November 15, 2014

In my own sweet time

I haven't written here in awhile because I have had nothing to announce.

I still haven't.

Part of a writer's "job" if you will, is to read.  Strangely enough, even though I write fiction I read much more non-fiction.  The reason?  Well, I think it is because while fiction reveals someone's idea of human nature through the character's the writer creates, non-fiction, especially spiritual writing, reveals a generalized view of human nature that can be crafted by the reader either into their own personas or those of their characters.

Lately I've read a lot of works on reconciliation and eldering. 

To a certain extent my books are all about reconciliation and forgiveness so it follows that this reading of reconciliation texts is my way of building a mental library from which to draw as I write.

In some ways that is beneficial.  In that it takes time away from my writing it is not. 

And so, my reader friends, you will just have to wait until I am through with my library-building before I can produce my next novel.  When I write I am a quick writer.  But writing requires that I have my library build before I can put pen to paper.

I home you can understand.

October 5, 2014

Courage

I remind myself of this frequently.  I am not a very courageous person.  I am able to be more courageous in my writing than in my life.  I need more balance.
From the Episcopal Women’s Caucus blog written by Bonnie Anderson
“C.S. Lewis reminds us ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point’. Courage animates all our virtues, ­honesty, confidence, humility, compassion, integrity, valor. Without courage all these virtues lie dormant. Without regular use, our courage becomes harder for us to conjure up, less available to us. If we are not regularly courageous, our courage dries up. ‘Courageous’ becomes only a memory of how we used to be.” 
 
 

October 4, 2014

But first a word from your sponsor

The below explanation relates to my request to the right and up a few inches:




Some of you may know (and if you didn't you know now) that I am a graduate of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City.  If you read the New York Times you will know that that seminary is going through a little bit of a problem rights now.  Oh not the financial problems of the past but a new one related to the abuse of power and refusal to hear the faculty when they complain about it. So 8 members of the faculty started a job action.  The Board of Trustees then "accepted their resignations" when the faculty had never tendered them.  The description below, copied from a posting on the Facebook group GTS8 Safe Space explains the situation succinctly.

"The 8 faculty members, both corporately and individually, asked for the Board to intervene over their diagnosis of a crisis of leadership in the seminary. After multiple requests were ignored,... the 8 started a job action as a way of trying to leverage a meeting with the Board. At that point, none of these allegations were public. In fact, the 8 were initially criticized for not presenting clear reasons for their actions publicly. By taking the most violent and intimidating course possible (not to mention questions of its legality), the Board guaranteed that all of this became public, and the Seminary community is fractured. None of this needed to have become an issue, if the Board had just set a date to meet with the faculty. Then we would not have debate about any of these statements, as many would never have seen the light of day, and most since 9/29 would never have been written."

I unconditionally support the faculty in this, and at the same time I support my alma mater.  If you support good labor relations and good teaching please feel free to contribute whatever you choose to this fund which is designed to help the faculty in this time of lawyers and cobra.

Now back to my regularly scheduled grousing about writing.

August 29, 2014

Why can't we just get along?

I get many email and Facebook updates daily about the eBook/paper copy wars.  So many times the "controversy" is expressed as an either/or situation.  Either you like eBooks and hate paper books or you think eBooks are evil and love paper books.

I, for one, have no opinion.  Well, I do but it is not either/or it is and.  I love both.  Equally.  Period.

As a reader I love the convenience of picking up one small device (or my phone for that matter) and having every book I have wanted to read in the past 8 or so years at my fingertips.  A sense of compactness, accessibility, and order prevails (note: I also like the Oxford comma, to further delineate my place in THAT controversy.  Please don't ask how I pronounce controversy.) 

But when it comes to certain books I like paper.  I trialed the eBook version (an app actually) of the Book of Common Prayer and found it less than satisfactory.  EBooks don't lend themselves to flipping around to specific parts at certain times in a service.  The Bible for another.  I just can't get into reading it in an EBook format although I still use my EBook version when I want search.  For that it is a great tool.

In a third arena, as an author, I publish all my books in both versions.  So if you are an aficionado of one or the other you can read me however you wish.

So there it is.  No war.  Peace and harmony.  Are we making something out of nothing in pursuing this war.  Definitely!

July 31, 2014

99 Cents





I have listened carefully lately to the publishers and authors who are crying that Amazon wants to price their ebooks too low.  In fact, just a few days ago I went against my good judgment and actually bought an ebook for $8+.  I really wanted the book and it didn't disappoint, but the price nearly killed me and I vowed not to do this again for awhile.

But, as usual, I am rambling and not getting to the point.  I am a self-published author (full disclosure I use Amazon's CreateSpace to get my books to market).  I make NO MONEY on my books because I am an introvert and I suck at marketing.  BUT.  I think that 35 cents to me from the 99 cent price per book on Amazon is quite a fair return.  I could price my books higher and get a higher per book return but this 35 cents is just fine.  I'm not greedy.

For those authors who feel like they should be getting more I would suggest, especially if they already have a platform, self-publishing is far less punishing than whining about Amazon when it is your publisher (and perhaps your agent who negotiated your contract) who is the culprit.  Two many layers make for two many hands in your pocket.  Go indie.

As for us lowly, low list indies, I'm content to build my platform one 99 cent book at a time.  Hey, 35 cents is one third of a Diet Coke.

July 19, 2014

A preview chapter for you...

I've been remiss in writing here lately, so I'm giving you a preview chapter of Adelaide II today.  Don't get excited.  I'm not quite there yet but here is some of what is coming in Adelaide's life as a bishop:




Chapter: A Day in the Life

 

The cacophony outside her office was enough to wake the dead, which is how she felt this morning.  She had been bishop of Turner City for four weeks now but it felt like a lifetime.

In the midst of fielding memos from Nessie (“I’m going to work these guys socks off”) and pleas for financial help from sinking parishes she had a headache that was daily gathering steam.

Finally she couldn’t manage the suspense any longer and decided to march into the fray.

Bishop Cutter, Maria, Malik and Ricardo were all arrayed in front of Emma’s desk and everyone seemed to be talking at once.  They had no idea that she had emerged from her office and for her part she had no idea what they were saying everyone was talking so fast and so loud.

Adelaide drew a deep breath and yelled at the top of her voice:

“The Lord be with you,” a line guaranteed to silence any group of Episcopalians as they answer by rote:

“And also with you.”

“Let us meet.” The corruption of the reply elicited a snort from Emma.

Grabbing her cell Adelaide took off down the hallway with the group in tow to what she believed was a conference room as she listened to Emma padlock the doors behind them.

“Sit.” Adelaide directed.

Someone started to talk.

“Silently.” Adelaide barked.

The wall clock ticked loudly.

“Lord help us to discuss our differences in a civilized manner.  Help us to discern each other’s needs and walk in their shoes.  Help us to work for you in your church keeping in mind all its members.  All this we ask in your name.  Amen”

“You’re praying at us,” Bishop Cutter sulked.

“Damn right,” Adelaide answered.

‘What was that brouhaha going on out there?”

Silence.

Ricardo spoke first.

“I guess we all kinda needed something from Emma at once.”

“Was that an effective way of getting it?”

A few nos were proffered.

“Now.  One at a time. Ricardo, you first.”

“Part of the ceiling in the apse just fell in.”

“That’s Bishop Cutter’s problem.  Tell Maria.”

But she cringed inwardly.  As much as she had learned to delegate at St. Francis, she still hated it.  She wanted to jump up, get a ladder and start repairing the ceiling.  And besides there was a limit to her flipness.

“But first, tell me about it.”

Ricardo smiled. 

“I didn’t notice it until Geraldo pointed it out this morning.”

“Geraldo?”

“Yeah, one of your homies.”

“MY homies?”

“Yeah, Rev. LaFonte sent him over to help me with some of the missing lights in the nave.”

Okay, so she really didn’t have to delegate.  Everyone had just carried on like they always had at St. Francis, ignoring her.  Only they had picked up numbers along the way.

“My homies.”

“Yeah, you know, the guys from the corner.”

She’d never known their names.  How could she have done that?

“Geraldo says they’re part of your protection squad now, whatever that means.”

“Don’t ask.”

“Understand.  Anyway we need someone in here fast to shore up the ceiling.”

“Bishop Cutter that’s yours.”

“Got it.”

“Now, Bishop Cutter, what’s going on with you?”

“I can’t find my leather bound Book of Common Prayer.”

Maria was looking guilty.

“Maria?” Adelaide was looking at her cautiously.

“Er.  I sent it out to be rebound.  The pages were falling out.”

Adelaide bit her lip.

“Howard?”

“Oh, well, thanks,” there was a sheepish tone there somewhere.

“Emma?”

“Maria says the Hispanic commission wants the conference room at the same time you need it for the dean’s meeting.”

Adelaide sighed.

“The deans will meet in my office.  There are only six of them.”

“Anything else?”

Emma raised her hand.

“Yes, Emma?”

“Last I saw Arthur he was roof surfing on Deacon Barbara’s car as it headed out of the parking lot.”

Howard bit his lip.  Maria suddenly saw something she had to brush off her shoe. Ricardo turned and faced the nearest bookcase.

“Okaaaaay,” Adelaide said, “time to get back to work.  This was a lovely coffee break.  Let’s have more of these but let’s not precede them with mayhem.”

The conference room disbursed and Adelaide relaxed.  Her cell phone buzzed on the table. 

A text message from Barbara.

“What do I do with the cat?”


(C) 2014 Christina Wible All rights reserved.

June 29, 2014

Just Sayin...

Really great  blog about Writer's Block.   I DON'T HAVE WRITER'S BLOCK.  Just sayin.



June 24, 2014

Taking back my words

In short...one of the things I like best about writing is when I write something, and the words come out of the character's mouth just WRONG, I can take them back.

June 3, 2014

Writer's Excuse Bingo

I just found this great Bingo card at Writer's Excuse Bingo.  This is definitely me.  Is it you?




Broken storyInspiration issuesNot good enoughGot no time Oh, well, because...
My character just did something out of character, and I don't know why.I need to complete {inspiration self-help program} before I can get unblocked.I'm too {old, young, poor, rich, happy, sad, other adjective} to write.I can't write unless it's NaNo month.I can’t let anyone look at what I write because they might attack my precious baby story!
My plot is contrived.I have writer’s block.Four hundred people have already published my brilliant idea, so why bother?I can’t make it to my favorite place to write until tomorrow, so I can’t write today.Writing a good story shouldn't take so much work.
Help! I'm infodumping backstory again!My ideas are stuck in my head, and can't get out.I WROTE SOMETHING!I can’t write until after I have done {activity}.I have to plot out my entire 20 book series before I can start the first book.
Help! My characters are rebelling and won’t do what I want!I have so many ideas, I don't know what to write first.No one likes my ideas anyway.I can’t write because I’m too tired after spending all day doing {activity}.Writing is overrated. I'm going to get a book deal for this animated gif Tumblr I just set up.
Why do I have to know the rules? {Famous author} breaks them all anyway.I need a cup of coffee so I can think. Or three. Or a trip to {favorite coffee shop}.This plot sucks. I need to start over.I can't write now without a {computer, mobile device, pen and paper} handy!I’m still trying to get rich and famous from my last manuscript.

May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

I started to do the usual and post pics of my father and my husband over on Facebook for this Memorial Day but, in keeping with my year of exploring the mother with whom I had only the barest of relationships, I thought I would talk about her role in the war.

Ruth Walborg Johnson Kirchner was born of Swedish/ Finish immigrant parents in 1911.  She was the first in her family to go to college and graduated from Montclair College in 1933 with a degree in teaching and a major in math, right at the height of the depression.  Both of her parents were hard working.  Her father was a shipbuilder and her mother a domestic and seamstress.  She had a role model, for good or ill, in her mother.

After graduation Ruth worked several jobs at once because full-time employment was almost impossible to find.  She worked simultaneously as a high school math teacher, a math tutor, a violin teacher and taught engineering drafting in night school while she learned the subject on alternate evenings through a college course in Newark.

When the war came she was prime fodder for the military industrial complex.  She was hired on by Calco, a branch of American Cyanamid, as an engineer draftsman and later promoted to engineering supervisor.  She received a Navy commendation for her work on the Navy Flame Thrower...a story worthy of it's own post some day.  She also received a commendation for working on a project on which she had no idea she was involved, The Manhattan Project.

 
 
In 1945, as the men came home from the war, she was laid off and made redundant as her job world now be filled by a man.  In 1946 she birthed me and promptly returned to work. As a secretary.  She spent the balance of her life as a working mother, shamed by the women on her block because she left her daughter home to go to work.  She was never again recognized for her work during the war nor did she ever again work as an engineer.
 
While the soldiers returning from the war deserved to come home to jobs, the woman who held those jobs down on the home front did not deserve the summary dismissal they were given.  She was embittered by this experience.
 
I wish the America I love so much would see that war, and the disruption of lives that it causes, is unacceptable in a country that espouses prosperity and well-being.  Oh, I know, we are the keeper of peace in the world but the loss of lives of the young men and women who go out to fight and the destruction of lives on the home front makes war an unsupportable situation.
 
I support the troops and their support systems and I want those troops home where they belong!




May 22, 2014

Sunny Day.

Well, really it isn't a sunny day.  We have muggy heat and sudden thunderboomers.

But it IS a sunny day when I get a complement about my writing.  Perhaps I am revealing my vulnerabilities here, but a lot of writers are not good judges of their own writing.  Personally I am never satisfied with what I doodle down on paper.

This morning I put out a question on a church site on Facebook and, low an behold the first comment was "I love your books."  This from a person who wasn't my first cousin twice removed or from a subordinate on my day job!

It has definitely made my day.

So the next time you read a good book take the time to post on the author's Facebook page or write a review on Amazon.  Believe me, you will make their day.

May 20, 2014

Errant Characters

The biggest obstacle to my writing is the errant characters and stories floating around in my head.

Since I was a small child my stories have played themselves out in my head before I write them down.  While that helps me immensely because I have a good idea of where I am going before I start to write, it sometimes give me head congestion if I don't start writing right away.

Case in point:  I have three novels and one novella in various states of disrepair on my computer right now.  All the stories are flitting around in my head at once.  Then, two nights ago a fifth started to "talk" to me.  It's jus a "snippit"  it has no usable plot, just characters walking around the English countryside circa 1920.  Perhaps I'm watching too much Downton Abbey or Mr. Selfridge.



A little ibuprofen would be welcome right now.

May 12, 2014

Perfectionism

Religion and writing always intersect for me so I am always happy to find a writer who waits at the same intersection.  Anne Lamott is one of those writers and her post on Facebook  today simply took my breath away. 




I hate to be one of those copy/paste bloggers but I had to repeat here what she says.  This is part of a bigger post and I urge you, if you are an artist or just someone trying to express themselves, to go over to the link above and read the whole post.  I promise you a sigh of relief.  

"It's time to get serious about joy and fulfillment, work on our books, songs, dances, gardens. But perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will convince you that your work-in-progress is not great, and that you may never get published. (Wait, forget the prowling satanic lion--your parents, living or dead, almost just as loudly either way, and your aunt Beth, and your passive-aggressive friends, whom we all think you should ditch, are going to ask, "Oh, you're writing again? That's nice. Do you have an agent?")

"Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen. Repent just means to change direction--and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn't mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon."

May 9, 2014

Ummm. What is writing?

This afternoon I spent a lovely hour with my Surface in the library.  I can't exactly say I was writing because all I netted out was 159 words.  I wrote, perhaps 1000.  I deleted about 841.

Writing is all about getting ideas on paper.  It is also about editing.  If I sit down with a blank Word document, I am able to spew 1000 words in less than an hour.  BUT.  If I look at those 1000 words tomorrow I am liable to delete 841.

Some writers measure their productivity by how many words they get on paper in a day.  I measure mine on how many I net out.  Today was definitely abysmal.  Perhaps tomorrow will be better.


May 1, 2014

Reality and Fiction

In my last post I mentioned that I was following Donna's journey in Poland.  I stopped to listen to her journey and in the process of doing that I found that the end of my novel, Remarkable Likeness changed.  Can anyone say "rewrite?"

April 26, 2014

Fiction and Reality

Some of you may know that I am currently writing a book about a Holocaust survivor. 

I am pausing for a few days this week to listen.

I'm listening to the voice of a friend of mine, Donna, who is and Episcopal Priest (in case you don't know I am an Episcopal Deacon) and who is making a Journey of Remembrance and Hope, following the path of her family who were killed in the Lodz Ghetto and at Auschwitz. 

It is a painful journey for her and her friends are supporting her with prayer. 

This book has been slow in writing for me.  At first I thought I was being just kinda poky and blocked.  Now I realize that, even though I lost no one in my family during the Holocaust, I feel the sorrow of those millions of people as I write the book.  Particularly hard for me has been writing what happened to one of my protagonists in the camp.

I am half Quaker and an avowed pacifist.   I feel that in no way is war ever justified.  Yet, to free a people from this kind of utter destruction, pain and suffering war may be the only way.  It presents for me an existential conflict that agonizes me. 

Donna quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who wrote about the Cost of Discipleship, who was imprisoned by the Nazis and eventually murdered: 

 
 
 
I will resume writing on my novel when Donna has finished her journey.  Right now I cannot compare my fictional journey to her real one.

April 22, 2014

New Occupation!

I've got a new occupation!   It's called "not working on my novels" and it's filling every hour of my days.  Sigh. 

April 20, 2014

Oh not that again...

Yeah, focus once more.

Some things have happened to me in the past 40 days (Lent for the uninitiated) that have kinda' turned my mind around once or twice.  Okay, so many times it has left me dizzy.




I'm very dense.  That's what happens when you cross a Swede with a German and throw in a little Irish.

I have a whole new view of life.  Something that I hadn't planed on receiving when I started on my Lenten studies.  I'm sure it is what I was meant to receive.  I'm just not sure I'm ready.

But one of the components is focus.  This is what I will be working on mentally in the next few months and what I will be working on in my writing.  Expect a different kind of writing.

April 18, 2014

I need to call my editor

I need to call my editor.  I only have one thing to say to her "Don't hold your breath."

I'm relooking Remarkable Likeness in a way that I haven't before and realize that I have a certain lack of, um, detail. 

Now this is a fault with all of my writing.  I'm no Robert Burns, studying the nit as it crawls around one of my character's scalps.

 
(Ewwwwwwww you say)

 
But I need to pay more attention to when they put on their coats and when they take them off.

I was once told that it would be very easy to turn my books into movie scripts, because I write with so little description that directors would love me.

I took it as a complement but it really wasn't. 

So I need to call my editor and tell her that the book will be a little late, or a lot late.  Back to the details.

April 15, 2014

Drip, drip, drip

Not only is it doing that outside, but it's doing it in my brain too.

All of my characters are talking to me but not all at once, in the usual cacophony.  It's like a symphony composed of single instruments all playing serially, not together.  First Adelaide says "smaller churches" and then as I ponder that Kate will say "Ada's lessons," then Billy sparks the conversation with "leather chaps."  I'm left with fragments of ideas and wonder where I could fit them into the greater novels of which they are a part.

I guess it is a function of being ADD but it's a hellofaway to write three novels and one novella at the same time.

April 10, 2014

Energy

I'm wondering when my energy will come back.  I was sick last weekend from one of those 24 hour thingies that leave you slumped in your chair like a wet dishrag.  Only I'm still a dishrag 5 days later.

What, you say, has that to do with writing?  Can't writers write sitting down?  Even reclining? 

Well, no, actually.

Writing takes a lot of energy.  Yeah, I know, I'm not digging ditches.  But if I am to get things right, if there is to be color in my writing and energy in my verbs, I have to have the energy I impart.

I tried a walk.  No good.  I stumbled back to my (imaginary) fainting couch 15 minutes later ready for a nap.

I tried blogging on my other blog but it is a spirituality blog and it just calmed me down even further.

My next plan is to eat a huge meal and go to sleep.




Do you have a better suggestion?

April 8, 2014

Being everything

I am absolutely the worst person to ask about commas.  I just don't do them.  Or I do too many of them.  I need a store COMMAS ARE US that I can go to every time I need to punctuate a sentence.  I also don't know how to punctuate a quotation.  Do I insert a period?  Do I place a comma? Pffft.

That's what editors are for.  Yeah.  After I write something I go back and make sure it actually does make sense and then it is up to the editor to help the punctuation make sense.

I used to own Morgan Horses.  The Morgan breed is very versatile and some compete in western classes, some in English "saddle seat" classes, some as hunters over fences and some in dressage or competitive driving.  Some are their owner's pride and joy just enjoying their company on the trail.  Notice the word "some."  When a novice horse owner sees the word Morgan they sometimes feel that versatile should mean that one horse can do all of the above.  Most individuals can't.  They will be good in one discipline and just mediocre in the rest, or, heaven forfend, they will be mediocre in all disciplines because they are confused about what they really are supposed to be doing.



I use these things, writers and Morgans, as a sort of follow-up to my post of a few days ago on focus. 

If you are trying to be all things it, in most cases, doesn't work.  Pick something.  If writing is your thing, leave the editing to the editor.  If western riding is your horse's thing, slap on that western saddle and silver and bridle and go to it.  Pare down those things that you do that you are better off leaving to those who are most suited.  Concentrate on that in which you may excel and then go to it!

(And yes, that is me on my beloved Triton Fairfield.)

April 6, 2014

Focused

Funny how the whole world goes away and we focus just on ourselves when we are ill.  I've spent the last two days in bed with the thing that you usually get on cruises.  Only I didn't have the cruise.

But I've noticed how quickly the rest of the world goes away and suddenly there is nothing but the room, the dust bunnies and the waste basket.

I want to try to use that focus in my writing somehow.  To be able to focus that sharply on the story would be a gift.

April 4, 2014

Dreary Day

So it's ugly and rainy and dark out.  The perfect day for writing, right?  Well to avoid writing today I have:

Gone out for breakfast.
Bought underwear to keep from doing the laundry.
Gone to the farm.
Downloaded software to the farm PC.
Gone out for lunch (not previously planned) with the program director.
Spent two hours paying bills for work and making a bank deposit for my part-time job.
Shopped for bread.
Bought two tee shirts instead.
Sat in the parking lot at McDonald's checking my Facebook page.
Wrote in both of my blogs.

How long can I keep this up?



April 3, 2014

The Value of Cloud Sourcing

A couple of weeks ago I was doing some research to find the cost of piano lessons in the late 1940s.  I drew a blank on the internet.  I tried asking my friends both on this blog and on my Facebook page.  Nada.

Last night I put it out on the Facebook page devoted to memories of growing up in my hometown.  I had the answer to my question in 10 minutes!  On to the next research problem.

April 2, 2014

See what happens when you open your mouth?

Minutes after I wrote the below scree, I found a group.  Here's hoping...

Start one yourself

I know what the answer to this post is.  "Start one yourself."  And I just might do that.

For the umpteenth time in my writing career I happened upon a sight last night that looked like it was a group I wanted to join.  It was for writers of women's fiction.  Yahoo.  I write women's fiction.  I don't write chick lit, I don't write romance, I write women's fiction.  Then came the letdown.  It was only for writers who had been published by big companies.  Self-published authors need not apply.

I don't know what people are thinking.  Or maybe I do.  It's the old high school IN club thingie.  Only in this case it's not "if your father isn't a member of the country club you aren't good enuf for us"  it is "if you haven't been published by a big publishing house you are not good enuf for us."




I've written this before, but there are some of us who just don't choose to buy into the system.  We don't want to go through the rigmarole of submission-rejection.  We feel our work has merit and we don't need someone with an eye only to what THEY can get out of our work to tell us that.  Perhaps we don't need the stress of watching the "Your work is not a good fit for us at this time" letters roll in.  (As an aside I felt so much better when I stopped saving those letters and consigned them to the garbage heap.)

So we choose to self-publish.  We get most of the profits from the sale of our books.  We get zero stress dealing with agents or publishers or editors who want us to rewrite our visions.  I bet a study would show that our collective blood pressure is a few points lower.

But still.  We would like the world to know that we are just as committed, just as professional as those other folks.  We would like to be included in professional organizations.

I know. Start one yourself.

March 31, 2014

The intersection

There are many places where my vocation as a creative artist and my vocation as clergy intersect but I think the place where they are closest (where the veil is thinnest, if you will) is in taking the time.

Taking the time to reflect.
Taking the time to craft.
Taking the time to study.
Taking the time to just sit and wait.

If you don't allow yourself the time, if you let yourself get caught up in the "busy-ness," you will never find the place where you can create.  If you let yourself get caught up in the "busy-ness" of  "doing" religion, you will not find the place where God is. 

(Sorry about the cross-sermonizing but it's what you get from bi-vocational people)

March 29, 2014

Rainy day in the bookstore

A rainy day today spent at Barnes and Noble has got me thinking.  As an indie author, bookstores can be rather problematical for me.  The big ones only carry my books online (Barnes and Noble and the late, lamented Borders).  The small ones require that people who want to buy my books order through them frequently pasting on heavy ordering charges.  If I ask the small ones to carry my books (which has to be done on a store by store basis) they ask me to pay all kinds of shelving charges and sometimes stock them right on the upper shelf where only Kareem Abdul Jabbar can see them.

The physical bookstore is great if it a) actually carries my books and b) displays them.  The is what a bookstore is about.  A rainy day, nothing to do, wander in and discover an author you have never heard of before and whose books you find you want to devour.   This is how books become best sellers.  (Well there is also the thing about the great publicity machine but I'm not going there.)

Amazon (who publishes my books and carries them in their online store) has no bricks and mortar presence.  In order to find my books on Amazon you can't just stumble onto them, you have to be looking for something specific.  But they publish me.  They give me a chance to have my scribblings read by someone.

This whole package is the conundrum of the indie writer.  Go through the slings and arrows of the traditional process and perhaps never be published or rot in the storage house or self-publish and be your own publicity machine.

A year or so back I taught a class on self-publishing.  My whole message amounted to "The only way you will become a best-selling author is if you are ready to do the publicity necessary."  That means getting out there and getting your book in the stores either by being published by a reputable house or by sheer chutzpa.



I saw this post as a chance to think of all the pros and cons of my writing world. What I discovered is  that I'm neither for or against self-publishing, I'm neither for or against traditional publishing, I'm neither for or against online bookstores and I'm neither for or against bricks and mortar stores.  They all have their place.  Find your place.  Be yourself.  Set your own goals.

Ruminating

There's something to be said for ruminating.  Just sittin' and thinkin' .  I actually do most of mine in the car but there are those few minutes, right before I go to sleep, when my characters come to life and I let them.



Most of us have something planned that occupies every minute of the day.  If you have to work in an office for a living most likely your boss has something planned for you.

I am so tremendously lucky.  I took an early retirement when I was 52 and I have been largely able to do what I wanted since then.  Oh, I haven't been without work, it's just that those 28 years I spent working for "the man" enabled me to live, if not comfortably, with a pension that has gotten me through to where I am now. 

I work at what I feel I want or need to do.  That leaves me free to ruminate and ruminating is the basis for my books. 

It's also the basis for something else.  My sanity.

I've always been a dreamer.  In school my teachers were always calling me out for daydreaming.  If they asked me a question there was no answer because 90% of the time I hadn't heard it.

When I was 14 I started writing my daydreams down and it turned into a two foot thick pile of paper that was the most godawful novel you would ever want to read, peppered with WWII and Hollywood references and based on my love for a certain dead actor.

It got better.   I now have the time to turn my ruminations into novels.  I don't sell many but that isn't the point.  I am practicing.  Practice makes perfect.  Someday my ruminations will turn into something wonderful.  And that's all one can hope.

March 25, 2014

The Elevator Pitch

Haven't heard of it? Well, when you are stuck in the elevator with the biggest agent in the world you have just a minute or two to pitch your book to her. That's when you need an elevator pitch.

There are various opinions about how many words it should be or how long you should go on, but the whole idea is to grab the agent's interest so that she will run out of the elevator screaming at the top of the lungs "I've just found the next Gone With the Wind."  Or something to that effect.

I've written (and rewritten) many elevator pitches.  I've extended them so they fit on the back of a book (it's supposed to make the reader in the bookstore or online reach for their wallet).  You can't use the first thing you get down on paper but refine it over and over.  You throw the garbage can at it and then you pare it down to something spare and catchy.

Today, over on my Wayward Deacon blog, there is a pitch for the Episcopal Church.  Does it make you want to try it?  How would you rewrite my pitch?

March 23, 2014

Self-Description

Cheating today with someone else's creation:



March 22, 2014

Finding the Story

I took the day off from "writing stuff" today to volunteer at a tack sale fundraiser for Riding with HEART, an equine assisted recreation and therapy program where I work part time.  I'm the bookkeeper.  Usually I just breeze in, collect the money and the bills and breeze out.  But on days like today I get to see volunteers and customers that I usually don't see in the course of the week.




This is where I collect stories.  Most of my books are based on a snippet of a story I've heard here or interaction between people that I've observed there.  To that extent I think all writers are your basic busybody, collecting life and then returning it out again in the form of a written story.  If I just sat at my computer all day I would have nothing to write about.

March 21, 2014

Falling off...a few times

Writer's Relief today asks:  "What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? Planning, writing, editing, researching journals/agents, submitting your work, dealing with rejection, etc.?

So I thought I'd use this as a writing prompt and discover what really is the hardest part for me. 

When I was still riding horses, the showing was a bit of a trial but in the end I loved it.  I loved being around horses, trail riding, practicing at home.  The only part the bothered me was the potential for




falling off.

Planning: I don't plan ahead.  I write organically. So no to planning
Editing:  I do one or two pass throughs when I am done.  So no to planning.
Researching: Researching the details of time place and life of the time are FUN!  So no to research.
Submitting your work, dealing with rejection:    Self-publishing is the cure for this so I don't have to deal with it!

But there is one final item.  The Facebook question used the word "writing" but I will break it down into to two things:

Imagining the story:  Good to go here.  I don't start writing until the characters start talking to me and then I am just the moving hand that writs on paper.
Actually writing:  Sigh.  This is where I fall off.  The place where "fail" is the operative word.  For no matter how many of my characters are talking to me, no matter how many stories are flying around my relatively empty head, getting it all down on paper is like falling off a horse. The professionals say you have to do it a few times to be a professional.  Certainly you can't be a professional writer without actually having written something. 

I've made it over the hurdle three times now.  It doesn't make it any easier, but to hold that book in my hands is priceless, as the advertisement goes.

Do you have something that you do that is part of your reason for being but is also your most daunting task?

Exactly

Just a photo today acquired from Flannery O'Connor via Elizabeth Gilbert:

March 18, 2014

Procrastination

(Background music: Anticipation by Carly Simon)




For most writers it's called writer's block, but for me it's procrastination.  I will do anything to find myself once again inside the pages of the book I've been writing all year.  I'll even post to my blog.

I have no dearth of ideas about what my characters in (all three of) my books in process are doing.  I get ideas every night around 2AM.

But it's 2AM.  I should be sleeping not typing.

For most writers who can't get something down on paper it's called writer's block, but for me it's procrastination.  Or denial.

March 17, 2014

Debunking old saws about writing.

One of the oldest saws there is about writing is "Write what you know."

Horse hockey.

Since I wrote my first book at 14 and it was about WWII and since I was too young to have lived through that war, I know all about what it is like to write about something that you didn't have any exposure to.  Oh yes, as I was growing up in the 50s and 60s there were a lot of TV programs on about the war (ie. Victory at Sea) but first hand knowledge only came through my father who sat in the basement of the White House during the war flogging teletype operators into submission.   The guys in our town who were actually out there doing the fighting didn't talk about those things.  They were known as the Greatest Generation but also the Silent Generation and for good reason.

So here I am, writing about two women just post WWII.  I research.  I watch internet accounts of women who survived the things they survived, and I imagine how I would feel.  Imagination is the greatest asset of the writer. 



I'm not writing a non-fiction account of the war.  I don't need to know if someone actually said what my women are saying.  I research the events and then I set two entirely fictional characters in the events and let the action happen.

That's what writing fiction is about.

March 16, 2014

Still Writing...

I've found another kindred spirit.  I'm in the middle of reading Still Writing: the Pleasures and perils of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro (you can find her blog and page on the sidebar under Blogs I Read).  I haven't finished it yet but every chapter finds me sending out at least one YES! 




She's younger than I, but was raised barely a few miles from where I got my start.  Her family is dysfunctional in ways different from mine but it had the same effect on her.  She had better internal guidance in her life than I.  She aimed right away to satisfy the writer in her.  Thick-headed Swede-Irish-Scots woman that I am I had to resist it for many years.  But still she resonates with me.

Today I said YES to this line from page 60: "As writers, it is our job not only to imagine, but to witness."

That line elucidates my job both as a writer and as ordained clergy.  I have always been an observer.  A psychic once told me I was a "watcher" and I believe that to be true.  Writing allows me to take what I have witnessed and to convey that witness to other people.



Still Writing: the Pleasures and perils of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro (c) 2013 by Dani Shapiro, published by Atlantic Monthly Press

March 15, 2014

Now that everything is calm and serene again...

Not! 

Why is it that I get my shorts in such a wad over technology?  I've been a techie since I first worked for AT&T back in the stone tablet age.  I worked on one of my first books on a dual floppy Kaypro IV.  I installed email for the mucky mucks in Service Costs and Rates at good old Ma Bell in 1984.  But there is still that lingering thought that all might be lost.

As an indie writer I depend on technology.  Technology to pour my books into a readable format.  Technology to communicate with my indie-enabling companies (yes I do love CreateSpace). Technology to get my name out there so maybe I get a few sales each week.

Someone asked me if I would still be writing if I had to depend on the traditional publishing route and if no one would publish me.  The answer is yes and no.  I write mainly because I have to shut up those voices in my head but traditional publishers are becoming thin on the ground and are getting highly selective about whom they publish.  If you haven't had a best seller there is less and less chance that they will publish you and of course...if you can't get published you aren't going to be a best selling author except by fluke.  Yes I would write.  No I wouldn't publish.

So I will continue my love/hate relationship with technology because it enables me to write, publish, have creative control and, for just a moment, smile when someone discovers my writing and is kind enough to publish a good review somewhere.  Isn't that what it is all about?

March 14, 2014

Yee Ha!

With today's call to GoDaddy just one change in one little line fixed the whole thing.  I will now stop being obsessed with my domain name.  (Is that the same as narcissism?)

March 13, 2014

A little help

Do any of you out there remember or have an older relative that could possibly remember what piano lessons cost in the 1940s or 1950s?  I don't want to be too far out of the ballpark when I am writing a chapter of my current project, Remarkable Likeness.

March 12, 2014

Well sorta....

Having trouble getting my www.christinawible.com to point to here.  If you put in that link you get Google's  ubiquitous:

404. That’s an error. The requested URL / was not found on this server. That's all we know.

A bit silly really but also very frustrating.  Will try again this afternoon when I have some time to swear at it.

March 10, 2014

Half done...

I'm actually more than half finished changing my website.  While GoDaddy has been good to me as a hosting service I find that maintaining my blog here in Blogger and maintaining my site over on GoDaddy has been a bit time consuming.  When I found out that you can now have "pages" in Blogger I immediately skipped over here.  Besides, it is free and the interface is much simpler that the one I had been using.

So much for geek speak.  In the next few days I hope to point my www.christinawible.com over here and there will be no more bouncing around.

Being a writer doesn't mean just sitting and thinking up nice stories and writing them down.  Being an indie writer means you turn into a geek, or perhaps even a worse geek than you already were!

So hopefully by next weekend I will be back to creating away on Remarkable Likeness. 

In the meantime know that the Kindle price on my three books already published is still only $.99 each.  If you haven't read them yet be my guest at the reduced price and don't forget to review them on Amazon.com

March 8, 2014

As you can see...

In preparation for some big changes, I have been messing around with my blog site.  Please stay tuned for future changes!