Them!

islandofmisfittoys

Toys from the Island of Misfit Toys 

When I was a kid, I loved watching Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. The toys were considered misfits because they possessed some defect and nobody seemed to want them. For example, there is a cowboy that rides an ostrich, a bird that swims, a winged bear, and a boat that can’t stay afloat — to name just a few!

And sometimes, our stories don’t seem to fit anywhere. We may often wallow about in self-pity giving into “writer’s block”, which probably isn’t even a thing. Well, according to, Terry Pratchett.

Terry Pratchett_quote

Regardless, time and time again, our stories come back rejected. And with each return, our will to keep submitting diminishes.

But, don’t despair!

Below are ways I’ve come up with to soldier on and write on when your short stories — just don’t seem to fit anywhere — and come back unwanted when all you’re aching for is some reader love. 😉

Play Rejection Bingo

This is an effective way to keep track of common trends or reasons as to why each story has been rejected by editors. Sometimes, you may not get any feedback at all. Sometimes, a form letter is all that haunts your email. Now, I don’t use this method because it’s fun, (when is rejection ever fun? LOL) but I’m a visual lady and this is another way to keep track of the bigger picture. After gathering feedback and you notice that there’s a trend in the reasons why your story is being rejected address the issue and fix it. Here’s one of my rejection bingo sheets:

Rejection Bingo

Revise your story

Share your story with writers and readers in order to gain priceless feedback about the story. Then, try submitting to another market. Even after you’ve revised and edited further, if that fails, consider paying an editor to look at your work — preferably one that is an expert in the genre you’re writing for. Carefully consider the feedback you receive and make changes accordingly, which will increase the likelihood of an acceptance letter and a contract! 🙂 Ooh la la!

Try a different market

Oh yes, yes, yes! Please do this! You see, what didn’t work for one editor (after all, they are indeed people with different preferences and needs for their particular audience) may suit another just fine. Try it. Don’t self-reject!

Consider Independent Publication

This option isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but there is indeed a market for short story anthologies. What most likely won’t work for me, may work for you. However, being new to this I won’t be taking this route. Yet. 🙂

Consider Traditional Publication

This choice will be easy if you’re Stephen King or another well-known author. If you’re not, then you will need to find an agent or publisher who wants to publish short stories from a new or not as well-known writer. This route isn’t impossible, but it will be difficult.

Post for Free — (Huh?)

You’re probably shaking your head wondering why I mentioned posting your hard-earned stories for free, especially after I supported the argument against it when I reblogged Aimee King’s The True Cost of Free. Well, I’ve reflected on of safer ways of doing this (still be careful and protect your work), which will also increase reader interaction, and potentially further cement the foundation for your author brand and platform. If you have a decent mailing list of trustworthy and faithful readers, share your work with them for free. After all, they love hearing from you and have trusted you with their email address. It doesn’t have to be the entire story. An excerpt is fine, too. You can also offer a free sneak peek of your work in order to funnel in new subscribers.

With that said, I’ll be going on a temporary blog hiatus, starting tomorrow! 🙂 Happy Friday to you and Happy Writing! 🙂

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Can you afford to be an Indie Author?

At this present time, I don’t consider myself an “active Indie Author”. To clarify any confusion, let me explain. Yes, I do have two books out in the world. Yes, you can find them on Amazon. Yes, you can purchase them on Amazon. Please do. Sometimes, you may have the vampire novel, due to KDP land, for free.

And I had planned on independently publishing more books, but life didn’t only happen– it Dragon Punched me in such a way that I wouldn’t wish these circumstances on my worst enemy.

Ryu-shoryukens

Life kicking my a$$.

knock out emoji

Me: -9,999,999,999

So, for now, I won’t be putting money (that I don’t have) into marketing these books. Why? Please read what’s within the parentheses above. For example, my oldest son will be going to college soon, driving, and continuing to make my husband and I proud.

Needless to say, my answer to the question “can you afford to be indie author?” is No. Not Yet.

And the not yet is a much better response than no, not ever.

Now, with that said, I simply had to share this post from Angela J. Ford, an Indie author who has the right stuff.

pexels-photo-707196-1

Can you afford to be an indie author? As independent authors, we have to be aware of the way cost plays into self-publishing. Cost can mean the difference between turning book publishing into a business versus having a very expensive hobby. The question is, how much is too much? When do you know if your books are bringing in a positive return on investment?

Truth be told, some authors make back the investment they made into their books, while the percentage of authors who don’t make back their money is larger. As I enter my 4th year of writing and publishing, I’m taking a hard look at the cost of book publishing versus what I can recoup back. While I certainly don’t have all the answers, I do want to break down expenses a bit and help you figure out when too much is too much.

You can enjoy the remainder of this thought-provoking post here.

 

2017 Year-End Reflection AND 10 Reasons Why I Plan on 2018 Being Even Better!

Soon, the year 2018 will roll on in. Looking back to all that I’ve accomplished, in spite of the struggle and medical hardships (yup, maybe I’ll share that someday), I can finally admit that I’m amazed and proud of myself.

Before I sat down to type this post, I had to think back on every single thing I did in order to own this feeling and not dismiss it. My mother and father raised me to always strive to be better. So, I blame them. Thank you, Mommy and Daddy. Thank you ever so much. Lol.

For most of you that know me on a more personal level, you know it’s hard for me to express such affirmations and truly, TRULY own them.

So, without further adieu, here are 10 Accomplishments in 2017 I’m MOST PROUD OF:

1. Attended various local author events at bookstores, libraries, and conventions.

2. Republished Forbidden as an e-book (now if only I can finish it up as a paperback)!

3. Independently published my first middle grade book (Waking Dream Series). Due to the fact that I struggle with marketing books like other Indie authors, I’ve decided that WHEN (not if) I become traditionally published, I’ll still put 100% into social media and marketing, but I hope that I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. Being an Indie author is HARD! And yes, the stigma of independently publishing books is slowly disappearing it isn’t completely extinct!

indies what we are

Read more about Being an Indie Author here.

4. Celebrated my sons’ birthdays (17, 5, and 2).

5. Wedding Anniversary – 🙂

6. Submitted several manuscripts to agents and publishers! Sure, I received rejections! But if you don’t try, you won’t succeed!

7. Applied for artists grants.

8. Sold my FIRST PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” to FIYAH Literary Magazine. Learn more so you can purchase your copy in January here!

9. Created YouTube Channel that’s in need of some serious, serious attention! 😉

10. Connected with more bloggers, readers, writers, and friends all over the world!

With you and your stimulating social interactions, I’ve become a better writer!

Thank-you-word-cloud

 

 

What Do Recurring Themes Say About You as a Writer?

recurring dreams

According to HowStuffWorks.com,

Many people have the same or a similar dream many times, over either a short period of time or their lifetime. Recurring dreams usually mean there is something in your life you’ve not acknowledged that is causing stress of some sort. … In this case, the dreams tend to lessen with time.

I’ve had recurring dreams, but the main point of this post is to discuss recurring themes in writing. I think that the themes we express creatively, like dreams, often reveal a lot about us.

A little while ago, I needed to go back and look at some work I did over a decade ago. I ended up pulling out floppy disks (yup), flash drives, and paper copies of work.

floppy neckchain

Ahhh. Floppy disks — as retro as Flavor Flav.

flavor flav

You see, there’s a grant that I’m really interested in winning (finalists won’t be announced for quite some time) and when I attended the workshop to learn more, the facilitator shared that applying artist were encouraged to reflect upon past work (none could be older than 15 years) and analyze it critically in order to improve the work.

I found short stories, novellas, poems, flash fiction from when I was a teenager. I also noticed a trend in writing themes I’ve maintained over a decade late. Here’s a taste:

Death

Family — blessing or curse

Love Conquerors All

Immortality

Oppression of women

Words have power

Evils of racism

All those years ago, I didn’t know that these stories fell into the speculative fiction category. Heck, I didn’t even know that I was genre writing. I just wrote because it made me feel better. I wrote in order to channel my passions and sometimes despair in an artistic manner. The themes I write about often transcend what’s happening in our current world. In other words, the settings I create don’t exist based on the world as we know it now. At times, it’s comforting to speculate. And at times, it’s downright terrifying too.

Speculative Fiction Diagram_Annie Neugebauer

This diagram (thanks to Annie Neugebauer) for this great visual of how far-reaching speculative fiction is. And the possibilities seem endless. 

I’m actively looking for an agent that will help me to reach my next goal: a home with a traditional publishing house. Some of my friends and families say, “Hey, just write a memoir. Or write in a hot niche category that will get you published quickly. Once you get your foot in the door, then, you can write whatever you want.”

I considered this route. Sucked on it like candy, before spitting it out. I realized if I write something I don’t love, or something that isn’t a part of me, I’m not being true to who I am.

It’d be like one of those cringe-worthy romance-comedy (less on the comedy part) movies where The Girl (me) changes who she is so the School Hunk (publisher/agent) notices her and takes her to the prom (publishing contract). And heck, maybe a year or so later they’ll get married and have a bunch of kids (royalty check + sequels and New York Times Bestseller List).

Reaching my goal as a successful Indie author has been hard. I’m a face-to-face kind of gal. I sometimes kiss with my eyes wide open, break out into random songs, or dance in the rain, and marketing from behind a keyboard isn’t my idea of a “good time”.

So, back to the recurring themes . . .

My first PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” will be published in Fiyah Lit Magazine’s Ahistorical Blackness (January Edition). I remained who I am. The story includes themes such as death, family, oppression of women, the evils of racism, and so much more.

Writers, what themes often appear in your writing? What do you think they say about you and your craft? Readers, what kind of themes do you especially enjoy appearing in the stories you read? Please share in the comments!

 

The Priceless Importance of Leaving a Book Review!

I have a lot of New Year’s resolutions for 2018 and I plan on sharing them in upcoming posts!

One of goals is to write more often on this blog, even if it’s really brief. Another goal I have is to write more book reviews. It’s important to support other authors. Books are important and I’m going to make sure my actions speak this truth.

After all, I had mentioned that I would be doing reviews for books (for example, Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older) I recently read. Unfortunately, I was also in the process of republishing my first book that was orphaned after my publisher went out of business. And then when I tried to be an Indie publisher (mind you, with a full-time job, and three sons) I got disheartened with how poorly I felt I was doing compared to other authors like this guy. My husband ADORES Chris Fox. Chris has a lot of good advice, but he’s no longer in the trenches like little old me so . . .

Anyway, if you write reviews, you’re awesome sauce.

If you’re an avid reader and aren’t putting in that extra effort, please consider it! Writers NEED YOU!

review or pie

I’d prefer the review any day, hands down, because then I can reward myself with a slice of pie.

How Million Yen Women Inspired My Revised Author Wish List!

wish-list

On Twitter, I discovered this hashtag: #MSWL. For those of you who don’t know, it stands for Manuscript Wish List. There’s even a website dedicated to this where agents and editors can share with writers what kind of manuscripts they specifically want in their inboxes!

Groovy, baby. Just groovy.

As a writer, I’ve always had a wish list of my own and it was simple:

  1. Find an agent or publisher
  2. Get published
  3. Sell books
  4. Quit day job
  5. Write for pay all day, every day! 🙂

Unfortunately, my journey toward becoming a best-selling writer hasn’t been simple to achieve. In between going to college to have a career to support my oldest son (almost two decades ago it was just the two of us); working full-time as a teacher; writing a book or two while pregnant, vomiting, nursing, crying, and living “the dream” (fake it until you make it) I didn’t think it would EVER happen. Sure, I independently published a book and had my first novel published (unfortunately, the publisher went out of business shortly after), but it wasn’t enough to quit teaching. Heck, it wasn’t even enough to make a car payment. Or a cell phone payment. Or even enough to buy a box of Tic Tacs (ha, ha — okay, I exaggerate it was enough to buy 12 packs of Tic Tacs!)

So, lately I’ve been submitting short stories, picture book manuscripts, and trying to complete another novel in order to return to that above wish list. And as time marches on, I get anxious, depressed (I may share more on that at another time), and feel hopeless that my dream to work as a full-time author will never come true.

And after watching “Million Yen Women” (it’s based on the manga series, “100 man yen no Onna tachi” by Shunju Aonoon) on Netflix, I have a new wish list. 🙂

I won’t spoil the series for you because I hope that you take advantage of the fresh satisfaction of watching it soon. Oh, so very soon.

I enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Especially to other writers because even though Japan possesses different cultural views in comparison to those in the United States of America, both countries share a similar perspective when it comes to the publishing industry and marketing.

The main character, Shin Michima, is considered a poor novelist, but one day that begins to change when he’s visited by five beautiful women who live with him. Each women has a role to play, but their purpose for being there is shrouded in mystery. Oh, and he’s not allowed to ask them ANY questions or enter their rooms. Now, why would Shin want to allow five, strange women into his home? Well, they pay him a million yen for every month they live there! As the story unfolds, you learn a lot about what it often takes for a writer (even one who is considered a failure, like Shin) to become a hot, best-selling superstar!

My (Revised) Author Wish List

  1. An Ally with Connections, like Hitomi. She’s the daughter of a deceased, famous novelist.

    Hitomi Tsukamoto

    Hitomi Tsukamoto

  2. A Dedicated Following (even one person would suffice — not including my husband –I love you, bae, but you can’t count!)

    Dedicated Following

    Nanaka Hiraki – pop singer and actress

  3. A Ride or Die Editor like Mr. Sakurai. He’ll guarantee a bidding war for your book. He’ll push to have the right amount of copies sold! Sakurai san

  4. A Manga-styled Harem (if I wasn’t married, of course — heh heh). So, we’ll go with someone to kick my behind whenever I fall into self-pity. Every writer needs a Minami Shirakawa in their inner circle. She’s loyal, she won’t settle for anything but your best, and she’ll give you her all. She’s my favorite character in the entire series! 🙂

    Minami Shirakawa

    Minami Shirakawa: my fictitious BFF

    A Fan Club that Hosts and/or Attends all of My Events!you need a fanclub

Have an author wish list? Share yours in the comments!

 

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 27

Writing high fantasy is not for the hobbyist. It takes perseverance, cleverness, and lots of dedicated time.

I’m currently completing the second phase of world building for a high fantasy series that’s been haunting my waking and dreaming hours for quite some time. About three years actually. Adara Trosclair, for whom this blog is named after will make her appearance in the second book. I see main character in this first book clearly. She’s not like Adara, who is charismatic, sweet, and girly. Lethe, on the other hand, is bitter, snarky, resentful, and will most likely be an unlikable character. But that in no way means that readers will be unable to relate to her. Anyone who has lived on this earth may have acted like this guy:

grumpy

in some way, shape, or form. Even for a day. 🙂

But then again, maybe Lethe is more like this:

grumpy cat_people

And the entire idea behind this book — once a tiny seed — is now a mighty oak tree. Lol. Well, in my mind currently. For the past several days I’ve been working on my fantasy world’s distinct parts:

  • Continents
  • Characters
  • Religion
  • Ethnic groups
  • Jobs
  • Mythology
  • Language
  • Conflict

I also want my high fantasy idea to be fresh and to question and maybe even provide answers to current issues in the real world. Issues like racism, sexism, and bigotry.

tolkien quote

At first, I totally agreed with this quote from Tolkien. Fantasy is a great way to escape! However, escaping and being distracted is so easy and it’s not worth it. Yes, we all need a little break every now and then (that’s why I play video games and do Zumba Fitness), buuuuuuut, ignoring important issues in the world isn’t a solution to the world’s worldly ills (yes, yes, yes, I know I used the word world three times in that one sentence).

I’m considering whether or not the book would fit the Young Adult age group and if so, what kind of pitfalls must I avoid? For instance, is it okay for the two main characters to engage in sex? How violent and bloody should the sword and sorcery scenes be? And what about expletives? My husband and I are fans of Dragon Age and the rating for this RPG is “M” for mature audiences due to sex (your main character can ROMANCE other characters), violence (lots of blood — I mean LOTS), and other suggestive themes. And as I continue plotting away, do I consider my book having a dark tone like Dragon Age? HECK YA!

dragon age

Lots of blood slaughtering darkspawn, humans, dwarves, elves, and dragons!

I wouldn’t mind kids similar in age to my oldest son who will be seventeen soon reading this book. But younger than that? Wow. Just wow. Makes me feel uncomfortable.

dragon age_killthequeen

Lol. I just want Alistair. 🙂

As a child, I loved fairy tales and I also want to incorporate them into my high fantasy books. My favorites are the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Little Match Girl, and Rumpelstiltskin.

 

Regarding Tolkien’s quote, I agree more with the spotlighted quote of the day. I don’t need to escape. I want to understand.

 

Quote #27

Alexanderquote