Musings of a Slightly Maddened Mother

The Birth of a Book.

Blood, sweat, tears, and more than a few crushed dreams…and that’s only the beginning

I’ve had the pleasure of helping more than one friend celebrate a very special birthday.

Their book-birthday.

Each was such an exciting day for every one of those authors, marking the end point (or, perhaps not really…there’s all the marketing, book signings, promotion etc. still to come) of a very long journey.

The writing of a book parallels a pregnancy, at least in my mind it does. In both, a fully developed entity is created from nothing. This is a slow process, beginning with a spark of life, then building tiny piece by tiny piece, until the end result is nothing short of a miracle.

Of course, when you’re building a baby, your body does that building without your conscious awareness. Sure, you may feel morning sickness, and other physical discomforts, but as far as the actual creation process, you just go along for the ride, eating sleeping, working, while your body creates this miracle. Unlike writing a book, where you are COMPLETELY aware of the massive amount of work that is required.

Oh, and most often, the gestation period for a book is MUCH longer.

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about all that is required to take a book from a sparkle in someone’s mind, to an actual published piece of work, whether that be a digital copy, or one in print.

Guess what? It’s a hell of a lot of work!

A short time back, I had a glass of water sitting on my bedside table, and because I didn’t want to mark the wood, I’d pulled an old paperback from my bookcase and I’d set the glass on top of the book.

It took a moment for this flippant act to sink in. When it did, I freaked out and apologized out loud to this poor author whose blood, sweat and tears I’d so blithely used as a COASTER!

Ashamed, I gently wiped the surface of the book, (which was not damaged, by the way) and placed it carefully back into the safety of my bookcase.

How easy is it for us, as readers, to consume the words of others without giving the slightest thought to what it took to create those words. I used to do it, all the time. I devoured books in massive quantities. I read, and occasionally re-read because the book was so amazing I couldn’t get it out of my head. But more often I read and tossed aside, I read and returned to the library without a second thought, or worse, I read, and ripped apart the book— Gasp! Not physically, I’m not that big of a monster —filled condemnation for the author who had failed to entertain me like I’d expected to be entertained.

No more.

Iwill never again underestimate what it takes to birth a book. Now that I am attempting to produce my third polished manuscript myself, I understand the pain and agony of the hours, months, and even years it takes to write those words, and then often the same length of time to edit them.

I’ve bled from wounds gouged across my soul from critiques that were supposed to inform and assist, but instead sliced and shredded my confidence.

I’ve stressed over word choice and passive voice, removed adverbs, murdering darlings, and slashed filler words. And let’s not forget the rewriting. I’ve re-written scenes, chapters, and entire stories, and just when I’ve thought I was finally finished, I’ve started all over again.

And let’s not even talk about the process of seeking publication, only a sadist would subject you to that, and only a masochist would want to listen. Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.

Yep, writing a book is damn hard work. Not sure why any of us do it.

But, I suppose when our only option is not writing, there’s not really a choice, is there?


April 08, 2018 #tryalittletenderness

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Today is April 08, over a month since I last shared something. But, fear not, I have not given up on this quest of mine, to be thankful for the multitude of blessings that come my way on a daily basis, and which sometimes get overlooked during the course of a busy life.

Instead of trying to write daily, and possibly annoy everyone in the process, I’ve decided to collect these blessings for a few weeks, and share them in a single post.

March was a wonderful  month indeed, filled with a myriad of marvellous events. I will list a few here, although there are so many other tiny wonders it would be far too time consuming to mention them all.

Thanks to two of my good writing friends, I discovered a fantastic editor, Suzy Vitello, who was offering an phenomenal special, 50 pages edited for 50$. I gladly jumped on this opportunity, and was thrilled with the insights Suzy offered. I can highly recommend Suzy’s service for anyone struggling with an opening, a middle, or an ending, or just to discuss their story. Check her out at: http://suzyvitello.com

Then, I had the honour of having a flash piece of mine make the long list for Pulp Literatures’ Bumblebee Flash fiction contest. This was exciting for me, because after I had paid my submission fees, I discovered the word count limit was not the 1000 words I’d thought, (as was the story I’d planned to submit) but 750 words or under. Which led to the trimming of 250 words off an already short story. The fact the story made the long list was reward enough for me, (and which made me grateful once more for the talented Richard Thomas, whose Flash Fiction class gave me the skills required to perform that pruning.)

You can find Richard at: https://whatdoesnotkillme.com and on Litreactor where he teaches a variety of classes. https://litreactor.com

Later, I received notice that a story I’d submitted to Pulp Literature back in November had been pulled for a second reading. Counting this as a win, whether or not the story makes it any farther in the selection process. After all, one must take one’s victories as they come.

My background work picked up during the end of the month, with calls to three different shows, THE MISSION, A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, and SALVATION, the latter may or may not have me quite visibly on camera. (Not entirely sure this is a good thing. lol)

I spent two and a half glorious days at the amazing Loon Lake Lodge, deep in the UBC research forest, with a group of wonderful local writers. Heavenly to spend uninterrupted time writing and talking about writing with like minded individuals.

I finished off the month by finding out that my submission for THE NEW YORK CITY MIDNIGHT SHORT STORY CHALLENGE, came in 1st in it’s heat, which allowed me to move on to the second round. I’m proud to say I wrote my very first thriller in the 48 hours allotted, coming in just under the 2000 word limit at 1997 words. Results for this heat will be announced on May 09th, but regardless of the outcome, I’m thrilled to have put words down on the page, words I would not have otherwise written. This is always a good thing.

Looking forward to all the wondrous things April will send my way, but sincerely hoping it doesn’t include more rain.

Gratefully yours,

Leslie

 

 

 

#tryalittletenderness

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March 01, 2018

Today I’d like to talk a little about the subjectivity of the writing world. And not simply about our individual tastes in what we enjoy reading, fiction, and non fiction alike, and what we consider to be “good writing.”

It’s impossible to deny that subjectivity exists. Just go read a 1 star review of your favourite book and a 5 star review of one you detested. It’s this personal taste that accounts for the wide variety of styles and genres out in the world. And variety is what makes the world an interesting place.

The subjectivity I’m talking about here is far more personal, and something each writer who is brave enough to send their words out into the world experiences. I’m talking about the subjectivity of the person, editor, agent, publisher who receives those words.

A few years back I attended a panel at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference. Five brave authors discussed the number of rejections they’d received before they finally found their agent/publisher. The first few described their thirty-five, forty, and even sixty rejections. Then the last author spoke and told us she would win this competition hands down. (Yes, author’s actually do that, have competitions to see who gets the most rejections. We’re odd like that. lol) She received ninety-nine rejections before her novel was picked up on the one hundredth submission. On a side note, that book has since gone on to win multiple awards.

What strikes me the most about these stories, is that not one of those authors GAVE UP! Not even after dozens and dozens of rejections. You could ask pretty much any author/writer out there and I’m sure they would be happy to share stories of countless rejections.

I’m very blessed to be running at 45% acceptances for my short fiction and narrative non-fiction. This includes some having made it through several cuts before finally being rejected. I’ve had 23 acceptances and 51 rejections, I’m not exactly a prolific submitter. Too busy revising. lol

Sadly, I’m at 100% rejections for my first novel. (I only sent out 20 submissions before pulling it for revision.) I presently have one agent waiting for my revisions, and four more reading my full manuscript. Although my fingers crossed that at least one of them loves it enough to offer representation, it’s more likely I will encounter many more rejections before this project finds a home.

The very first narrative non-fiction piece I wrote was rejected six times before it was finally published. And they paid me. Which, considering that all of the other publications which rejected me didn’t offer payment, is pretty darned sweet.

This past summer a short story I’d submitted a few times and which was rejected each time, won first place in a respected national contest. This morning I received yet another rejection, this one for a flash piece I’d written. This afternoon, that same story made the long list in a contest I’d entered last month.

Subjectivity at its finest, and one more reason I won’t be giving up anytime soon.

When I reach 100 rejections, (I’m getting close to 60 if you count all my short pieces,) I’m having a party to celebrate. Because even though it sucks to be rejected, it also means I’m putting my words out there, and in the end, that’s the only way to succeed.

I have to admit, being successful on occasional is rather nice, and helps numb the pain of all those rejections. Thank you to Chicken Soup for the Soul for picking up my narrative non-fiction piece, Maddie and the Invisible Raccoons this past summer, and for paying me handsomely for those words.

Rejections or not, I’m so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to pursue this passion of mine.

To all my writing friends out there working their way through the slush piles. Have faith, keep submitting, please. Your words will find a home, but only if you don’t give up.

#tryalittletenderness.

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February 27, 2018

Today I want to express my undying, literally undying, gratitude to Kent, the sweet, gentle man who drove me home from my appointment at City Tire two days ago.

I had just come from the vets, having taken my grand-rat Quark for a visit to check out a lump on her tummy. Because I didn’t have time to take her back home before I headed to my appointment, I took her with me in a large box that once housed our new coffee pot.

When I arrived for my appointment Paul, the owner, said Kent would take me home. I carried Quark back to my vehicle. Kent asked if I wanted to drive, but because I had my hands full of rat, I declined, teasing him by asking if he’d ever driven a rat home before.

He laughed and said no, he hadn’t.

We headed down Broadway towards the Mary Hill Bypass, chatting freely. At the intersection of Broadway and Mary Hill, Kent pulled into the merge lane. At the exact moment he did so, a police car driving north on the bypass, flipped on their siren and did a u-turn. That’s when we noticed the jeep, barrelling down the bypass, on the WRONG SIDE of the road, travelling easily 120 km an hour. It headed directly towards us in the merge lane, the police car following.

Stunned, I couldn’t even force out a squeak, although Quark may have. But Kent, my forever hero, reacted with lightening fast reflexes and managed to yank the wheel to the right, avoiding a head on collision by mere inches.

Shaken, we continued on, encountering several more police cars flying down the road, and a car that had obviously been hit by the jeep, bumper in pieces in the centre of the road.

Quark and I arrived home a bit rattled (lol, pun intended) but safe, and thanked Kent profusely. I told him he saved three lives this morning, mine, his, and the rat’s.

Today, when  I returned to pick up my car, which was restored smoothly to working order by the fantastic mechanics at City Tire, Paul told me that police chase had ended right outside his shop, when two police cars had broadsided the jeep. Another car was hit in the process.

Yikes.

So, if you’re looking for cheap reliable car repair, and perhaps someone to save your life, look no farther that City Tire in Port Coquitlam. For service above and beyond the call of duty.

Thank you for hiring such amazing people. Paul.

CITY TIRE LTD
Address: 1772 Broadway St, Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 2M8
Phone: (604) 464-5811
Province: British Columbia

 

 

 

 

 

#tryalittletenderness

February 26, 2018

Playing catch up. Sketchy internet while we were away, so I wasn’t able to keep up to my daily posts, but like I said earlier, I’m going to forgive myself for that.

Today, I want to share something exciting, to me at least.

I now have my very own author page on Amazon. And there are books on that page! Sadly, I can’t really claim them as my own, but my words are published inside, so that’s cool.

Thanks  to my dear friend Jude Walsh who was the person who mentioned that this was a possibility for me. And very easy to do.

One more baby step towards my dream of having a book of my own, with ALL my own words, published.

I hope you will all stop by and check it out. It’s so pretty.

For some reason the link doesn’t work as a hyperlink, but you can copy and paste and it should take you to the page.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B079KFMPYS?ref_=pe_584750_33951330

 

 

 

 

#tryalittletenderness

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February 08, 2018

Today was an amazing day. Not simply because I  left Raincouver and am now basking in the sunshine and warmth of Miami, but because today I had the honour and extreme pleasure of meeting one of my online writing partners in person. Susan Weidenbaum Goldstein is a gifted writer, funny, smart, and hysterical.

She drove over two hours each way to meet me at my hotel in South Beach. (In her beautiful Charger that I had to take a picture of for my husband.) I knew her from pictures, so I had no problem spotting her in the hotel lobby, but strangely, it wasn’t like meeting a stranger for the first time, it was like greeting a childhood friend. There wasn’t a single moment of discomfort, at least not on my part, and our connection was immediate. We walked and talked for hours, like those childhood friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.

It was an amazing experience and I am so thrilled to have had this opportunity. One that even fifteen years ago would never have been possible.

Technology, and my writing, have made the world such a small place. Now, I need to find away to get to get to Michigan to meet Michelle Riddell,  Oregon, to meet Devon Balwit, Arizona, to meet Megan Merchant, Ohio, to meet Ann Klotz and Jude Walsh, Pennsylvania to meet Sarah Weissman, and wherever Julianne Palumbo is, (the amazing woman who brought us all together.

Or, we could organize a MOTHERS ALWAYS WRITE retreat somewhere in the middle of the continent. Right guys?