An Article About ME!

I recently went to my hometown of Columbus, IN to visit my family and to attend a local festival. We had a lot of fun, both with the family and the festival, but I also took a little time out to be interviewed by a writer for a local publication that focuses on women in the community. The publication is called SHE Magazine, and features articles about how women from the Columbus area are doing their own special things. My special thing, of course, is that I write and have published two novels!

The article came out earlier this week, and I thought I’d shamelessly share it here with all of you. Because I’m awesome, of course, and everyone deserves to know that!

The article about ME starts on page 26. You should check out the rest of the magazine, too, since it’s pretty cool in general.

Obviously, this means that I have achieved “famous” status. The money should be rolling in by the truckload now, right? I’ve “made it,” now, right? RIGHT?

I’m chugging along on a new short story, having achieved 1,000 words on it so far. The finished product should be no more than 6,000, so this is good progress. I’m really enjoying this story, and I’m excited to figure out the best way to tell it. After all, often times the way we first envision telling a story is not the best way to go about it IT ALL. This results in frustration, of course, (especially in longer pieces) but it’s a good kind of frustration, the kind that lets you tear your hair out for a little while, but then sits you down and makes you work to turn something that’s good into something that’s really great (or, at least, better than what it started out as, right?)

And, even though there is frustration, there is satisfaction, too, once you know what needs to be fixed and have an idea of how to go about it. After the hair has been torn and the head bashed against the wall.

Writing is fun! Remember, I’m famous now. You can trust me.



Talking About Writing to Non-Writers

I’ve mentioned on here that I do a lot of writing at work, using a notebook. This often prompts people to ask me what I’m doing. Usually, that is exactly the question.

“What are you doing?” I’m taking a short break from writing to ring up your groceries.

“What are you writing?” A plot outline of a novel or short story.

But I also get some other versions:

“Are you writing a story?” Yes.

“Are you writing a book?” Usually, though sometimes I’m working on a short story.

“Are you writing a journal?”

This one makes me shudder, because, to me, a journal is exactly the same as a diary. You know, that thing tweenage girls lock themselves in their bedrooms to write, pouring out their angst and the unfairness of the world. Dear Diary, today, the boy in geometry with whom I have never spoken but am totally in love picked up the pencil I dropped and was all like, “hey, you dropped this.” He totally likes me!

So my first reaction when someone asks me if I’m sitting in public, at work, writing a journal is “Um, no, I’m a grown woman. A mature, professional writer. I’m writing about magic and dragons and awesome shit.”

I say it a little more politely than that, of course. Usually I go with a “No. I’m working on a novel/short story.”

My regular customers, who know what I’m doing, will ask me “How’s the book going?”

And I’ll be like, “Which book have I been talking to you about? ‘Cuz I’m working on like three right now, and while my publishing schedule is only just about ready to churn out book two, I’m writing book three and plotting book 8.”

Again, I am more polite than this. My customers, who are non-writers, do not need to hear my whole complex, twisty writing schedule. “It’s going great!”

I do feel, weirdly, like I need to uphold this image of writers for the non-writers. The image of working on only one book from start to finish and not starting a new one until the first one is published. I know some writers probably do work that way, but I feel like it’s such a waste of time. I mean, I can write narrative manuscript at work if I want, but then I have to spend time when I get home typing all that up, time I’d rather be using to generate new words. I need to dedicate some time to plotting out new stories before I write them, so it’s ideal for me to use time at work for that ahead-of-time plot work. It’s just a setup that leads to my plotting being so far ahead of my narrative manuscripting, which I feel could be confusing for the uninitiated, shall we say.

I really started thinking about this today when I made my facebook status update of daily word count. I realized that I’ve been constantly referring to the project as “the novel” which really just confuses me. Well, not ME, I know which book I’m working on, but it FEELS like it should be confusing to everyone else. I’d like to be clearer with these updates, so I’ve decided to start including the title of the project. And, I’ll possibly try to do something like that with the customers? Although, the majority of them don’t really care, they’re just being polite and conversational.

I don’t know, but more clarity makes me feel better, so that’s reason enough to do it, I suppose.

Goal Oriented

Well, it’s been quite a while since I posted here. This is because I am bad at blogging. I have a hard time making myself put the words out there for people to read. I call myself a champion lurker.

This is changing, though, because I have decided that it will.

A number of things have happened since I last posted here. I appeared as a panelist for the first time at Legendary ConFusion in Detroit in January, which was a lot of fun. Then in February, my father (Ron Collins) and I went out to the Oregon coast to attend a week-long workshop with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. In the lead-up to this workshop, we had to write six short stories for six different Fiction River anthologies in six weeks. A short story a week, basically.

I’ve heard people talk about writing a short story a week before, and was always skeptical that I could do it. Well, this workshop tossed me into the deep end of the challenge. Lo and behold, not only can I do it, I’m actually kinda decent at it. Sure, some of those stories could have used an extra round of polish, but the whole story was there, on the page.

And two of them were purchased by the editors of those anthologies. My story Gambler’s Fallacy will be appearing in Fiction River: Risk Takers, edited by Dean Wesley Smith, in February of 2015, and my story Frostburnt will appear in December’s Fiction River: Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. My dad also sold a story to Pulse Pounders, so we’ve got the father-daughter take-over of the table of contents going on there.

Oh, and there’s an unpublished Frank Herbert story in that one, too. No biggie.

The other four stories from the workshop are still floating around looking for homes.

The main thing I took away from the workshop experience, I think, other than getting to meet a ton of amazing professional writers, is that I can do this. I just have to apply myself. Now, that’s easy enough to do when the deadline, the goal, is coming from something outside yourself, e.g., this workshop with its weekly deadlines for turning in stories, but goals that you set for yourself are a different beast. It’s a lot easier to say “I’ll do this tomorrow” on a deadline you set yourself.

So I got back from the workshop and decided to see if I could set myself some writing goals and meet them. I had that novel I started back in November, the sequel to my first novel, Singer, that had just been sitting collecting dust for the past few months. The whole story was plotted out, so all that was left to do was write it.

I set myself the goal of two chapters a week.

the first two weeks went very slowly, and I ended up a little behind. I just wasn’t into it. I’d let the story sit for so long, I wasn’t excited about it anymore.

Then, week three hit, and I wrote three chapters.

Week four, I finished the novel.

I wrote nine chapters. I also cranked out another short story that week. I think I wrote about 25,000 words in this week.

So, yeah, I can meet my goals.

Therefore, I have made my blogging goal to post once per week. I want to talk to you all about my writing, about being a new writer, and about how I’m figuring this whole thing out as I go along.

If I can pull off a 25,000 word week, I can manage a little blog post.


Steady Progress

I’ve got a few writing projects on my plate right at the moment, including two novels and a handful of short stories. Most of these projects are currently in the “just starting out” phase, meaning I’ve got a few ideas and bits of plot lines written down in my notebook. One of the two novels (currently very originally called “Second Novel”, since it’s the second novel I’ve worked on) is actually in its first draft stage. I spent a decent chunk of time today working on it, and I’ve finally gotten through all three (yes, three!) prologues. I dunno, maybe later I’ll decide to call them chapters, but they each introduce a main character and get them to the point where the real story can start. So they feel like prologues right now. I’m not sure about the third one right now, mostly, I think, because I don’t quite have a firm handle on that character yet, but hopefully as I dig through this first draft I’ll discover more about her so that I can make her prologue more in tune with who she really is.

The other novel is the sequel to Singer. The current plan with this one is to get it all plotted out in time for November, when I will power through the first draft in a month. I’ve actually got some decent headway into the outline, and I’ve got lots of fun and interesting ideas that I’m playing around with. I think the most fun part of this sequel will be exploring a world which I only got a tiny peek of in the first book, but which I am discovering to be peopled with more interesting characters and sprinkled with fantastic and dangerous places to visit.

The short stories will come as they come, I suppose.

Anyway, so long as I can keep up some steady progress, I’ll be happy with myself.