Who Says You Can’t Go Back?

These past few months I’ve gone back to submitting some of my short stories for publication. Maybe to some it seems like a step back, but I’m content with the  short stories I write. I really am. Becoming distracted by novel writing these past five years or so, I allowed several finished and unfinished stories to fall to the wayside. I wish now I hadn’t. Last winter I submitted a short piece to Understory Magazine and it was published in their Winter Issue. The story was titled “The Old Queen Rains.” For those of you who might not have already read it I’ve added the link. HERE. I can’t deny it’s a wonderful feeling to have someone say they want to publish something I’ve written. These acceptances are so few and far between when writing novels. I’m a SLOOOW writer. But slow and steady as they say…..

I just received word on the weekend that another short story I’d submitted to TRANSITION , a magazine published by the Saskatchewan Mental Health Society , has been accepted. I’ve had work published there in the past. If you click into the “Publications” tab,  at the top of the page, and scroll down you’ll find some of these issues online. The link won’t take you directly to my story but, rather, the issue of the magazine. You’ll need to scroll through the magazine to find mine. I know, it’s a lot of work!

It seemed a shame to know that I had competed stories just sitting there in files on my computer. A story that sits idle will never find a home. I’m happy to know this particular story will be published. It deals with the issue of euthanasia, a very controversial topic. I like controversy in writing, it’s so, I don’t know, controversial. I enjoy writing stories that make people stop and think or perhaps show them a different viewpoint. Having an open mind, considering something you’ve never stopped to consider, is never a bad thing in my opinion.

So, yeah, I’m going back to submitting short stories. It doesn’t mean I won’t continue to work on novels, because I will. I’m keeping an open mind. The writing will find me one way or another. I don’t pick the story I want to write, but rather, the story picks me.

So here’s to going back, to keeping an open mind, not setting a straight path, but following a path that sometimes meanders a little bit. Sometimes the best things happen when we least expect them, and often when we don’t have anything particular in mind.

 

 

MIA

Just in case any of you are wondering, I haven’t gone any place. I’m just having some computer issues and it’s making my life most challenging these days. I’m hoping to set up a time to take my computer into the shop. But until then I’m very limited as to what I can and can’t do online. I’ve been reading a few blogs but I can’t leave comments and  only the text is coming up. So if you’ve you’ve posted any photos I can’t see them. Facebook is even worse. It looks pretty bare bones. And although “Flying with a Broken Wing is available for pre-order on Amazon.ca, all the clicking in the world won’t let me see the cover of my book on the site. I know it’s there.  http://www.amazon.ca/Flying-With-Broken-Wing-Laura/dp/1771080388  but I can’t even add the link here on my blog. NO fun..

Publication is a little over three months away. Time is closing in, and I’m started to get excited. In other news, a brand-spanking new Advanced Reading Copy arrived in my mailbox a few days back. You’ll have to take my word on it since — you guess it—I can’t add a photo. Oh bother. Here’s hoping I’m able to get back up and running at full capacity before too long.I miss you all.

Hope you’re having better luck than I have been.

Busy, Busy Beaver

On the property across from ours, the beavers have been extremely busy as you can see from the photo. It’s rather amazing to know that these small creatures aren’t afraid to tackle something so large. This urge to chop down trees is something that comes natural to them. Funny, how they don’t shy away from such a big undertaking. We see plenty of evidence of the beaver’s work, but we’ve never caught them in the act. I think much of their work is done at night.

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Writing a novel is also a big undertaking. One that writers enter into willingly, regardless of the work involved. Rarely can an author say they whipped a novel up in a matter of a few weeks or months…(Yes, I know, some can, but many can’t.) For many authors it may take many months, maybe even years until their book is ready to be read by an editor. But once a book has been accepted for publication it doesn’t mean a writer can sit back and wait for those royalties to start rolling in. For those not involved in the industry, it’s difficult to understand what takes so long for a book to come out. I hear from people all the time, anxiously wondering why, if I’m working on edits for the book now, it isn’t coming out until next fall.

The whole idea behind the edits is to help make that story shine as much as possible. A writer often becomes immune to seeing the flaws in our stories and it takes another set of eyes to point out the imperfections and make suggestions as to how the story can be improved. We all want that book to be the best it can be, right?

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So this is where I am at the moment. No, I don’t mean I’m cutting down trees….The edits are going well and I’m pleased with how the story is evolving even further. It’s always exciting to discover something new in your work, something you overlooked while you were getting the story down the first time around. Did I say the first time? I guess I should say the first several drafts.

Christmas might be creeping up on me, but I’m very hopeful that I’ll have the manuscript sent back before then. What is it about Christmas that makes us want to accomplish certain goals? I can remember, as a child, that rooms were painted before Christmas or new flooring laid.—always before Christmas, regardless of how close to the big day that it happened. So long as it was done by then everyone was happy. Anyway, I’ll use Christmas as a deadline to have this round of edits completed. I’m pretty sure that I won’t get a whole lot of writing done once a certain little someone arrives anyway.

How about you, is there anything you’d like to accomplish before Christmas comes?

All Aboard the Bandwagon

Ah the bandwagon, that gloriously wonderful place to be. Toot your horns and play your trombones ‘cause the circus is coming to town. Add some razzmatazz (God, I love that word) to the mix, some decorations and away we go!

Back in the day, the bandwagon paraded through the streets when the circus came to town. The purpose was to attract the public, peak their interest, and drum up a little business. I mean, it was the circus, how often did it come to town? Of course there were never any circus’ coming through good old E. Dalhousie, and certainly no bandwagons, at least in that sense of the word.

In the late 19th century, politicians picked up on this form of attracting a crowd and began using bandwagons when campaigning for office. (I googled all this because I really wasn’t sure where the term bandwagon originated.)

Today, we speak about someone jumping on the bandwagon we generally mean they want in on what’s trendy, because let’s face it, trendy means popular and who doesn’t enjoy popularity?

We hear about trends in book publishing, and what’s hot at the moment. Hot means books sales, and books sales means well:

Book sales  + Popularity = Every author’s dream.

Back when I was a fledgling writer with no real direction, no clear idea of style or voice, just an urge to express myself with words, back when I was furiously trying to figure it out, figure me out, figure the world out, while figuring my kids out, I thought the bandwagon was the place to be. It was fun, it was popular, there was razzmatazz. Not only that, if I wanted to catch a publisher’s eye I had to give them what they wanted and sure as heck they wanted trendy.

I tried writing what I thought would get me published. The problem was, what I thought would get me published had nothing to do with being true to who I was as a writer and as a person.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if trendy is who you are through and through, and is not simply coming from your need to write what will sell, then you’re on the right path.

I wasn’t. Not in the beginning. I couldn’t even see the path because I wasn’t even looking in the right place.

So I was a baby taking baby steps along with my two year old at the time. I was trying to find my way in the dark, with no guidance and no helping hand. I made wild stabs in the dark, first this way, then that. It’s called life, and we all make our share of wild, uncontrolled stabs in the dark while trying to find our way.

My first steps were wobbly. Not only that,  I was as clumsy as elephant. I saw where I wanted to be and I headed straight for it, crushing everything in my path. I thought I was going to get the peanut that way, and boy, was I mistaken.

But don’t cry for me and don’t feel sorry. We all travel the path that is meant for us. Some of us tread lightly, others stomp our way through.

I’ve always been stubborn and independent, always figured I had to discover these things for myself. It’s not that I didn’t want the help of others, there just were no “others” out there to offer it. The path looked mighty deserted. Not to mention that, in the beginning, I was on a secret mission. But secret mission or not, in the very beginning, I climbed up on that bandwagon for a spell. Trendy look pretty good from where I was standing. In fact it looked about right. It was going to get me published.

I would never advise anyone starting out to follow my footsteps. Our footsteps are unique, the path we choose is the one we need to travel. We need to make our own mistakes and find our own way.

The moment I read that we should write what we know, an idea came to me. I knew what I could write about. I was a bit nervous. Up until then I’d been writing what I didn’t know because I just didn’t know any different. And then my first story was published and I felt immediate joy. I had found the path that was right for me.

Would the path lead me to popularity? Would publishers immediately snap up every morsel I wrote, eager to get my words in print?

What do you think?

But I had learned a valuable lesson.

I learned to stop looking over my shoulder. I learned to write the story that was uniquely mine. I found the path that was meant for my footprints. And this is where I want to be, this is where I have found publication.

So have you ever climbed up on the bandwagon? If you have was it the right place to be?

I’m Still Writing

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.~~ Albert Schweitzr

Good old Albert had a point, don’t you think? Loving what we do should bring the smile to any old grouch’s face, unless they’re simply being contrary. I’m not going to say that never happens.

In my world, nothing makes me happier than sitting at the computer and hearing the clicking of the keyboard. Okay, maybe not so much clicking since my typing skills are atrocious, but even the hunt and peck method  can sound musical when thoughts are flowing and you’ve got a great idea by the tail.

Back when I was writing short stories there always seemed a time when I had work forthcoming, but I haven’t written a short story in a very long while. I’ve simply been too busy working on longer pieces. I don’t seem to write nearly as fast as some of the writers I’ve come to know, but as they say, “slow and steady wins the race.” Truthfully, I can’t say I’ve missed writing short fiction. I think it’s a matter of moving forward, and graduating into writing longer, more complex pieces. I’m not going to declare my short story days are over because one thing I know I’m not good at and that is predicting the future.

Anyway, the point behind this post is to mention a short story I wrote a number of years ago that appeared in the Nashwaak Review this time around. My copy arrived before Christmas, and although I took the time to read it (I always read my work after it is published) I didn’t take time to mention it to anyone except in passing to my daughter. The truth is, each story that we have published is just as important as the others considering how we toil over our words, pouring our hearts and souls into our work. The story I wrote is title Balloon Man it is told by a five year old boy whose mother has abandoned the family. His mother’s story, published by Transition a few years back, is available to read online and takes us quite far into the future. Transition published an earlier story told by the same character with the title, Mad Money, unfortunately that one can not be found online so far as I know. If you’re interested, you can check out the “publications” tab on my blog and click on: There’s This Thing About Leaving. It will take you to the issue in question. I can’t remember what page my story is on now, but scrolling down is always a good way to find something.

But enough about me, what’s new with you and your writing? Doesn’t have to be writing related, just anything you’re just dying to tell, and while you’re at it enjoy your weekend.

Am I Really Jinxed?

There’s the phenomenon that my children used to joke about when I was sending short stories out for publication. If you want to go out of business accept work from Laura Best. They used to say I was jinxed, and I guess there were times when it kind of felt that way.

Come in a little closer, what I’m about to tell you is not a secret but did in fact  happen to me more than once (okay maybe five or six times to be truthful.) I would receive an acceptance from a literary magazine saying they wanted to publish one of my stories. Great. Woohoo! Music to any writer’s ears. But that’s not where the story ends. Before my work ever had time to grace their pages, the magazine would cease publication.

Gone without a trace…Zippo!

Add to that the fact that my work has appeared in the last issue of about three more literary magazines over the years, and I began to wonder if my kids didn’t have a point.

So it’s no big secret that literary magazines struggle to keep going, and quite often they are forced to cease publication for various reasons. It’s a sad truth but a truth nonetheless.

I feel jinxed when it comes to blogging sometimes too. I find a blog I decide to follow, add it to Google Reader, everything goes along great, and then all of a sudden the blogger stop posting. Gone without a trace…Zippo!

This evening, as I was catching up on some blog reading, I realized that my Reader has quite a few blogs that haven’t updated for many, many months. It makes me wonder if they’ve abandoned their blog or simply taking an extended blogcation. Life sometimes becomes complicated and blogging simply isn’t an option for us. We can all understand that.

I resist the urge to unsubscribe to these seemingly abandoned blogs because well…they may start blogging again. I’m loyal if nothing else.

Bloggers come and go as do blogs. Usually, we begin a blog with a certain objective in mind. Sometimes we stay true to that objective and never stray far from it, while other times our blogs change, and become something totally different over time. So while I know it’s ridiculous to think I’m in any way jinxed, I’ll keep hoping that some of those wayward bloggers will feel inspired in the New Year and pick up their blogs where they left off.

How about you, has your blog stayed true to itself or has it shifted and changed over time? If you’re a blogger, have you ever abandoned a blog to start a totally different one? If you’ve subscribed to a blog where there hasn’t been any activity for a long time do you unsubscribe or do you stay loyal to the end?

Hope Whispers

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”~Author Unknown

This quote hits home for me. I often hear hope whispering, even those times when I hear my practical side telling me otherwise. I’m one of those people who hang fast to hope by the tiniest thread. If it were not for those glimmers of hope in my life, I’m sure I would have stopped seeking publication many years ago. Hope is what urges me to pick myself up each time that I vow I’ll never write another word, never put myself through the pain of another rejection, never struggle to find the proper words. I sometimes think it would be much easier to simply walk away from the writer’s life but I can’t. At least not yet.

Where would we all be without hope in our lives? Today, I’m over at a Hopeful Sign. Please pop on over and say hello.

The Brevity of Roses

“That book does not exist.”

Those were Ed’s words the day I drove out to his bookshop to order The Brevity of Roses written by blogger friend, Linda Cassidy Lewis.

Ed thought he was being clever, that I wouldn’t have a clue what he meant by that, but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, Ed. I know what print on demand means. (It actually seems like a very good idea, although I’m sure Ed might not agree seeing how he likes to stock books on his shelves.)

So many bloggers were writing wonderful reviews of Linda’s book, raving about it in fact, and for awhile I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to get my hands on a copy. Luckily, I discovered there’s a bookshop a little less than an hour from home that would order Linda’s book for me. All I had to do to get my hands on Linda’s debut novel was to prepay. No sweat. I could do that! So you see, even if you don’t own that little piece of plastic you don’t have to deprive yourself. There’s always a way around everything. (Okay, so the lack of a credit card is a personal decision, one that I’ve been rethinking lately.)

This past while, I’ve followed Linda on her journey to self-publication and, I won’t beat around the bush, I’ve admired her initiative, all the work that went into getting her book out there. She’s a determined kind of gal and I’m all for determination.  (She even designed her own cover! How cool is that?)

If you haven’t already checked out Linda’s book, you might like to slip on over to her blog out of my mind, and check it out. You’ll find two sample chapters of The Brevity of Roses to read on the sidebar right under the book cover, and if you like what you read they can print you off as many copies of that “non-existing” book as you want. Non-existing! Oh Ed, I do beg to differ.

Linda’s writing speaks for itself. Oh yeah, the lady can write! For me the mark of a good book is one that leaves a lasting impression on the reader and, I have to say, I thought about Jalal, Meredith and Renee after the book was read. Bravo!

I also feel moved to mention that when Bitter, Sweet was released in the US last year, Linda was right there to support me as a debut author. What some people might not realize is that, as authors, we truly do appreciate all those people who buy our books. Without them, our words would not reach a larger audience. And it is for the reader that we put our selves and our work out there,  knowing that there will be those who will rave about our efforts, and those who may be less enthusiastic about it. We just can’t satisfy every reader. It is not an easy business to be in, and yet here we are.

So, congrats, Linda, on a job well done. Enjoy your time as a debut author, you deserve it!

Waiting For The Bus

“Dear God—I pray for patience. And I want it right now!

—Oren Arnold

When I came across this quote it made me laugh, but I could also see some truth in it as well. Patience is something many of us struggle with, myself included.

Granted, it might be nice to have our lives unfold in a timely fashion, but lets face it life doesn’t work that way. We wait and we wait and, then to add insult to injury, we wait some more.

I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for others over the years. When my daughters were away at school we’d go to the bus station to wait for them to come home, one from Fredericton, the other from Shelburne. The bus they travelled on was always late especially in the winter months. Sometimes we’d sit and wait for an hour or more. Of course once we saw that bus coming in the distance we were so happy to see them that we soon forgot about the long wait we’d just endured. Over time, we came to accept the fact that the bus would not be waiting for us when we arrived. It would be late as usual and there was nothing we could do about it.

Writing is like that. There is nothing fast about the publishing industry. Who spends more time waiting than a writer? A writer needs patience during every stage of the writing process. Patience is needed to keep us writing even after our initial love affair with that brilliant idea is over. Beginnings are filled with enthusiasm. Good thing or we wouldn’t bother to see it through to the end.

Stories do not just come about without a lot of work. Sure, it might be nice if we could have a polished story in three months instead of three years, but the truth of it is, some stories can take a long time to work out. Sometimes the buffing and polishing can take more time than the initial story, and yet we patiently rework sentences and paragraphs reaching for those perfectly sounding prose. Even during those times when we’re almost certain we’re writing pure drivel.

More patience is required to ensure that we do not become too anxious and send our work out before it is ready. I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. Taking some time away from our latest masterpiece helps us to see any places that require more work.

Again we need patience as we await a decision from a busy editor. As much as we’d like to think that we are an editor’s priority, we are only one of many hopefuls out there. Even after our work has been accepted, we must have patience as we wait for our book to finally be published. My book was accepted in April and was not published until October of the following year.

I sometimes think those writers who are awaiting publication need the greatest patience of all. Once we’re published there is no going back. No one can take that from us. But for those still waiting it is easy to become discouraged and give up. This is when we truly need patience. This is when we need to remind ourselves of the day “when” publication comes and not “if.”

I wrote for many years before my book was published. When I first started writing it was my goal to be published in book form. I spent many years working at short stories, setting aside what my original goal was until the time was right. It wasn’t always easy. I wasn’t always patient. I often complained out of frustration.

Patience isn’t something we can hold it in our hands or sit it on a shelf and show it off for everyone to see. We can’t wait for it to find us and it’s not something we can go in search of. But it can be ours if we choose to allow it with a little change of thought.

How about you, do you struggle to find patience in your life? Or have you found that place of peace where you are content to wait for your bus to arrive?

Reflections: One Year In

This past year has been exciting for me. It’s been a year of many firsts; first novel, first book launch, first book signings, and(most importantly) first grandchild.

Tomorrow it will be exactly a year since my daughter set up this site for me. My intentions were to have a place where people could come find me once Bitter, Sweet was published should they be interested in learning a bit more about me as a writer.

I have heard from quite a few people after the publication of my book, and it’s been so nice to hear that my little book has somehow touched their hearts. In this respect, I consider that my site has certainly lived up to my expectations.

I never expected to be writing regular posts. Other than what might be happening in regards to my upcoming book I didn’t think I’d have anything to write about, certainly nothing that anyone would care to read.

I don’t kid myself into believing that I’m a blogger by any means. I know some of you are probably thinking that sounds a bit silly. Yes, I write blog posts, and I do have a blog, so technically…..

But, when I visit other blogs and read their posts, I find myself thinking— now they really know what blogging is all about. The posts are informative, not to mention entertaining, and so, so inviting to read. I visit them whenever possible. But to be honest it is all very time consuming.

Most of you who read my blog are not bloggers, and likely don’t read other blogs on a regular basis. You are my friends and family, and I SO appreciate you dropping in to read what’s on my mind. Thank you for leaving comments from time to time to let me know you’re out there. When my book came out you were right there to offer support. Many of you helped out the day of my book launch. I will forever be grateful for you support, and will never take you kindness for granted. You have been MY cheering section! Give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

I’ve met some really wonderful bloggers during this last year as well. Most of you are listed on the sidebar to the left. If you’re not it’s just because I haven’t got around to adding you. You’ve all been supportive and friendly, you’ve made me laugh, you took the time to leave comments, you’ve made me feel welcome. And I thank you!

To be truthful, I’m not very affluent when it comes to the workings of this site. Many times, in the past, I depended upon my daughter to lend a helping hand. (Thanks Mel!) But I’m slowly learning the ropes. I’m figuring things out as I go. I don’t have to bug my daughter so often.

So now, with one year into this, I find myself asking many questions and wondering in what direction this site is heading. I still haven’t figured that one out. I don’t offer writing advice. I’ve never taken a writing course, and I can’t imagine what writing advice I’d have to offer someone other than to write as often as you can and stay persistent. Don’t let rejection stand in the way of finding publication for your work. If your writing is good, someone somewhere will see it and recognize it for the gem that it is. If it’s not good enough it will get better, guaranteed.

Somedays I wake up and think I’ll never write another post again, other times I can hardly wait to hit “publish.” I’m starting to realize that this blog is just as much for me as it is for those who come to visit. It’s been a lot of fun!

Often I find myself struggling to figure out just where my own writing is headed, and for that reason I don’t feel anywhere near qualified to advise others. But one thing I will always, always do and that is offer encouragement to anyone who needs it. I will cheer you on. If you need a pick-me-up, I’m your person. I do firmly believe that we need a cheering section along the way; people who can genuinely share in our accomplishments and maybe even help pick us up when we’ve hit that brick wall again.

One year later, these are the thoughts that are on my mind. I can’t believe just how quickly this year has gone by.

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