Challenge Accepted

Being uncomfortable is not something I strive for in my everyday life. I like my routine, my creature comforts, my small comings and goings in this great big world. I like going to the gym either before or directly after work. I like having my lunch at 12:40. I like watching television with dinner and having tea with milk and honey and nothing else. I am a self-declaring creature of habit.

The same goes for my writing life…

I like writing sci-fi and fantasy.
I like having a strong female lead.
I like creating characters first and worlds later.

But I also like being uncomfortable, writing-wise.

I try my hand at Literature every now and again. I write freelance articles for the local newspaper. I’ve penned interview questions and critiqued flashes online. These aren’t my usual cups of tea, but I do like trying something different in my writing. It keeps it fresh and interesting. Have you tried to write a flash? An entire story boiled down to 700 words? It’s tough. But it can be fun, too.

I decided to do NaNoWriMo last year. Having to write 1,667 words per day was sometimes uncomfortable and incredibly hard and, yet, I did it. And I’m proud I did. It’s something I’ll remember and (perhaps) try again this year.

Poetry has never been my strong suit, but I decided to write some for Alaska Women Speak and got in twice!

The point of the matter is this: while it may be uncomfortable to break out of the usual writing habits, to go off your normal beaten path, and to do something completely out of the ordinary. It’s also good to challenge yourself.

Try it out!

Warm regards,
Kellie

PostScript – this idea can also be applied to the non-writing life, and, honestly, I’ll be trying to challenge myself more and more this year. I think it’ll be good for me, too.

The Poetry of Flamers

So you log onto your fictionpress.com or fanfiction.com account, see that you have a new comment and click on the reviews section only to have this pop up…

“YOR WORK SUKS”

Flamers

They are the bane of the fanfiction and fictionpress community and. They are the worst reviewers because, as well as trashing your hopes to read a genuine review, they also provide no helpful insight on how to better your work.

Now see, constructive criticism I can handle – the name says it all – because, while I am a tad slighted that they didn’t absolutely fall head-over-heels in love my work the first time around, they at least gave suggestions on how to improve the places they stumbled on.

But flamers? Personally I picture them as hobgoblins (that get constantly poked in the side by sticks) all converging in dungeon rooms surrounded by spider webs and snakes because who else would honestly pass their time giving worthless reviews of someone’s work? If you don’t like the work but have nothing helpful to say, that’s fine… move on. No one’s pressuring you to click the review button, hobgoblin. No one.

My first flame burst its way into my life about ten years ago – I had just started a fanfiction.com account and was penning stories about Digimon and Teen Titans. (Yes, I still enjoy those shows… Digimon was AWESOME, people, you can’t deny it. And Raven was my favorite on TT.) My first story was up and running a full two weeks before a flamer decided to attack. And what did this reviewer say? What kernel of knowledge did this reader bestow on my budding story?

“Yor work suks!”

At first, I was hurt. Who would do this to me? Why did they not like my story? And what about it actually sucked? But then, re-reading this lovely snippet of writing, I took comfort in the fact that this reviewer could not even spell ‘your’ and ‘sucks’ correctly, and so I rationalize that the person on the other end of the computer keyboard must not be very bright and probably missed the point of my story while skimming through it. (If they read it at all.) I got a sprinkling of others after that during my years of being a fanfiction and fictionpress writer, but I always remembered that first one most clearly. I thought it would always stick with me – that little voice from my youth screaming it over and over again – but, when it does surface in my mind, I remember the hobgoblin stuck in a dungeon with a stick jabbing into its side and figured, well, I’d probably be screaming too and think of it no more.

Flamers will flame… it’s up to you to delete the comment from your mind. 

Have a lovely weekend!

Warm regards,
Kellie

Barnes and Noble is Shrinking?

I recently read an article in Alaska Dispatch stating that Barnes and Noble is downsizing its stores and will continue doing so over the next few years.

Does this shock me? Not really, with the economy the way it is and the publishing companies still in a flux over the e-book, it’s no surprise that “sacrifices” have to be made. (Note, the quote marks, I’ll get back to that later.)

Does this scare me? Not as much as I thought it would. I’m all for Barnes and Noble, of course, a few of my friends work there. I meet clients there. I enjoy perusing the books and it’s a lovely place to go to for those last-minute holiday/birthday shopping ideas. It’s a wonderful store.

The article then went ahead into a bit more detail concerning the B&D closures and how it would actually give rise to the smaller independent book stores – the little ones on the corners or by coffee shops. Quaint was the word that flitted through my mind as soon as I read about it. Quaint was the word that I always tend to think of when I picture small bookstores. It was already happening in the Lower 48.

As much as I love B&N, I like the smaller bookstores, too, the more personalized ones (sometimes they have themes!), the ones run by families or a small band of dedicated workers. Plus sometimes the smaller bookstores promote books that are off the beaten path so to speak, which can broaden my idea of what makes a ‘well-written work.’

I look at things from a writing perspective, too. The smaller companies would probably cost the author less to put his or her books on the shelf than the bigger companies (let’s face it, big companies ask for big money), but there is the downside of possibly not being seen by everyone, or even your target audience. Yet there’s always other marketing and promotional avenues to tromp down on if that were the case, so really it’s not that bad of a deal.

Sacrificing the bigger companies so that smaller ones can come into the world? Well, that doesn’t sound too bad after all.

Have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

AWS Spring 2013 Issue

I did it – I entered into the AWS (Alaska Women Speak) competition for the Spring 2013 period and I got in. I’m going to be published in the next issue!

Honestly, I didn’t think there’d be a chance … since I was picked for one of the previous issues I never thought I’d be chosen for this one as well. But I liked the prompt so much – Chambered Nautillus by Oliver Wendell Holmes – I decided to give it a go and see what would happen. I wrote the poem, submitted it and, by the end of that week, the congratulatory note was sent to my email!

As you can tell, I’m rather excited about it… I’ve submitted into many different contests these past few months and, well, I’m just happy to have gotten into one of them, you know?

But that’s what you have to do sometimes – when you see a contest that fits in with your genre or style of writing, go for it!

Yes, most contests have a monetary requirement – usually $10-$20 – but isn’t spending that worth what you could get in return – publication? Besides, most of the contests that have requirements give out monetary prizes.

If you don’t put yourself out there, submit to contests and really see how you stack up against the crowd, how will you know if your writing is actually pleasing your intended audience?

I’m not saying every writer needs to submit all the time, but every writer should try when the opportunity arises. At least once! It really is good practice and you could be published by the end of it! Sometimes if you get 2nd or 3rd place they mention your name and it’s always good to have exposure in the writing community, however slight.

I submitted to the Lucky Agent contest with the Writer’s Digest and I plan to submit to the Radical Arts for Women contest coming up in March because both of those contests appeal to me and seem to be the right fit for what I’m currently writing.

But if you don’t know where to find writing contests, never fear! Like everything else these days, just look it up online – Poets and Writers is a good place to start, as is Writer’s Digest – but you could always type in ‘creative writing contests’ and still come up with a  whole slew of opportunities to pick from. You can even tailor your query with ‘poetry contests’, ‘flash fiction contests’, ‘non-fiction essay contests’ or whatever your fancy and still get a bunch of submission chances.

Go for it! What’s there to lose?

Warm regards,
Kellie