Books giveaway, eyes, and mortuary science

The print edition of Harpur Palate 20.2 with my short story, From Scratch, is finally out in the world! Also! I have an extra copy of the journal that I would like to give away along with one other gently used book that I’ve enjoyed this past year (you can choose between: The Midnight Library, The Glass Hotel, or The Body Keeps the Score (non-fiction)). To enter, send me a message with your choice of a gently used book you’d like to receive with it and a good mailing address. While you are there, feel free to ask to be added to my infrequent newsletter. Your chances of winning are pretty good. My goal is to get more than 4 people to enter.

Harpur Palate issue 20.2, From Scratch was included.

I started writing what I think is a speculative non-fiction piece about my time at the ophthalmologist’s (had to look up the spelling for that one!) office. It’s making me reflect a lot on sight, something I’ve taken for granted all my life because I’ve had 20/20 vision up until recently. To be fair, my vision is still good and I don’t need glasses. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. It has come to light that I need further testing for glaucoma, it runs in my family and I have a couple of factors that are pointing to a potential deterioration in my optic nerve in the near future. Of course, I had to look up an anatomy of the eye chart which led to this diseases of the eye chart.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about funerals and sitting with grief. I’m thankful for places like The Dougy Center and people that can sink into the discomfort of another person’s pain. I’m working on this in myself and think about how meaningful it is for someone to be there for you when it’s hard for others to be there. Environments like hospitals, funeral homes, or simply being near someone in tears and having feelings of hopelessness are not places anyone clamors to. In terms of my life, I’m wondering how I can serve others in this way, to sit with them and their grief. Listening without judgment or solutions. Allowing the pain to wash out, to ebb and flow, but knowing that the shape of grief is never still. Never in one place. Anyway, I’m thinking a lot about this in terms of what my next career move might be. I’m a member of the Order of the Good Death founded by Caitlin Doughty already and a degree in Mortuary Science is not off the table. I need to go back and watch some Ask a Mortician YouTube series (also Caitlin Doughty). That may help me decide.

Visit my website any time and check out my other blog posts (I’m blogging more regularly again!).

Aiming for 100 rejections

I have finally decided to aim for 100 rejections (at this point it’s more like submissions/applications) for the year. I’ve been hearing about this idea for a long time and I always kind of liked it, but was never committed to putting it into practice. Lately, I’ve gotten some of my energy back after the depression, stress and horribleness of the past two years. I’m ready to take my commitment to my writing to the next level! First, here’s what I’ve been up to when I’m not too busy toddler wrangling:

  1. I applied to a fellowship! I’ve NEVER done this. I’m not holding my breath, but I decided that it was time I believed in myself enough to try for something like this. Next year’s goal will be to apply to more than 1.
  2. Slowly I am aiming to get back to jogging 3 miles three days a week. So far, I’ve been able to jog twice a week for a little under 2 miles. Part of that is due to time, but a BIG part is due to my lower fitness level. Running is HARD when you haven’t done it for years …
  3. Oh, um, I have a new obsession, Orchids. I am not allowed to buy anymore, but let’s just say PROJECT ORCHID REJUVENATION was a success! I’ll do a post on that in the future probably.
  4. One of my stories was accepted for publication back in December 2020 and should be published in the next couple of months. With COVID a lot has slowed down and publication timelines are no exception. If you want to get notification on when that happens, sign up for my tiny e-newsletter. I generally only send an email out 1-2 times per year.
  5. I wrote a new short story that I am really proud of. After trying to write it as a creative nonfiction piece, I turned it into a short fiction piece in one day. I revised it a couple times and had a writer friend review it before sending it out. It was based on a call for short stories from a journal I’d been pubbed with in the past.
  6. A few months ago I started writing a new novel. This one feels a bit different than my other ones. It seems to have more focus in many ways, but I’m only about halfway through writing the first draft so we will see what happens. It involves TIME TRAVEL!
  7. I signed up for a community event through Literary Arts called One Page Wednesday in December. It’s where you can listen to others read a page of their work in progress and if you want to read, you can too. I love this idea and have always wanted to go to one of these events.
  8. I also signed up for an online fiction workshop through Catapult. I’m excited about this one because it centers around time and how to utilize it in your novel. I’m very curious about this topic since my new project deals with time travel.
  9. And then I decided to see how many submissions I’d sent out this year. This includes three short stories, a novel, and the fellowship. I counted roughly 70 submissions, 10-12 of those are still pending. This led me to decide to rack up some rejections and start counting in 2022. This is where I’ve decided to aim for 100.

Okay, that’s my update for now. I can’t promise that I will update this blog more than a couple times a year, but we’ll see. What about you? How are you doing and have you set any goals for yourself?

New parent, must write: Author toolbox post

This parenting thing is relentless and I am only 20 weeks in. Duh, right? Well, somehow I am finding time to write. It’s different now. My resolve is bound to the conviction that if I quit doing something I love … Continue reading

Entering Writing Contests

 

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Chapter cards as a result of entering #RevPit. 

 

I thought I’d share a little quick insight into why I like entering writing contests like #RevPit and Pitch Wars. Right now #RevPit is winding down and narrowing in on each editor’s picks. Each editor will work with just one writer to hone their full manuscript and query letter so it is ready for querying out in the world! Truth be told, I don’t enter these contests because I think I will get chosen. Sounds weird, right? Don’t get me wrong, if I WERE chosen . . . that would be AWESOME!

I’ll explain. I’ve been told by various editors and agents that a lot of these types of contests are geared toward specific genres. Mine isn’t really one of them (literary speculative fiction or upmarket with speculative elements). I’m okay with that because you never know! Anyway, the real reason I enter these contests is to meet new people and hone my craft. I generally find that I can get a free critique of my query or first 10 pages or so just be being aware that these contests exist. I would have never heard of a really fun opportunity through ManuFixed. I entered a contest they were running and while I didn’t get picked for their initial contest I did get a free 10-page ms critique! It was super helpful. ANWAY, I think it’s totally worth it to enter these contests. Sometimes you get free stuff and it makes you really stop and think about your writing and how you want to go about revisions to make it better.

ALSO! I wanted to mention that my NEW BLOG SERIES starts next week! Q and A with Aspiring Authors. The very first one will be up next Thursday with crime author, Beth Green, so come back and check it out.

Revisions: Homestretch

Today’s post will be super short. I need to save all of my energy for revisions and a short road trip we are taking this weekend.

I’m in the home stretch of my latest round of edits for my current work in progress. I only have about 50 pages left to edit, but they are the ones that need the MOST work! I know this and still, I procrastinate!

I feel a little like this turtle . . .

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I wonder if I will ever truly get there. I don’t want to rush it, but I’m also starting to feel like it’ll never feel quite done, but maybe that’s common for most writers? Somehow I doubt I’m alone.

“If you get to the point where you can’t make a book any better, but no one wants to publish it, set it aside and start something else. In two years or five or ten, you might be a better writer, and you might find you are willing and able to make it better. You can take only what you want or need from the original drafts, and leave the rest.” – From: How Do You Know When Your Book Is Finished? The Blunt Instrument on How to Begin and When to End

I still love my first officially “finished” novel and the quote really puts that into perspective. I learned so much from writing it, but I lost steam and had to set it aside after a long time and many rejections.

Supporting art

Last week the sun popped its head out here and there. I blame it on the energy those sun breaks gave me, but I felt like getting out in the world and supporting my friends and husband in their artistic endeavors. Granted, I’d try to do that no matter what the weather was like, but this week and into the weekend was a busier one than normal.

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The first event I went to was called Object Stories and was held at the Portland Art Museum. My friend Justin had an exhibit there and all of the object stories were about hidden disabilities. It was a powerful message, especially when the artists got up to talk about their pieces. It made me think about how I approach people and the judgments I oftentimes automatically make about them without understanding the full picture. I think it’s natural to have a gut reaction to something someone says or how they act. However, taking a step back and being aware of those reactions, pausing, and opening myself up to a truly open conversation and experience with people of all types is something this exhibit reminded me to do on a regular basis.

In addition, there is an awesome YouTube channel where the artists talk about their pieces as well. I highly recommend it.

IMG_8644The second event I went to was my husband’s show. He plays in a band called Body Mask and they played the art closing for Joey Maas’ pop art show at Ace Hotel. I’ll admit that I’d had a bad day and didn’t feel like going, but I dragged myself out and it was SO MUCH FUN. As you can see from the photos, the art was super smart and all the connections it made (someone had to make a few of those for me…) regarding cultural and social commentary felt like a valuable contribution to the world as we know it today. In addition, the band brought a lot of energy and fun to the event. Also, BALLOONS! Overall, it was a good night that lifted my spirits exponentially. Great art all around!

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The last thing I’ll say about all of this is, go out and support your people! Art is important for so many reasons and whatever your reason is, go support your friends, strangers, and loved ones. It makes me feel so good when someone comes to one of my readings, it makes me feel like what I’m doing is worth it and valued. It’s just an extra good feeling that your people know how important your art is and why you do what you do. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get out and go, but make a point to show your appreciation for the artists in your life.  HUG them, but also go to their shows.

 

Blogging in 2018 & when your title might not work anymore

So, I think I’m going to start blogging again (let me know if you think it’s a mistake)! I’ll try for one post per week and see if that is sustainable. I’ve just finished my second novel (well, will it ever really be finished?). For now, I’m into writing shorter pieces and thinking about future bigger projects.

In the coming months, I’ll be mostly revising my novel and sending out queries to agents and then small presses. I’m giving myself a limit on how many agents I sub to before I send to small presses. I made the mistake of sending my first novel out to too many agents and then I stopped sending to small presses. I was getting some bites too! This business is all about perseverance, but sometimes you need to know when to change your tack, right?

At the moment my current project is called LANA BONG’S SHANGHAI MARKET, but I don’t think the title fits the content anymore. However, I LOVE that title! It’s mine though, you can’t use it :).

Other writing ideas floating around in my brain:

  1. Book of short stories and narrative non-fiction centered around Ohio. Pick up a copy of Midwestern Gothic to read my narrative non-fiction piece, Whispers. Sorry, shameless self-promotion right there!
  2.  Chapbook – Not sure how to organize this, but I’ve always loved them. I’m into eclectic collections, but I’m not sure if my tastes are what readers want. Will do some research.
  3.  Novel #3 in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. What I mean when I say this is that there is a definite narrator sitting down with the reader to tell the story of someone else’s life and how they relate to it. I like the distant feel, but also the lens in which the story is told, from someone else’s perspective (so trusting the narrator is a big deal).

What I need from you, dear reader:

Please help me with this title conundrum. What do you do when you discover your FAVORITE title doesn’t work anymore? I’d love to hear from writers who have a similar problem or any suggestions from non-writers as well. Anything helps!

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