10 Minute Writer

Confessions of a Busy Mom Who Became an Independent Novelist

Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake

How do you know if you are a rich writer?

If we are rich writers, we use words like Paula Deen uses butter and cream. We liberally pour  out our ideas and our vision into our paragraphs and prose. We add in sweetness and flavor and texture who we are and what we care about in every book. We sculpt our words together like sugary icing roses along a cake and we present our final, finished projects as grand feasts for the world, allowing our readers to savor each morsel and each portion.  If we are rich writers, the solitary act of creating is a full and satisfying one.

But I’d like to suggest that more satisfaction that comes when we are connected to writer friends who are making their own sweet compositions.

 

You are, indeed, rich, if you have written books by the dozens, won awards, and sold many copies. But you are richer still if you have close friends who coached you along the way. Every success, every victory, every instance of #AuthorHappiness is just one tiny blip on this long writing journey, that is, quite honestly, a lonely one, but is magnified when it is shared. And the sad, dark times are so much easier with their comfort. 

The rejection letters will come. Let those around us buy us a drink. 

The 1 star reviews will trickle in. Let those around us say, “They just don’t get your brilliance.”

The doors will close. The publishing house will go under. The disappointments are a given if we choose writer as our identity.

Within a group of writers, you have mentors and protegies, you have advice and warnings, you celebrations and sorrows. You can squeeze each others’ hands and say, “it is scary,” but you can do it. Or, “you are good, hang in there” or “this happened to me once!”

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 5.06.44 PM

Writers, as tempting as it is to wrap yourself up in a solitary, lonely world with just your characters and your computer as your companions, please don’t neglect the importance of community. Reach out to other writers. We need you too.

How do you find other writers?  There are tons of ways! But the easiest (and the newest) is to join my group 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.29.54 PM

Click the image to go straight to the Facebook page!

 

We are a group of time-crunched with big, big dreams and very little time. Our purpose is to encourage and offer tips, have weekly chats (Mondays at 3PM EST on Facebook and Thursdays at 9PM on Twitter, #10MinuteNovelists).  Novelists of all types, in all levels of experience, have joined, from all over the world. Join us! And share with us your highs and lows, your victories and defeats and your #AuthorHappiness.

Your writing life will be all the richer for it.

 

1 Comment
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Practical Ways To Find 10 Minutes To Make Your Dreams Come True

I get asked often what my Twitter handle, @10MinuteWriter means. If I’m feeling generous, I say, “it means I have to write in the smallest bits of time that I can.” If I’m feeling a bit snarky, I say, “it means I have five children who like to eat and have clean clothes.”

I call myself @10MinuteWriter because I’ve decided my writing dreams were worth finding time for.

I think it’s possible for the busiest of people to carve out a little time daily to do something they love — it just takes vision, creative use of time and space, and discipline, but it can be done.

 

Want to join other writers who are finding time to make their dreams come true? Join us on Facebook! Click the clock for the link!

Want to join other writers who are finding time to make their dreams come true? Join us on Facebook! Click the clock for the link!

 I also discovered that most domestic chores can be done in less than ten minutes. Like the following:

Sort the laundry and start one load.

Fold one basket of clean laundry.

Clean the bathroom.

Vacuum one room in my house.

Dust one room in my house.

Clean out the refrigerator.

Unload the dishwasher and fill it again.

Wipe all the kitchen counters and sweep the floor.

Compile a shopping list.

Start (but not complete) dinner.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. There are many more tasks around the house that, if broken down in small chunks, can be done every other ten minutes. If I stay focused on these little tasks, for ten minutes at a time, then I’ve only worked an hour and a half. I have the rest of the day to do what I need to do for myself for my family.

If I have a lengthy list, things like call for dental appointments, or write an article or go to the library, I break it down in to the smallest tasks possible, enlist the help of my children and keep setting my timer.

But there’s even more ways to find time! (It helps if your family is cooperative!)

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 3.36.26 PM

 1. Delegate Your Responsibilities: You don’t have to do everything! This is exactly why I have a lot of children, so we can share the love that is household chores. It’s only too bad that I didn’t give birth to fully grown tween girls (my girls are the best and work almost as hard as I do!)

2. Reward Yourself After An Unpleasant Task With A Little Writing Time I find that I’m a lot more efficient with my housecleaning when I realize that at the end of it, I get to write. So race yourself. Can you fold that basket of laundry in ten minutes? Can you clean that bathroom in seven? It’s not about quality here, people, it’s about getting the chores done so the creative stuff can take place!

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 3.10.57 PM

3. Train Your Children To Respect Your Passions Little ones can grasp that Mom needs ten minutes, but they can’t get that Mom needs two hours. Make it manageable for them, and it will pay off big for you later.

4. Be selective in returning calls and answering texts right away. If your friends can’t understand this, perhaps they need to become an unsavory character in your novel.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 3.14.38 PM

5. Rethink Television Back when I started my quest for ten minutes a day, the most technology I had at my fingertips was DVR. Now, really, there just isn’t any excuse for claiming that your network TV schedule has interfered with your writing time.

6. Limit Your Internet Time. Be brutal in which blogs you regularly follow in your reader. Spend less time than I do on Facebook. Avoid Pinterest.

Oh Sarcastic Wonka! I love you!

Oh Sarcastic Wonka! I love you!

7. Make Meal Prep Time Efficient Advance planning, make-ahead cooking, use of crock pots, bread machines and rice cookers – all of this can make you necessary job of eating (and hopefully eating well) less time consuming  and allow you more time for writing.

8. Plan Your Laundry Like death and taxes, there will always be dirty clothes to wash, so create a daily strategy in which to handle it. By having a plan in place, you will save precious minutes. We’re looking to find small bits of time, right? Not to save the world.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 3.21.06 PM

9. Have A Plan Before You Sleep If you wake up in the morning with no surprises (or at least a minimum) then you will save time, guaranteed. It’s also helpful to get the necessities out of the way as soon as you can and free up time later.

10. Have All You Need, Right Where You Need It. The more organized you are, the more time you will save.

Granted, I’m a Stay-At-Home Mom, my daily responsibilities are limited to the domestic. But I’d like to suggest that anyone can find ten minutes. In fact, members of my Facebook Group, who are not all Moms like me have offered their suggestions on how they found the time:

Author David Antocci suggested writing a little during lunch hour. And CA Marks suggested getting up early! This is so doable! Those little ten minute increments can add up!

The busiest person CAN find time to meet their writing goals. Ten minutes a day is better than nothing at all.

Got any more ideas? Leave them in a comment below!

Or, better still, join us on Twitter every Thursday night, 9PM EST for a chat. Follow this hashtag  #10MinuteNovelists  and join the fun!

 

No comment
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Meet Historical Author Jane Steen (And Check Out Her Audio Book!)

I am so very excited to announce the AUDIO release of The House of Closed Doors by my good friend and critique partner Jane Steen. You can get this audiobook HERE! 

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 7.01.24 AM

Jane and I have been helping each other with our writing for two years. She’s helped me with my manuscript and I’ve helped her with hers. Now, the time has come that her book, The House Of Closed Doors to be available to the whole world!

The House of Closed Doors is a historical novel, set in Illinois during the 1870s. The heroine,  17 year old Nell Lillington is sent  to a poor farm to hide her secret– a pregnancy. At the poor farm, she discovers a mystery and a scandal. Why were there two bodies hidden in a deserted dormitory? And what secrets are her step-father — the man who has sent her away  – hiding from the farm and Nell’s seriously ill mother?

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 7.06.22 AM

Jane has done a beautiful job of capturing the time period. She gives many intricate details of Nell, especially her skill at sewing, the workings of the farm and what life was like in rural Illinois. Nell often reminded me of an innocent Scarlet O’Hara and Martin, the hero of our story, came across as a Midwestern Rhett Butler. I usually shy away from historical fiction, but this book drew me in right away. Congratulations to Jane for The House of Closed Doors. You can read Jane’s blog here. Or like her Facebook page here.

You can buy Jane’s book here.

KATHARINE: Why did you choose to self publish?

JANE: I spent a really long time thinking about this decision and the reasons are legion, creative control being one important factor. But I want to talk about two things here: hope and fear. My hope, or rather expectation, is that self-publishing is the wave of the future. Why take the old, traditional route when there’s a new, exciting one to explore in which I can be in the forefront of the movement rather than following the beaten path? My fear is that as the traditional publishing world evolves rapidly, as it must, it’ll be the authors who lose out as publishing companies scramble to stay afloat. Self-publishing offers more peace of mind; it’s a finite risk and I can just publish and get on with the next book, instead of spending the next five years tweaking the same book in an effort to satisfy agents and editors.
KATHARINE: I’ve read recently that self publishing allows writers to move their stories faster into the hands of their readers, but that impatience isn’t a good thing. What do you think about that? Do you have patience for the pubishing process?
JANE: You know, I’ve read quite a few self-published books that needed more work, so yeah, impatience isn’t a good thing. I think you should give each book at least two solid rounds of editing by yourself, plus seek input from critique partners, writing groups, beta readers and anyone else you know will be tough on you and push you to improve. Re-invest the proceeds from your first book (if any :) ) in professional editing for the next one. If you don’t feel like you’ve really grown as a writer with each book, you haven’t given it the time it needs to ripen into something decent.
But I don’t know if I really buy that whole rejection-is-good-for-you mantra that you see on the traditional publishing side. For one thing, most rejections these days (I read) are in the form of silence or “it’s just not right for the market”. How does that help? How does month after month of being told you’re not quite good enough, or, horrors, pulling your book this way and that because one agent thinks it should be shorter, one thinks it should be longer and one editor thinks it should include sparkly vampires, help you as a writer? wouldn’t you be better off writing another book? I’m beginning to suspect that the idea that if you haven’t knocked on a hundred doors you’re not a “real” writer is just a ploy to make writers feel better about one simple fact of market dynamics: there are a lot of writers out there, and only so much publishing $$$ to go round.
KATHARINE: You a have busy life, and it seems to me that self-publishing adds so much more to your day. How do you find time to do the artwork, market, edit, etc?
JANE: The best thing to do is to give yourself a time frame which is reasonable and fits in with your life. After all, that book doesn’t have to be published tomorrow. Split up each task into small increments and figure out the best time to do them. Or do everything in one big rush in a given time slot, which is how I write first drafts. I’m a big fan of using NaNoWriMo to chunk out those drafts.
KATHARINE: How has taking on these responsibilities affected your family?
JANE: If I get really stressed I’m horrible to live with, and that does nothing for my family. So I’ve learned to try not to be superwoman. In the end, my family are a huge priority and I’m not going to beat myself up about not finding time to write because Orangina wanted me to take her shopping or my Dad skyped me for 90 minutes.
KATHARINE: What have you seen so far as the biggest surprise in self-publishing?
JANE: When I first made the announcement, just a couple of months ago, people were shocked. I still get the prophet of doom “but you really need an agent, you’ll never get anywhere with self-publishing” reaction at times. But all of a sudden, I’m amazed at how interested other writers–even the multi-published–are in what I’m doing.
KATHARINE:  There’s an argument out there that suggests that traditional publishing adds a layer of credibility to books that self-publishing doesn’t. Have you had trouble in your publishing journey with credibility? Do you think that this issue is weakening as more authors choose self-publishing?
JANE: Oh I’m definitely coming up against credibility barriers–some avenues of review and promotion are closed to me right now–but there are already signs that they are weakening. And the credibility issue refers to the publishing industry–readers really don’t care how books are published, they just want to find and read good books. With more ways of doing that than ever before, thanks to the internet, the power of the industry over an author’s credibility  is crumbling. Take bestseller lists for example. As I heard self-pubbing superstar JA Konrath say the other day, in the future the measure of success may not be “did you make a bestseller list?” (or “did you win an industry award?”) but “how much are you earning?”
KATHARINE: Because self publishing is now an option, the goals for writers may have changed. It used to be a certain sales numbers were the target or getting on a best seller list. What are your marketing goals? Do you have concrete methods of attaining them? Are you successful in meeting them?
JANE: The beauty of self-publishing is that I can set my goals at easily attainable levels. My goal for my first book is simply to reach a modest number of readers and turn some of them into fans. I plan to achieve this by making sure I’m read by as many discerning readers as possible, by networking and making the most of every opportunity God sends me. I’m really not expecting much else.
 Thank you, Jane! And Congratulations!

K

1 Comment
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Your Dreams Are Worth Ten Minutes (Or How I Found The Time To Make My Writing Dreams Come True)

This is the very true account of how a sad, depressed mother of five kids got her act together and was inspired to pursue her dreams by watching Veggie Tales.

This is A Snoodle’s Tale by Veggie Tales Part One, This is Part Two

It was this video that made me cry . I was a 38 year old mother of five and I was, understandably overwhelmed with my vision of family. But I also knew, or at least I thought I knew, there was in me a tiny flicker of desire that I should write.

I had written before and failed. My journalism major had changed to the more practical education major. My stint as a free lance writer had never taken off. And having five babies in less than eight years was enough to keep me busy.

My crew, the first day of school, 2007.

My crew, the first day of school, 2007.

 All of that would been only minor inconveniences, but I had not been taught that the gifts that I had been given were important. I had been reminded, almost on a daily basis that they were worthless. They were nothing. Who did I think I was? 

A lifetime of emotional and verbal abuse had convinced me that anything I sought for my own happiness was selfish, that pleasing others was my only purpose and that I would never succeed anyway, so why try?

But as I said before, it was a video that changed me. I know not everyone gets this, but I prayed. I prayed that if it were true, if I truly had been given gifts and desires, that somehow doors would open, that I would grow in confidence, that I would be happy in the gifts I was given.

I made a commitment to carve out a little bit of time for me in my busy day. I already took my children to the library, why couldn’t I find books on writing? I already had a computer in my kitchen for my recipes and my email, why couldn’t I create too? I already read too many Mommy blogs, why couldn’t I read writing ones instead?

I had long been a fan of the Flylady’s idea of working in small increments, so I used it. I’d write for 10 minutes and then be a mommy for 10 minutes.

Now, eight years later, I have two self published novels, a book contract, an agent and I get to write for far longer increments than ten minutes.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 12.30.47 PM

First Day of School, 2013

But I had to make a decision. I decided that my dreams were worth ten minutes.  I had to defy every lie. I had to shake every stronghold. I had to get up and face those ten minutes every day, whether I failed or succeeded, whether I wrote something good or something lousy. I had to remember that my precious children were watching me. I would do anything it took to show them that my dreams were valuable. I was valuable. I was not going to let a bunch of lies get in the way of my big dreams.

And I started with ten minutes.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 2.06.40 PM

Click this image to go to our Facebook Group: 10 Minute Novelists for encouragement, tips and weekly chats on how to make our dreams come true in tiny increments

I have a mission. Not only am I writing great stories and fulfilling my dreams. I’m also determined to encourage writers like me who have believed lies, who have busy schedules or just want to get started. This group is open to everyone. Please join us. We’ll help you find your time or your courage.

If I can find ten minutes to make my dreams come true, you can too.

Your dreams are worth ten minutes. 

 

3 Comments
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Ten Exercises To Determine Your Raison D’Etre As A Writer

I firmly believe that the use of fancy French phrases (and also alliteration) makes one an excellent writer.

Oh, I kid.

But really, we should kinda know what we want when we set out to become a rich and famous writer. .

 

When I originally pinned this, from two years ago, this was credited to Phillip Glass, but now I can't get to the original link. It's still golden, though!

When I originally pinned this, from two years ago, this was credited to Phillip Glass, but now I can’t get to the original link. It’s still golden, though!

But if you don’t know who you are, or what you want, or what you’re good at. It’s okay. You can find out with thinking and hard work.

 So, I’d like to propose a few exercises to get you thinking about your purpose, or your raison d’etre.

If you spend ten minutes a day thinking or writing on any of these, you might discover something about yourself. (But I can’t promise a miracle. ) Admittedly, these exercises are all very similar, but perhaps it will get you thinking, seeing yourself as a success or awaken a new idea.

1. Look at your personal library. Which books do you collect, love to read, quote from or enjoy the prose?If you want to go so far, count the fiction and non-fiction titles, see which genre has the most in it. This might be a clue to what you should be writing.

2. If you were at a party, and someone started talking to you, and you started talking, and talking, and talking and the other party-goer said, “Whoa! You sure know a lot about this!” What would the subject or subjects be?

3. Pretend that you were asked to be on Oprah to discuss your most recent book. Picture yourself on the couch, smiling, (enjoying a glamorous new hairdo and outfit) and the entire audience is enraptured . . . . what kind of questions are you asked?

4. Your blog exceeds 1,000 hits a day. Why?  You have an assistant to read all the comments.  The most common one from your readers says something like, “I am so glad I learned about  . . . I never would have thought about  .. .  if you hadn’t written about  . . . . . ” You are elated. What subject are they talking about?

5. You read a book that got you really mad. The author’s research is shoddy, the outline is illogical and the analysis is misguided and inconclusive. You rant about this for days, even looking things up to disprove this writer. What is it that you are researching? How do you write your rebuttal?

6. You read a dull magazine article.  You’re bothered about the way the writer put the information together.  You think the whole piece is dull and uninspired.  Do you re-write the article in your head? What is the article, and in what publication is it in?

7. Finish this sentence, “I think that the biggest problem with my favorite genre of fiction is that the author’s aren’t . .. .  ” If your finished answer is more than three sentences long, you might be a fresh new voice in that genre.

8. You know that “dinner party” question, where you are asked which four people you would invite to a dinner party? Answer that question, but the conditions are that they have to be writers, living and they all must love your work. Who are they?

9. You have a time machine that takes you back to high school English class.  Your favorite teacher tells you that your entire grade is based on one paper, anything you want, as long as it’s 100 pages. You are elated about the subject matter, work all year and turn it in on time, getting an A. What is it?

10. Your local librarian is delighted your first work is published. She asks you to come for a “Meet The Author” night, and in her library, your book is between the works of two well known authors. What is your book about? What are the interests of the people who attend? On what shelf, in what section is your book, and who are the writers have the books around yours?

While this woman is thinking about her reason to write, she's also wondering if that vent behind her isn't really the WORLD'S LARGEST CROC!

While this woman is thinking about her reason to write, she’s also wondering if that vent behind her isn’t really the WORLD’S LARGEST CROC!

 

I know that when I start thinking about what I want to be known for, my vision seems to be clearer. So, try it. If it doesn’t work, or you’re still not clear, ask someone close to you, who knows you well.  They might see an expert or a novelist or a poet in you that you don’t yet see.

And once you’ve done all this, WRITE! For heaven’s sake, write and don’t stop!

(Wanna meet more beginning, time-crunched writers? I’m hosting the inaugural chat on Twitter THIS THURSDAY APRIL 3 9PM EST, use the hashtag #10MinuteNovelists ! We’re meeting each other, talking about writing, and I’m giving away prizes!  See you there!)

3 Comments
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Meet Author Tui Snider! Author of UNEXPECTED TEXAS!

 

 

 

It takes a lot, and I mean, A LOT for this Oklahoma girl to get excited about Texas. And try as I might, when I meet people online or in real life who love or live in the Lone Star State, I put on my best Bible Belt Manners and do the whole WWJD thing, and hope to High Heaven they don’t root for the Longhorns. Then, once in a while, I get surprised by something that Texas has to offer. Tui Snider, and her perfectly named new release, Unexpected Texas, charmed me so much that I was half ready to load the kids up and head south to see all the quirky things Tui has featured in this charming, fun and way too short travel guide.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 3.08.29 PM

 

 

I met Tui on Twitter and participated with her and her #StoryDam buddies one Thursday and next thing I know I have a copy of her book on my Kindle and I’m muttering “The Yellow Rose of Texas” under my breath. I LOVED this book!

So, I thought y’all should love it too. Tui kindly answered a few questions for me about her, Unexpected Texas, and other quirky things down South.

Please meet, TUI SNIDER!

1. How were you inspired to write about the sites in Unexpected Texas?

I’ve been writing travel articles about the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex since moving here in 2009. The outlets I wrote for weren’t interested in offbeat and unusual items, however, so I kept “the fun stuff” in a separate folder.

Last year, I dug into that file of quirky goodness for my April A to Z blog posts. The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to write 26 posts in April, using the alphabet as a writing prompt each day. For instance, my post for the letter A was “Alien Grave in Aurora, Texas.”

I wasn’t sure if other people would find articles about offbeat and overlooked Texas travel interesting, but the response I got from those posts was so encouraging that I decided to write a book.

I’m one of those odd ducks who actually *likes* deadlines, so I chose Texas Independence Day (March 2, 2014) as my release date. I made a huge to-do list working back from that date, and that is how Unexpected Texas came about. Sales, both online and off, have been brisk. I’m thrilled to report that Unexpected Texas quickly became an Amazon Best Seller for Dallas – Fort Worth Travel!

2. It sounds like the DFW area is a fascinating place if you’re willing to dig — what was your criteria for some sites making the cut to your book?

I believe that any place is fascinating if you’re willing to dig, and that digging into the world around you is exactly what makes a place fascinating. In fact, my travel motto (which applies equally to my photography) is: Even Home is a Travel Destination. I truly believe that.

As for Unexpected Texas, the places I chose to include had to be offbeat and/or overlooked by other travel guides. I included the Dallas Farmers Market, for instance, because it’s not often mentioned in local travel guides, and Kalachandji’s because no one expects Dallas to be home to an award-winning vegetarian restaurant. I know I didn’t!

I included other items, such as Grand Saline’s Salt Palace and the statue of Jesus in Cowboy Boots because those things are just plain quirky!

I absolutely love it when I show Unexpected Texas to someone who grew up in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and they exclaim, “I never heard of these places!” Each time that happens, I know I’m on the right track.

Get this book and stick it in your glove compartment!

Get this book and stick it in your glove compartment!

3. Which small town (and eccentric story to go with it) is your favorite?

That is a tough one! I really enjoy Mineral Wells with its healing waters, Glen Rose for all its petrified wood buildings, and Paris for its quirky Eiffel Tower replica.

Even so, I might have to go with Eastland, Texas for this one, because the Tale of Old Rip, the long-lived horny toad that “went viral” back in the 20′s, toured the country, met the President, and inspired a Warner Brothers cartoon always makes me smile!

4. I know you’re not a Texas native, and yet you’re mighty proud of the Lone Star State. Did you fall in love with Texas before you wrote about it or did you fall in love during the writing process. (It’s obvious to me you love your adopted state. This Okie can certainly see your point of view.)

My love for Texas is definitely a side effect of all the research and writing I’ve done about the Lone Star State.

To me, Texas is like a cantankerous uncle who loves to tell stories, half of which you suspect are not quite true. At first, you dread his gruff manner and overblown pride, but over time you look forward to his visits, and you begin to see that he’s really a warm-hearted fellow, with lots of experience to share. So what if he embellishes a little here and there?

tui-snider-unexpected-texas-back

5. Are the stars at night REALLY big and bright?

YES! Texas stargazing is absolutely stellar (pun intended.) Last summer, my husband and I attended a Star Gazing Party in West Texas during the Perseids Meteor shower. It was magical. We even saw fireflies!

6. Let’s talk football. Longhorns, Aggies or Red Raiders? (The correct answer is anyone who plays Texas!)

I’m not much of a football fan, but I love any excuse for a party with friends. That said, I grew up in Washington State, so I get excited when the Seattle Seahawks do well – such as this year!

Sigh. I can't help this. I'm Sooner Born and Sooner Bred and when I die, I'll be Sooner Dead.

Sigh. I can’t help this. I’m Sooner Born and Sooner Bred and when I die, I’ll be Sooner Dead.

7. Have you ever thought about fictionalizing some of the weirder stories you uncovered?

Oh, yes! The alleged space alien crash in Aurora has led to a couple short stories that I’ve not published… yet! The Santa Claus Lynching seems perfect for a movie, and I’m also fascinated by the town of Jefferson, Texas back in the days when it was a major river port known as “The Little Easy.”

8. What’s next for you?

I have several offbeat and overlooked travel books in the same vein as Unexpected Texas jockeying for position, including Unexpected Manhattan, Unexpected Naples, and Unexpected Florida.

I’d also like to research other areas of Texas for things like, Unexpected Texas, “The Gulf Coast Edition,” or whatever.

I’m planning a book about travel for people who are interested in ghosts, something like a Haunted Texas Travel Guide (only with a catchier name.) This book would list allegedly haunted restaurants, hotels, B&B’s, and sites so that people could plan a whole trip with this in mind.

I’ve also got some really bizarre stories about Texas that I’m compiling for a booked called Unbelievable Texas. That one is a collection of stories that make you say, “No way!” when you hear them.

Beyond that, I’ve got a memoir in the works (from when I lived off-the-grid for 5 years on a tiny island with a population of 7),

. . . . and Katharine says, “WHAT????” 

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 5.29.25 PM

an anthology of amusing stories from coffee shop workers called Barista: Tales from the Other Side… Of the Counter!, and several fiction ideas brewing.

9. What are your big writing dreams?

To make enough with all my creative endeavors (writing, photography, and music) so that my husband can quit his day job and be a mad scientist full-time.

10. OH! And here’s where you get to plug StoryDam. What is it and how can other writers enjoy it?

Story Dam is a friendly online writing community. Morgan Dragonwillow took the helm in 2011 and rounded up a crew of writers to keep it going.

The Story Dam website , StoryDam Twitter account and our weekly #StoryDam writing chat on Twitter allow us to have fun and pool our collective knowledge. We help writers at all stages of the process. Several of us have self-published, so we share a lot of marketing tips, because that is an important and challenging part of the writing process, too.

Every Thursday night from 8-9pm EST, I host #StoryDam chat for writers on Twitter. It’s a lot of fun, and I invite everyone who reads this to follow me and StoryDam on Twitter and join in. You will especially want to join us on Thursday, March 27, 2014 because our special guest that evening is none other than the 10 Minute Writer herself, Katharine Grubb!

YAY! Thank you Tui! Everyone pick up a copy of Unexpected Texas! And GO SOONERS!  

 

1 Comment
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

The Single Best Writing Advice (Too Bad I Don’t Always Follow It)

We’ve heard it before, write what you know. Or, write every day. Or, READ! READ! READ!

And while that is all very good advice, and you should follow it fervently, it’s still not the best.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given in college was this:

Never compare yourself to others. 

If you do, you’ll compare their strengths to your weaknesses, and you’ll always be the loser.

When I compare myself to other writers, it doesn’t do me a bit of good. I either pick up some frothy bonnet romance and throw it across the room, puffing myself up with thoughts of superiority. My books will have more meaning! I will be more literarily significant! I won’t have any ripped bodices! Or, I will read something breathtakingly good, like The Elegance of the Hedgehog  or Someone Else’s Love Story and moan in despair that I can never achieve what that author has done, so I might as well give up.

I will not compare my novels to this magnificent book. Because first of all, I'm not French.

I will not compare my novels to this magnificent book. Because first of all, I’m not French.

It also doesn’t help that I’m a bit melodramatic in just about everything I do.

The truth is that if I’ve signed up to be a writer, then I’m already pre-disposed to be melancholy and moody. I’m already insecure. I’m already thinking that living a secluded life like Salinger or a despairing life like Sylvia Plath isn’t all that unreasonable. So this whole business of wallowing in what I’m not is an easy and comfortable occupation at times.

The truth is, I’m not going to be successful that way. 

I should not look at the accomplishments, styles, sales or rankings of any other writers around me. I shouldn’t compare blogs, compare paths to publication, compare works in progress, compare how many followers I have on Twitter, instead, I should focus only on meeting my goals for the day. One day at a time.

Today’s writers’ market is brutal to the insecure.

Because of the highly competitive market out there, the demand for originality, the constant pressure to be liked, followed, or tweeted is everywhere and it can easily wear away at our self esteem. It wouldn’t take much to find a way that our statistics aren’t good enough. But if we keep looking at the writers around us, we’ll just make ourselves miserable. I’m pretty sure that’s a creativity killer, right there.

You know, it's like comparing apples to or. . .HOLEY MOLEY! That's the biggest orange I've ever seen!

You know, it’s like comparing apples to or. . .HOLEY MOLEY! That’s the biggest orange I’ve ever seen!

And EVERYONE has advice to follow. 

 
We need to be secure enough in our own skills, talent and abilities to know what NOT to do, what won’t work for us, or what can wait for another time. We don’t have to read every writing book on the market. We don’t have to create a promotional video. We need to be comfortable in our own skin. 

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be teachable. 

It is the poor writer who chooses not to learn. But when I move from teachability to despondency because of my perceived limitations (which is a short trip in my brain) then I’m in trouble.

So, write what you know, write every day and read constantly. But most importantly, just keep your head down and pay attention to you and your work alone.

You may not be the richest or best selling author, you may not be the most famous or win the most awards . . .

But you will be the happiest. And it will show in your work. 

 

Is this the best advice? In the top ten? Tell me! I’m so insecure! I need to know what you think!

 

3 Comments
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Who Gets An Award, A Book Contract, And An Agent The Week Of Their Birthday? I DO! (The Amazing Story Of What Happened To Me This Time Last Year)

Today’s my birthday!  I’m Hmm-Hmm years old! And to celebrate I’m giving away for FREE, digital copies of my novels, The Truth About The Sky and Falling For Your Madness! This offer is only good on March 17, 2014. So enjoy! (Especially since it’s hard to pass around cake on the internet!)

The best thing about having a St. Patrick's Day birthday is that everybody drinks and I'm the only one who gets presents!

The best thing about having a St. Patrick’s Day birthday is that everybody drinks and I’m the only one who gets presents!

 

This is a pretty good birthday, but last year was the very best birthday I have had ever. In the course of one week, I moved to the quarterfinals of the ABNA, was contacted by a publisher to write a book, and landed my dream agent.

This story is one of those luck favors the prepared stories, one of those freak of nature stories that can’t be duplicated and will not exactly inspire hope into the un-agented masses. I got my agent without writing a query letter, without pitching and without attending a conference. I didn’t resort to mind control, threatening letters or voodoo. I didn’t sent a box of candy. It just happened. 

On Friday, March 15, 2013, I received an email from HODDER and STOUGHTON (major publisher in the UK) asking me if I would be interested in writing a non-fiction book for them about the general contents of this blog.  After reading the email three times to make sure that it wasn’t spam, after checking out the comparative titles in this publisher’s cadre, after seeing on the publisher’s website that this employee was real, I responded back, “I am interested. Please tell me more.” What I didn’t do, which I have to admit took mammoth self-restraint, was say, “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? YESYESYESYESYES! I’LL DO IT FOR FREE!” You will be relieved to know that I was professional, poised and kept my fan-tods celebrations to the confines of my house.

What are fan-tods? I think it's this!

What are fan-tods? I think it’s this!

Then, about five o’clock that night, I realized that since this was a MAJOR PUBLISHER, I should probably have an agent. So I sent out three emails to my top three agent choices, asking them this: Major publisher contacted me today about a book deal. Do I need an agent? Of the three, one didn’t respond at all. One emailed me back that night and asked me another question, but then never got back to me. But the last one, Chip MacGregor asked me even more questions about the situation and my goals. Over the next two weeks, Chip and I exchanged a few more emails and even had phone conversations. Then, he contacted the publisher and started negotiations. Over the next two weeks after that, the deal was finalized. I HAD A BOOK DEAL! And then MacGregor Literary sent me their Author/ Agency Agreement which I happily signed. This was official on April 12, 2013.

All of this happened ridiculously fast.

It looks like lightning struck. It kind of feels that way too. But the truth is this whirlwind was the big break that happened after years of hard work, two complete novels, self-publishing adventures, lots and lots of unpaid writing work, five years of writing this blog, misunderstood critiques, hundreds of thousands of deleted words written and over 16,000 tweets. It also bears mentioning that on my blog (just to the right, over there, the photo of the guy holding flowers) I displayed Falling For Your Madnessmy debut novel. This novel had been, on March 12, (week of my birthday) selected as a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. As a quarterfinalist, FFYM was in the top 50 out of 10,000 entries. I had made a big fuss over this on my blog and perhaps that is what got the attention of the publisher. I also had a link to FFYM and the publisher told me that she was reading it. (SWOON! <3) I can’t imagine that she would have approached me if she couldn’t have sampled my skillz. I didn’t make the semi-finals, but that’s okay.

Just a little something I whipped up for the occasion!

Just a little something I whipped up for the occasion!

I also knew what to do. I knew from my own years of research and reading blogs by other agents, that you don’t say yes, you say, I’m interested. I knew who I wanted to represent me. MacGregor Literary has a stellar reputation, they have an impressive client list and I have absolutely no hesitation in teaming with them for my future. Emailing Chip with my original question was a no-brainer. I wouldn’t have been able to say this if I had not spent hours researching all agents, educating myself on the publishing process and  examining closely who would be a good fit and who wouldn’t.

As for the future? Now I have a non-fiction book that will be released in the spring of 2015. I want to release my third novel, Soulless Creatures, write a nonfiction book about parenting, publish a poetry curriculum and who knows what else. And because I’m now working with MacGregor Literary, they will give me insight into what the next steps for all my books should be.

Does it help that I'm a teensy bit Irish? A little!

Does it help that I’m a teensy bit Irish? A little!

That’s my story. If you are a writer, I hope that it doesn’t discourage you. Rather, I’d hope that it inspires you to keep going. You never really know what tomorrow will bring. And if you aren’t a writer, I hope this little self-indulgent account gives you insight into the ever changing world of writing and publishing.

That’s what happened the week of my birthday last year! As I blow out the candles this year, my big wish is to do even more.

Don’t forget to get your copy of Falling For Your Madness and The Truth About The Sky today only!

 

5 Comments
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Dos and Don’ts for Writers Having An Existential Crisis (Confessions From The Experienced)

Sometimes this writing gig is WAY TOO HARD!  We face moments of unbridled inspiration and then droughts of writers’ block. We sacrifice sleep, relationships and leaving our house for the sake of our passions. We isolate ourselves so that we can be real to the world. We nit-pick and fixate. We criticize and whine. We aspire and pursue only to be rejected and disappointed. We’re a sensitive lot and if our work is getting to be too much for us or if our other responsibilities are overwhelming us, then we can completely lose it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 2.22.22 PM

I’ve completely lost it a few times. I understand. I’ve had major existential crisis. I’ve put my writing on back burners to focus on my other aspects of my life more than once.  Actually I walked down to my neighbor, the one who owns the Middle Eastern restaurant and but it on his back burner.  Actually, I sent my writing to Oklahoma City so that my college friend who runs a Taco truck can put it on her back burner.

But when I did I panicked.  I start fretting about my readers, about my blog, about the novel that still needs to be finished, about Nanowrimo, about my platform, about my friends, followers and likes. I start to do crazy things.

I have a feeling, however, that I am not the only one who feels like this. So, I’ve come up with a quick list of No-No’s for us who are doubting our writerly futures during difficult times.

This is what you do not do. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, do the following: 

1. Tweet, What are you people following me for? I am such a loser!  If you can’t something nice about yourself, don’t say anything at all.

2. Decide that your new outlets, say running and photography, deserve their own blogs. Do not believe that you are the next Pioneer Woman. Do not create, in a manic state, that this next idea is THE BEST ONE EVER!  All ideas need time to germinate. If it’s a good one, it can wait until you are more able to handle it.

3. Conclude that because no one left a comment on your facebook author page that you are doomed to never, ever sell a book. Do not think that future agents will shake their heads in disgust at your pathetic numbers. Do not set up a fake facebook account to comment on yourself. We all start at zero. All of us.

4. Ask on a writers email loop, “Hey, who’s got a March release that want me to help promote?” You will, most assuredly, be deluged by enthusiastic writers who understandably jump at this chance to be noticed. You will later regret this decision and have to confess how stressed out you are and could they please wait, um, until 2016? Oops. Only do promote your close friends or sign up what you can handle.

5. Decide that because your frequency of blog posts has decreased that your entire publishing career is careening out of control, like a rogue bottle rocket in a suburban backyard. You can take a break. You really can.

6.  Worry about a Klout score. Especially while you’re trying to make dinner for a family of seven. Especially after you’ve cried all day. Especially while the dinner is burning. If a number of any kind is stressing you out, then stop looking at it. Or find someone you trust to look at it for you.

7. Believe that everyone and their dog has taken all the good agents, or ideas, or publishing houses, or contest prizes. There is a place for you somewhere. Be patient and work on your craft instead.

8. Sign up for Instagram and then laugh maniacally, saying, “This! This! Is my ticket to fame and fortune!” Especially if you get a lot of followers right away. Especially after taking photos like this one:

9. Start smoking. Do not start drinking whiskey. Do not fly to the Florida Keys and check into the Hemingway Hotel For Stressed Out Writers. This will only make you grow fat, gray your hair and say bad words. It’s not worth it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 2.20.17 PM

This is what you do do. DO ALL OF THESE! DELIBERATELY AND REPEATEDLY:

1. Stick to the basics. For me this means laundry, meals and general life for my large family. They need  me to take care of them whether I write or not.

2. Eat properly. Drink water. Sleep regular hours. Life is so much better when just these three things are covered.

3. Find a good way to exercise. 

4. Communicate with your family about what you’re stressed about and figure out solutions.

5. Be honest with a few close friends. I feel so good when people who love me ask how I’m doing, pray for me, and encourage me, whether I write or not.

6. Realize that this is only a season. I’ve compared my personal problems as being 8.5 months pregnant. I only have the foggiest idea of what the future holds and life may not settle down for three more months — or longer. But that’s okay.

7. Hang on to the belief that our suffering has a purpose. It makes us better writers, it makes us compassionate to others, it draws us closer to our family, it draws us closer to God.

8. Seek the truth. This is what’s keeping me going in this weird place in my life. I’m dwelling on my identity in Christ, not my identity as a writer. I’m finding myself at home in his presence, not worrying about my physical home. I’m seeking peace, not fretting over a writing piece.

 

 BUT  . . . What if there’s a deeper problem here?

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 2.19.57 PM

You could take this Mental Health Assessment quiz from Psychology Today,  or this quiz from PsychCentral. Now, please don’t abuse these quizzes. They are only tools to examine the possibility of a need. They are not there to label you or to diagnosis. Use good judgement.

You could also talk to people around you who are experienced in this field. I had suspected for a long time, based on what some friends had told me (friends that were mental health professionals) that therapy would certainly help, especially when I realized, after forty years, that I had a history of abusive relationships. And it turns out that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which TOTALLY explained the previous episodes of freaking out and panic and anxiety. Now, through brilliant cognitive therapy, I know exactly how to handle this and I haven’t had an existential crises in some time. YAY!

This was a hard post to write. It’s not really about writing, or being funny, or the things that I usually do. My hope is that perhaps there’s a reader out there who could stand a hug, or a gently push to get help or even knowledge that there’s someone else who had needed help too.

Sometimes we’re just tired. Sometimes we’re a little stressed. Sometimes we need an expert.

Your mental health is far more important than your writing goals. You owe it to yourself and your family to fix what’s broken.

What have I forgotten? What else should writers in crisis do or not do?

4 Comments
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com

Giving Away THREE Copies of THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SKY!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Truth About The The Sky by Katharine Grubb

The Truth About The The Sky

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends April 03, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Come on over to Goodreads and sign up for my giveaway!  (And you can read the first few chapters too!)  US only, pleaseQ

No comment
taintedsong.com taintedsong.com taintedsong.com