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Friday, September 30, 2016

Dear “My Writing Sucks!” Writer

Dear “My Writing Sucks!” Writer,

“My writing sucks!” This is a statement many writers say at every stage of writing (first draft, last draft, every editing round, before and after critiques). We say this because we expect perfection. We want our stories to be golden right from the start, but that never happens, and that’s fine. Actually, that’s great! You want to be able to make your story better as you go.

The fact is, every writer thinks their writing is crap. It’s normal. We read amazing published books by best-sellers and compare their skill to ours. We can’t help it, can we? These authors are the ones we admire, so it’s easy to feel that our writing is inadequate next to theirs.

But these authors go through this same thing. They can think their writing sucks, too! And they have! The only difference is they have professional, top-of-the-line editors to help them. Once they’re done, their book is the gem that we later buy, read, and praise.

The same is true of your book. Once you’re done perfecting it, it is the gem that readers and other writers praise.

So remember, you may hate your work-in-progress now. You may think your writing is crap, but it won’t stay that way for long, will it? Not if you’re determined.

Grab your determination and turn your crappy writing to gold!

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Dear “I’m the Worst Writer Ever!” Writer

Dear “I’m the Worst Writer Ever!” Writer,

I can guarantee you that every writer has said they're the worst writer ever at least once. More likely, several times. Even New York Times Best-Sellers have said this at one time or another. I’m sure some of them still do. When best-sellers can think their writing is crap, aren’t we in good company?

I used to have these thoughts whenever I read a really good, vividly written book. I’d sit there with the book in my hands, my jaw unhinged, and I’d be thinking, I don’t write like this. Over time, as I grew as a writer, I stopped having these thoughts. I came to realize I don’t need to write like the authors I admired, because I write like myself, and that is good enough.

You don’t need to be like anyone else or write like anyone else. You are enough. Your writing is enough.

There are some things you can do to help your confidence, though:

1. Take a writing improvement course or a writing class at your local college. Universal Class offers online courses. You can take as many as you want with a one-year subscription that costs $189. They have writing and grammar courses.

2. Go to writing workshops or seminars. Many can be found online.

3. Read books on the writing craft.

4. Join writing groups. This could be critique groups or organizations like Romance Writers of America.

Daily mantras for you to say to yourself:

- I am a good writer. 
- I may not write like [name of your favorite author], but I write like [your name].
- My words mean something. 
- My books will get published because God gave me this passion and these story ideas for a reason.

Believe these mantras with every fiber of your being, send it out to the universe, and they will happen.

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Death Chant, New Release

Ho Boy, This is definitely worth notice.

When her mentor disappears, Winter follows his trail to the Pacific Northwest, where the untamed wilderness is beautiful…and hides deadly secrets.
Anthropologist Winter Barstow knows nothing of her past or ethnic heritage and tells herself it doesn’t matter. Everything changes when Doc, her mentor, sends her an authentic ceremonial wolf mask from Olympic National Forest. The mask calls to her in ways she can’t understand or explain.
Then Doc disappears. Determined to find him and discover the mask’s origin, she travels to the mysterious, awe-inspiring forest where she’s confronted by Native American ranger Jay Raven, who has no love for Doc.
The deeper Winter digs into her mentor’s disappearance, the more alarming things become. She begins to hear a mysterious wolf’s howl…even when no one else does.
Jay warns Winter to leave, but she owes Doc and herself the truth.

And even though it goes against everything he has promised his tribe’s elders, Jay can’t walk away from Winter. Not only has a spirit wolf reached out to her, but he also suspects she’s in terrible danger…and his growing feelings for her are too strong to ignore.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Chant-Vella-Munn-ebook/dp/B01K4VZTKK

Vella Munn writes because the voices in her head demand it. She has had at least 60 titles published both under her own name and several pen names. A dedicated hermit and shopping loather, she's married with two sons and four grandchildren. She's owned by two rescue dogs. 

Death Chant was one of her absolute favorite books to write in large part because she was able to mentally transport herself to the amazing and mystical Olympic National Forest in Washington state. 

Also, her heroine Winter Barstow had long been demanding that her story be told.

Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/Vella-Munn-Author-788044174656126/
No, he wasn’t Christmas morning excited. More like overwhelmed. Scared. Out of his element.
Scared? Damn it, she didn’t want that for him.
Doc was right. She owed him a great deal. Alone in the world, yearning to belong, to understand, she’d snuck into his lecture hall. Instead of kicking her out, he’d seen through her emotional shields to the hungry-for-knowledge teen she’d been. Once he’d won her trust—no easy task—he’d helped her get several scholarships, a part-time job on campus, a roof over her head. A reason for existing.
She called him, but the phone went right to voice mail. Swayed by his cautions, she didn’t leave a message. 
When Doc had been preparing to leave, he’d made sure she had several ways of getting in touch with him, including the number for Potlatch, the employee-only park camp where he had his field office. She punched in the Potlatch number. As she waited for someone to answer, she debated how to best frame her reason for calling. Doc and she worked for the same California university system, albeit far from the same place in the pecking order. She could—
“Potlatch. Ranger Jay Raven speaking.”
She couldn’t remember Doc mentioning anyone named Raven. “I’m trying to reach Dr. Anthony Gilsdorf.”
Silence. That was odd. Had they been disconnected? “Can you hear me?” she asked. “I’m trying—”
“I heard you.”
Thrown off balance by what might be the man’s hostility, she struggled to concentrate. Jay Raven hadn’t said whether or not he knew Doc, but what if he did and the relationship wasn’t friendly? Doc had been disappointed by the local Native Americans’ refusal to help him. Much as she wanted to tell the man about everything Doc had done for her, now wasn’t the time. It never would be.
“Is he there? I tried his cell phone but—“
“I haven’t seen him for several days, maybe a week. Maybe try back later.”
“Wait,” she blurted. “Don’t hang up. When did you last see him? Where was it?”
The man hesitated, as if finally hearing the desperation in her tone. “Here. It might have been when he was talking to our budget officer, Michael Simpson. That was three or four days ago.”
“How do I get in touch with him? He’s not answering his cell.”
“His cell is the only thing I can think of. Who are you?”
Doc might not have told anyone there about their close relationship. As long as she remained an unknown female caller, Jay Raven would have no way of connecting her to the wolf mask—if he even knew it was missing. He couldn’t track her.
Track her? Where had that thought come from? Damn it, she needed to get a handle on herself. Between the compelling artifact commanding her living room and her concern for Doc, she wasn’t at her best. She needed to think.
“We’re concerned about him. He was supposed to check in this afternoon,” she lied.
“Was he? Look, I don’t have any more contact with him than necessary.”
“Why not?” she demanded.
“Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but Dr. Gilsdorf’s relationship with my people is somewhat strained.”
“Your people?”
“The Hoh. We leave him pretty much alone. If he’s gone missing—“
“He has gone missing.” So she’d been right about the ranger’s heritage. 
“I’m afraid he has.” His voice softened. “My understanding is Dr. Gilsdorf had several meetings with the budget officer and park historian. They might be able to help.”
“I’d appreciate the suggestion. Doc is staying at Potlatch, isn’t he?”
“When he isn’t camping in the forest.”
Which was a lot of the time. “Would you mind leaving a note at his place for him to call me?”
“Not at all. Who should I tell him this is?”
“I’m Winter. Winter Barstow.”
He paused. “Interesting name. I imagine you’ve been told that before.”
“Yes, I have.”
“My compliments to your parents.”
Unfortunately, my parents had nothing to do with it. “I could say the same about yours. It’s unique.”
He chuckled. “Not many people are named after two different birds.”
Listening to him, she realized she’d actually relaxed for a moment. She wanted to thank him but didn’t know how to begin. “You will tell him I’m trying to reach him, won’t you?”
“Of course.” After giving her the numbers for the budget officer and historian, he told her he’d been impressed by Doc’s hiking gear and hung up. Losing the connection left her feeling cut off from not just Doc, but so much of what mattered to him. 
Jay Raven was Native American. That meant they had everything and yet nothing in common. 

Death Chant is out today!! Check it out.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How to Submit Your Writing Like a Boss

In Wednesday’s post I talk a little bit about not keeping your writing hidden. But how should a writer go about sharing their work with the world. Easy. By submitting them.
Whether it's poetry, flash fiction, short story or a novella. There’s a publisher/editor waiting to add it to their publication. But how to find them?
Well, there’s several ways to do that. Writer’s Digest has a listing of publishers, editors, agents, contests, etc to submit your writing. It’s called the Writer’s Market and has many editions based on genre and subject. It’s printed annually. And updated with information on editors. It also sample query letters, indexes showing if a market pays or not. And whether they accept new and emerging writers.
Can’t afford to buy the book every year? Here are a few free resources found online:
  • Aerogamme Writer’s Studio publishes news and resources of upcoming open submissions.
  • Poets & Writers has a literary and magazine database. All you have to do is sign up and search by genre and subgenre.
  • NewPages Classified is a recent find. They have a call for submissions list for writing, art, and photography from magazines, publishers, writing conferences, and more. You can delve deeper by searching by genre and type.
  • Published to Death is another recent find. They’re a great resource in finding publications that pay. As well as accept reprints, free contests, accept unagented manuscripts, etc.
  • Blogger Rachel Poli blogs monthly updates of publications accepting submissions on her blog.
  • Another resource is joining a social media group.  Members post and share information on upcoming submissions with each other. I've joined Calls for Submissions and Creative and Professional Writing Information Exchange on Facebook. And I'm a member of the Writing Resources community on Google+.
Now that you have at your fingertips a plethora of places to submit to what comes next is keeping track of them all. Most publications only accept digital submissions and use Submittable. Another submission manager is Duotrope but I use the former. Others have their own online submission manager like Agni.  Duotrope is a subscription-based submission manager. Like Submittable they track your submissions and it has a searchable market database too.
I take another step further and track my submissions in an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet shows me the name of the press/journal/magazine I’ve submitted to. The number of times I’ve submitted to them, the submission period and deadline. The pieces I submitted to them. And the genre and the date I sent it. It’s normal to wait 2-4 months before you hear back from a publication. If the allotted time has passed, then I'd contact them to inquire about the status of my piece(s).
Lastly I note whether it was declined and if any feedback was given about the piece. Which also determines if I’ll submit to them again in the future. Especially, if they used words like:
  • although we enjoyed it, the poems weren't quite right for the us/issue/magazine
  • made to last round of consideration
  • received careful consideration
  • welcome to submit again
And if the piece(s) were accepted I review the spreadsheet to find other submissions. Then contact the editors with a short and cordial explanation to why I'm withdrawing it. It's a rule of submission etiquette to do so just like following the submission guidelines.
The submission process is both a long road and a two way street. Just as you're looking for places to send your work. Publishers and editors are searching for writers to feature in their publications.  So do not take it to heart when your work was not accepted. It doesn't mean your writing sucked. But that it wasn't the right fit for them or that particular issue.  Yet, what wasn't right for them might be a better fit somewhere else. So don’t give up hope and keep submitting.
What resources do you use to find contests, anthologies, magazines, etc. to submit? Do you use Submittable, Duotrope or another submission tracker?