I now walk into the wild . . . . (John Krakauer)

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John Krakauer was a mountaineer and writer who explored the impulse that leads people to outdoor adventure. His Goodreads quote of the day caught my imagination. My thoughts flew out before me. Not that I want an outdoor adventure, though it might be good for me. It was because these words perfectly expressed what I think about writing.

The word wild digs down deep into my thoughts – wild child, wild one, wild and woolly, a wild, wild ride.

An interesting word, it weaves into a sentence in different ways.

  • As an adjective – not domesticated or cultivated
  • As an adverb – in an uncontrolled manner
  • Noun – a natural area, an uncultivated or uninhabited region
  • Synonyms, for an adjective – savage, mad, feral. For a noun – wilderness, waste

The writing was savage. I wrote, madly out of control.  My writing went off into the wilderness, a strange and feral land.

I block out a scene, write a piece of dialogue, consider an action sequence, peek inside a character’s thoughts and motivations. I am on that path into the wild. I have no idea where it will take me.

Writing takes me over. I breathe it, eat it, and sleep with it. There is no getting away. I go out for a walk, talk on the phone to family and friends, tune into a TV show or radio broadcast, spend countless hours maintaining my social media platform, talk with my husband. None of these essential life diversions can actually get me away from the story. The wild territory of the writing is still there, always playing out just below the surface of whatever I’m doing. I’m hooked, the story has a hold on me, and I can’t shake it. It’s an uncultivated region that only I can plough and plant and harvest. I must inhabit it, live and breathe life into the landscape.

Writing is a savage endeavour. Writing exhausts me, it invigorates me, it drives me crazy, and it fulfills me – a dichotomous activity that personifies the word oxymoron. Writing brings order into the wild.

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Do Over–Let the Story Go

The Daily Prompt today suggests a do-over of a past post. My first thought was – aha! I should be able to whip that out quickly. Not so. I chose a post I had done months ago, soon after I started blogging. I found it needed extensive editing. In earlier blogging days, I didn’t know how or when to hyperlink. Now I do. I added more photos this time around, a strategy that helps lead the reader through the text.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the reworked version. I give you – Let the Story Go.

I often work with CBC radio podcasts on my laptop for background noise. Now and then something IMG_3468catches my attention. The other day I jotted down a snippet of words on the edge of a scrap of paper. No matter what you’re trying to create – if you’re not scared you’re not really doing it.

These two phrases capture one of the bitter pills a writer must swallow – the risk of letting our stories (translation – our babies) go. We must send our creations into the world where people will judge, evaluate, and horrors of all horrors, possibly not understand. That is quite the frightening prospect. I find myself screaming inside – not my problem child – as I refer to Disappearing in Plain Sight.

 

Paul_Ricoeur[1]There is no way around this dilemma. If I want my work to have meaning, other people must see it. French philosopher Paul Ricoeur wrote extensively about hermeneutics – the art of interpreting written text. He tells us that the act of fixing anything in text is the beginning of that text’s journey away from the meanings the original author may have intended. The text is freed from the creator, as well as the circumstances in which it was created. It enters the wide world of interpretation.

I realize that what Ricoeur describes will happen to me with every word I write. I cringe and shy away from ever allowing my text to go free. But this act of fixing a story in the written form is not just a hobby. It is something that has become an imperative. There is just this story, and it must be told.

Human beings have a driving need to tell and understand stories as a way of making senseAVT_Kearney_4836[1] of the world. Telling a story lets us pull the threads of our life backward in contemplation and then forward as we create new ways of being. Richard Kearney (2002) writes that telling stories is as basic to human beings as eating. In fact, it may be more so. Food makes us live; stories are what makes our life worth living. And the remarkable thing about all of this is that each story needs to be told. Each becomes a bell echoing out and beyond the storyteller to change every person that hears. This even includes those who may not like the story. They too are changed in some way.

I know I must let the story go. The story must move beyond me. Interpretation is the work of the reader, not the writer. I do all that I can to tell a well-crafted story. Then I sit back and allow the reader to choose the angle of insight.

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Kearney, Richard. (2002). On Stories. NY: Routledge

Kearney, Richard. (2007). Paul Ricoeur and the hermeneutics of interpretation. Research in phenomenology, 37. 147-159.

(The image at the top of this post is of the graveyard in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan where my great-grandparents are buried.)

Post Publication–One Month and Counting

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Disappearing in Plain Sight has been romping free in the world for a month. Taking in that bit of excitement is an ongoing process. My publishing agreement with Friesen Press means I access sales information through my author account with them. The reports for outside venues are slow to arrive – 2nd week of the month for sales in the previous month for most places and closer to the end of the month before I get any information on Amazon Kindle sales. It is a waiting game on that front.

I try to satisfy my curiosity by constantly checking my Amazon ranking, which is so silly I cannot even imagine why I’m broadcasting the news. The numbers are meaningless from a statistical point of view. No one seems to have any idea how Amazon calculates rankings. Ah well, I am as guilty as anyone of clinging to straws in the absence of actual data.

The month has not been totally taken up with nail-biting ranking checks. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time building my social media platform, researching and learning about the marketing /promotion options that will work for me, and writing. I’ve logged about 10,000 words on The Light Never Lies.

Promotion and Marketing Update

Three of the things I decided to pay for:

  • One advertisement – I chose BC Bookworld – this publication is distributed free of charge to multiple venues in the province and has a large circulation – if you have ever ridden a BC Ferry you may have picked up a copy from the ship’s gift shop.
  • Join one professional organization. I chose the Alliance of Independent Authors. The annual membership paid for itself in knowledge and contacts almost immediately. Access to discussions on the members’ only Facebook page is priceless.
  • Enter one contest. After quite a bit of internet research, I chose the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award. An expensive gamble after entry fee, providing them with a copy of a real book, and mailing it to the US – but it was something I wanted to do.

That dreaded word – budget

I’m working from a limited marketing/promotion budget. We spent a good deal of it on the above items and purchasing books for local sales,which, by the way, are going exceptionally well. Bruce has turned out to be an enthusiastic promoter and salesman. I’m planning to attend a few local events where book selling will be my goal. I’ve got a couple of launch events in the works. I’m also working to have the book made available on a consignment basis through two local book stores.

Making community work for me

Vancouver Island loves its local artists, and I want to tap into that love. I’m working on a couple of different press releases – one for local papers and one for venues where my name would not be familiar, always emphasizing that I am a long-time Vancouver Island resident. Every little bit helps. I’ve recently put up posters on community bulletin boards and hope to get a few into the staff rooms and lunch areas at various places.

Using my academic connections to my advantage

I believe Disappearing in Plain Sight will have an appeal to mental health care workers (counselling themes, counsellor as a main character, youth who struggle with real-life issues). I have provided some key people with a copy of the book. I am hoping this can create buzz in what is often a tight-knit community and perhaps lead to an endorsement of the book for this group.

Social media

I’ve been promoting my Facebook author page. Feel free to click and check it out. I’m taking the advice of many who say that the author page had better be about more than me promoting my book in update after update. I put up links to my blog posts, intriguing quotes and pictures.

Book reviews

I’ve been quite fortunate on this front. In the first month that Disappearing in Plain Sight has been out, it has garnered six 5-star reviews on Amazon. A few of these reviews also appear on Goodreads, which in turn allows its reviews to be picked up by the Kobo Store. Huge thanks go out to all of these people for taking the time to read and review!

Best Advice to Date

I asked a question on the Alliance of Independent Authors Facebook page about how one goes about getting early reviews. I had read that the first days out on Amazon were crucial. A few experienced self-published authors were kind enough to respond at length. One spoke of how self-publishing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Building a loyal fan base is the goal. Focus on writing and producing a good sequel novel and the rest will fall into place.

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The journey continues . . . .

If you are a newly self-published author – any tips you would like to share are more than welcome. If you are considering or working toward self-publishing, is any of this helpful? Please let me know what you think.

Share the Love

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Today’s daily post suggestion – Share the Love – asks that we tell about a blogger (or bloggers in my case) who have influenced our online journey. This topic spurred me on to complete a post I’ve been planning for a while. Thank you to the daily post people for giving me the kick in the butt needed to get it done! What a terrific opportunity to give a shout out to some other blogs that I follow and thoroughly enjoy.

First out of the gate!

Five bloggers who are generous to a fault. I’ve been the lucky recipient of this generosity in the form of two book reviews, a book shout-out, an author interview, and several tweets of my blog posts. These bloggers know how to pay it forward and they most certainly have my thanks. The links take you to posts that featured me, but don’t stop there. Check out other topics these bloggers have written about – you won’t be disappointed.

The 4 A.M. Writer – Gwen Stephens

Pamela Cook at the Flying Pony – Australian author of Blackwattle Lake

Patrick O’Scheen author of the soon to be released novel – Dreamer: Chronicles of Maritha – Book One. Patrick hosted a Facebook event entitled Tidbit Tuesday last week – authors got to share short pieces of their work with one another. He stayed on the site most of the day (and past the official end time) offering comments and humorous asides. Way to go Patrick!

Steve at Imagineerebooks

Gloria Antipowich: Romance and Love Stories. Gloria is author of The Thompson Family Trilogy

Next up – two blogs that do a fantastic job featuring the creative work of other bloggers

The Story Shack – this blog puts writers and artists together and the mix is potent. I can’t speak for other writers who have had their work featured on the Story Shack, but the artwork down by Grace Gao for my short piece of fiction entitled Helplessness took my breath away.

Postcard, poems, and prose  This blog features lots of quirky contests, thoughtful writing and images, as well as amusing anecdotes about contributors.

And now for my favourite blogs in various categories.

My favourite writer of short fiction – I never miss a post by The Wrought Writer. Her stories always impress me and make me think.

My favourite YA author blogs: Grace Makley – Writer and Illustrator and Mystic Cooking – Kati and Heidi, a pair of dragon fantasy writers.

My favourite Cooking/Writing/Life BlogDana Staves at Whisks and Words

My favourite angst-ridden poet blogThe Electric Journal of a Castaway – this guy does prose, poems and photos that wrench one out of complacency

Here are two of my favourite photo blogs – my husband Bruce’s blog – Through the Luminary Lens Bruce is eclectic. He posts great photos, quotes and poetry. He makes connections between things that at first cause me to shake my head. Then I think – aha!Bophie’s Photos – stunning photos. What this person can do with a drop of water will break your heart.

My favourite blog on editingChange it up Editing  I always find it has been worth taking the time to read the posts on this blog

My favourite funny/family guy blogHarper Faulkner He makes me laugh so much, I think my laptop might roll right on the floor with me.

My favourite all around informative blogPeter D. Mallett – I never miss his posts because they’re always engaging. (I credit Peter for giving me the idea for this post in the first place.)

My favourite crazy research topic blogAlina’s Scentsy Scents – this woman describes perfume like a magazine that reviews expensive wine. I always get a kick out of her posts. I’ll never buy any of these fragrances, but a character I create might or another character might need describe the haunting/lingering effects of a perfume. When this happens I’ll be ready.

To wrap things up – a few new discoveries

Robby Robin the alter ego of Jane Fritz – Reflections of a running, writing, inquiring retiree. Jane is living over at the other end of this fabulous country, Canada. I’m enjoying discovering this woman!

Jennie Orbell – Hilarious posts – her husband is my husband’s UK clone! She is an author of three works of contemporary fiction – Mulligan’s Reach, Starfish, and Eternal.

Dream Big Words. Angela is dreaming, seeking, and writing from her home in Pennsylvania where she crafts poetry, sails the tides of memoir and gets lost in the magical forest of fiction. She is working on a book entitled: The Mother Tree.

I am currently following 158 bloggers. I’m sure you can imagine what my Reader looks like some days! Time restrictions mean that there are times when I simply must pick and choose what to read – but even when the Reader is jam packed with exciting new stuff – I won’t pass over the bloggers I’ve mentioned in this post.

Please take the time to check out any or all of these great blogs!

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Both photos were taken at Taliesin West (the home of the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright) outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. They spoke to me of connection and I thought that would go well with today’s topic.

Questioning a character’s development in a sequel–tricky work!

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I wrote an earlier post about asking questions of my writing. I find myself doing a lot of that type of questioning the last few days.

In Disappearing in Plain Sight, Liam is a character who is portrayed as a laid back guy. He doesn’t give other people advice, he’s humble and quiet, a wounded-healer type. He’s human; God knows he makes mistakes, but for the most part he’s a likeable person.

The book does contain hints that Liam has purchased his peace at a price – he says that he may not always be at peace, but most days he can act in a peaceful way. He’s created, with Caleb’s help, a tight box of a life at Crater Lake where he can feel safe. He’s come to grips with his demons and he’s part of something that matters. In Disappearing in Plain Sight, Liam has honed his life down to the essentials.

Izzy does Liam a service when she helps him come to grips with his demons – at the same time she breaks down the wall of  the box he has built around himself.

Thus, the stage is set for the sequel – The Light Never Lies. In this novel, Liam’s life is blown apart – he’s plunged into a world where he’s forced to deal with multi-layered events and much is at stake – he will have to risk much to find his way through.

You must be asking yourself where the questioning part comes in. In the first draft of the sequel, Liam’s interactions with one character in particular, are coming off strident and overbearing. Everything he wasn’t in the first book. He’ll be described as a total nag and there’s some truth to this accusation. I know why he’s acting the way he is, but will the reader? I am convinced that people, and thus characters, are multi-dimensional and capable of acting in one way with one person and quite another way with someone else. Can I make this clear without being overly didactic or making Liam look as if he’s developed a multiple-personality disorder?

I also have to figure out how to deal with the way one character’s perception of Liam is not necessarily reliable. She hears his voice through her own filters. How do I get that across to the reader? I don’t use the omniscient viewpoint, so I can’t step out of everyone’s thoughts and explain.

Time to go for a long walk and see if the writing knot I’ve tangled myself into can be loosened and maybe even unravelled.

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(I always tell the kids – don’t go past the number 4 tree – that is where the trail ends)