Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Shout Out to Kentucky Writers (Part 2)

Last week, I talked about some of Kentucky's literary authors. This week, I want to introduce you to several genre writers. They write romance, science fiction, mystery, horror, and more.

First there's the Kentucky Independent Writers group. These authors take writing and publishing seriously and are willing to learn and pass on their knowledge. You can learn more about each author by stopping by the KIW blog.

Another independent author who publishes with small presses is Amy McCorkle. She also writes as Kate Lynd, and has had stories published by Hydra Publications and MuseItUp Publishing. You can find out more about her at her blog, Creative Chatter.

Debbie Kuhn is a multi-genre author whose work has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Apex Publications, and Mysterical-E, among others.

Reviewer and author, Michele Lee also writes speculative fiction and is an advocate for helping others understand autism.

I hope this introduction to these Kentucky authors will inspire you to check out their writings.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Shout Out to Kentucky Authors (Part 1)

I live on a street named after a Kentucky writer. We get teased for being bare-foot, uneducated rednecks, but we're also home to some of the best storytellers.

Award-winning literary authors include Sena Jeter Naslund (Ahab's Wife), Bobbi Ann Mason, (Shiloh and Other Stories), Wendell Berry, (That Distant Land: the Collected Stories), Silas House, (Coal Tattoo), and Robert Penn Warren (All the King's Men).

Still think we're all uneducated hicks? Then let me introduce you to our poets, including the aforementioned Berry and Warren. Frank X. Walker is the founder of the Affrilachian Poets and received the Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Fellowship. Other Kentucky poets include Crystal E. Wilkinson, also a founding member of Affrilachian Poets, Joy Bale Boone, Barbara Kingsolver, among others. Two Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights also hail from the Bluegrass State: Marsha Norma ('night, Mother) and Suzan-Lori Parks (TopDog/Underdog)   

Kentucky is home to the Southern Kentucky Book Festival/Kentucky Writers Conference, the Kentucky Book Fair, Kentucky Women's Book Festival, and the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, among others. While Hawley-Cooke is no longer in business, Carmichael's Bookstore and A Reader's Corner Bookstore help keep Louisville's independent bookstores alive.

Next week, more Kentucky writers, including best-selling romance and mystery authors, and independent/digital/small press writers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Quit! No, Wait...

So I'm at a crossroads. I don't know if I should continue writing my angel UF stories or throw them away.

Part of it is no one seems interested in my angel UF, although the sub genre is apparently very popular. For other authors. Me? Not so much. I seem to have better luck with the vampire short story I wrote.Go figure.

I've learned to stop looking at my royalty statements, reviews, Amazon rankings, etc. Too depressing. Well, the reviews are okay. I can live with them. Love my stories or hate 'em, at least there's a reaction. It's the apathy that sucks. 

I like my Angels of Death series and want to continue writing it. At this point, I'm revising the second book and have the third partially written.There were some other angel UF/paranormal short novels and novellas I had planned to write, including a few short stories. But if no one's interested, seems pointless. I do have other story ideas to write, so lack of material isn't a problem.

Yes, I understand authors need backlists and first books don't always sell. But that's not always true. And when I see authors recommending other authors' books, I can't help but wish I could be that lucky. It's like I don't know the secret word to get into the awesome club house.

Still, despite wanting to quit, I'm too damn stubborn to give in so easily. I just can't give the naysayers the satisfaction. Oh, I can retreat but that doesn't mean I'm planning to surrender. And I know there are those authors out there who would love to see me fail. Y'all know who you are. Sorry. Not happening. Years of being bullied and abused has taught me to never give in. And I sure as hell won't start now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crisis of Confidence

In the last three years, I've had three books published. I had two unpublished novels doing the rounds when Lyrical Press picked up SUFFER THE CHILDREN, and so DEATH SCENE was already finished when my editor asked me if I had anything else she could take a look at. And the short stories in SOUL SCREAMS were also written - it was just a case of compiling them.

Since I finished writing DEATH SCENE in 2004 I've started four novels. None of them I've managed to finish. The original sequel to DEATH SCENE was an homage to Agatha Christie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS, but halfway through the first draft I decided it wasn't working and I shelved it. Then I started work on my urban fantasy novel. I did manage to finish draft 1, but after giving the first half of it to beta readers, I decided that one wasn't working either and I never finished the second draft.

Then I started working on another Shara Summers book - this one with Shara investigating the case of the defenestrated rock star. I have managed to get to the end of draft 2, and then I sent it out to beta readers. Once more the message I'm getting back is that there is so much wrong with this book I should scrap it and start over with a new idea.

I'm also working on a new horror novel. I am about a third of the way through draft 2 of this one. To be fair, I have not let anyone else read it yet, so I have had no third party comments. But as far as I'm concerned, it still needs a lot of work. So much so that I'm getting discouraged.

Now I'm getting quite depressed. What if my writing really is rubbish and I'm never going to write anything again of publishable quality? What if I'm deluding myself that I can write at all? It's not as if my published books are selling in huge quantities. I've had some very nice comments from a few readers who have really enjoyed one or more of my books, and they've all had a handful of good reviews. But the vast majority of readers out there either don't know about my books or don't think they're worth bothering with.

It's times like this that I think no one who's sane would choose to be a writer and put themselves through this heartache, and life would be a whole lot simpler if I could not be a writer anymore. The problem is, it's not that simple. Writing is not something you can turn off when you get bored with it. And I also know that this the 'down' phase of the ups and downs of the writer's life, and it will pass in time.

That doesn't make me feel any better right now, though, when I just want to finish the damn book. Any damn book...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dusting Off Old Manuscripts

Remember your first story? I don't. Seriously. All I recall is it was either horror or YA mystery and I wrote it in a blue spiral notebook. I went on to write a series of short stories and two more novellas, all before entering high school. Then I became interested in the 1920's and 1930's, particularly gangsters and Prohibition, so my stories revolved around those subjects. (Believe it or not, I still have a few pages of those stories.)

By the time I went to college and decided to major in English, my interest had shifted to more "literary" work and I was writing poetry and character-focused stories about expatriates in France during WWII or revolutionists during the Hungary uprising of 1956.

It took me nearly 20 years, a few poetry, review, and freelance article publications,before I came back to my dark genre roots. Okay, maybe not that long, but you get the idea.

During this time, I found I was writing but not producing. Oh, I would start a story, then the inner editor would kick in and I'd abandon it. So one day I decided I was going to write a story without going back and reading what I'd written until I finished. And I did. That was a YA horror, which will probably never see the proverbial light of day.

My next project was also my first NaNoWriMo: a dark vampire historical. Yes, I did finish it.

And, like the YA horror, I promptly pushed it aside as worthless. After all, I'd been taught first novels aren't publishable. (Although technically it wasn't my first...)

I couldn't help but wonder if the vampire story just needed a chance. So when I came across a class that focused on revamping abandoned manuscripts, I thought why not? Granted, I'd learned a lot about writing since that first NaNo, taken online classes, joined writers groups, worked with critique partners, etc. Maybe I couldn't salvage the entire book, but if parts were worth saving, it might be worth it.

The fate of this particular manuscript is still unknown. Then again, the class just started. :-)