My one self-published book, Coyote Ate the Stars, won the Writer’s Digest First Place in Fantasy, self-published book award. Since I’m almost done with the sequel, I have the original on sale over at Amazon for only 99 cents for the ebook.
If you’ve been wanting to check it out and you were waiting for a good price, now is the time!
I saw a meme the other day that said something like “Being an adult is telling yourself ‘But after this week, things will slow down a bit’ until you die.”
It was the perfect moment for a laugh/cry reaction. Because it’s so true. Today, I was sitting down with my wife to work out our schedules for the rest of the month. THE MONTH. When did I become this person who writes out a monthly schedule? I used to not know what I was doing in five minutes. I was the queen of spontaneity.
Now I have even the act of doing the dishes and taking the dog for a walk written into my half hour increments for the NEXT MONTH.
I put the blame partially on being a writer and partially on not knowing WTF I’m doing some of the time.
I’m a college instructor, so of course grading and lessons plans take some of my time. I’m a grad student, so homework gets a little time. I run an online writing academy, so that gets some of my time. I’m married with a house and a cat and a geriatric dog who gets shots twice a day for diabetes. So there’s that.
But it’s the writing that really eats my time. Not the ACTUAL words, mind you. The stuff that goes around the writing. And I’ve been failing miserably at it.
A month in the life of an author might consist of:
Put some words on a work in progress.
Follow #writingcommunity and other hashtags on Twitter to connect with other writers
Post things to author Facebook page
Create graphics on Canva or whatever to post on the page
Research which/if any ads work to promote one’s work.
Put out frantic calls for beta readers on social media.
Find beta readers.
Complete revisions on the finished work based on first beta reader feedback.
Send work to second beta reader.
Send out query letters on the completed work.
Wait interminably for response.
Keep track of short story submissions.
Write short stories for submissions.
Send out a newsletter. (I haven’t done this in months)
Try to up the newsletter subscriptions in the hope that I actually put out a regular newsletter one day.
Write a blog on a regular basis.
Fail miserably at writing a blog on a regular basis.
Brainstorm ideas for the next story.
Decide which of three works in progress has the best chance of getting finished in the next year and work on that one.
Change mind the next day and work on different novel.
Learn how to embed gifs in my blog posts.
Set up promotions/sales on already published works in hopes of generating some sales.
Keep writing/posting interesting and compelling pieces of work to Patreon to keep your few Patrons amused, entertained, and happy.
Post snippets of Patreon posts to social media in hopes of garnering more patrons.
Read books to stimulate author brain.
Have extreme happiness about that one big award.
Have period of extreme self-doubt that it will be the only one for life.
Research writing contests and try to determine which ones are legit.
Go through backlog of unpublished work to see if any is salvageable.
Try to learn how to play “Love Me Do” on the harmonica.
That’s it. That’s August in a nutshell. And September. And October. And…
In keeping with my monthly planner, I sat down to write a blog today about writing and instead it came out as all the things I do instead of writing.
I think there would be a market for a person who knows how to do all of these things, who will do them all, and who will take their pay in a percentage of the increase in royalties after the marketing. Some magical fairy godmother of writers who waves a magic wand and makes all the businessy stuff go away.
In the meantime, hey, I wrote a blog this month! Stay tuned until December when I bust out my next monthly blog.
I quit smoking ten years ago this month. It was, at that time, the biggest and hardest thing I had ever done. I went cold turkey and I spent the first three months feeling as if I was going to die and the next three months wanting a cigarette every single day. After a year, it was over. And ever since I made that change, I have started every new year with this statement. “This is the year of Beth.”
Some amazing things have happened since the first “year of Beth.” I’ve written eight novels and published six of them. I’ve had stories in several anthologies. I went back to school and proceeded to get my BA in English, then an MA in Creative Writing, and (almost) an MA in Communications, Marketing, and Digital Media. I adopted Gordo the Magnificent. I bought a home. I went to my first Golden Crown Literary Society conference, then got elected to the board, then moved into the Director of Education position where I took over running the writing academy and have continued to help it evolve into the incredible program it is today. I become an adjunct instructor teaching core English at a community college and literature for an MFA program. I left a long-term toxic relationship and, after several years and several near-misses, met and married the love of my life.
It has been a pretty incredible ten years.
It wasn’t all rosy. There were tears and heartache and moments of not being able to pay the bills. I remember a winter sitting in my living room wrapped in multiple sweaters, and blankets, shivering because I knew if I turned the heat any higher, I wouldn’t be able to pay the gas bill. There have been depressive episodes so bad I couldn’t leave the house. There was a bout with the flu that almost killed me. There was a relationship that ended so badly, my ex took to social media to tell lies about me to our (former) mutual friends, many of whom ditched me based on her say-so. There was the time when Brutus was diagnosed with diabetes and refused to eat so I could give him his shots and he got thinner and thinner until I was sure he was going to die. (Note: He is a chunky-monkey now and doing just fine for a thirteen-year-old dog.) Continue reading “2019 – The Year of Beth”→
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about cooperation and connection. I’ve long been a proponent of cooperation in the lesfic community. I often share book links and blogs for other lesbian writers. I believe that the only way we can thrive as a community is for us all to help each other, rather than taking a me and mine attitude. I support women and I try to surround myself with women who support me.
With that in mind, it’s been fun lately to spread that spirit of connection and cooperation beyond the lesfic community. When my friend Elizabeth Anderson insisted I go to the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, I was blessed to meet some incredible male authors. I have a reading event with one of them next weekend.
And today, I’m featuring the blog of the bitingly brilliant, sarcastically witty, charmingly sexy Lewis DeSimone. His book, Channeling Morgan, can be found here. (My wife sat on the couch and chortled while reading this book.)
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the musings of Lewis DeSimone:
A Nightstand I Never Expected to Be On
By Lewis DeSimone
Novelists are like parents: once you send your baby out into the world, you never know where it’s going to end up.
A lesbian couple I knew kept a copy of my first novel, Chemistry, in their guest room, with a bookmark stuck in the middle of the hottest sex scene. They claimed that their guests—mostly other lesbians—loved it. I’ve heard that straight women are often into gay romance, and even gay porn—as a means, I suppose, of enjoying male sexuality without the danger and complications that often come with straight men.
But lesbians? I wondered. Why would they want to read about sex between men? One of my first lesbian friends told me that lesbians have hot sex for one night and herbal tea for nine years. With numbers like that, why on earth would they want to waste an ounce of sexual energy on men?
Before the knives come out, this is all tongue in cheek (so to speak). I long ago learned that lesbian bed death is a myth. A couple of episodes of The L Word were enough to shatter that stereotype.
On the other hand, I won’t deny that Chemistry plays right into stereotypes of my own community. To put it bluntly, my first novel is riddled with sex. But that’s kind of the point. It’s the story of a sexual awakening, focused on a character who heals a broken heart by opening himself up sexually. Sex is one of the ways he discovers who he is, so I wasn’t about to be coy with it and end scenes with a description of waves crashing to shore. Instead, I freely showed bodies crashing into each other.
My subsequent work isn’t all that sexy. I like to joke that my latest novel, Channeling Morgan, is the only one in which nobody dies. But it’s also the only one in which there’s no cameo appearance by a penis.
You could say I’ve matured. Or that my testosterone level—even in fiction—isn’t quite what it used to be.
But maybe it’s just that some books need sex and others don’t.
Sex is messy and confusing and, above all, unpredictable. I googled this question, don’t you worry. But, like a lot sex, none of the hypotheses I found was fully satisfying. There is no unifying theory of everything when it comes to sexuality. Maybe, when it comes right down to it, sex is sex. And, just as you can’t really predict who you’re going to be attracted to, you can’t always be sure which depictions of sex will turn you on, either. That’s why there are so many subgenres of porn: one gay site I know of has dozens of categories, from “Amateurs” to “Voyeur.”
So who knows why a lesbian would get turned on my book? Who knows why I got turned on by seeing Blue Is the Warmest Color? Who knows why I love asparagus but hate artichokes? (I mean that literally, by the way. It wasn’t until I’d already typed out the sentence that I realized the sexual imagery. See what I mean? Sex is everywhere and nowhere at once.)
And that woman with the herbal tea? I met her at an AIDS service organization in Boston in the late 1980s. When I was just coming out, into a community with two kinds of people: the dying and the terrified. And lesbians, with only minimal threat from the epidemic, were at the forefront in fighting it.
My life seems to be steam-rolling into a long-awaited success these days. Did you ever feel that you just worked your ass off on something for years and years and sometimes, it seemed as if nothing was happening and just when you started to think you were on the wrong path, one little thing falls into place and then, so does everything else?
I’ve been pounding away at school and writing for years, almost a decade now for writing, and seven years for school. Being an adult learner has its challenges and I won’t try to pretend it was easy. I can’t count how many times I had to drag my computer and books along to a writer’s conference because assignments don’t wait for real life stuff.
After I got my first master’s, I assumed I would have a teaching job within a couple of months. I was so wrong about that. I was conferred on November 1, 2016. It is now August of 2018 and I am just starting to teach my first classes. And it never rains but it pours. I was hired last spring to start teaching for the MFA program for Southern New Hampshire University starting in October of 2018. In the meantime, Johnston Community College, under the direction of the brilliant Doctor Tammy Bird, hired me to teach a couple of comp classes online.
My sixth book came out on August 1. On August 6th, I was notified that a short piece of mine was accepted into a mainstream literary journal. Today, August 10th, as I sit here laboring over learning how to use the back end of the online teaching platform, I received notification that the first fifteen minutes of the audio version of Coyote Ate the Stars was finished.
I know it seems as if I’m bragging, but the knot of anxiety that has lived with me off and on for years finally has a little bit of ease. Struggling to pay the bills, not sure whether I will be able to keep the electric on, being sure that nothing I wrote was worth anything, wondering whether I would ever get a job in my field – all of this was such a weight and now, despite feeling desperately busy, I feel so light. Like, my goals and dreams are finally coming to fruition.
I think the moral of the story is that if you know you want it, keep reaching for it, even when it seems as if it’s never going to come. Over the years, my dreams evolved, my career plans changed a bit. I used to want to be a full-time professor, but now, teaching online is really working for me. I still have time for my writing, I don’t have to put on pants when I don’t feel like it, and my wife and I might really be able to fulfill another dream of one day chucking all (most) of our possessions and living/travelling in a motor home.
I’m just saying, if you want it, work for it. As long as you’re doing one thing every day to work toward your dream, whatever it is, you can never give up. One thing. Ten minutes of writing. One resume to a dream job. One guitar lesson. One more first date – whatever your dream is, figure out your steps and just start working them.
And if you get discouraged, message me. I’ll either cry with you or cheer you on. ❤
******* Next week, I’m taking a break from blogging and inviting Lewis DeSimone, a hilariously witty writer, to take over my blog for me. Stay tuned!
My partner and I got married two days before conference, so the whole thing was kind of like a working honeymoon. Despite that, the Golden Crown Literary Society this year felt like a homecoming. Perhaps that sounds odd, with over 100 new people this year, but it felt intimate, loving, and welcoming.
We had a diverse crowd, different ages, different races. It was wonderful to see so many young people. The board is getting old (I mean that lovingly – I’m part of the board) and we need young, fresh minds to shake things up for us and keep us relevant.
I read from my soon to be released novel, Coming Around Again. Incidentally, my publisher had copies of the book at the conference as an early bonus and it sold out. I’m sure it had nothing to do with me promising to write naughty things in the books that people bought.
The writing academy was a shining star this year. The whole 2018 graduating class was there and they were amazing. Such a great group of talented and smart women. I was proud of them in every way. The WA also donated a free year’s tuition to the GCLS raffle and it was won by a woman who had been in the writing academy presentation, excitedly asking lots of questions. I have a feeling she is going to do great things.
The GCLS board works tirelessly to put on this event. (Okay, not tirelessly – we are all exhausted.) This is a labor of love as the board is all-volunteer. We all put so much time and effort into bringing the best conference experience to every participant. And our reward, other than the happy faces and awesome hugs, is coming back and doing it all again for next year.
I hope to see a huge crowd in Pittsburgh next year. We just keep getting better every year and I can’t wait to see how incredible the next one will be.
Karelia is one of my favorite people. She is a brilliant writer, yes – but she also has that incredible ability to teach people how to be brilliant writers. (Or at least, better writers than they were before she taught them.)
I’ve learned a lot every time I have taken a workshop by Karelia and I’m excited that she agreed to guest blog on my page this month. Please take a look at her blog and check out her books. You will not be disappointed. You can find her website here.
Four Ways to a Good Character
By Karelia Stetz-Waters
My creative writing students were working on character development. They called out ideas. I wrote on the board as fast as I could. Then we stopped and looked at our work.
“These are all traits we don’t like,” one student said.
“It’s harder to write good people, isn’t it?” I said. “Think about someone good. Describe them.”
I immediately thought of Beth Burnett. If you don’t know her, hold out your virtual hand and shake hers because you won’t meet a kinder, cooler member of our community.
And that’s why I’m so honored to write a guest post for her blog.
I write romance novels. Romance novels are all about good people. Write a thriller—I’ve written a few—and you can load up on serial killers like chicken wings at the KFC buffet. And that’s fun, but good people are better. We have to love our protagonists. Then, in my opinion, every protagonist must have at least one good friend. Then you need a place that’s almost a character itself. Someplace beautiful. Someplace your readers want to go. (I nailed it with my Out in Portland series. Apparently Portland is the seventh most moved-to city in American!)
“So how do we write a good character?” another student asked.
I love teaching creative writing because the students ask the questions I want to answer.
I have four traits, that make a character good.
Good characters care. They care about something bigger than themselves. They care about justice or animals or hungry children or the mill workers who got laid off. In my upcoming romance, a closeted TV star worries about coming out, not because she cares about losing her job, but because she’s worried about all the people who have taken comfort in her show. She doesn’t want them to think that all those years were a lie.
Good characters honor their debts. I mean debts with a capital D, debts like the debts in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s not enough just to care. Good characters act with compassion.
Good characters strive. It’s our responsibility to try to reach our full potential. Now some characters’ full potential is like my full potential for going to the gym—I bought a membership in January, and I still haven’t gone, but tomorrow…. As challenging as things are, good characters do everything they can do in this moment. After all, a long journey is a million baby steps.
Good characters see the world in a new way. A likable character shows us the beautiful world in a way we haven’t seen before.
And here’s the thesis, class. The most important character is you.
I hope I’m good. I know I care about you, whoever you are, reading this in your living-room or on your phone on the subway. I’m thinking about where you’re going and what you’ll face today. I’m thinking about how many good people there are in the world and how I’d like to gather you all up in my arms.
Leave a comment and tell us what makes you uniquely good.
For fifteen years, Avery Crown tried to forget her best friend Merritt Lessing. The late nights studying, the whispered confidences, and the little touches that never turned into something more. Unfortunately, her efforts have not been as successful as her TV career as the queen of home renovation. So when she runs into Merritt at their high school reunion, Avery asks for one night with the woman she’s always wanted…
Merritt spent high school pining after Avery, but never made a move—their friendship meant too much. The one time it seemed things might change, Avery chose her budding career. So Merritt did the same, throwing herself into her remodeling business. Now Avery’s back, and while Merritt still hasn’t forgiven her for walking away the first time, they can’t keep their hands off each other. But when their professional paths cross, and it seems like Avery is choosing her career once again, Merritt will have to decide if she’s willing to let go of the past and give herself a second chance with her first love.