PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen

Today, it is pleasure to welcome author Syr Ruus to my blog. As both a traditionally and self-published author, Syr has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on this with us.

37816_135253859838486_2745956_nSyr Ruus was born in Tallinn, Estonia during the Second World War. As a small child, she escaped with her mother to Germany and
subsequently immigrated to the United States. She has an MA in English and MS in Education and taught in the English Department of Illinois State University. She has lived in Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia since 1970, formerly working as an elementary school teacher while raising her three children and currently devoting herself full-time to writing. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals and in 2009 her novel “Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart” was published by Newfoundland’s Breakwater Press.

PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen

I have always loved books. I became a reader at three. More than thirty years later, I became a writer. Why did it take so long, you might ask? Perhaps because English is my second language, or maybe I felt that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. Once I started, however, I never stopped.

Publishing, of course, is another matter. People say it’s extremely hard to find a publisher these days with things being as they are. I know from personal experience that it has always been hard. It’s even difficult to find places to send a manuscript. Only small publishers accept unsolicited queries. If anyone does offer to take a closer look, it takes many months, even years, before a decision is reached. Often you hear nothing at all.

Not that this is altogether bad. It gives a writer a chance to reflect. After the first flush of enthusiasm, one can make some meaningful revisions. Sometimes, along with a rejection, there is feedback. I have read in a manual for writers that when you finish a novel, it should sit in a drawer for at least two years before you begin working on it again. A bit extreme, maybe. Yet often it sits that long in a slush pile on some junior editor’s desk. There does come a time, however, when a work is definitely ready. Finished. Done. Only a few final perks and tweaks could make it any better. Or perhaps not. Still no one has offered to publish it.

The wonderful news is that it has become more acceptable than ever to do it yourself. Even the Writers’ Union of Canada has recently voted to accept self-published writers.

321214_269317809765423_1682562519_nI was lucky. A smattering of my short stories appeared in Journals and anthologies. After my novel Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart received first prize in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia annual competition, it was published by Breakwater Press in 2009. This gave me a much needed boost and sufficient confidence to actually begin referring to myself as an author.

But what of the two books I had written earlier? In 1999, Devil’s Hump was being seriously considered by a well-regarded publisher before being rejected. A few years ago, a new editor at the same company found the same novel (revised edition) “transporting, enchanting, strange, unsentimental, vivid,” but not fitting in with “what we’re trying to do with the fiction list at present.”

“I do think you should be able to find a publisher for this,” she added.

So, like The Little Red Hen, I did it myself. Devil’s Hump was published in 2013 by etc. Press, Halifax, N.S.10569081_810453168985215_2058664649597654044_n

The first novel I ever wrote also received an award from WFNS. In 1994, Edgar was the winner in the juvenile novel category. After some years, I decided to incorporate the original story which concerned a pet crow within an adult novel about the family which raised it. As such it was shortlisted for the Ken Klonsky Novella Award, yet despite positive comments from various publishers, no one was prepared to take it on. Just a few months ago, The Little Red Hen did it again. The Story of Gar was published in December, 2014.

Each of our voices is important to our collective humanity. Those that have spoken to me in the books I have read over the years have enriched me beyond measure. Our writing preserves a personal vision of a world which is constantly changing. The characters we have created with such loving care deserve a chance to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps come to life in someone else’s mind also. It’s every writer’s dream to be published, but you can’t wait around forever. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

It’s exciting to prepare one’s work for print: to choose the paper, to select the font, to format the pages, to decide on a cover, to be in full control from beginning to end.
This includes promotion, of course, which these days is increasingly left up to the author, but which publishers certainly facilitate. Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart is available in bookstores all over the world (as I see when I Google myself). It was also reviewed in 10247462_880235172007014_1772275323027241970_nvarious newspapers and was submitted to contests which I cannot access as a self-published author. Since both of my independently published novels have a regional content (as does In Pleasantry, a collection of connected short stories, which I plan to publish next), shops in the area are willing to take a few copies on consignment. The books are printed in limited editions; the cost goes down as the number goes up. Being a diffident self-promoter, I am mainly depending on word-of-mouth for any future sales, and with luck, I may get back what I spent.

But as writers, we know that we don’t do it for the money—we do it for love.

Thanks so much, Syr, for sharing your thoughts and your wisdom. I hope that In Pleasantries will find the same success as your other novels. I am looking forward to reading your next literary offering.

To learn more about Syr, check out her WFNS page here. And her Facebook page. Her books are available locally at Coles in Bridgewater, The RiverHouse  and Lahave Bakery or by contacting the author directly: syr@eastlink.ca

Update—Writers Council

A while back I mentioned that I had been accepted into the Writers Council and would be getting my own page on the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia site. The Federation has recently launched their new site.

Here’s the link if you want to take a look around.

I’ve also added a link that will take you directly to my page HERE if you are curious and would like to take a peek. I don’t have a whole lot in my biography right now but hopefully that will change.

As for the revisions, I’m happy to say they are over. There’s still an initial read through but I’m very pleased with how the story has shaped up. Thanks to my daughter, who’s keen eye and wonderful suggestions, have helped make the revision process a really enjoyable one. This is her first time critiquing but I swear, she’s a natural!!

The process with this story was so different from when I wrote Bitter, Sweet but I suspect that each story is different, each approach we use a little unlike the last. What I can say now it that I like the story much, much better now than when I started. In the end we are the ones who have to be happy with the results of our work. I still may make few minor adjustments, but nothing major.

Hopefully, I’ll get caught up on most of the blogs I follow, maybe even get a little reading done and writing done!

As for you all, have a great weekend!

It’s Official!

Once a year the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia invites writers to apply to the Writers’ Council. So this year I decided to apply, and earlier this week I received a letter of acceptance from The Federation.  The Federation—doesn’t that sound like something from Star Trek? But gee, I like the sound of it!

So what does it actually mean to be a member of the Writers’ Council?

First of all, in order to be in the Writers’ Council you need to be a published writer. Sounds obvious, I know. Being a council member means that I’ll have my own page on the Nova Scotia Writer’s Federation site, and I’ll be listed with all the other Nova Scotia writers. So if you check out the Federation’s site and you click on the “writers” link, my name will also be there. (Nope, its not there yet. You’ll have a wait awhile longer.) Another added bonus of being a member of the council is I can apply to be a part of Writers In The Schools program if I so wish.

So I’m officially official.

Of course now I need to write a bio and send in a photo for the site. I have to be honest, I write boring bios.  I’ve read some author bios that knock your socks off, not only because of the credits and awards, but their sheer entertainment value. We’ve all read those kind—-cleverly crafted to the point where you want to read the book because the author bio is so darn good you know the book has to be brilliant. Aside from the fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to have a YA novel published and some short stories, I’m just a very average, everyday, run of the mill person. Just me. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! But when it comes to writing a bio I really don’t know how to “jazz it up” to make it sound interesting. No socks coming off there.  But that’s okay. I’ll still have a page. No complaints about that, none whatsoever. I’ll get something pulled together, it may not be brilliant but in the end it won’t really matter. Who wants their socks knocked off anyway? Wear sandals, right?

Now while I don’t really like having my photo taken I’d like to have something other than the pic that went on the back of my book. Quite frankly you just  get tired of seeing the same old picture after awhile. I have until the end of July to submit my photo and bio to the Federation (there’s that “F” word again!) so surely I can come up with something acceptable.

So that’s it. I’m officially a writer!

Once the page gets up I’ll add a link for anyone who’s interested in taking a gander.

I expect that’s my big news for this week.

Book Bash

On Saturday evening local children’s authors and illustrators writers of children’s book from the area got together at the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia to present the books they published in 2009. There was a long list of authors and illustrators presenting their books that evening.

Talk about author overload….I mean that in a very good way.

I’ve been a member of this organization for many years but this is the first time I’d been to the Federation office and the first time I’d met most of these talented writers. When you live out in rural areas it’s not so easy to participate in many of the events offered. It’s not just a matter of jumping into the car and off you go. A two hour drive often makes you think twice, especially during a working week. And to be honest, until Saturday night, I’d never given it much thought. Sometimes situations are the way they are and you just don’t question them.

Earlier that day I’d met Jill MacLean at the book launch for Unlocked. Jill is the author of The Nine Lives of Travis Keating and most recently The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy, two wonderful books for young people. The Nine Lives of Travis Keating won the Ann Conner Brimer Award and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy has been nominated this year for the same award…Yay Jill!! Imagine my delight when Jill bought a copy of my book that evening for me to sign.

No photos of Noreen Smiley, who is our CANSCAIP rep for Eastern Canada. I introduced myself to Noreen earlier in the day at the book launch, another wonderfully supportive author. I chatted a bit with Kate Inglis (author of The Dread Crew, Nimbus Publishing). Again, no photo. I’ll have to speak to my photographer.!

I’m not ashamed to say, I was like an excited child when Budge Wilson sat beside me. Budge is also an award winning author and another truly talented writer in our area. Of all the writers for children’s book that I ever hope to meet, Budge is up there at the top of my list. She’s simply amazing and the sweetest, most down to earth person you’d ever want to meet.

I’d met Steve Vernon at Word on the Street back in September. Steve’s a great support to local writers and a fellow Nimbus author. Steve has turned his talents from writing ghost stories to include writing for kids with his Maritime Monsters book, proving his versatility as a writer. Way to go, Steve!

The evening was a wonderful celebration, a time for me to meet other authors which is not something I get to do very often. What a great group of people. My only regret was that we had to leave earlier than I would have liked to. That long drive home, you know.

So that was my weekend. Pretty frigging awesome I’d say. I’ll take author overload any day.

Weekend Plans

On Saturday evening the NS Children’s Literature Roundtable celebrates local children’s authors and International Children’s Book Day at the Writers Federation in Halifax. All local authors who were published in 2009 have been invited to take part in the celebration and of course I was invited as well.

There will be a host of children’s authors on hand and I can hardly wait. I’ll get to meet some of my favourites. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some great photos to post.

There is also a book launch for Unlocked, a young adult novel written by Cynthia D’entremont, which I plan to attend in the afternoon. (If I’m going into the city I might just as well make a day of it. Right?) I met Cynthia at the book launch for A Maritime Christmas back in 2008 and we’ve kept in touch. I’ll share some of those photos as well. It’s nice to be able to support our local authors. It’s so very important.

This evening we’re off to the dinner theatre in town. Each year the Parish Players in New Germany preform a play written by Heather D. Veinotte.
Nothing like good friends, good food and plenty of laughter to round off the evening.

What are your plans for the weekend?

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