Summer Challenges

It’s hard in the heat of summer and the lazy afternoons of vacation to think about actually pulling out the laptop and writing.  And then there are days when you can’t focus on your employed work or tasks for the day because that plot issue or character flaw that was holding up your writing has suddenly flooded your brain with solutions and the words are running out your ears.  Grab a damn pen and jot it down…you think or open a notepad blank file and type it in…Quick!  Before you lose it!!!

Google writing prompts and warm your brain up if not.  Write  a letter to your cousin.  Do something every single day that is not work related and releases your brain to creative writing.  JUST DO IT!!!

Dream of being a famous author and collaborating on a movie based on your novel.  Hold that dream fast.  Now get off your butt and write SOMETHING!

I double dog dare you.

Z.

Psst…get it done. I double dog dare you!

I’m pleased with the final product of The UnValentine Anthology.  The response of the public to the work of the authors and the cause of the charity to whom the proceeds go has been trememdous.  PEERS Victoria is an amazing group of staff and volunteers who work hard to help sex trade workers find safe housing and empower them to pursue their goals.  It is a wonderful cause that I’m pleased to help support.  Many of the authors in this anthology have not been previously published and the impact on them and their friends/family is the best part of all of this.  You can purchase it and other of our books via filidhbooks.com or lulu.com.

This spring we have also published a new and upcoming author,Kristoffer Law, in his first novel The Jagged Tree.  The response of his friends, family and blogging fan base has been overwhelming.  Never mind its a good book and I’m sure they will find as i have, that their investment in this young man is well placed – the support of a local author is not easy to get.  I’m impressed with his ability to garner the support of so many this early in his career.  Well done!  Some authors really excel at marketing themselves and others are too “aw shucks” about tooting their horns.  I tend to be the later, myself, and so understand it but prod and poke to get my authors to be more assertive about their talents and work.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the work of my first author client, Monique Jacob, who is about to launch her third novel called Bright Light.  It is fascinating to listen to her talk about her process for producing novels.  She’s amazing and it is very exciting to assist her in bringing her work to you.  Her book launch is May 8th (7pm) at Solstice Cafe on Pandora St in Victoria, BC.

Getting published and having your work and your role as an author taken seriously by the world in general and the people in your life in particular is an onerous task with barriers and challenges at every turn.  Much like job hunting, success as an author does not come knocking at your door.  You must get out there and get your work heard/read.  How do you do that?  We have events called Double Dog Dare author readings.  These are open mic events where you can read for five minutes and be heard by the publisher that hosts the event but also by your peers, friends and family.  Applause is addictive.  You want to hear more appreciation.  You want to write more.  The next one is April 1st – The Ink Slingers’ Shenanigans also at Solstice Cafe (7pm).  We will have five minute prepared readings and an improv segment where we will write for ten minutes to a writing prompt.   Best reading from the prepared and the improv segments will each receive a prize.  The theme is Kissing the Blarney Stone.  We want to hear your best load of blarney – no fooling!

Another way to get published is to submit to writing contests.  We publish and anthology every year with proceeds to a charity.  Authors get credit, a bio page and a bio listing on our website (filidhbooks.com) as well as one free copy of the finished product.  This year’s anthology is Blood Moon Rising Anthology – short stories minimum of 3000 words with a theme of resurrection, reawakening, rebirth, resurgence, revival.  Submissions to publishing@filidhbooks.com  by June 1, 2015.  The charity chosen for this anthology is AVI (AIDS Vancouver Island).

We will be launching filidhbooks4kids.com later this year along with two new children’s books written by myself.  Emerson’s Flight and Kaida are coming soon.  We also will have a first children’s anthology called Village of Superheros Illustrated Anthology – short stories minimum of 1000 words with a theme of a hero/heroine who inspires or makes a difference in the life of a child/children.  We will also be looking for original artwork and photography.  Submissions to publishing@filidhbooks.com by August 1, 2015. The charity chosen for proceeds of this anthology is SOS Village BC.

There is nothing like having someone say that they can’t wait for this new anthology because they enjoyed your work so much in the last one.   There is also nothing quite like holding a book in your hand that has your name on it and your story in it.   Of course, the best is being able to say “we’ve sold some of your books online and have some revenue for you”.

I absolutely love that I can help make dreams come true and that I can challenge some very talented authors to step outside their favoured genre and write a love story or a quirky funny bit.   I love the look on their faces when they realize that they are damn good at what they do.   I personally like when someone says, “when are you writing the sequel?”

but that’s another blog entry.

Back to work.

Z.

Summer Daze

This year’s anthology, The UnValentine Anthology, is in the works!!  We have a good number of submissions and while I’ve had a quick look at them all, I’m just beginning to do a full review of them.  My comments will go out in August and it will then go to an editor for her review.  The final manuscript will go to print in late November or early December.  Authors of the accepted submissions will have credit on the book, a bio accompanying their submission, wholesale purchase rights and one free copy.  After first publish in our hard copy and ebook, their submissions may be published elsewhere as we have edited it or as submitted.  All proceeds for sales of the book go to PEERS. 

I have been receiving other manuscripts for consideration and many of them are for books for children to read.  I am looking for illustrators who might be able to work on projects.  A children book requires a minimum of 25 pages and picture books would require at least that many illustrations.  Please contact me at publishing@filidhbooks.com  if you are interested.

I, myself, am working on a children’s project which I am also illustrating called Emerson’s Flight.  The main characters are Canada Geese.  I have a series of children’s picture books and this will be another in that series.   We have had a children’s books website in the works for some time but as it looks like 2015 will be the year for publishing mostly children’s books we will likely launch that website to host them by end of this year.

One of the best parts of writing a book is seeing or hearing the feedback that it was well received.  One of the best parts of publishing is seeing the happy dance of the author when they have their publishing book in their hand for the first time.  This past year has been wonderful for that and I expect the next season 2014-2015 to be just as enjoyable.  

It’s nice to have time to write, myself but I am enjoying a summer of just reading manuscripts.  I’m quite impressed by the creativity that crosses my desk and look forward to bringing the work of some first time published authors to you.  That and the happy dances.

Okay…

Back to work for me.

Z. 

Wiggle your muse and get the feeling back into it.

We are halfway into 2014 and I’m just now able to pause and share with you.  The year began with a mad scramble to get final edits done on a project of my own as well as two other projects.  We wanted everything completed by the end of March so that there was time to review proofs and get books printed for launch events planned in April and May. 

I have spent several years working on my book, Love Alternatively Expressed.  The feeling of never being done edits is a constant with authors and I don’t think you really ever are done with them.  Always there will be a typo we missed or a second thought on a phrasing.  You do the best you can and then let it sit for a revision several years later.  This book was hugely personal with a discussion of the history of my journey into polyamory, my advocacy and legal participation and the impact on Canadians in the community of polyamorists.  My personal experience does not make me an expert but there really aren’t any experts on how we each live our lives – no one but us as we learn.  My tone is of an older sister or auntie that talks frankly about sexuality, relationships and how to figure out what you want and how to get it with the least amount of drama.  I have sold out of the first print run of this book and now am doing a quit edit of typos before submitting it to Amazon for global distribution.  I’m quite excited and also relieved to have it finally in print.  I do plan some follow up ebook sequels looking more deeply at some areas like forming a community of poly folks where there isn’t one.  I find that completing one book inspires three more ideas for future books and I may never actually be done with this project.

Between March of 2013 and March of 2014, Filidh Publishing produced eight books by fourteen different authors.  One of them was a collection of short stories where green technology was part of the plot.  Anthology of a Green Planet  with 8 authors was published in December but launched in 2014.  In March at our Double Dog Dare Open Mic in Victoria we quietly celebrated with the authors who are from Victoria.  April 1st we hosted the Ink Slingers’ Shenanigans  which celebrated all 8 titles.  Then in May we launched the book in Vancouver for the one author who is from Vancouver and launched two more of those 8 titles Invisible Girl and Just Outside of Hope also Vancouver authors.  Proceeds from sales of the Anthology for a Green Planet go to Pedal to Petal, a company that collects kitchen compost via bicycle.   The first print run for that book has sold out as well. 

We are currently accepting submissions for the Un-Valentine Anthology until June 30, 2014.  These are stories between 2000-6000 words which tell of an unusual love story.  We will be reviewing submissions beginning in July with a hope of publishing in the fall.  All proceeds go to PEERS,  a non-profit group of support and resources for current and former sex trade workers.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peers-Victoria/168869749809046.

  Recent gatherings of the Eclectic Writers’ Boot Camp have included working on some unusual writing prompts.  Comments from attendees have been that these have inspired work that was very much outside the box of normal genre, style or focus and made them think that they really were writers after all.   My particular efforts have me thinking in a whole different direction on several projects.

Summer is here.  Take yourself outdoors in a comfy spot and let your mind wander.  Shake the dust off your muse and get the blood flowing to the creative side of your head.  Be wild and unfettered.   Let the page tell you what it wants.  Let yourself drift on the wonder of summertime. 

zd

 

Shaking off the holiday sluggishness

In a perfect world, we have a comfortable writing space to which we retire at an appointed hour and write our masterpieces untroubled by anything but perhaps a need to have a drink or hit the washroom.  Hours transpire and we produce a novel every year and someone else sells them to keep us in financial comfort.

That may happen eventually.  I sincerely hope that movie deal is just around the corner for you and I both.  Meantime, we have to fit our writing in amongst the other more pressing areas of our life.  One of the wonderful things about doing the NaNoWriMo competition is that for 30 days writing is THE most pressing area of your life and everyone who knows you knows that.  You are free to experience 30 days of being a full time – well not full time but every other scrap of time – author.  It is very cool and exhausting at the same time.

Holidays and work monsoons are excellent reasons to put your own writing on the back burner or under the couch with the dust bunnies.  Now, when you really should be editing that piece or putting those notes into the next chapter, you just want to roll over on the couch, eat another pot’o gold and relax.  How do you grab the thread of passion that started your story and get on with it?

Do SOMETHING about it.  Ten minutes on the bus with an app for blogging or writing.  30 minutes on your lunch break editing something, making notes about a character or scene.  An hour or two Sunday morning with coffee.  Find some time and try to make it a consistent time every day or week.  Pay yourself first is the best way to save money say the financial experts.  Deduct from your pay and hide it in savings.   This is true of time for things we want to do but just are too busy for.  Pay yourself first from your time bank.  You’ll be no more or less busy than before but you’ll be much much happier as you address your own needs.  Make use of idle moments.  I have phone apps for blog posting to wordpress and blogspot but really hate to write a piece like this with one finger.  I’ve just found another app that will let me make quick notes for  on my novels which works better for me.  It is called “A Novel Idea”.

Plan.  Seems like more than the time you have is needed to do it so why bother?  Could be you don’t need that much time if you plan it in chunks. Two ways to do that.  I use both.  An editorial calendar and a beat sheet.  Google them and find an example that works for you.

Editorial calendar.  This week I will write a blog post for this blog.  Next week I’ll write one for my poly blog and pull together exercises for the writers’ boot camp meeting.  On the weekends, I’ll write into one of my novel files.  Every day on the bus I’ll make notes for the scenes, characters, locations or research questions to pursue.  I note each of these things in my editorial google calendar and it dumps into the google calendar on my phone so I get an alert.  I also note things like email this chapter to a friend for specific detail review of plot or publisher related duties for one of my authors.

A Beat Sheet is an outline format used by screen writers and novelists.  Each beat is a scene in the story and there could be several in a chapter.  It makes it so much easier to write to be organized on this level.   You can think of several and give yourself a reminder phrase in 10 minutes.  You can write a scene in 30 minutes.  You can connect those scenes and write the chapter in that Sunday morning hour.

Go for a walk.  Get in touch with your body.  Emotion and intuition are stored in the body.  Move it and find the inspiration to shift from waiting to creating.  Bend time by being focused on your purpose and intent on releasing the eruption of muse onto the page/screen.  The best rested mind is one that has been freed to travel to worlds afar and relayed the tale of it.

So put this down and go DO  IT.

 

 

Empowering Others

This fall has been all about getting another author’s work (Monique Jacob) into print and her book launched officially.  There is so much to go to get a manuscript into print.  Final edits to the manuscript are followed by formatting the electronic file for the size of pages you wanted it printed on. Reformatting and adjusting font sizes and page layout a few times.  Cover design ideas verses the cover template and allowed adjustments as well as size of photo files.  Clarity and pixilation issues to resolve.  Then we have a test print done and redo it all.  Well maybe not all.

Then there’s the promotional materials.  I find it all a good bit of fun.  Like doing the Sunday crossword in the paper or other people’s tax returns (not mine – its a huge pain).  I enjoyed the challenges of getting it all pulled together for the Authors’ Book Launch event at VCon – a SciFi convention in Vancouver in September for a bit of a test run.  The launch for her book, Tye Dye Voodoo was in late October at Dark Horse Books in Victoria.  There was a Hallowe’en theme to the event and the timing was certainly appropriate.  Sales are going well and I was noting ways that I ought to have been more assertive in marketing my own books.  Even the teacher learns from the lessons taught.

Mentoring others is a nice fit for me.  I like to see the trials of learning how to do all of this pay off for someone else as well and even more effectively.  Makes it all worthwhile again and again.

In November, I participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo competition.  This is the National Novel Writing Month competition where you have to write 50.000 words of a novel in 30 days.  I’ve tried it a few times and never written more than 15,000 during the month.  I’ve gone on to complete one of those attempts.  The finished novel was still under 50,000 words.  This year I wrote just under 33,000 words in the month.  I’m very happy with the quality of it and suspect it will be closer to 100,000 words when completed.  The point of jumping into the competition this year was really to encourage others who were waffling and the experience is a good stretch of one’s skills and focus.  Its also a great way to get support for your writing from family and friends.  I can usually do 1000 ish words at a sitting.  I learned that I can push it and sit up all night to write 5,000 words or better in a sitting.  I’m over 50 and burning the midnight oil is long past doable for me really but pacing it for a night on the weekend when I have a day to recover worked.  I was however determined to get it done and feeling the pressure of a story urgently needing to be written down that is akin to pre-orgasmic torment.  It was a wonderful experience and I recommend a similar project with deadline pressure to test your mettle.

December 7th was our first Double Dog Dare Authors’ Tour event.  Three published authors read from their published works.  Then they and five unpublished authors read from unpublished works.  It was an excellent evening and there were some very talented authors sharing their work. We will have another one in Vancouver in February and in Seattle in April.   I spoke to each author after they had read and gave them some critique and words of encouragement.  All are invited to join the Eclectic Writers’ Boot Camp group on Facebook.  We have meetings in real life, skype people in and allow for online posting to writing and marketing exercises.  We are there to provide peer review to each others’ work and learn from each other about how to be the best at our craft, publish and market our work.

It’s amazing how empowering others has inspired and motivated me to push harder and be better at writing, marketing and publishing.

What we give most certainly comes back threefold to us.

Sharing an appreciation of Life

When I was about 15 years old I attended a youth camp and came home with a deeper understanding of the issues faced by the other campers and staff who had shared their troubles with the group and raised them up for divine intervention.  It was clear to me that people focused far more on the negative and even glimmers of hope were expressed with some drawback or hesitancy.  I had teen issues and was a much teased fat kid but even I knew that every moment breathing was something to celebrate and be grateful for and how could one expect some divine power to fix one’s life if one didn’t have faith in fixing it.  Inside the camp log provided at the end of the week was a list of campers and staff some reminder of who they were, their zodiac sign and their home addresses.  I had made notes of the more troubling comments during the final service on the back cover as well.

With a desire to remind these people to appreciate the wonder that is human life and dare to reach for their dreams, I began writing short letters to a list of those campers and staff.  Just a quote or a few cryptic words sometimes and others a bit more but never enough to reveal who I was or be annoying.  Once a month a note written in green ink with no return address but a small sketch of a quill pen and ink bottle would arrive.  The list grew over the years and my secret identity was disclosed but the feedback was amazing.  Just knowing that someone somewhere thought that they could make it through each day and in fact realize their goals and dreams was so inspiring.  I don’t think it saved lives or made a huge difference in anyone’s life or anything that dramatic but it did make a difference in mine. When I was at a loss for an appropriate quote, being the Green Pen gave me permission to trust my own words to express compassion.  I opened the door to writing and the words have poured unceasingly since then.

I learned at that young age that people are all the same inside and reaching outside myself to share the compassion I felt for them was good for them and very good for me.  I write today for the same reason, I think.  The stories I tell are ones that well up from the appreciation I have for every moment – well maybe not EVERY moment – of each day and the desire to share that with you, dear reader.

I began my other blog, Dear Polly Amorie, because I am asked so often about polyamory (ethical non-monogamy) and the various aspects of making multi-partnered relationships work that I felt writing about it would be well received.  It has been and you are welcome to go to that blog if that is of interest to you.

I find myself in a similar spot on the subject of writing and publishing and so I have set up this blog to impart some wisdom generally learned with lots of error and share my appreciation of the privilege of being able to express myself in writing and an ability to coach others.  Having read some very poor prose and studied under some not so effective teachers, I think both things can be learned but there is a gift to it as well.  I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity of a good education and some gifted teachers who left me with a love for reading and writing that is not often the result of academia.

I have resurrected my livejournal blog which I used quite effectively to post bits of my last novel in progress for restricted reader feedback. I find access to it by readers to be too restrictive and so being my adventure with wordpress.  I may post bits of writing as I work on various projects but my main content will be about the processes of writing and getting your work in print.

The green pen continues to be a part of who I am as it lives on in the logo for my publishing business, Filidh Publishing, and now in this revised blog.

Onward to this new adventure.
zd