So… How do you….?

Since my book, How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party, came out, people have consistently asked me – so, how do you?

psycI’m not sure how to answer without giving away the themes appearing throughout the book of short stories, or to get long involved conversation about what we want to to see verses what we hope to see.

One of the basic constants in life is we are consistently surprised by things that have been right in front of our eyes. When whatever it is finally reveals itself, we are shocked and embarrassed that we didn’t know.

Some of our more dense friends will say – how could you not know? and other rude a-holes will actually claim to have known the whole time. mag

Life is like a magicians trick – he has all the cards in his hands, but one quick shuffle and presto – chango – the card is suddenly behind our ear, in his jacket – pocket, up his sleeve. How did it happen? How did he do that while we were looking right at him.

It’s a matter of keeping our attention elsewhere. We’re too close. Too busy. Distracted. There are signs, but they’re so easily explained away – and then, then… kind readers… it’s Pandora’s box of tragedy released on the human race. It’s what grows like weeds deep inside all of us.

Hope.

That is what the book is about.

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Braggadocio, accidente.

I’m ashamed, truly. I don’t usually brag, but someone asked…  they asked!

I once woke up with a line to a story. It was four in the a.m. and I woke up with “the day she ran over her neighbor’s dog…”cover

(Pet lovers – no dogs were injured in the writing of this story.)

I wrote it down, but then the story started pouring out, so I got out of bed and wrote for three hours until I had to go to work, then finished it when I returned home. Of course, that was the first draft of “Of Strays and Exes.”

A few more drafts and it was published just a few months later. Sometimes that happens.

They wowed – so I wanted to share that not all stories go that way. Another story, took YEARS. I want to say maybe six or even eight years to get right. It went through many drafts and grew.

I’m pretty damn proud of that story. Yeah, I said, it was pretty damn good.

Maybe I lost them, I don’t know. I laughed, they laughed.

See – sometimes things spill out and they are a gift from the muses; other times, things are hard and you have to work and work to get them right, and when you’re finished and it’s accepted and loved, you feel your hard work has paid off, it’s successful.

I return to my usual humble self.

 

 

 

 

Writing Buddy

My new writing buddy. He must have worked, had a breakthrough with my latest WIP!

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One bad rejection…

Doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.

rejectionI usually receive rejections that are quite nice. “We really liked it, but…” or “Please submit again…”

I asked someone more experienced than I and was told that these are usually genuine and the editor, whether or not your work was accepted, liked the work.

I have been told that it didn’t quite fit their needs or that there was some disagreement between editors, which I again take as reasonably good rejects.

Once in awhile I get a rejection which makes me wonder what story they actually read.

I submitted to one journal who called for the topic of Deception, “Friends, Lovers, and Liars.” It’s a story about a woman who even deceives herself as she she comments on other’s deceptions. I thought it was spot on. The editor, however, did not and wrote, “I’m not sure why you submitted this. This doesn’t at all fit our call…” He wen ton to make me believe that I had triggered something.

The story is about a woman who has an affair. I have a feeling, the story struck a nerve. Ouch. Sorry. (The story has been published twice since then. – You can find it here.)

I recently received another long and involved rejection, although I don’t think because it acted as a trigger.  But the rejection was nearly as long as the story. (haha – I’m exaggerating, of course.)  But it stated things like “promises and doesn’t deliver,” “narrative too thin.”

Again, I wondered – had this editor read MY story? Or did he/she confuse it with another.  This has happened once before.

I received a rejection – thanks, but no thanks, and then another the next day: “Thanks for submitting, we love it and would like to publish it!

If this happened face to face, I would nod and smile. I do something similar through email – “Great, thanks!”

Someone asked me if I respond to negative rejections with commentary. I don’t usually. I think I have once, but the editor was so nice about it. He gave me commentary, and then still asked me to submit again! Him, I thanked.

If these were feedback type of rejections, I might thank them. But I feel that they are not. It’s someone who is feeling his/her power and thinks they know everything.

I don’t respond to people like that.  There is always to say no nicely. There is always away to give someone feedback – even negative – and be nice about it. Edit

psych cover for kdp

ors should be experts on that.

By the way – that story with the “too thin narrative” was accepted to a number of journals within a week of sending it out. I’d barely gotten to sending out the withdraw notices when a number of others had sent acceptances – my apologies to those journals. I’ll do it the same day from now on!

That story, too, appears in my latest book of short stories – How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.

One negative rejection should not upset a writer. They are to be expected. Do not let it take away all the nice rejections and don’t let it come near your brilliant acceptances!

 

Using Famous People in Stories

bowie.jpgDavid Bowie appears in my new book, How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party. Sort of.

Bowie and the Basket Case is a short work of fiction. It’s completely legal to use the name of famous people in your literature. But there are limitations. Micheal Ondaajte has used historical figures, gave them secret lives.

The story must be clearly a work of fiction. And, if it is someone living, I’d be careful what I say about them. They have good lawyers.

The star of my story, however, is the basket case. But which one is the real basket case?

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When Editors Go Cray….

beautiful ppl.jpgMany years ago, All The Beautiful People was accepted for publication. But, then, as happens sometimes, I got the dreaded letter (yes, that’s how many years ago it was) in the mail stating that they had accepted too many things and something had to be bumped. The editor apologized and said they’d keep it in their files, but I should feel free to submit it elsewhere.

I did so.

A year later, that story was accepted for publication in another journal.

Even another year later, the original journal – with a new editor – wrote me via email and said they’d decided to use All the Beautiful People in their upcoming edition.

I responded that they were welcome to use the story; however, it had been accepted and was scheduled for publication by another journal. The publications would come out about six to nine months apart.

I never heard from that second journal and believed they had removed the story from their journal and their archives.

Six months later, I received a copy of the beautiful journal and my story within its pages.  YET – they’d billed the story as a memoir – it was fiction – and they’d cut off the last paragraph.

I was a little embarrassed. The girl in the story does things I would never have never girl with elvis facedone. I was concerned what readers might think – that this might serve as some sort of legacy I couldn’t live down.

See – with the last paragraph – it could NEVER EVER EVER be mistaken as memoir. I sent off a quick email to tell them these two things.

The editor dashed off a quick and nasty response – that they had published it as received, adding some choice and unprofessional comments. She made it sound as if I’d sent it directly to her and that she hadn’t pulled it from their archives.

I responded with the history of the piece, date sent, date accepted, and by whom, date and reason it was taken out, and by whom, etc.

I received another quick and dirty response. I wish I would have kept that email – misspelled words, inappropriate language, and completely and utterly unprofessional. I decided to look this person up. I then forwarded her emails to her employer.

She had found All The Beautiful People in the other publication – the one which was attributed correctly and published fully – and accused me, in her fancy slang, of lying, cheating the system, and whatever else she felt necessary. Another email I forwarded to those who were really in charge of the journal.

I again responded – with the forward – the series of events that had transpired offering all the original letters, archived in my own files, and the emails, which I had still in my saved box.

Route-66-Texas-Midpoint.jpgI didn’t hear from any of them again. But they did put a tiny little line in an inconspicuous place on their website that the story was mislabeled as memoir and should read fiction.

Now, it could have easily been a little mistake to publish it as memoir; however, again, the last paragraph would have told ANY reader that was wrong. Therefore, the missing last paragraph and the misattribution made me wonder. Still, this problem could have been easily, politely, and professionally handled.

I was shocked to learn that the editor who had acted so poorly was a lecturer at a University and had a book or two to her own credit. I do not believe she continued as the editor after that, but I didn’t bother to check.

I learned two valuable lessons from this experience – KEEP EVERYTHING! and always act like a professional.

Blocked? How to shake it loose.

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Creative blocks are brought on by various reasons.

Writers, poets, artists, musicians need to express themselves. Sometimes, something plugs our flow of creativity.

My friend and I have found release in other creative outlets. She took a watercolor painting class. She feared, at first, that she was taking away from her writing; however, what she found is that it opened her flow and she felt even more creative and was able to add even more to her usual creativity.

I take art and other classes on a regular basis. Most of the time their directly related to writing, but sometimes they are not – but they still feed my imagination and add depth to my writing.

The Healer’s Daughter will be released on May 15th in The Ear. This story came pouring out after a six week drawing class I took at a local museum/gallery. And… I feel like it’s one of my best, filled with color and meaning.

Shake something loose by trying another outlet. You may come back stronger and more creative than before.