Sunday, April 25, 2010

to market, to market, to sell my funny stories

Okay, it's confession time here. I really am dedicated to being a writer. I am dedicated to each of the stories I'm writing. I think about my books throughout the day, in the midst of daily duties as a wife, mother, CEO of our household. But, doggone it I haven't written anything new all month!

I've been writing, yes--rewriting. Reworking a short story with the help of my brilliant critique group and getting it ready to send off. This is a huge challenge to me. The marketing side of things, and the time it takes to hunt down good markets and send stuff out, generally overwhelm me. It's so much easier just to write, but unfortunately, I'm one of those crazy people who actually want somebody to READ my stuff.

I do intend to send off two pieces this week: the short story, and a short humor piece. One publication said their only criterion was that it make them laugh out loud. I read their archived humor pieces and mine is really, honestly MUCH funnier. So I take heart. I qualify. But there seem to be some restrictions on what they accept--like coming from their home state. Sigh. Foiled again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Universal themes, tapping the emotional bond

I recently won a wonderful book in a challenge on R.L. LaFevers blog. A 12-year-old heroine, in a primitive culture created totally in the fertile mind of Frances Hardinge, proves something more than just the sister of her village's most important person. "The Lost Conspiracy" is beautifully written, mystical, and entirely engaging. If Ms. LaFevers hadn't sent me that book I might never have found it on my own, and that would have been a loss. Here is a heroine who rises to every challenge with cleverness, perseverance, and courage. And an author who weaves the story skillfully from various angles, and with gorgeous language.

What do I have in common with a 12-year-old child under incredible stress, pulled by duty and torn loyalties? On the surface, not much. But when I finished the book I realized that I was completely on board with Hathin as she tries to keep her sister safe while also seeking revenge. I admire her intelligence and creativity. And I completely understand her struggle with her own identity and value.

To create a character who is both so different from the reader, and yet so like us at the heart, is something to strive for. To be able to tell that character's story in such an lyrical manner, rooted in a whole world of superstition and tradition, is an absolute God-given gift. That's a gift I always pray for.