Author To-Do List

Writing isn’t just about words.

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.”

person writing on white book
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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.
cropped-beth-cover-photo.pngBut 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.

flat lay photography of macbook pro beside paper
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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. cropped-beth-patreon-flier.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing…

The Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award Winners were announced today. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to see my book on this list of amazing books.

Coyote Ate the Stars won first place in the fantasy category. It’s a special book to me – Coyote is the character who has been living in my soul for over a decade. I tried to force him into so many different stories, but he refused to fit into any of them. Finally, one day, it clicked and I wrote the whole book during NaNoWriMo 2017.

Check out all of the award winners!

https://www.writersdigest.com/online-exclusives/writers-digest-may-june-2019/announcing-the-6th-annual-self-published-e-book-awards-winners?fbclid=IwAR0CxdNJPP_8Spe08rHNnv2bLQJhiofKM-OZp8msHKP9Br05MsLIJIGb39k

Coyote Ate the Stars-Award Winner

coyoteatethestars front cover

Many years ago, a character popped into my mind and never left. He was a loner—obese, disfigured, quiet and full of self-doubt—but he had an inner well of strength that he almost knew was there. His name was Coyote Jones and for years, maybe even a decade, I tried to put him into various situations because I knew he belonged in a book.

Nothing worked and I decided to put it away. Sometimes, a great character just doesn’t have a story and that’s the end of it.

Fast forward to November of 2017. I’ve gone through the excellent MA in Creative Writing program at Southern New Hampshire University, I’ve had five of my books published by a wonderful small press called Sapphire Books Publishing. I had just finished a book and wasn’t ready to start the next. But someone asked me if I wanted to do NaNoWriMo and I said, why not?

I didn’t make a plan. I didn’t outline. I didn’t do the storyboards and character sketches that I normally do. I just sat down on November 1, 2017 and started writing. Coyote came alive and by the end of the month, I had a rough draft of Coyote Ate the Stars. I set it aside and came back to do revisions a couple months later. I still loved it just as much. It made my heart happy to bring Coyote to life because I loved him so much and I wanted him to have a place in the world. Continue reading “Coyote Ate the Stars-Award Winner”

Flash Fiction – Emma’s Perfection

Emma’s Perfection

Emma touched my ear during Algebra. My fucking ear. I didn’t  look at her, but the tingle stayed long after her finger had gone. After class, she leaned over to whisper, her warm breath dancing across the already sensitive skin. I know, but it doesn’t matter. She couldn’t know. She meant something else. Maybe that I had cheated on the last quiz, glancing casually at her paper for answers to three, seven, and fifteen. She knew. What did she know?

Later, I slammed into my house, tossing my bag on the floor.

Dad 1 offered cookies. Dad 2 offered talk.

I offered my trouble. There’s a girl. I think she might like me.

One oohed, the other aahed. There’s hope for our little Pikachu yet.

I left them in the kitchen, giggling to themselves.

I’d never been afraid of being queer, being bi, being whatever the hell I was that allowed me to love whomever I wanted to love. I grew up with the dads, after all. And my mom was in love with a man who lived with his wife and his wife’s lover and the lover’s ex-husband.

But Emma’s hair was perfect, and she wore the right clothes and when she walked into the classroom, everyone looked at her. She read Jane Austen and had perfect handwriting. She probably believed that marriage equaled one man and one woman. Continue reading “Flash Fiction – Emma’s Perfection”

2019 – The Year of Beth

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.”

brutie and gordoSome 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”

Tell a Writer You Love Them

Today, a woman messaged me on FB to tell me she loved my book Coming Around Again. She mentioned how much she loved the character development of the group of friends and the ups and downs of everyone over a lifetime.

Related to this – authors go through ups and downs, just like our characters. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I have moments when I wonder if I’m in the wrong career. I have times when a bad review will send me spiralling. I have times when I recognize my books aren’t selling or I haven’t been nominated for an award and I start to feel that I’m wasting my time writing.

I should qualify this by saying there are times when I absolutely love writing, when I can’t imagine doing anything else, when I know in my heart of hearts that I write for the sanity of my own soul and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

And still, I have those days when I wonder if I simply suck too much to ever make it.

And then someone messages out of the blue to tell me they couldn’t put down my book, that they fell in love with my characters, that they feel as if they haven’t left my fictional world even though they finished the book days ago. Continue reading “Tell a Writer You Love Them”

Grief and Legacy

Grief is weird, isn’t it? Sometimes it hides and you go days or weeks feeling great. Then it jumps out at you at the strangest times.

A few years ago, I went to the LCLC literary conference held by Sapphire Books. There, I met Amanda Kyle Williams, a lovely, brilliant, introverted author. She gave an incredible keynote speech and later, volunteered to speak to the writing academy students twice.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, my mother knit her a blanket which was promptly taken over by the pets in her home.

I have a few fun and funny memories of Amanda, but my favorite was when I tried to teach her a song to sing to Spike, the neighbor cat.

(To the tune of Let’s All go to the Lobby)

I like singing to kitties,

Cuz kitties like my singing

And humans don’t like my singing

But kitties like it a lot.

There’s another verse, but you get the idea. We sang it together a couple times, then I told her she could sing it as she went to feed all the neighborhood cats. Her response – “Right, because the neighborhood doesn’t already think I’m insane, wandering down the street in pajamas and rain boots with a wagon full of pet food and a herd of animals following me.”

This is only relevant because years later, for some reason, this morning I woke up with that song in my head. And as I was singing it, I was swept with such a huge wave of grief for this lovely woman who fought long and hard and ultimately lost her battle with cancer.

I was thinking about grief and how it attacks when you least expect it when I logged on to my email this morning and saw this blog post by my friend, Carleen. She was reviewing an excellent book by Anna Burke – and in the post, she referenced Sandra Moran, an author who also died way too young because of cancer.

Thinking of Sandra, reading about one of the authors who is succeeding because of her, lifted my grief. These women left a legacy – that of using their talent and their voices to help other writers find ways to bring their own voices to light.

And that’s the legacy I hope to leave. Through my work with the writing academy, through my beta reading for my students, through teaching everything from freshman comp to advanced studies in literature, I am using my voice to help other writers find theirs. Just like Amanda. Just like Sandra.

That’s why I devote so much time to the GCLS Writing Academy. And it’s why I spend time helping my students really understand the concepts we’re addressing in class. It’s important to me and if it’s important to them, I want to be there to give them every chance to succeed, just as others have done for me.

That’s the true circle of life – supporting others so they can go on to do the same.