Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My History As a Writer

I've written my whole life. I wanted to be the youngest published author, and be in the Guinness Book of World Records, so I handed my mom a "book" I made, about a duck. I was three. I had folded the pages like a book, drew the pictures, and wrote the words (yes, they were real English words, in full sentences). Apparently, my parents didn't have any better of an idea about getting published than I did.

As an adult in my twenties and thirties, I did get published. Non-fiction: I wrote music and event reviews for local zines, a heavy metal magazine, and community newsletters. Later, I wrote articles on travel, Japanese traditions, holidays, and culture, and massage therapy for both print and online publications. I'd tried my hand at a few novels, but found myself constantly getting "lost in the middle" and abandoned each tale for the bright and shiny allure of some new idea I'd gotten. Short stories were easier; at least I was able to reach the end of most of them!

Several years ago, I eagerly devoured Craig Ferguson's first published novel, "Between the Bridge and the River", which inspired me to pick up the pen, so to speak, once again. I also happened upon a little gem of Chris Baty's titled "No Plot? No Problem?" which I thought might help me navigate those middle waters in which I always seemed to drown. That book introduced me to phenomenon of "NaNoWriMo", short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I tried it that year, in what I think was May. In any case, it wasn't November, when the rest of the world is doing it, together. I didn't discover that until two years later, and believe me when I say that www.nanowrimo.,org is highly responsible for my productivity today.

It took me five attempts at NaNoWriMo before I actually hit the goal. November 2011, I wrote over 51,000 words in 30 days. Over the next seven months, I wrote another 24,500, when I astonishingly felt that I had written the last sentence of the novel. That work is in the hands of several readers now, and the feedback is trickling in. I plan on revising this fall. (I'm still not sure if it will be draft #2 or 3-- I wrote it, then read through it twice to smooth out continuity and grammar errors, so it was sort of an edited first draft, really.)

While I am waiting for the critiques of the beta readers, I have been researching the next steps. I've decided against self-publishing and the world of e-books for now, choosing the path of tried and true old fashioned methods. I've read books on writing query letters, getting an agent, what editors and publishers are looking for, proper formatting, and resume building. I've been focusing, this summer, on submitting my flash fiction and short stories for publication. (Previously, I had only entered contests.) And I'm happy to report the sale of my first fiction this past week - a short story titled "A Decent Cup of Tea" - to Firbog Publishing, for an anthology of ghost stories.

I learned about them, and most others that I am currently interacting with, on an amazing website called Duotrope. www.duotrope.com. They are a database of publishers with many ways to cross-search and keep track of all your work and submissions. I highly recommend it!

Hm, this post is a bit wordy, no? Perhaps I shall stop here. Thanks for reading!


  1. Congrats with the launching of your blog Michele. I like the soothing and feminine quality of the background image. At first glance I thought I was looking at luxurious satin, which made me think I entered your boudoir. And I have, haven't I? A place where the lady shares her thoughts. Good on ya! Blog posts generally are best kept short, as to not lose the reader's interest, you didn't lose mine.
    Suggestion: Since this page is going to disappear from sight as you start adding more posts, you could use the content for a About Me Page. Blogger allows you to create Content Pages, which will appear either in the horizontal menu bar underneath the name of your blog, or in the sidebar. Check it out. Good luck with your endeavors, this is looking good!

  2. Thanks, Judith! I love your comments. I have no idea what twists and turns this blog will take, but I'm curious to see!