Being Me Right Now…

If you know me personally or if you follow my blog or we’re friends on Facebook, you will know that I’ve had the hardest year of my life and am in the process of healing. It’s a process which I will never complete and my only goal is to get back some semblance of a normal life. I’ve accomplished a little bit of that. I’ve gotten to a point where I can wake up and see my family and get kids dressed and ready for school without collapsing to the floor. I can walk to the bus stop and talk to my friends and neighbors in the morning like I would any other morning. And, I can find joy in things again. But, I’m still not there yet.

As far as reading and writing goes, I’m working again.

**Waits for applause.**

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Thanks, I needed that. Working as a writer again is a big thing for me. I’m still reviewing, but I’m reviewing slowly. My brain works sort of like a wire with a short in it right now. Sometimes it works well, other times I’m shorting out and there are sparks, but no productivity. I’m going to work past that, though. Healing takes time I guess.

As a matter of fact, I’m going to start another novel soon. So, naturally, that means I’m going to spend this fall in my bathrobe, with my best friends…

I went to Ollies today and I found some really cool Halloween candies to put on cakes or cupcakes. I have no idea what to do with them yet, but this is one of those things I was talking about earlier–finding joy in things again.

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I’ve also been reading some non-fiction and science fiction and have found a few shows on Netflix that I absolutely love to watch. Science fiction novels, Mad Men, and Shameless are probably going to consume my fall this year.

I enjoy both the UK and US versions of Shameless and Mad Men is a gift from the time traveling fairy as far as I’m concerned. No doubt, if I ever have the chance to time travel, I’m going back to 1960 to rob a Sears for the clothes and shoes.

And that’s pretty much it. I’m writing and editing and submitting again. I’m enjoying things when I can. And I’m trying so hard to have something normal in my life because without something normal, I feel like I might fall apart.

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10 Things For Writers To Be Thankful For

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  1. Free word processing programs. A lot of writers are on a tight budget (who would have thought, right?), so sometimes it’s convenient to have free MS Word Alternatives. I’ve used Open Office many, many times and I like it quite a bit. It’s more than adequate. Remember the days when computers came equipped with Word? Those were the days, huh?
  2. Coffee pots that turn themselves off. Sometimes, when writing, one might forget to get up and turn it off themselves. Not naming any names or anything…
  3. Friends who are also writers. Online, offline, or anywhere in between, sometimes only another writer will understand what’s going on in our heads. Spouses, children, parents, and other friends may try and do a really great job supporting us, but when you have a deadline and you need a shove, sometimes it just takes another writer to kick your butt into gear. AND, they sometimes know of submission calls you’ve never heard of.
  4. A comfy writing spot. Is it just me, or do other writers out there also have a favorite spot to write? In bed? On the couch? Outside? In the car? You name the place and I promise I know a writer who prefers to write there. I even know a lady who likes to write in her bathroom floor. Beer may or may not play a role in that scenario.
  5. Failures, great and small. Without them, we wouldn’t grow and learn. We all have them. If a writer ever tells you they’ve never failed with a project, they’re just lying.
  6. A life story. Everybody has a life story. Some are normal, but of all the writers I know, I only know a few with a normal upbringing. Experiences gained through childhood and beyond shape who we are as people and that seeps into a person’s writing in so many ways. Be thankful, even if your life has been shitty. Or don’t. That’s up to you.
  7. Bookshelves (or boxes, crates, stacks…) full of books. These are our greatest tools. You can’t write if you don’t read.
  8. Beta readers. These people are crazy important. They’re our test subjects, sort of. They read our books before anyone else. Good betas give honest feedback. I have a beta I know will tell me the truth. If my book sucks, she’ll say, “Honey, this is trash. Fix this shit.” And I totally love her for it.
  9. Imagination and the willingness to use it. Why would a twenty-something scientist’s assistant take off in a beat up Ford to venture into alternate realities, knowing death was always a likely scenario? Because I wanted to write that, that’s why.
  10. Foods of convenience. Frozen or delivery pizzas, ramen noodles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, microwave meals, soup in a can, Chinese delivery–while I don’t suggest on living off of these things, they come in handy when you have a deadline or when you’re at the end of your novel and you just have to keep going or else you might burst.

Twenty Things To Do Between Writing Projects

 

booksYay! You finished writing your novel/short story/article/comic/other stuff! I used to love this period of time because of the sense of accomplishment I gave myself after typing “The End” as I grinned like a…well, whatever grins. As most writers can tell you, it’s a wonderful, wonderful day when a project you’ve been working on forever finally comes to a full stop and you’ve told the entire story, start to finish. You’ve conquered the beast!

Now what?

Well, just walk away. That’s the best advice anyone has ever given me and I’m all too happy to pass it along. Walk away from the manuscript and leave it alone. Do other things. Live your life and gain some new experiences before you do anything else. Most writers (though, I can’t speak for everyone) have a family and/or friends who love them and would appreciate knowing they’re still alive somewhere. Now’s the time to reconnect with those people. Or not. Just do stuff.

I’ve made a good list of things you can do between writing projects. I hope it helps someone.

  1. Relax and do nothing for a few days. Writing can drain a person and you need to recharge your batteries.
  2. Do something nice with your significant other. Go to the movies, have a nice dinner or just watch a documentary together on Netflix and eat grilled cheese sandwiches on the couch. Either way, pencil them in and spend some time with them. They’ll appreciate it and you will too. You need this.
  3. Get online, update your blog layout and give it a facelift. Write a fun post or two. Write emails to your friends, return emails from your friends. Clean up your email accounts—delete old emails, rearrange emails you’re keeping. Go through your social media accounts and get them all up to date, too. Get EVERYTHING online up to date. It won’t take as long as you think.
  4. Go shopping and buy pens, notebooks, printer supplies, editing supplies, post-it notes. Go home. Put these items in a box or drawer and just leave them there. Smile that you saved seventy-five cents on your notebook paper.
  5. Buy or borrow five novels or novellas. Make coffee. Start reading the first one. Keep going and read the entire thing in one sitting. Nap. Repeat.
  6. Write reviews for books you’ve read. Post them wherever you usually post reviews.
  7. Go to a museum. If you’re lucky enough to have a museum around town, take an afternoon and go.
  8. Bake a cake, muffins, or cookies. Arrange them on a pretty plate. Take them to your elderly neighbor.
  9. Find a good Youtube channel and learn something new. Sewing, baking, carpentry, anything. Learn how to make brownies in your microwave if you want to start small. Or, you could learn how to build shelves with real hammers and real nails and real wood from a real hardware store—the sky is the limit.
  10. Buy a packet of seeds and start growing something indoors all by yourself or buy a plant at the local nursery and bring it home to care for it. Digging in dirt can be refreshing to creative people. Do yard work even.
  11. Go to your book stash. Whether you store your book all in shelves or in a series of odd places around your house (or just in boxes somewhere), go find your stash. Put an empty box or bag at your feet and dig through your books. Really, really dig through them. Anything in there you know you won’t read again? Yeah, we all have a few of those. You can donate them to local libraries for other people to enjoy. Or, box them up and send them off to a friend who would like to have them.
  12. Contribute or attend a local theater presentation. Is the local theater troupe performing Romeo and Juliet? Buy some tickets to support the locals and have yourself a great time.
  13. Start a collection of something (besides books…we’ve already established that you collect those). Paperclips, glass bottles, antique dishes…whatever you like.
  14. Get a haircut. No, seriously. A lot of writers I’m friends with have told me they sometimes neglect haircuts/salon appointments. Take care of this while you’re between writing projects, even if it’s just a quick trip to Supercuts.
  15. Play music and listen to something you wouldn’t ordinarily listen to. REALLY listen. Listen for the lyrics, decide how the songs make you feel.
  16. Volunteer at a nursing home. Often, our elderly are lonesome and many of them have no one to talk to through the day. Just talking to them is sometimes the greatest gift anyone can give. If you’re lucky, you’re going to be old one day. Remember that.
  17. Read more books you haven’t read yet.
  18. Call your mother. She misses you and while you’re in book mode, she doesn’t hear from you enough. I know this because I’m a mother and I’m also a daughter—I know how it goes.
  19. Reorganize your workspace. Prepare like your life depends on it.
  20. Go snack shopping. Buy coffee, vodka, and cookies. Or, ya know, whatever you like. Now, you may begin writing your next project. I’m sure you have a million ideas by now.

Author Crowdfunding Gone Too Far?

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*Disclaimer: No crack was consumed during the writing of this post, or ever, by the author, Rhiannon Mills. 

Being a writer is nothing like I thought it would be when I was nine years old. At that age, I read, for the first time of many, Anne Rice’s “Interview With A Vampire” after watching the film (Nine year old me did everything bass ackwards). I was hooked on writing from that moment forward because, though I’d always loved reading, I realized I could turn the mush in my head into something beautiful, too. From then on, I was a writer.

It isn’t a glamorous lifestyle for the vast majority of us, either. Writers have struggles like everyone else. We have bills to pay, children to raise (and eventually send to college), and, for many, there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything we want to. I’m up before the sun to get my kids ready for school. After that, it’s laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, and caring for home and hearth while my husband sleeps. But, it doesn’t end there. At 3:30, my husband wakes, showers, and dresses for work while I pack his lunch and stack his paperwork on top of his lunch bag. Then, the afternoon circus begins! The minute I’ve packed his last sandwich and he leaves for a long night at work, the kids waltz through the door and it’s homework and dinner time, which often takes hours. By the time everyone is fed, educated, and bathed, my brain is mush.

And, heaven forbid someone have a doctor’s appointment! I need a coffee IV and crack to get through those days! *See disclaimer at the top of the page.*

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See? Who says you can’t be artistic and make money from it! That is one beautiful cake and two dozen fantastic cupcakes, if I must say so myself.

Somehow, through the disaster that is my life, I manage. My husband, bless his brave soul, is a coal truck driver. To help make ends meet, we budget every penny. I clip coupons, plan weekly menus, look for sales, compare prices on everything we buy and, on occasion, take small sewing jobs for a few extra bucks. We paid our taxes last year with money I earned baking my cousin’s wedding cake.

But, not once have I ever begged other people for money so I could write full time! Sure, I have my husband’s income, whereas a single writer would be on their own, but I really feel like I’d have more time to write if that were the case. Maybe I’m wrong about that. If I am, please leave a comment and weigh in with your own struggles (and cheers to you, too).

I’m quite certain that there are a lot of crowdfunding pages throughout the internet for very good causes. Examples of what I feel are good causes are:

  1. Families or individuals who lost everything to a natural disaster or housefire.
  2. Families or individuals inflicted with a medical crisis.
  3. Those trying to raise money for schools, nursing homes, or programs where the funds will go toward the greater good (example: new library books, walkers for the elderly, or new playground equipment to replace the faulty or unsafe).

Let me be clear.

Crowdfunding is not a means to survival! If an author cannot earn enough money through their books to live on, it’s time to evaluate needs versus wants. Example: You need to eat, but you want to sit on your butt and ponder the meaning of life.

It’s not enough to offer those who donate the prize of a few ebooks or audiobooks. Readers can just buy those from Amazon, lickity split, if they want them. Crowdfunding is not an unofficial welfare program! Your readers are not responsible for your Kibbles-N-Bits, YOU are! Your readers should be respected, not used as your personal ATM. If they enjoy your work, they’ll pay for it and you will earn a royalty check, not a handout from the magic social media fairy.

There’s a real meaning behind the phrase “starving artist.”  If you’re ever going to make it to George RR Martin or Anne Rice status, you have to start somewhere else. Nobody starts at the top. Ask Stephen King about starting small. He talks all about his humble beginnings in “On Writing.” Before you make it, you might have to fold sweaters at GAP or stock shelves at Wal-Mart first. You might even have to serve umpteen Jager Bombs to jerks who like to call you “Sugar Tits” and “Princess Pretty Panties” at a bar that only plays country music (like I did). You might have to work long days, longer nights, and drive to work through snow storms, on icy roads, and work Thanksgiving and Christmas, completely missing out on Grandma’s baked ham and pumpkin pie. But, DAMMIT, those are life experiences and they are worth every miserable minute!

Every single time your boss tells you to work Saturday when you were supposed to have that day off or your paycheck is just ten dollars short of what you need it to be, you’ve added a dirty, scummy, gritty notch in the belt of your worthwhile life experiences. And, you can’t write without life experience.

I may only be a small fish in a big sea, but the water here is fine. I’m not saying I want to be here forever. All writers have goals and mine will one day take me into deeper waters if I’m lucky. Until then, I’m going to put the work in. I’m going to submit novels, novellas, short stories, and magazine articles until editors are tired of seeing my name in their slush piles. I’ll earn my stripes, thank you. The success will taste so much sweeter that way.

 

 

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About Rhiannon Mills

Rhiannon Mills lives, loves, and writes in the mysterious mountains of West Virginia. When she isn’t writing, she’s sewing, baking, blogging, reading, or watching documentaries about any number of things. 

LINKS:

Full Time Author by author Payne Hawthorne on GoFundMe.

NOTE–by all means, donate if you feel this is a worthy cause. Don’t let my opinions sway you. 

Buy Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” from Amazon.

 

 

 

How to get published and other such nonsense…

I’ve been asked not once, but twice this week how to get published.  I figure this question is best answered through blog since it’s a very broad topic.  For a start, you don’t get published.  There are a million other steps you have to take first.

writer2The first step you have to take is to write a book.  Write from start to finish and don’t worry about the business end of things until much later.  And when I say you have to write a book, I mean you have to have a cast of characters so fantastic your readers can see them clearly and believe they’re real. You have to have a story together that makes sense and (depending on genre) does what it’s supposed to do. 

Step two–Editing.  Oh dear lawd, I hate editing.  I’d rather be stabbed repeatedly than edit one page of a manuscript.  Your best bet is to print off each and every page with at least 1.5 spacing.  Don’t use black ink or pencil to edit.  Use a different color so that it stands out to you.  Be somewhat organized about it.  Then, go forth and edit AGAIN!!  And after you do that, do it again. And again, and again.  When you’re finally sure everything’s in place to the very best of your ability, then you can move on to your computer once again where you will spend countless hours entering all your edits.

And don’t go and assume your work is flawless and you don’t need to edit.  Even Stephen King edits!

Step three–The submitting process.  This step sucks so bad you’ll want to hang yourself by your earlobes midway through it.  First, you have to decide what you’ve written. Is it horror?  Steampunk? Romance? Erotica? Romantica? New Adult? Young Adult? Science fiction? Figure out who publishes those things.  Google helps.  Once you’ve established a genre (and possibly a sub-genre), go ahead and read the submission guidelines to the entire list of publishers you’re planning on submitting to.  Read through carefully! This can be tricky business.

Most publishers are going to ask for a query letter and first three chapters first, which is typically called a partial.  This is the step in the submitting process where you’re going to question your own existence and ask the writing gods to put an end to your misery because writing a query sucks.  I’d rather drink lava than write a query.  But, I have urged through it and I’m a query survivor–several times over.

There are some publishers out there who will ask for your complete manuscript, a query, and your first born.  Send what they ask for.  Which brings me to another evil entity called “Standard Format”…. If the publisher doesn’t ask for any particular format for your MS, use standard format.  If you don’t know what that is, I’m not going to tell you.  Nope.  I had to look it up and you do too.  Why?  Because if you’re serious that you want to write, you’re going to be googling, binging, and hitting the books pretty hard from here on in.  May as well get used to it, kids.

So, where were we? You’ve written a book, decided a genre, submitted to publishers…

Oh, shit. Now you get to just wait for a bazillion years because no one is answering your emails when you want them to.  You’ll be waiting a while, so you may as well start your next project, write some short stories, clean out the storm drains around your house, go to Disney World, write some more short stories, come half way through another novel…

And by the time you do all of those things, you’ll probably have an inbox full of rejection letters.  Cry about it if you want to.  Sometimes it really does help, but remember that all you need is one yes.  Just one.

Now, for the sake of being fair, if you submitted to several publishers at once, please make sure all of them take simultaneous subs.  Some publishers will ask that you not send to other publishers while your work is being reviewed by them.  If you’ve sent to more than one publisher, though, and you get an offer from one of them, make sure you send withdraw letters to the others you subbed to.  You should have kept track of the places you submitted on paper or with a spreadsheet anyhow. It’s common decency and the publishers will all silently thank you for it. Maybe.

fiction-writerYou can bypass all this stuff, though, and just self-publish through KDP or Createspace.  Lots of authors do it these days.  It’s a way to cut out the middleman, so to speak.  Sure, Amazon is going to make money off you, but basically no one else will.

Except the person you hire to edit for you.  I highly recommend you hire someone else to edit your work.  And not me, either. I’m too darned busy with my own stuff. Final edits for The Bones of Willow Lake will be coming to my inbox in the near future and when they’re ready for me to look over and enter, I’ll be a raving lunatic. You don’t want a raving lunatic to edit for you, trust me.

And the cover artist.  Shit.  Yeah, you have to have a cover if you actually want to sell a few copies.  They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let me tell ya, people judge books by their covers…every single freaking day. Unless you’re crafty in that way, please hire someone who knows what the heck they’re doing.  And for Pete’s sake, pay them! Pay them because they’re an artist just like you are and you don’t want to be stiffed, do ya? No, you don’t.  What goes around in the business of writing, tends to come around, linger, and smack you in the face before it runs off again so fast you can’t catch it.

Well, whether you self-published or were published by a traditional publisher, you have a book out and you’re going to have to market that sucker.  You’re going to need a few reviews, some good PR, and friends to push it for you.  Good luck with all that because it’s not easy, either.  Writers are gluttons for punishment, but we’re a strange breed because we like it. Reviewers are sometimes absolutely scathing, but we keep going.  People sometimes mock the very characters we pined over for months, but we keep writing.