Stranger than Fiction

As if I didn’t have enough to do this month, I’ve just got to weigh in on the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway questions. This used to be the Writer Mama Back-To-School-Giveaway at one point, and what I enjoy the most about it is not only the chance  to reflect on my writing life and have an opportunity to win great books, but also the sense of community it provides. I’ve connected with far more other writers online in the past few years, than in “real life”. Not that online life isn’t real in its own way…. 😉

Today’s question: Which do you prefer writing: fiction or nonfiction? And why?

My response: Count me in on the nonfiction side. There was a time in my life where everything I read was fiction, so naturally I assumed I wanted to be a fiction writer when I grew up. But here I am at midlife, still waiting to grow up, and now what I want to read and write is nonfiction. I’ve been grappling with some pretty heavy issues in my life the last few years: a cancer diagnosis, losing both parents within months of each other, and children growing up and leaving home. Writing creative nonfiction satisfies the creative side of me, while still helping me to process the new reality I’ve found myself in, and make sense of it all.

The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Writing Reflections- Day 30

And this concludes the re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts, as well as this year’s WMBTSG. My last response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/VThzc

Thirty days, thirty prompts- whew! But it’s been fun, I learned alot about myself through reflecting on the various aspects of writing, enjoyed  sharing with other participants and reading their responses, and oh yeah, I’m looking forward to receiving and reading the two books I won this year!

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

and

2010 Poet’s Market by Robert Lee Brewer

September 30, 2008- At this point in time, I’ve only submitted to anthologies and websites/ezines, and I rely almost exclusively on online calls for submissions. I suppose my method is a tad hit or miss, but so far I’ve managed to find enough markets to be able to submit on a regular basis. All that I know about creating Google search terms that net results, I’ve learned from my 13-year-old son, who is just the master of finding information if it indeed exists anywhere out there on the World Wide Web. There’s actually a trick to it, and due to the vagaries of the internet search engines, a subtle shift in search terms results in a totally different set of hits, so it pays to play around with it a bit.

The most steady anthology markets are of course the Chicken Soup series, that has plenty of titles in the works at any given time, A Cup of Comfort, and the Ultimate series, but there are plenty of one-time anthologies out there if you look hard enough.

Writing Reflections- Day 29

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/vZ7Ad

September 29, 2008- This is all purely hypothetical right? Because if truth be told, I wouldn’t know what to do with an agent right now. I am years away from even attempting a novel, let alone seeking a publisher for one, and it  really hasn’t been all that difficult to find potential markets for my personal essays and creative nonfiction so far. I’ve earmarked a few likely markets, and have established a rapport directly with the editors. That being said…

I have absolutely no background in marketing, P.R. or even creative writing or journalism, if we’re going to be particular. Just an overwhelming desire to express myself through the written word. What I would bring to a partnership with an agent is honesty, a fresh, unjaded outlook on writing, ambition, determination, creativity, enthusiasm, organizational skills, and an open mind. I am more than willing to listen and learn, and am quick to adapt to changing situations. And no one could be a better cheerleader for my own work, than me!

Writing Reflections- Day 28

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/1a59VG

September 28, 2008- When I first started looking for markets for my writings, it was positively overwhelming. It seems there are no shortage of contests, literary magazines, journals, websites, ezines, anthologies and print magazines out there looking for submissions. The trick, I think, is to narrow your focus and concentrate on those that are the best match. This of course takes a fair amount of time, to research possible markets for my submissions, but I find it time well spent. At this point in my career, my ideal markets are websites, ezines and my favorite of all, anthologies.

The beauty of anthologies is there is no strictly set format you must adhere to, besides a general topic and a maximum word count. Of course, each anthology has its own flavor, with “uplifting” seeming to be a common buzzword among them, but as the aim is to gather a variety of writing styles and experiences, I find that this is where I can be the freest in my writing, which for me, after all, is what it’s all about!

Writing Reflections-Day 27

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/3bTLs4

September 27, 2008- I’ve had a burning passion for writing all my life, but didn’t really take myself seriously as a writer because I thought of myself as a mathematician. Now I believe you can be more than one thing at a time. Only last week, when someone asked me if I work, I took a deep breath, held my head up and said proudly, “Yes, I’m a freelance writer, I work from home.”

What gave me the confidence? I think it was seeing my first piece in print. I know I really shouldn’t need someone else to validate me, but it’s one thing for a daydreamer like me to build up a fantasy world in my head, and another when my writings actually see the light of day.

As for dedication and focus, I grew up in a household where my parents had the highest expectations for us, and they taught us that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. It was better, they said, to aim for the stars and land on the fence, then aim for the fence and land in the mud. Or something like that.

Writing Reflections-Day 26

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/Ezsh6

September 26, 2008- At this point in my fledgling writing career, querying skills haven’t really come into play so much, as all the writings I have submitted (48 to date) have been in response to an online call for submissions. So that’s easy enough: write the piece and fire it off using their preferred method for handling submissions.

Website submissions are pretty straightforward; not much room for creativity there. Email submissions (which comprise the majority) are much more fun. I am totally in my element with email, as I have sent out, oh probably thousands of emails over the years. The key here, I think, is to make the cover letter short, sweet and to the point, and give the editor a reason to remember you. Kind of what I had to do when I applied to college many moons ago!

I’ve decided that my very next challenge will be to learn how to pitch to magazines and newspapers, something that is totally unchartered territory for me. To that end, I am signed up for a local class next week on that very topic. I’m always open to learning new things, and applying it to my work, so I’m psyched!

Writing Reflections- Day 25

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/31zu3h

September 25, 2008- There are two things that make my writing just flow so fast that my hand has trouble keeping up with my thoughts: inspiration and motivation.

Inspiration is totally not under my control. It comes from somewhere deep inside of me. A case in point. I was lying awake early this morning (at 4 a.m. to be precise) thinking of lots of things, not the least of which was that when I woke up in the morning, we would be taking our middle child down to college for the start of her freshman year. Suddenly, I got a great idea for a story that I had been trying to write for several weeks now. A second story came to me out of the blue, on the two hour drive down, as I gazed out the window at the farms and fields on the side of the road and let my mind wander.

Motivation is external, and is always in the form of a deadline. There’s something about having a time limit hanging over me that causes me to stop procrastinating and breaks through the writer’s block. When motivation and inspiration happily coincide, then watch out, I’m on fire!

Writing Reflections- Day 24

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/hIFJn

September 24- I’m proud to say that my parents raised me to be a free thinker. To always challenge old assumptions, and synthesize new ones that work for me. Does that mean I flaunt rules? Far from it! It is only the conventions that I question. Perhaps it’s the rebellious streak in me, but I only need to hear the words “everyone does it this way”, to set me off searching for a new and better way to approach a task. In the world that I inhabit, individuality, creativity and initiative are traits to be lauded, and one size most definitely does not fit all!

I attended a wonderfully inspirational talk this past weekend, where the speaker addressed a room full of breast cancer survivors and co-survivors. In it, she asked rhetorically how many people ever got to the end of their life, and thought “Gosh, I wish I’d been more of a sheep?” Her remark was greeted with appreciative laughter. I can’t help but think that the most successful people in life in general are the movers and shakers, the ones willing to step out of the mold and blaze the way. Count me in as a renegade writer!