This slide show is a celebration of the beauty and usefulness of plants in the Ozarks. Take and herb walk on your lunch break without ever leaving your desk!
This slide show is a celebration of the beauty and usefulness of plants in the Ozarks. Take and herb walk on your lunch break without ever leaving your desk!
(This is a duplicate of the post at http://www.madison-woods.com/Wordpress/sunday-musings-finding-my-niche/. I don’t post all of my posts here, so if you’d like to keep up with me, please go to the new blog and sign up to follow there – thanks!)
It’s 20*F outside this morning and the birds are tweeting like it’s spring already. The sun is shining and I love the way it creeps over the top of the mountains before it shines down into the valley.
While I haven’t been socializing as much, when I do get on I seem to be getting more accomplished both online and off. I’ve been doing a lot of editing and making good progress on Symbiosis. I’m starting to collect email addresses of people who are interested in reading it when it’s finally on the shelves. If you would like to sign that list it’s
right here at the bottom of every post. There’s a widget to put something at the bottom of every post, by the way, if you’re a WP user and want to try it out. It’s called “Bottom of Every Post“.
I’ll probably post this at the bottom of every post from now on. Or for as long as I’m building a readership, which will hopefully be from now on. My writer-friends who frequent my site will hopefully let it drift to the back of their consciousness so it seems less of an intrusion. But I want newcomers to my blog and potential readers of Symbiosis and future books and stories, to always have a no-hassle way to sign up easily for announcements without having to worry they’ll get swamped with blog posts or junk mail.
It will let the readers who are waiting know when it is finally available to purchase. This will be more than a year from now even if I find an agent and publisher on the first attempt. It just takes that long for the publishing wheels to turn, from what I understand.
It will also show any agents or publishers that I am working on building a fan base and that there are readers who are waiting to read what I write. This could prove valuable, or it might not matter at all, depending on the agent or publisher. I’d rather have it and not need it, than not have it and try to scramble a list together in a week or two. It isn’t easy to convince people to drop their email address like that.
I have two short stories out on submission still.
Aside from the editing and list-building I’ve been working on optimizing my blog and website. I’m doing one thing in particular that I hope will improve my ranking in search engines. I’m trying to establish my niches. One of the ways Google ranks pages has to do with content and if a website author is an “expert” on a topic, it ranks better. To be considered and “expert” means the author has many posts on a particular topic.
A topic I can use to establish my expertise is the predator-prey relationship. So I did a search on my own site for that keyword and created an “index” to all the posts I’ve made that mention or have to do with the predator-prey relationship. This index is now a Page: Category- Predator vs Prey. As it turns out, this keyword phrase is the one that brings the most traffic from searches.
When I have more time, I’ll make category pages for the other search phrases that bring people to my site. I’m trying to capitalize on what I’m already doing, and do more of it.
My personal life has been hectic lately. At least one of the crisis were solved over the weekend last weekend when my son and future son-in-law retrieved my horse from THE NEIGHBORING COUNTY. Not only did he escape the field where he was being kept, but he got hooked up with a pair of wild, roving mules and I was afraid had reverted to being wild himself. Now he is home where he belongs.
My daughter is due to have a baby on or near April 20 (yeah, we laugh about the date too…) but she went into premature labor a couple of weeks ago. After a few days in the hospital they managed to stop the contractions but now she’s on complete bedrest. Not only is she going stir crazy by now, but the rest of us trying to keep her horizontal are also getting a bit stir crazy as well. Still, every week she can hold on to baby in the belly is another week of better odds for baby.
And my future husband sent me a picture of him at work standing by a sign that gives me a giggle. When he saw it while walking past it to a job, he must have thought it perfect too:
He has a collection of stories and pictures he calls “Kandahar WTF” because they’re either so stupid it’s hard to believe, or just plain unbelievable for other reasons. This one’s funny to me because of the singular ‘man’ at work, haha. So now you get to see what my man looks like We’ll be getting married in late September this year and he’ll be done with the gig in Kandahar in December. After that, we’ll both be working on our home businesses and our joint dream of becoming sustainable on our homestead. Our list of things to do is a mile long and from the look of it, we’ll never truly “retire”. Which is fine by me. It also means there’s never going to be a boring day for the rest of our lives.
So there’s the update on what’s up with me these days. Are you working on any new projects or making good progress on old ones?
If you give me your email address, I’ll let you know when Symbiosis and future books hit the shelves. You won’t get blog posts, or junk mail. The first announcement will be when Symbiosis has found an agent or publisher. You are not obligated to anything at all by signing up, but it shows potential publishers that there are people interested in reading it when it’s ready. Thanks in advance!
Click here to sign up for the announcement list:
I have a lot to share with you today. So much, in fact, it feels like I’ve neglected to say much for too long – but that’s not true because I did do my musings last week.
A lot has happened in a week, I guess.
A while back I sent a revised version of the pitch I’d made here earlier to get some feedback from the canaries over at The Canary Review.
They handle pitches with a different sort of eye and I wanted to offer my own up as example and suggest that you might be interested in getting more in-depth crit from them one day:
What we get on my blog is reader perception. What they give is editorial perception. They’ll be talking more about what agents and editors look for in pitches (I believe) this week on Friday.
If you follow me on FB or Twitter, I’ll post the link whenever I see the post or you can keep checking their blog too so you don’t miss it.
This week Mitch Haynes will be in the spotlight to talk about a writer’s conference taking place in Denton, TX next month.
The LEXICON WRITERS CONFERENCEwill be held on July 21 – 22, 2012 in Denton, Texas but we have special events set up for the 19th and 20th as well.
I know it’s just a little paper.li deal, but still. Publicity is publicity, ha. My awesome spot on the Science Fiction Daily: http://paper.li/AmyJoywriter/1333728136 (well darn. I’ll leave the link up in case you want to look at the paper, but content is different daily and I was only there on Sunday.)
Last evening I attended the standing-room-only release party for Duke Pennell’s Frontier Tales Anthology. Several of my local writerly friends were there to give readings or insight on the stories behind their stories. My role there also sort of morphed into being the ‘event photographer’ which I rather enjoyed.
I want to start sharing some of the background to Symbiosis. Not sure yet which day of the week I’ll use to do this, but probably Tuesdays when I have no guest lined up.
When anyone writes a novel they’re drawing on things that they find interesting, topics that for whatever reason they enjoy. Mine run the gamut from philosophy, Jungian psychology, ancient history, ancient to modern religion, origin of myth, sociology (especially patriarchy vs matriarchy – is it indicative of anything that the word ‘matriarchy’ isn’t even in WP’s spell-check database, but ‘patriarchy’ is? – and pecking orders), balance of nature, herbalism (which bleeds into religion and fear of witchcraft), how fears drive societies (which bleeds into or really underlies many of the topics that interest me) and kundalini, karma, sexuality. Oh. I forgot to add that I love twisting the concept of thermodynamic’s first law…the one about conservation of energy. Some physicists might be appalled at the liberties I’ve taken with that one in Symbiosis.
Even fiction writers need a platform, things to talk about if invited to be a speaker or to present. Since all these things underly my passion for writing, any one of them could potentially become topics that segue with talking about my books. And not just Symbiosis, because my interest in these things influence everything I write in some way.
I wish I had made my career in ancient history or anthropology sometimes. These sorts of discoveries fascinate me:
Usually on Mondays I do goal checks. And I’m still going to do that, but from now on the post will also include other things I want to talk about.
Today I’d like to pass on an announcement from my friend Duke Pennell of Pen-L Publishing. If any of you are readers or writers of western stories, I encourage you to look into his online zine. I don’t write westerns, but these folks are my writerly friends so I’ll be at the celebration.
You’re invited! The Best of Frontier Tales celebration is this Saturday, June 2, at 7 pm at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. Five local writers of winning stories from my ezine at www.FrontierTales.com will be there to fascinate and inform.
Hope YOU can make it! Western Heritage Museum Hall of Famer Dusty Richards, JB Hogan, Pamela Foster, Nancy Hartney, and Greg Camp join writers from across the US in this 1st volume. Enjoy selected readings from the Tales, tips on how to write Westerns, book signings by the authors, and a cowboy trivia contest.
Be sure to grab your cowboy hat, boots, or a bandana to help us honor the Old West and the men and women whose strength and spirit made this country what it is.
The anthology will be available online on June 1st. Don’t miss out! Support your Western authors!
Since I have quit trying to get up at red-eye hours, I’m getting more editing done. Now I just stay up too late and get up too late to make myself look presentable to go to work. So I am beginning to appear like an insomniac more and more. Dark circles, grumpy, etc. I need to get this book finished. On p. 92 now of a 350 page ms. Not quite 1/3 there yet.
But I’m pleased with the results so far.
I’ve been changing it over from first-person to third. Someone once told me that was easy, all you have to do is find the “I’s” and change them to “she’s”. If that’s all that was wrong with the ms I guess that might be easy. I apparently am not good at getting it right even on draft four, so it’s a little more involved than a quick ‘ctrl-F’ seek and destroy mission.
This will hopefully be my last pass, though. After that, I’m going to turn it loose and begin work on the next one that’s becoming very impatient.
Hmmm. There was something else I wanted to talk about today. Can’t recall – oh!
I’ve found an author who writes material I can call ‘comparable’ when I’m drawing up my queries. One of you suggested I look at Laurell K. Hamilton. Thank you! The subject matter of her books is much different from mine, but our style is very similar. I am really enjoying the first book I bought (Guilty Pleasures), and I intend to read everything of hers I can. These are ‘urban fantasy’, and the mc is called ‘The Executioner’ because she kills rogue vampires. She also raises the dead to question them for the police. The stories are a hilarious mix of humans, vampires, weres, zombies…
It feels good to have found something I enjoy reading. I’ve become way too critical to find it fun anymore and I’d only been reading for research or to review and rarely read for pleasure.
If you’re off work today, I hope you’re enjoying your time. I am. I’m writing and editing
If you follow my blog, you’ll notice every Thursday we critique someone’s pitch. To write a 25-word summary of a novel sounds deceptively easy.
But it is important to be able to do it, even if the only reason is because it forces the writer to find the kernel of their story.
Another reason is because sometimes pitch opportunities come in small spaces. Here’s one such opportunity, on Dorothy Dryer’s blog. She’s hosting a contest and an agent will pick a winner of a 3-sentence pitch: http://we-do-write.blogspot.de/2012/05/three-two-one-pitch-contest.html
Run-on sentences are not allowed and the agent is a stickler about that and the grammar. So three sentences might amount to a few more words than 25, but not by much if you stick to the ‘no run-on’ rule.
I hope everyone enjoys their long holiday weekend. I saw a photo going around FB the other day that had a caption that made a lot of sense.
This weekend I’ll get some yard work and house work done. Lots of editing on the “to-do” list too.
Have a great weekend!
I am at that point on two of my struggles.
First, I am having no success at all consistently getting up earlier than 0500. So my new goal is to get up consistently at 0500. Ha. If I *happen* to wake up earlier than that I will get myself out of bed and consider it a treat. I’ll stay up as late as I feel like staying up in the evenings if I’m working on my writing. If I’m just goofing off on the internet, I’ll go to bed by 2130. There is no television (well, there’s the unit, but no service) in my house, so no worries there.
As for finishing my manuscript before August. I don’t see it happening. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for my rate of editing. I’ll continue at the pace I’m currently going, and barring unforeseen circumstances, it should be done in time for the Plan B date in October. I’ll use my Chicon experience to network and make contacts and learn from the workshops. Originally I’d wanted my ms to be ready for spontaneous pitching opportunity at the conference.
One new thing I’m adding to my goal list is to read more. I need to find some comparable titles in my genre because I’ll need that info when I’m pitching.
Do you have any favorite books (traditionally published, that would be known to agents/editors) to recommend in the genres I write? A blend of urban fantasy and magical realism I think is closest to what Symbiosis will likely be categorized.
Update 1545: Just found this excellent post at Tor.com about the differences between Fantasy and Magical Realism: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2008/10/magicrealism
I asked her to be my guest here today because she’s very passionate about her interests and I wanted her to share some of that with us. She preferred that I come up with questions for her, rather than her blog a post blindly.
MW: Thank you for joining me today, Celestine.
CN: Thank you, Madison, I’m priviledged to be a guest on your wonderful blog; considering that I’ve been blogging for barely three months, this is really a feather in my cap. I take this opportunity to say that the Friday Fictioneers is an amazing concept and super way of unearthing talents and boosting one’s creativity towards the development of fine full length stories. I am deeply grateful.
MW: You’re welcome and I’m glad you’re enjoying the Fictioneers!
It seems no matter where we are from, regardless of how urban or rural our abodes, there are still common themes that run through our fiction.
What would you say is your common theme?
Have you identified one, or is more than one theme that calls for you to explore it through your writing? If not in your own writing, perhaps you have noticed what it is about other writing that calls you to it.
CN: I would say that themes for writers vary as a result of our peculiar history as a country. Post-colonial Ghana saw writers like Aye Kwei Armah, exploring the filth and corruption and the disappointment of the Ghanaian with the government of the day which had only carried on neo-colonialist tendencies under the guise of freedom, in his book Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born.
The theme of love/romance is not particularly alien, but this is culturally relative. We in Ghana see romance in a cultural perspective. Kissing in public is frowned upon and so is nudity; and even with the infiltration of western culture via the media, Ghanaians are squeamish to see nudity displaced on our screens. For us, as is elsewhere, marriage is sacrosanct and romance/love, is squarely placed there. In the olden days when marriages were arranged we believed that love would grow in the marriage and so a couple not being in love was neither here nor there. Again, how do you explain the concept of love in a polygamous marriage where a man has multiple wives as opposed to one wife in Western culture? Could he love all wives equally? But such marriages were known to have worked very well. I am not advocating polygamy, I must add, but these are some of the issues that come up in discussing the concept of love in the African context.
Iconic female writer, Ama Ata Aidoo who set the tone and pace for female writers in Ghana explored love in her novel Changes; where an educated career woman is unhappy with her marriage because she has no ‘space’ and her husband demands too much of her time, so that when he ‘rapes’ her she divorces him. Does having sex with your wife, albeit against her wishes constitute rape in the traditional African setting? She finds love but as a second wife and even then, happiness eludes her. A review of Changes is on my blog http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com for your perusal.
Now, contemporary writers like Empi Baryeh have come out with pure romance novels Most Eligible Bachelor, and Chancing Faith, based on the western concept but with an African flavour and I think that the myth is being shattered.
Amma Darko is another contemporary female Ghanaian writer who explores Streetism, (children who live on the streets) poverty, child labour and the house-help in her novels, Faceless, The House help and Not Without Flowers. Streetism and Child labour are issues facing the governments with little or no solution is sight and Darko does poignant justice to these in her novels.
For me as a writer, I love romance mixed with a dose of haunting sadness, a recurrent theme in my writings and poems. I am yet to publish a full novel and when I do the genre will be mainly eclectic, though with underlying romance. I have a lot stories in draft form and some in the writing process dealing with themes like incest and poverty.
MW: When you seek to publish your novels or stories, will your audience be at-large, or do you think your stories are going to appeal also to the women of Ghana?
CN: I do believe my audience will cut across cultures, at-large, because the themes are universal. However, Ghanaians are not comfortable with an issue like incest, though it is taboo in our culture. Until recently, It had been a topic with little or no media attention. Families where incest occurs also were reluctant to come out because of stigmatisation. Poverty also played a part where even when cases of incest come out in the open, victims are made to keep quiet because the perpetrator is the bread winner. Incest is indeed dicey in Ghana, and has been an issue that I am very passionate about. Now I dare say, that media reportage is improving.
MW:Are you considering the method of publishing you’ll take – indendent or traditonal?
CN: I would like to go traditional; for financial reasons, I would like to get a publisher so we can come to some sort of arrangements.
Did you notice there was no pitch post today?
That’s because I lost track of time yesterday and didn’t get it pre-loaded. If I don’t do that the night before, then I don’t have time to do it in the mornings unless I put aside my editing time. Can’t do that or I’ll backslide too much on that project.
I’ll bet you’re just hopping with curiosity to know what preoccupied me the day before.
Too bad. I’m going to tell you anyway, haha.
I stopped on my way home at the park. This in itself seems an odd thing for me to do because at my own house there’s enough land to make it feel like I’ve gone to a wilderness preserve (which is the sort of ‘park’ I prefer to frequent anyway).
But by the time I get home, I’m tired of the drive and just ready to take off my shoes and relax. The park I stopped at isn’t too far from work, it’s fairly wild in habitat and has a nice trail to hike. So I hiked.
While hiking I noticed the herbs (Ozark medicinal plants, not the chillin’ kind). It was like visiting old friends I hadn’t seen in ages. They captured my attention the way they used to do before I got so busy all the time. Plus, I didn’t have my camera with me, so I wasn’t trying to take their pictures. We just socialized. Me and the plants. And the trees and some unknown critter who wouldn’t come out in plain view but kept making noise just out of sight.
When I left to head home it was later than I intended it to be, but I’d thoroughly enjoyed myself and I realized something. I’ve been losing my connection to the world around me while I’ve been busy trying to get my book edited.
This felt like an important discovery. So what to do?
I’m still going to work hard at getting the book edited. But sometimes I’m going to stop at that park and commune with the plants and I’m going to ride my horses more often. Even if it means missing a scheduled blog post once in a while.
What do you do to get back into your groove when you’ve lost it? I don’t necessarily mean a *writing* groove. What I mean is your synchronicity with your *self*. Nature and horses help me stay connected in that way. What keeps you connected?
I hate making mistakes.
Even more than making mistakes I hate *admitting* to them.
But I’m getting ready to do just that. The relationship between my blog and that automated blog-sharing program* I’d signed onto is not working out and yes, this is a break-up post.
So I’m not going to prolong the torture, I’m just letting y’all know – if you followed me on Twitter and have been inundated with #blogshare Tweets from me lately, it has ended.
If you were a member of my tribe and you want to continue with it, no worries. I’ll pass the controls onto one of you before I’m completely disconnected.
Whew. Glad I got that over with. Thanks to those of you who stuck with me through that bloody head-beating blunder I’m still going to share blog posts I find informative or interesting, it just won’t be through an automated tweet program.
*This is not the same program I mentioned this morning in my Sunday Musings .