Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“But Mom, I don’t like reading Shakespeare…”

When I was younger, I dreamed of writing stories, poetry, and novels. Daydreaming about adventures, heroes, and faraway lands got me into trouble more than once. These adventures often manifested into reality in my life, but mostly they helped me survive the nightmares of abuse.

Then the biggest nightmare of all time, the big “D” and I don’t mean Dallas, released me from a lifetime of being a mouse. For several years after, I roared like a lion. In recent years, however, I try to find a beast somewhere between the squeak of a mouse and the ferocious roar of the king of the jungle. I’ve yet to find one, so if anyone has any suggestions…(smile).

Before signing the papers in 2001, I purposed to make writing much more than the daydreaming of my youth: I started writing. Oh, how I wrote in a fevered pitch. I wrote short stories and poetry and then sought publishing. If you are a writer, a regular one without degrees directing your path, then you can guess what I did next.

With my head in the stars floating around in the galaxies, I had my first book in print. I thought I was that good! PublishAmerica victim number…uh…numbers don’t really matter unless you are a cheese or wine. (hmm…why does that word make me want a glass of it at 9:30 in the morning?) That was a costly lesson, but one that started me on the road of P.E. (Publishing Education), which is more enlightening than the gym classes in high school. Fortunately, that book was a mere compilation of short stories and poetry and not a novel.

Writing one more short story before leaving for work, I leaned back in my chair and read over what I wrote. “This is no short story! This is a book,” I said to my computer. (yes, I talk to myself…er…I mean my computer.) Six months later, it was a binder-bulging 147,000 words and the most awesome fantasy adventure the world ever knew. However, the world didn’t know, and still doesn’t. I was ready. I was a writer! I drove all the way to Washington DC, the Library of Congress and got it copyrighted; I had to protect my work from…well you know.

Then, I asked people to read it for some feedback. Why wasn’t everyone as excited about it as I was? No one wanted to read it, much less give me some feedback. Of course, back then I didn’t know where to seek such beta readers, nor had I ever heard that term before. Reading one particular “help” site, I kept seeing the acronym, MFA. The way it was used made me think surely that it must be some form of swearing about someone’s attitude. So, I googled it before adding my two cents. Yeah, I got a good laugh.

Finally, I got my oldest son to read a little of my great, fantastic, and wonderful book. He read the first page and said, “Mom, I don’t mean to be mean, but I really don’t like reading Shakespeare.” I took a deep breath and sighed relief! Finally, someone cared enough to take a look. He was more than right. I took his advice and rewrote the book, but it remained over 140,000 words.

His words, his honesty with me, helped me embark upon the long, difficult journey of learning the craft of writing BETTER. Reading books on writing, blogs, and participating in writer’s forums, my writing evolved. Another P.E. is now pegged at the top of my browser window – Preditors & Editors where I was not surprised to see PublishAmerica listed as one of the worst places to go if we are serious about writing.

So, let’s bring this long story to a stopping place (it’s not over until…I sing), unlike my first novel (now a four book series), which I have dubbed, “My Mona Lisa” because it may never be finished.

If we endure our critics with an attitude of learning, growing, and evolving our craft to perfection…

If we survive the praise and insincere doting of friends, co-workers, and family…

If we overcome our own insecurities and fears as well as our success before we succeed…

If we take our nightmares, our daymares (a word I learned from David Morrell), and chain them up with the power of the pen (okay…MS Word documents)…

If we imagine the descent into the valleys of doubt, frustration, discouragement, failure, and rejections as one big roller coaster ride…

If we can still see those valleys when we finally stand high on the mountain peak, spread our arms like eagle’s wings soaring through the heavens…

Then…we are writers.

Love Lucy


  1. Hey Lucinda!
    Found your blog from SLC Kismet. You're an incredible writer, and I look forward to more enlightening posts!

  2. I just started a new fantasy project last night. Most of my novels that have never seen the light of day have been 120,000 words or less. With this new one, I'm aiming to be done at about 70,000 words...maybe 80,000. Basically a quick read. I'd love to hear more about your experience with Publish America. I've been considering writing something in the 70,000 word count (as noted above) to load onto Smashwords and then put it on the Kindle store and see how it does (ala Amanda Hocking). Probably get it done pretty quick (and its small enough that I could maybe load a page at a time in Grammarly for editing and not pull my hair out).

    What kind of fantasy do you write? I'd like to know more.

  3. Thanks Marjorie! You made my day.

    Michael: Yeah, I write novels now with target word counts of 80,000 or less. The fantasy novel series that I am writing (currently re-writing the first one (now 120,000 words) to reduce it to below 100,000 words).

    Createspace is a very tempting AND EASY method to use POD publishing. Because of NaNoWriMo, I wrote 76,000 words in one month and won a free proof copy of my novel (after two months of revisions) from Amazon's Createspace. It was actually fun to design and upload the pdf files after finding a great pdf converter that works through your printing software.

    My fantasy book is about a king who doesn't want to be king. He leaves his palace with intentions to never come back, but after taking a journey with a dwarf (gotta have dwarfs in fantasy novels) through a Land of Dragons (yep got those, too), he realizes he must be king. There are four books, two are written and in bad need of copy-editing, in this series. The third one is under construction and the final one is screaming in my head to be put into words.

    I have several other genres that I am working on due to the daymares and nightmares I have frequently. One is a paranormal about an unwilling psycic and another is about a mad scientist. Then my NaNoWriMo novlel, the one that has set me on a path into YA novels - The Last Meatball. I have two children's picture books WIP as well.

    About PublishAmerica (PA)...oh books could be written about them - not in a good way either. Go to P&E, google them, ask anyone out there in the publishing world and you won't find many nice things said about them. They are crooks, scams, and not honest. I received royalty for two or three books (there are books on Amazon and other places that are still for sale long after the book has been taken out of print - by me.) It was a good lesson, but a costly one. I was their number one customer in my attempts to market them. (I still have boxes full in the garage.) Once you sign their contract - a real publishing contract, they have their hooks in your work for seven years without editing services, re-write suggestions, nodda, nothing, zilch by way of improving your work for marketing. (in fact, if you don't watch them closely, they will butcher your works) Barnes & Nobel won't even shelf the books; they are that bad. And PA prints softbound, but prices them above hard cover prices. They are impossible to sell except to friends and family.

    My advice is to always go to P&E, Backspace, AgentQuery, Absolutewrite, or other places before publising, querying, or heading out your door with book-in-hand and dreams clouding your vision.

    Thanks for your comments

    love lucy

  4. sorry for the typos...rushing out the door to the post office....(smile)

  5. I enjoyed this post a lot, particularly the ending. That is a great list of the elements defining a writer, as each point is extremely accurate. Regardless of genre, audience, or style, the writing process is the same for everyone. And it can be a very lonely process. I can't imagine how novelists survived in the dark ages - when the only available option was to sit in a dark room and 'ink' their novel. Then people typed them on typewriters. We are fortunate; we have social networking, and that means, we have each other.

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