Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lots to Talk About...

What a week it's been already.  I got a call from my mom on Tuesday letting me know that my sister, and her kids were coming down for a surprise visit and were an hour away from where I live.  After visiting with my mom, my sister was too tired to drive an hour back to where she was supposed to be staying the night, so I let her and the kids crash at my place.  The kids enjoyed running around on the beach, and seeing the dock that washed up on it from Japan as a result of the tsunami.

I did get more of the scenes written leading up to the first fight scene in "The Shepherdess Princess" last weekend.  I still have a little more to add leading up to it, but I feel I'm well-informed from my research to do a decent job at the bloodshed part.  I also thought up of another couple scenes to add earlier into the story to give it more "meat."

I submitted my story to "Chicken Soup for the Soul" over the weekend as well.  Here's the story for your viewing pleasure:

“What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?”

            When you’re growing up, adults in your life are constantly asking the age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  My answer to that question never really changed, “I want to be a writer!”  Usually the follow-up question was “What if writing doesn’t work out for you?”  Stubborn child that I was, I answered “I’m going to be a writer anyway.”
I have a couple early memories that stand out which influenced the path I’ve chosen as a writer.  One of the reports cards that were sent home with me in 3rd grade, my teacher wrote in the comments area “Amanda loves to write unless it’s an assignment.”  That is one of the few report cards from my academia days that I have treasured into my adulthood.  I still take it out of its hiding place once in a while, and reread it.  The words make me chuckle every time because they are still true about me to this day.
The second memory I have is from 9th grade.  I had three classes that were part of a freshman block group: English, Health, and Science back-to-back.  One day I was given back a writing assignment that I had written about the beach located a couple blocks away from my home.  I was perplexed because the story came back ungraded with a post-it attached asking to see the teacher after class.  I instantly thought I was in trouble.  I sat at my desk dreading the bell to signal the end of the period.  I went up to the teacher’s desk after the other students file out of the classroom, and asked why he wanted to see me.  It turned out that he wanted to ask my permission to keep a copy of my story in a notebook he made up of past student’s assignments that moved him in some way.  I was in shock and awe for several minutes, but I agreed to his request.  The teacher died a couple years later from a blood clot, but I’ve never forgotten this moment in time.  Last I heard, his wife still had the previously-mentioned notebook in her possession.
My stubbornness prevailed as an adult because I now have three self-published books to my credit.  One is a fiction novel entitled “A Candlelit World” that I co-authored with a friend, and two are my own personal volumes of poetry.  Self-publishing works well for me because it’s affordable and I don’t have to worry about a hard deadline.  If I set my own deadline to have a book finished by and am not quite finished with the manuscript when that date arrives, I strive for another date.  It’s no biggie to me because I don’t have a traditional publisher breathing down my neck for the finished product.  Deadlines tend to make me nervous, and bring on a lot of unwanted stress when I’m working on a project and get hit with writer’s block.  It is difficult for me to market my poetry book in local venues because I’ve come across several anti-poetry readers at a local book signing I attend annually.  I know there are some poetry lover’s in my community, but they are few and far between.
Overcoming writer’s block can be quite a chore.  At the moment, I’m not suffering from it.  Thank God!  When I do, there are several different ways I try to overcome it.  If I’ve been writing poetry non-stop and suddenly have the inspiration dry up, I try to take a walk, read a book, take a shower, or take a nap.  Anything to distract me really until inspiration hits, but if doing any of that still doesn’t work I try to move onto another writing project for a while.
I have ten story ideas at the moment that I could decide to work on at any given time.  Lately when I’m not writing poetry, I’m working on a romantic-type fairy tale/Historical fiction book.  My other story ideas consist of fantasy, regular fiction, romance, an autobiography, and a compilation of letters I wrote to Jesus thanking him for his love in the good times and in the bad.  A lot of my story ideas have came to me as a results of dreams that I didn’t automatically forget upon waking up.
I do like to challenge myself once in a while by participating in WriMo’s (months during the year where a person’s goal is to try to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of thirty days).  NaNoWriMo in November has the biggest turnout of aspiring writers because November is officially deemed National Novel Writing Month in the United States.  They have JulNoWriMo coming up in July, and a Camp NaNoWriMo that starts in June, and resumes in August.  For the Camp NaNoWriMo, a person can decide to try to write a book in both months, or just pick one month to participate in.  Every April, the WriMo world takes a break for what’s called ScriptFrenzy where a writer can choose to write a screenplay based on one of the novels they’ve written in WriMo events should the book ever be turned into a movie.  The possibilities are endless.  I usually just participate once a year, but I did try to work on my novel some more in July last year just to see how much further I could get in it.
It’s not too hard for me to tell when a book is done, and ready to be published.  There is a feeling I get of things “winding down” as the book progresses.  My friend and I wrote “A Candlelit World” in nine-and-a-half years mainly because we couldn’t get together everyday to write.  We had a lot of slumber parties on the weekends, though.  When we both felt that we contributed what we could to the story, we discussed how we wanted to end it.  Then we had my friend’s mother proofread it, and did some editing as per her suggestions, and found a way to self-publish it once we had her mother’s approval.  Neither of us really wanted the story to end because our characters became like our children, and we were both saddened a little bit when it was time to “send them out into the world” on their own.  When it came to writing my two volumes of poetry, I set a certain amount of page numbers I wanted to strive for before they were ready for publication.  My first attempt lacked the amount of pages I wanted, but I published it anyway because I was having a hard time with writer’s block and finding inspiration for anything new.  Once I published it and began working on a separate writing project, the inspiration for new poems came back to me.  That’s when I began my second volume of poetry.  I reached my page goal for the second volume of poetry, but it was difficult near the end because my writer’s block was rearing its ugly head again.  I struggled for a couple months to get the page count I wanted.
Writing is hard work, but can be very rewarding.

I'm not sure if it's good enough to add to the book coming up titled "Inspiration for Writers," but I covered all the questions they had for a person to answer.  I'm not certain it's inspiring in any way, but I'll find out when the book is finally published.

I got word from the Literary Arts people that my application for the Oregon Literary Fellowship was received.  They don't send notice of receipt unless the applicant encloses a self-addressed stamped enveloped with the application itself which I did.  I learned working as a grant writer in the past to always get verification of some form when applying for anything because things can get lost in the mail, or disappear from someone's desk.  It was just a precaution I decided to take because it was optional to do so.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Where did the week go?

This week has seemed to fly by for me.  I can't believe Friday is already here, and I'm glad to welcome it.  I get the apartment to myself for a few days, and I can write to my heart's content.  I have about 200 more words to write in my submission for "Chicken Soup for the Soul" before I'm ready to send it into the ether.  If my story is chosen to be published in the "Inspiration for Writers" book, I'll be receiving a check for $200, and some advanced copies of the book.  It would be nice to finally be chosen after making several attempts.

I have been looking repeatedly at the picture prompt for this week's competition at 21st Century Poets with an idea percolating in my head as to the direction I wanted to go with writing a poem about it.

Here's the picture:

Here's the poem I wrote:


It was a dark and stormy night,
But I didn't notice as I swam with delight
Beneath the waters foam
As I made my way to my underwater home.

Something magical started taking place,
And a shocked look came upon my face
As my fin was replaced with legs.
I began swimming my fastest to avoid a watery grave.

I was deposited on a foreign shore.
It was definitely not something I've experienced before.
I scared a boy away that was playing with a paper boat.
It lays beside me keeping afloat.

The sand overtook me
As I surveyed as far as my eyes could see.
The opening in the clouds formed
A spotlight all around.

The majestic mountains
Reminded me of the Fountain
of Youth I just left,
And in my nakedness I lay bereft.

I was beginning to think with today's deadline for entries looming that I would end up writing "Transformation" when it was too late to have it count.  I'm also thinking about adding the poem to the beginning of a novel I'm wanting to work on because of it's related subject matter.  I'm still including it into "The Trifecta: A Collection of Poetry" as well.

I got my Literary Fellowship application mailed off on Tuesday.  All of the applicants will be notified of the final results no later than February 15th, 2013.  That's quite a while to wait, but it will be here before I know it.

As for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship I applied for in March, the finalists will be notified via e-mail by August 1st, and the winners will be announced on September 1st, 2012.  When I first turned in my application for it, I felt like the announcement of winners was a long way off.  Now it's only a little over a month to wait to see if I'm a finalist, or not.  Where did the time go?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Research, and a New Page...

I got my application ready to be sent into the powers that be with the Oregon Literary Fellowships.  I'll be heading to the Post Office with it sometime this week to mail it off.

I created my own author's page at Facebook this week.  Click here to visit, and "Like" it if you haven't done so already.  I had separate pages for each of my books that I published, but this page makes all that easier to manage.  With the exception of the "A Candlelit World" Facebook page, my other two book pages are scheduled for removal.

I've had the book from the library for a week now, and haven't looked at it yet aside from bookmarking the chapter that deals with the Ancient and Medieval Weapons specifically for Medieval Europe.  I was waiting on reading it until I got another library book read which I finished reading this morning.  Once I get done writing this entry and making something to eat for lunch, I was going to grab my pen and a notebook and get to researching.

When I'm researching something, I like to use a spiral notebook to jot down any interesting tidbits I find as I'm going along in my reading of a book.  I also write notes on anything that may help me in my writing process that I'll use in the scene I'm writing.  It felt weird to me this week not doing any writing on my manuscript for "The Shepherdess Princess," but I'm stalled creatively until I get this research done.

I keep thinking this week that "I'm the youngest of six kids, so I've been in my share of fights.  I haven't experienced nothing as bloodthirsty as what I'm planning for this book."  Mwahaahaa!  Hence, why I'm doing research at the moment.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Progress on Projects, and a New Poem...

I've made a little progress today.  I got my author's proof for the "Great Poets Across America" initialed, sealed in an envelope, stamped, and ready to be mailed off.

I have 8 out of the 15 poems I need for the Oregon Literary Fellowship picked out today, so that leaves 7 more poems to choose before I can send it off.

I wrote a new poem yesterday, and entered it into the weekly writing competition at 21st Century Poets.  I also found out yesterday that my poem "Inside My Secret Garden" was chosen as the winner!  That means I have the monthly competition to look forward to at the end of June.

Here's my newest poem:

This lonely heart wantonly beats for another.
Someone who would bother
To take the time to look beyond what they see,
And fall in love with the real me.

Everyone knows “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
The same thing can be said for finding a lover.
You have to turn the pages and look inside
To discover where my inner beauty resides.

My heart bleeds onto the blank page
As I write what I feel day after day.
Who will take the time to answer
A lonely heart’s sincerest plea?

I’m worthy to spend an eternity
With a lover who can’t live without me.
When I find him, we’ll have a fence and a yard
To watch our children play in for hours.

This is the picture that prompted the poem:

"A Lonely Heart's Plea" is already added to my poetry book manuscript, and I spent some time yesterday working on my entry for the Chicken Soup for the Soul book "Inspiration for Writers."  A lot of the projects I have been working on this week has deadlines at the end of the month.  I know for sure they will be done in time, though.

The library book I requested for my research is waiting to be picked up.  I'll probably go there tomorrow afternoon when I'm running other errands.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Busy Week In My Writing World...

I have the application for the Oregon Literary Fellowship typed up and printed out to send.  All I have left to add to it is the 15 pages of poems they require as a sample of my work.  They will not allow already published poems, so my idea to use some of my published poems mixed in with unpublished poems is out.  That leaves me 15 of 34 pages in my unfinished manuscript to choose from.  Once everything needed is gathered, I have to send off three copies!  That's a lot of printer paper, and printer ink I'll be going through.

I got correspondence in the mail today for my poem to be added to the "Great Poets Across America" book that is part of the National Poetry Month invitation I received from the World Poetry Movement via email in April.  I'm checking out the Artist's Release, and then I'll be sending it in for publication.  I'll be finding out June 30, 2012 if I get picked for any sort of prize money.

Another thing I did this week was check out possible upcoming book topics at the Chicken Soup for the Soul series website.  I found one topic I'm trying to write something for: Inspiration for Writers.  The deadline for the 1200 word story is the end of June.  For the book "Inspiration for Writers" they ask questions like: How did you overcome writer's block?  Who or what encouraged you when you were about to give up?  When did you realize that your story was ready to be shared with the world?  Then is states "This is your opportunity to help other writers--published and unpublished--draw inspiration and learn from your journey to publication (including self-publication and blogging)."

I made some progress in "The Shepherdess Princess" today as well.  I'm just about ready to type out the fight scene, but I have some research to finish up before I tackle it.  I'm waiting for a book from the library titled "Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons: A Fully Illustrated Guide to Siege Weapons and Tactics" by Konstantin Nossov.  I also printed out some pages of research on Medieval Weaponry for the time period I'm using for Scotland, England, and France specifically.  I can't wait to see if any of the book I'm waiting on correlates with some of the research I've already came across online.  Anyway, the gap I had in "The Shepherdess Princess" feels like it's getting smaller and smaller the more research time I put into it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fight Scenes, and a New Poem...

I realized today another dilemma I've having.  I'm getting close to writing my first fight sequence in my book "The Shepherdess Princess," and I'm finding myself a little bit stuck.  I found tips about writing fight scenes at the NaNoWriMo website that are helping a little bit.  I'm just wondering how I want my characters to survive the skirmish since they are supposed to be battling with trained assassins.  When I first thought about the fight scene, those fighting with the good guys pretty much leave the fight unscathed and victorious.  Now I'm thinking that I might have to kill off a few of the lesser characters to make the fight seem plausible.  The good guys will be double the size of the bad guys, but the bad guys will have the advantage of experience.

I'm also thinking about changing the assassins to just hired trackers.  That way the fight would be on a more even keel, and maybe I can lessen the bloodshed for the good guys, too.  I don't want to have this fight sequence be too long because it's meant to be lesser than the one I have planned for the end of the book.  Although, this battle helps lead up to that final battle over birthright, so it has some importance because of that alone.

I'll have to sit down tomorrow, and bang it out the best that I can.  I need to sleep on it.

I did write another poem today that I submitted to 21st Century Poets weekly writing competition.  The picture prompt this week was a selection entitled "Summer Garden," so naturally my poem turned out to be...

Inside My Secret Garden

Inside my secret garden,
There is a gazebo resting under a tree.
I go there to write poetry,
And drink in the tranquility.

The beautiful flowers
I can stare at for hours,
And the lake reminds me
Of a far-off crystalline sea.

Inside my secret garden,
I am not burdened.
It’s one of the few places where I am free
To let my mind wander aimlessly.

The lone bridge I cross
Will inspire words of loss
As I think of the ones I love
That have left this life for the world above.

I did end up changing my last poem's title from "Midnight Run" to "Cinderella's Midnight Run" in my manuscript.  Then I added "Inside My Secret Garden" to the file while I had it open to work on.  I will be editing my last blog post shortly to change the poem's title there, too.