Welcome

Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Preface to the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge and an Award

Tomorrow begins the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm also a tad frightened by it. I means posting six times per week, and hopefully being able to respond to comments, while in the throes of exams and final projects, deep house cleaning and preparing for visitors for May's impending graduation (not mine, but my awesome husband's).

But, heck, here's hoping.

I've been planning my end of the event, wanting to have as many posts relate to writing as possible. But, because I want to make this interesting, I'm mixing it up a tad. Here's my plan.

I'm going to be asking for random words beginning with certain letters on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I will compose a list of all the suggestions, and then choose based on a random number generator. Whichever word comes up, I will (somehow) relate to writing.

Stop by tomorrow when the fun shall commence!

PS--Today I'm taking suggestions for the letter C. Have any?

*insert poor segue here*

About a week ago, I received a beautiful comment from Deirdra at A Storybook World, notifying me of an award.


Thank you so much, Deirdra!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lost and Found Blogfest

Today I'm participating in the Lost and Found Blogfest, hosted by Myne Whitman to celebrate her reaching 500 followers. Congratulations, Myne!


As you can see, the task is to write about something you've lost and (re)found. So here's my story. It involves finding two things at different intervals. Two for the price of one :)

WARNING: This story is somewhat personal, discusses dark material, and eludes to violence (though imaginary/from a dream). Please read with caution.


My father and I were very close, especially after I went away to college. So, several years after I graduated, when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer on July 3, 2008, I broke. Broke down. Completely. I'm the only child and daddy's little girl, and this destroyed my world. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. And when he died on October 1—only a couple of days before my birthday—it all got worse. The walking dead seemed animated in comparison to me. I stared at the TV without any idea what I was watching, and lost close to 40 pounds in about three months.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
That's when my nightmares began. One in particular plagued me night after night. I stand on a beach, my jeans rolled up to my knees as the waves swallow my feet over and over. I'm not prepared, though I know what's coming. And from nowhere, I'm attacked. Literally, from thin air. Over and over. I'll spare you the details, but the pain would continue for what seemed like an eternity before I would wake in a cold sweat, sometimes screaming.

This dream tortured me night after night for at least a month. In late November or early December, I realized that the only way for me to take control of the dream would be to write it down. I needed to own it instead of it owning me. So, I did.

This is my first finding. I began writing again. I hadn't written anything beyond term papers in ten years.

Picture courtesy of http://buffy.wikia.com/
This dream became the climax in my epic Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction—sort of. It involved the Buffy crew but added several new characters of my own creation, including my new MC, Edie (see Season 8 for how I could easily do this). I shared the pieces I wrote with fewer than a handful of close friends, and only the parts that were actually written. I jumped around in writing it—a lot—and my outline grew toward War and Peace-length proportions. It became unmanageable, and while I plugged along at it, it grew difficult and tiring to keep all the subplots straight.

The following July (2009), I had another idea, one that has led me to write Fighting Fate (which is its 72,482nd title). Edie and her beach sacrifice snuggled into the recesses of my Documents folder and started gathering dust.

About a week ago, I woke up thinking about Edie and her sacrifice. As my consciousness gathered strength over my dreaming mind, I realized that this story is worth saving. I can rework it, streamline it, remove the Buffy elements, and make it mine. Truly own it like I had wanted to do 2.5 years ago. I rediscovered my story. Now I think I'm going to spend a few months (re)plotting it, and potentially use it for my NaNoWriMo project in November.


Are you participating in Myne's blogfest? I'll be sure to stop by. 
Not participating? What have you lost and found again?

Monday, March 28, 2011

String Bridge

Hi all. I know I said I wouldn't be posting on Monday but, well, I changed my mind.

But, this is short, because my words can't match the beauty of what I've linked below.

Jessica Bell, otherwise known as the Alliterative Allomorph, has released her new book trailer to promoter String Bridge, available November 1st. Below is the trailer, which I might, is powerful and beautiful, sung and performed by Jessica. Watch for yourself, and enjoy.


Also, visit Jessica's blog for a chance to win books, and help promote String Bridge.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nature of Magic Blogfest

Hi everyone. Today I'm participating in the Nature of Magic Blogfest, hosted by Tessa and Laura.


THE TASK:
Write or share something you've already written that, to you, shows the nature of magic. It can be an excerpt from your WIP, something you've written especially, poetry, whatever strikes your fancy. It just needs to show the nature of magic as it exists for you or for those you write about.


Considering the task, and my own rewrites of my WIP—which you haven't heard about much as of late with all the blogfesting going on—I had hoped to have a certain conversation between two of my characters ready, in which they discuss being raised and trained in their magic. However, it's not ready.

*head-smack*

Instead, I give you this. It's from my first chapter. This is the first magic the reader sees.


From: Fighting Fate (New Adult, Urban Fantasy/Romance)
Chapter 1, second scene

After an hour, Anabelle started feeling restless. They’d seen a model of the throne room—not even the real one—and the living quarters of the former Duke and Duchess—the parents of the Queen’s husband, the dead King Nathaniel. Lily had been right. The tour showed nothing interesting.
 
So when they passed a bathroom, Anabelle tapped Lily’s hand and slipped inside without notifying the pink umbrella. She waited until her watch ticked past two numbers before she prepared herself. Watching the mirror to be sure, she invoked her magic and cast a veil over her body. She examined the veil as her reflection disappeared. She spun in several directions, checking that the veil left no toe or belt buckle visible. Once satisfied, she slipped out the bathroom door and turned away from the direction of the group.
 
She walked on the sides of her feet, trying to keep her dress shoes quiet. When a guard stomped toward her, she flattened herself against the wall and held her breath until he turned a corner. She kept her eyes on that corner. How had she become such a coward? If she planned to do this, she needed to do it properly. She pushed herself away from the wall and continued down the hall.
 
She slid past another guard at the entrance to the restricted areas. The walls around her glowed a brighter yellow than the halls she’d seen on the tour, and the cherry wood tables and chairs—which lined the walls in the public areas—were absent here. She worried she might got lost back here with no identifiable landmarks of furniture. She tried keeping a map in her head of the turns she took, but direction had never been her skill, no matter how much magic she injected into a mental map.
 
Instead of worrying about it, she focused on the magic she knew she could control. Seeking. She’d used it in middle school to avoid the mean girls. She’d used it in high school to avoid the teachers she didn’t like. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d used it to find the person she sought instead of avoid. She concentrated on her limited knowledge of the Prince—his physique, his personality, his likes and dislikes—and hoped she could get a trace on him.
 
She continued wandering the halls until she sensed him behind a door. She backtracked around a corner and spotted a surveillance camera. This kind of magic she had never tried before, and she hoped she could manage. She reached up until she could reach the wires at the back of the camera. She imagined the the last thirty seconds playing on a loop, a continual visual of nothing.
 
Her throat constricted and she reached to tug at her collar. Despite the shaking in her chest, she listened for the door to open and prepared to drop the veil.


Thanks for coming by and reading. If you have any comments for me, I'm more than welcome to them. If you'd like to share something beyond the comment box, you can email me at rlconnolly01 [at] gmail.com.

PS--Starting next week, I will be posting on Tuesday and Thursday, and Friday begins the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Thanks again to everyone who participated and voted in the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. It was a huge success. I enjoyed reading all the stories and getting to know some of our fellow bloggers' writing styles. Thanks so much.

And, now, without further ado, the winner by popular demand of the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest is...

(*drumroll*)

MARGO KELLY

Congratulations, Margo. Be sure to email Charity (charity.bradford@gmail.com) regarding your prize.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Springy

First, don't forget to vote for your favorite story from the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. There's a poll on my sidebar. Voting ends on Thursday (tomorrow) at 11:59 PM eastern US time (-5 GMT).
____________________________

Today the weather is forecast as bright and sunny and 74 degrees F. So I ask you:



What are you doing inside reading blogs??
(not that I want you to leave.... that's not what I'm saying!)
 
Have a break at work? Go outside and take a walk.

At home with the kids? I bet they'd love to go play in the park.

My plan for today, when I don't have class or work, is to sit outside with my notebook and do some plotting/rewriting while soaking up the vitamin D.

How are you celebrating spring?

PS--To our friends in the southern hemisphere: In a spattering of locations, it looks like your weather is still quite nice, so I hope you're enjoying it, too :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vote for Your Favorite Story from the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest

First, I want to thank EVERYONE for participating in the Hone Your Skills Blogfest on Wednesday. This was the first blogfest either Charity or I have hosted, and I think it was a great success. All the stories were fantastic, and showed a diversity in styles and genres, as well as a love of writing. So THANK YOU to the writers, and THANK YOU to everyone else who visited the different stories to leave your comments.

As a part of the blogfest, Charity has kindly donated a $20 gift card to Amazon for the top story among our participants. Charity and I have chosen our top 5, and now YOU!! get to vote on your favorite. Just click on the name of your favorite on my side bar.
And now, before announcing the top favorites, thus forcing you to scroll down through ample paragraphs of my own waxing philosophical, I will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of...

(Charity): Psst.

(Rosie): What?

(Charity): Maybe you shouldn't make the people wait.

(Rosie): It's really important.

(Charity): Watch your adverbs.

(Rosie): *sigh* Right. Okay...


Rosie and Charity's Top Five Picks from the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest, in no particular order:

"Reasons" by Cleveland Dietz II

"Never Hit a Woman" by Margo Kelly

"Untitled" by Teralyn Rose Pilgrim

"Esperanza" from Pawny's Pen

"Driving Me Crazy" by Jane Isfeld-Still


Make sure to vote for your favorite on my side bar. Voting will run through NOW! until 11:59PM on Thursday, US east-coast time. I will post the official winner on Friday (although my post may go up a little later than my normal 7AM, as I expect to be asleep by midnight).

Thanks again to everyone, and be sure to vote!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luck o' the Irish SPD Blogfest

So, yeah, I decided to join the Luck o' the Irish Blogfest. I certainly waited until the last minute to make that decision, but better late than never, no? :)

And before I begin, I want to thank Jules at Trying to Get Over the Rainbow, who inadvertently gave me the idea. This is for you!


I found it. I found the end of the rainbow. I'd been hunting for it for years, ever since my tiny Patrick was but a wee glimmer in my eye. And here it ended, dropping directly into a bush of clover, and the clover hid the pot of gold. While the gold mattered—I mean, come on, it's money—it wasn't my goal.

I set the trap, hid behind a tree, and waited.

It snaps and drops in place. The box now covers the screaming, banging leprechaun. FINALLY! I jump from behind the tree, and uncover the little bugger.

"Just take the gold, lady!" he said.

I throw off the box. "You're not Liam."

"No, miss."

"Where's Liam?" I ask. "This is his rainbow."

"That it is, that it is. He asked me to protect his gold for a few days."

Damn that little bugger Liam. He's been running from me for two years. There's a warrant out for his arrest for overdue child support. I really wanted the satisfaction of grabbing him and taking him to the police so they could throw his little green bum in jail.

"Fine," I say. "I'm taking the gold."

"Well, now wait a—"

I kick the leprechaun, and he flies like a little green American football. I grab the pot of gold, pour the contents into my purse, and trudge home. At least my tiny Patrick will get a proper dinner tonight.

Don't you hate it when you find the wrong leprechaun?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! Be sure to check out the other entries at the link above.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest!

Welcome, everyone, to the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest! I'm so excited that this day has finally come :)

Be sure to check out all of the entries. I'll repost the list at the bottom.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
Charity and I will pick our top 5 short stories from the entries. Those five stories and links to them will be posted HERE on Monday, the 21st. Then YOU will have a chance to vote. I'll have a poll on the sidebar. ANYONE can vote from the options. Voting will be open through Thursday, the 24th, and the winner will be announced on Friday. The winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Charity.

Here's a reminder of the guidelines:
  1. On March 16, post a short story around 750 words, no more than 1000, in any genre you like.
  2. Read and give a critique for the person before and after you in the Linky List (and as many others as you can/want to). When you critique: a) find at least two things that really work, and b) at least two suggestions for how it can be tightened or improved.  
  3. (Optional) When you post on March 16, list one or two (online) journals where you plan to submit your piece after making revisions.

Regarding my post specifically, I want to thank you in advance for reading. I'm not great at the short story. This has been a difficult exercise for me.

Also, I STINK!! at titling things. Any suggestions on a better title would be greatly appreciated!

Please be aware that I'm not happy with how this turned out. There should be plenty in this story to critique :) But because of this—and because I haven't had much time to find places—I'm not planning on submitting this story right away. However, if you're looking for places, the Texas Observer is holding a short story contest.

If you have a longer critique, or want to discuss anything in more depth, feel free to email me at rlconnoly01 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Finally, again, be sure to stop by everyone else. I'll post the list again below my story.

Thanks!

_______________________

Daughter's Departure 

Aurelia’s hands gripped her knees. Knees together. Back straight. Maintain the pleasant, soft face. Almost smile. She watched as her mother evaluated her posture. Aurelia received a tiny nod of approval. She listened while her father concluded the final arrangements for her future as if he were conducting a business transaction.

The foreign gentleman dropped a bag of coins onto the table. The thud marked the seal of the transaction. “This is only the beginning. I will send the rest when we arrive at my estate.” The gentleman turned to her and flashed a grin from beneath his mustache. Men in her town never grew mustaches. They considered them messy, dirty, a product of laziness. Aurelia adjusted the pleasant look for faux-interest and lowered her eyes.

Light danced from the ring on her finger. After the gentleman’s arrival, negotiations had led to the wedding a mere fortnight later. The ceremony had happened so quickly that Aurelia still felt dazed. The thin band, now encircling on her left ring finger, bore great significance in the gentleman’s home country, where it had belonged to a princess or a queen or someone. Now it belonged to her.

But who had she become? The wife of a foreigner? The gentleman’s chivalrous demeanor impressed her, but his personality remained a mystery. In recent days, he had spoken of business and promises of the future, though had revealed little of himself. What were his fears? What foods did he eat at home? What was his mother like? Any time she had tried to ask, her mother had accused her of interrogation. She knew nothing. She had once found the gentleman’s country on a map and knew it to be far away. She knew no more.

“We must be leaving soon,” the gentleman said.

Aurelia raised her head. “Do I have time to say goodbye to Martina?”

“Of course.”

She stood and smoothed the fabric over her corseted waist. With a nod of thanks, she exited the room. Once out of sight, she picked up her skirt and dashed up the stairs two at a time as she and her sister had always done.

The door stood ajar, but Aurelia still knocked. Her wide skirt rustled against the door as she slipped inside. She sat on the bed and took her sister’s hand.

“Are you going now?” Martina asked. The words wheezed through her tightened throat.

“Soon.” Aurelia squeezed her sister’s hand. “And then you’ll be all better.”

“But you won’t be here when I’m well.”

“I’ll come to visit.”

“It’s very far…” Martina rolled away, coughing.

Aurelia rubbed Martina’s back until the fit subsided. “Don’t you worry. You’ll see me again soon.” She hoped the good Lord would not strike her for her lie.

“I’ll miss you.”

Aurelia leaned over and kissed her sister’s forehead. Her lips felt the heat before they reached the skin. Aurelia allowed herself a moment’s rest there, holding back the tears. When she felt composed, she pulled away, and wiped away Martina’s feverish perspiration from her own lips.

“I’ll visit so often,” Aurelia said, “you’ll get sick of me and ask me never to return.”

“If only that were possible.”

Aurelia told her sister of her love and affection, and fled through the door. She hadn’t realized her departure would be so difficult for her, but her family had no other options. Aurelia’s marriage to the foreign gentleman and the money associated with it gave her family a chance to improve their position. Her father could travel again for his business. Her sister could get the medicine she needed. Her family needed her more now than when she had darned socks and patched the sheets. They needed her more now than when she had made dinner for four from two potatoes and some water. She was worth more to them gone than living under their roof.

Aurelia straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin, and descended the stairs. She found her parents and the gentleman awaiting her.

“The carriage is packed,” the gentleman said. “We must be on our way.”

She hugged her mother. Despite Aurelia’s words to Martina, she feared she may never see them again. Her father kissed her cheek.

The gentleman offered his hand. She took it with a slight bow of her head. He guided her through the door. The recent rain had made the cobblestones slick. The sunlight glared against the shiny surfaces. The gentleman’s servant jumped forward and threw open the carriage door. The gentleman continued to hold her hand until she had seated herself.

She wanted to turn, to see her mother and father one last time, but worried about her composure. She did not turn. She placed her hands on her knees, sat up straight, and fixed the soft smile on her face like her mother had taught her.

The gentleman seated himself next to her. The carriage pulled away. Aurelia did not once look back.

_______________________

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Delusional Doom Blogfest

Thanks for Hart at Confessions of a Watery Tart for hosting today's blogfest. As soon as I saw her post about it, I wanted to participate. Here are the rules/options:

You can do ANY (or all) of the following:

Predict your own death
Predict someone ELSES death
Write your own obituary
Write someone ELSES obituary
Plot a murder of someone sorely asking for it, step by step

So, without further ado, I give you my entry of delusional doom, a prediction of my own death. Writing this took time, since this is outside of my normal genre. I hope you enjoy it.

**WARNING** This gets a tad violent. It's not gory, just violent. Read at your own risk.


*     *     *     *     *

When I leave grad school this semester, I will go work at the local JoAnn Fabrics in whatever town my husband and I find ourselves. I love sewing and crocheting, enjoy sewing and quilting, have dabbled in scrapbooking and stamping, can reupholster a chair and make a slip cover. Why wouldn't they want me? And, spree, if they need me to figure out something linguistic for fun, I'm good for that, too.

So I'll work there for a couple of months. Learn the store. Get comfortable. Make friends. Overstock my yarn collection to extreme proportions until my husband buys my yarn its own house.

Until one day. I stand in the second aisle, replacing the Easter collection with gnomes and ducks and other spring lawn decor. My boss turns past the hand-painted watering cans, followed by another woman in a green JoAnn's shirt. She will become my arch nemesis—we'll call her Mandy Brown. She gets transferred from her store across town. She's also a fiber arts diva, and a linguist to boot.

She says, "Have you heard the the one about the linguistics professor who was trying to explain basic phonology to a class of sophomores?"

I stare at her. Damn it! She was funny too? "No."

"He wanted to explain voiced and voiceless consonants, so he starts by saying, 'Let's consider the b-ness and the p-ness of the consonants'."

I choke, cough, and turn back to my shelf stocking. I don't want my boss to see me laughing at such a horrible joke.

The first night she's there, two women—post-retirement sisters who only work a couple of hours per week for the discount—are murdered in the break room as they close the store. The manager finds them the next morning, bludgeoned with a bolt of broadcloth, stabbed with size 000 crochet hooks. The police come. The police leave. The police leave the case unsolved, practically untouched. The looked on their faces make it clear that they're not interested in a couple of sewing grannies.

Toward the end of her first week, we close the store together. As I start walking toward the back to grab my personal items, she says to me, "Better watch your back." I don't respond because I don't know how. Is she threatening me? I watch her over my shoulder as I walk away. She picked up a pair of thin, metal knitting needles and weighed them in her hand before the door to the break room swung shut. I snap on the light and wonder who decided to decorate the break room with the little ceramic gnomes.

I go in the next day to find Mandy has covered someone else's shift. I do my best to avoid her through my time. I hide between the sheets (of fabric), behind the buttons, under the weather-specific garden items. But everywhere I hid, she found me. Where did we stock the the extra sheers for the cutting table? Did we have any more of the purple lamé spandex? When would the next shipment of 18 gauge modeling wire be coming in? I give up hiding and chose the spotlight instead—the cash register.

And who closed again? Mandy and I. As the only other remaining employee waves goodnight, I stand alone at the register. Scissors? Modeling wire? Yesterday Mandy weighed the knitting needles in her hand? Maybe I'm next, following in the frightening fate of the sisters. It all seems like she has it in for me. I'm the only other linguistic knitting novelty. I'm her only competition to be the store's linguistic bauble, stocked next to the charms at the end of the jewelry isle.

I just can't figure out why she wants the purple lamé spandex.

So I go about closing up the store: lights, locks, leftover remnants. As I'm heading back to the break room to collect my things, Mandy appears next to me. She's looking at the door to the break room. "Watch your back," she says.

No, I decide. I won't let her intimidate me. I straighten my shoulders and walk directly into the break room. The door swings shut behind me. A giggle echoes.

My hands are grasped behind me, and feel the wire wrapping around my wrists. Something else binds my legs from knees to ankles. I'm shoved in the chest with something the weight of my overfed cat, and I fall to the floor. I hear the crack of my head against the cement before I feel it. The cat continues to sit on my stomach. Something stabs me in the chest. I scream.

Light floods the room, and the commotion ceases. I'm greeted by the creepy, deranged expression painted across the face of a gnome. It's tiny ceramic hands grip the orange handled scissors plunged into my chest.

A knitting needle flies, striking the gnome in the neck and sliding through it like it was meant to be there. Another needle flies, and I realize it's struck the gnome tugging at the purple lamé spandex wrapped around my legs. I turn to the source, and see Mandy in the doorway. She throws several more needles, disabling other garden goodies which are already frozen in the light.

With the danger under control, she drops to my side. "I've called 911."

What can I say? I'm predicting my own death here. We all know it won't matter.

"Where's a linguist's favorite place to shop?" she asks me.

"Where?"

She smacks her lips together. Being on the verge of death, it takes me a moment to remember the International Phonetic Alphabet. And what's the symbol for the bilabial click, a sound as common as t or d in Botswana? Well, it's a circle with a dot in the center. Make it red, and you have a Target logo.

What really kills me? It's not the massive head injury. It's not even the scissors in my chest. It's the obscene amount of cough-laughing I do from the worst joke I've ever heard.

And that, my friends, is how I will die.

_____________________
Be sure to check out the rest of the entries!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Allan Russell

Hey everyone! The HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest is only days away now. Want to sign up? There's still time. Just click the link, put up a short story of 750 words (no more than 1000) on Wednesday, and then welcome the feedback from your fellow bloggers.

To celebrate, I'd like to welcome our last guest, Allan Russell, author of Veiled in Shadows. Al took a slightly different route to publication than our proposed short story route, but he has great suggestions on how to hone your work. And, so, without any further ado....
_______________________

First of all I would like to say thank you very much to Rosie and Charity for hosting this post.

In support of their Hone Your Skills Blogfest they are asking published authors to talk about their road to publication.

I guess in some ways my path to publishing my novel Veiled in Shadows is quite atypical and some (if not many) would say not at all the best way to go.

Absolutely ages ago (in fact it would be close to twenty years ago) I did what many young people do and sat down to write a novel. Unlike most I finished a first draft, in fact that was my first draft of Veiled in Shadows.

But life got in the way and my writing went on a shelf stored on a floppy disk.

Over the following decade or so I wrote hundreds of thousands of words. None of them fiction. The writing I did was in the form: of a couple of bachelor’s degrees; an academic thesis; and hundreds of reports and press releases in various work places. I didn’t really think about it but all this writing was having a positive effect on my writing ability.

A few years ago I had a bit of time on my hands and thought I would like to ‘write a book’. Then of course I remembered that I had in fact already ‘written one’ and hunted down that lost floppy. I was quite excited at the prospect of looking at it again, but I was bitterly disappointed. It was awful! The writing was really poor, the characters were cardboard 2D cut-outs, in short it was almost fit for nothing.

But, I still liked plot. I thought the themes could be developed into something meaningful and the characters could grow into credible beings. I began re-drafting from there. Most of Veiled has been redrafted three times since then with a few sections probably changing eight or ten times.

Following that I paid for a professional manuscript assessment. The report was good and indicated with some changes (including pruning sub-plots) I would have a marketable manuscript. I pretty much adopted all the recommended changes and did another redraft.

I then employed another editor to do a copy edit. She wasn’t paid for advice as such but essentially said wow! So by then I was pretty sure I had something worth querying.

I hated the query process (who doesn’t?). I took every rejection very personally (which you shouldn’t). This led me to consider self publication.

I did a lot of research and decided to give it a go. Almost still playing with the idea I began designing covers and formatting the text.

I’m lucky in that I have some skills with design, I produced a cover that I think not only looks good, but more importantly professional.

In terms of formatting, again I’ve had some experience with desktop publishing and the like for work and I did more research and looked at what works in published books. Where I lacked is in basic editing so I both paid for edits and had the luck to recruit a couple of friends/acquaintances to check the work over.

The bottom line is if you want to have professional looking work pay professionals for anything where you don’t have the skills.

In terms of printing I’ve gone for POD and am using LightingSource. They are a printing company, they just print. You have to look after everything else. But as a subsidiary of Ingram you will get listed with Amazon and the Book Depository automatically and any retailer who wishes can order your book direct from Ingram.

What did it cost? My biggest single cost component has been editing, around $1500 in total. The cover cost me about $100 (mostly the licence for a photo I used as a basis of my cover). LightningSource charged about $80 to set up my print ready files and list internationally.

The up side - this is pretty much all my work and that gives me a lot of pride.

The down side any problems are my fault I can’t blame any one else.

I’ve had some brilliant reviews, for example by British biographer Kathleen Jones.

How is it going?
Well sales are slow but essentially that is because I have not had time to put some marketing ideas into action.

Although as I said it’s already on Amazon (including Kindle)and when I checked the other night they were discounting the paperback at $8.05.

Anyone want to buy a book? ;-)

___________________________

Thanks again, Al, for coming to share your story.

I got Al's book for Christmas, and once I can actually GET to it, I'll be posting a review (though, unfortunately, it might be May at the rate I'm going).

Be sure to stop by over the next couple of days for my several blogfest posts, including my entry for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. Come join in the fun :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Breakdown

Hey folks. It's Friday. I'm tired and officially on Spring Break (Whoot!!), so today's post is going to be short and sweet and, really, all about next week.

We shall now look into the future!

MONDAY: Be sure to stop by for a great guest post from Allan Russell, author of Veiled in Shadows.

TUESDAY: Delusional Doom Blogfest, hosted by Hart Johnson.


WEDNESDAY: There's still time to sign up!!


Join Charity, myself, and our other awesome participants for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest on March 16th (next Wednesday). One short story of 750 words (no more than 1000), and help from your fellow bloggers to HONE it to its best shape. It will help you develop your skills as well as bring thoughtful feedback so you can feel confident enough to send it for publication (if you want, of course).


THURSDAY: Luck of the Irish Blogfest, hosted by Alexia and Colene.


I'm not 100% sure if I'm participating in this or not. It will depend on if I can come up with something by Thursday to post :)


FRIDAY: I'm taking a blogging break.



Whew! What a week.


Have a great weekend, folks! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Award Post-Script

The love has been FLYING this week. Last night I got a note from Zan Marie at In the Shade of the Cherry Tree, saying she had also given me the Stylish Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog award. Thanks so much, Zan Marie!














Well, I had already passed these one, but I recently discovered another blog that I think deserves some recognition, so I want to do a little more passing.

SJ Hanson at My Journey in Running, Writing, and Life

Be sure to stop by and see SJ. She's new to blogging and Twitter, so hop over and help spread the cyber love.

Have a great Thursday, folks!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Award :)

First, if you haven't heard yet or you're still on the fence, please join me and Charity for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest on March 16th. It's a chance to try your hand at a short story, get feedback from fellow writer-bloggers, and encouragement to try and publish it. We'd love to have you, so just click the link above or on the sidebar to join.
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Last week, I was given an award from Allan Russell at Publish or Perish AND from Michelle at Perfecting the Craft...

UPDATE: I also just received this award from Kristina at KayKay's Corner. Man, am I feeling the love or WHAT?


Kristina also gave me this award:



Thank you so much, Al, Michelle, and Kristina!

For those of you who don't know Al, he is the author of Veiled in Shadows, the beautiful cover of which is staring at me from the top of my to-read pile. Then again, maybe I'm just a sucker for the big blue eye :)

(On a side note, stop by on Monday for a guest post by Al.)

According to the rules of the award, I should tell you seven things about myself and then pass it on. Here's a random assortment of things you may not yet know about me. I'll limit myself to non-writing things this time. For other random Rosie facts, you can check out these other posts: from here, here (the the truth behind it), here, and one more.

  1. As a recovering linguist, I'm a language junkie. I'm not fluent in any language (I sometimes contend that I'm not even fluent in English), though my husband likes to argue this point with me. Anyway, over the few decades of my life, I've studied (in no particular order) Spanish, French, German, Russian, Polish, Macedonian, and Welsh officially. If I have a dictionary, I can usually read Czech, Slovak, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian well enough. I also know lots of random syntax facts about Icelandic, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Dogon (my friend is currently working on a Dogon grammar).
  2. I'm a graduate student in my last semester of coursework. There exists about a 2% chance that I will write a dissertation (with a 3% margin of error).
  3. If I were ever to write a dissertation, I would write it on Polish syntax and the reflexive particle się. (I promise, it's a little more interesting than Wikipedia makes it out to be.) Last summer I got to meet Norbert Hornstein, whose most recent syntactic framework is called MOVE! (yes, with the exclamation point), and talk to him about my ideas using his framework. We argued a lot. We disagreed even more. It was fun and discouraging.
  4. My graduate employment consisted of teaching Russian for only one year. I have never worked so hard. I taught in the 2007–2008 school year. Many of my former students were freshmen that year, and so are seniors now. I occasionally run into them on campus, and sometimes they even invite me out for a drink to catch up. :)
  5. My current GA employment is working as the Managing Editor of the for Journal of Slavic Linguistics for Slavica Publishers. I prepare journals and books for publication. In addition to the journal, which I have worked on since 2006, I am currently preparing a book on Macedonian. It should be finish in the next month and be published by summer.
  6. I have never published anything regarding linguistics. I've only edited other people's work. This doesn't bother me, though my colleagues think it should.
  7. I had no intention of this turning into a Rosie's-grad-school-life post. Just to mix it up, I'll tell you that I got new glasses last week. They've got the Transitions lenses, too. I can't begin to tell you how excited they make me :)

Okay, now for passing on the love.

Carol at ArtziCarol Ramblings
Jan at Crazy Jane
Sallee at The Highly Educated Housewife
Medeia at Sharif Writes
Charity at My Writing Journey
Dezmond at Hollywood Spy

Thanks again to Al, Michelle, and Kristina for the award. :) Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Catch Me If You Can Blogfest

First, remember to join Charity, myself, and our other awesome participants for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest on March 16th (next Wednesday). One short story of 750 words (no more than 1000), and help from your fellow bloggers to HONE it to its best shape. It will help you develop your skills as well as bring thoughtful feedback so you can feel confident enough to send it for publication (if you want, of course).

Second, today is my mom's Birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom!! :)

What else is going on TODAY? I'm participating in the CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Blogfest, hosted by Kristina at KayKay's Corner.


The basics:
On Monday March 7, post the first 550 words (or less) of your WIP on your blog. If you can, leave a link to your email address* in case someone has an especially long critique.

So, here it is. This is the latest new beginning of my WIP, THE MONARCHY'S LIES (although the title is still tentative). The 550 word limit is hard, since my first chapter is only 850 words, and a lot of the tension is in those last 300 words. Aw, well. If it's not in the first two pages, it's my problem, not yours, right?

Email address is at the bottom. Thanks, folks :)

Chapter 1
I sat in my seat, tugging at the tight collar around my neck. I hated collars. In fact, I hated anything on my neck—turtleneck sweaters, tight necklaces, even my fingers to check my pulse—but today I would endue anything on my neck. Anything to get to the Mansion.

I checked my watch. “We should have left already,” I said.


My best friend Lily sat in the desk next to mine. “Relax,” she said. “You’ll get to see your beloved prince soon enough.”


“Whatever.” I yanked the collar straight away from my throat. Any second now, it planned to strangle me. I just knew it.


“Oh, don’t give me that line,” she said. “You’d swoon just like any other girl if you got within 10 feet of him and you know it.”
 

I rolled my eyes. “Be still my sprickin’ heart.”
 

“Anabelle Lindsky!”
 

I jumped as Ms. Crawlee’s voice boomed above my head.
 

“Detention. Tomorrow.” She passed me and continued down the aisle.
 

“For what?” I asked.
 

“For swearing.”
 

“Ugh.” I fell back in my chair.
 

“Watch your mouth, young lady,” Lily whispered, giggling.
 

I crossed my arms over my chest. The gesture moved the fabric of my shirt, and brought back that choking sensation. I reached my hand up again to tug at the collar.
 

Lily batter my hand away. “Knock it off. You’re gonna stretch it out.”
 

“That wouldn’t be so bad.” I tugged again.
 

“Except it’s your mom’s.” She grabbed my wrist until I stopped fighting.
 

Ms. Crawlee hushed the room. “I’m passing out a worksheet—  Quiet! The front you’ll need to finish on the bus, the back during the tour. You’ll turn them back in to me when we return to the bus in the afternoon.”
 

Figured. I took the stack of papers from the guy in front of me and passed on the rest. A quick scan of the worksheet told me Ms. Crawlee hadn’t asked any stumpers, but had created busy work for the bus ride so the student wouldn’t get rowdy. I looked at the back. She’d asked for specifics, information that she hadn’t covered in class yet. I figured I could fill out the entire worksheet on the bus and listen during the tour in case I’d missed any.
 

Aw, who was I kidding? I wouldn’t miss any. My memory spells never failed me, and I knew everything ever written on royal history.
 

A few minutes later, we’d boarded the bus, which now rumbled down the highway. I scribbled my answers on the worksheet, knowing Ms. Crawlee wouldn’t be looking for massive detail. I could feel Lily looking over my shoulder as I wrote.
 

“I hate you and your memory spells,” she said.
 

“Shh.” I looked around to see if anyone heard her.
 

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad for the rest of us if people knew,” she said. “You’d quit throwing off the curve.”
 

“If I wanted to throw off the curve, I’d have graduated five years ago.” I focused on the next question.
 

“You don’t think you’ll be too bored during the field trip, do you?” Lily asked, and I could sense her sarcasm. “I mean, you won’t have to listen for the answers like the rest of us commoners.”
 

“I’ll be listening.”
 

“No, no, you’ll be bored senseless.”
 

I turned my body in the seat to face her, seeing the plot brewing inside her green eyes. “What are you thinking?”


Thanks again for reading. Post below or email me at rlconnolly01 [at] gmail [dot] com with any crit you might have.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Full-Body Writing Workout

First, remember that there's still PLENTY of time to sign up for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest, hosted by myself and Charity. It's a chance to try your hand at a short story, get feedback from fellow writer-bloggers, and encouragement to try and publish it. We'd love to have you, so just click the link above or on the sidebar to join.

Okay, as for the rest of this, hang in there until the end. I promise this relates to writing.

Over-Indulgence and Reining It In
Over winter break, my husband and I went to his parents' house in Arizona for three weeks. This is always a great trip, full of shopping adventures with my sister-in-law, seeing my niece perform in Ballet Arizona's annual run of the Nutcracker, talking about music with my nephew and politics with my mother-in-law—AND eating too much food. Because, really, what are the holidays about if not food and family, right?

Well, too much indulgence led to my gaining close to ten pounds. I attribute it to the fudge. It was good, and plentiful. And dangerous.

So I've spent the last eight weeks trying to work it off. The regiment has included going to the gym four times a week for cardio. My gym partner's not too interested in weight machines, and I followed her lead. After four weeks, I hadn't lost any weight. Not even a tenth of a pound.

The blini that I didn't eat... yum...
Photo by Adam Julian
Frustrated, I took on other challenges for myself. Muscle toning work and yoga on non-cardio days. Portion reduction. Taking the stairs at school instead of the elevator. Eating more vegetables. Not eating the beautiful blini at last night's Maslenitsa celebration in my department.

Since I've made some of these changes, I've started seeing results. The pounds have slowly but surely been slipping away. Yesterday the middle number finally decided to drop down by one. It was a happy day.

And This Connects to Writing... How?
Yeah, I know. You're not super interested in reading about exercise, at least not from me. So how does this relate to writing?

First, skillful writing takes endurance. You can't do it every once in a while and expect to have an amazing novel or short story. Daily practice (or close to it), and regularly pushing yourself a little further. I don't mean in terms of time, but maybe in genre, or vocabulary, or imitating the style of one of your favorite authors (for yourself as an exercise).

Second, just working on the novel is not enough (the novel in my scenario is the cardio). You have to do other exercises to tone your writing muscles. Check out some online writing prompts and write some flash fiction (try here, for example). Try your hand at poetry. Write something beyond your novel (or normal area) for a few hours per week. Not only does it help you train your mind in terms of style and structure, it gives your mind some time to rest and think about the other work, and you'll be more refreshed when you return to it.

Finally, you have to nourish your writing. READ. Yeah, we all know this, right? Don't be a writer with a reading disorder! It's not just good for your writing. It's good for the soul.

And at the end, your novel will have Laura Croft arms...

Oh, wait a sec... That's not right.

Want to develop your writing in a different way?

Join us for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. Try your hand at writing something different, and get feedback from the community. There are still a couple of weeks left, so you have plenty of time.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Guest Post: Margo Benson

Today Charity and I would like to welcome Margo Benson as a part of our series to promote our HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. Margo's here to talk about how short fiction has helped her in her own development as a writer.

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Thank you so much, Charity and Rosie for inviting me to guest post about short story writing on your blogs, I’m delighted to be here.

I love reading short stories and I love writing short stories! I always have a book of them alongside anything else I’m reading. They don’t have to be read in any particular order and can often be consumed in one sitting. I find I can dip my toes into otherwise ignored genres without the commitment to a longer book. I have two on the go at the moment, one insect related horror, the other, stories of modern China.

I haven’t been a serious writer for very long and wasn’t sure whether I should (or could) distract my mind from the full-length novel currently in progress. I found I couldn’t resist, though! I find short story and flash fiction writing cathartic, experimental and fascinating. My main genre is romance but writing these smaller pieces has unearthed several other ‘voices’ from within. My flash fiction includes poignant moments and dialogue, which have come from observations that wouldn’t find a home in my romance writing.

I hadn’t long started my novel when another character popped into my head demanding attention. This one had paranormal aspects – no place for her in my countryside romp! Her voice, along with her
world and her liking for cooking has become The Sybil Chronicles, short stories, each culminating in a recipe which, I hope, will form a collection of it’s own one day.

At first I felt guilty abandoning my gorgeous hero and heroine with their anxieties to go and have fun over in Sibyl’s world, but it was no good sitting there with my mind in two places. Once I released Sybil, all kinds of new wonders emerged from my writing, all for the better. I know this won’t suit everyone but my writing has become fuller since giving myself permission to go off and explore shorter projects.

What I love about the short story is sparse prose. One of my very early pieces was for a blogfest and was limited to 700 words. I found the discipline so good for my style and vocabulary. A limited word count in which to convey a whole tale is a fun exercise and can often be the taster for something bigger in the future.

I also take part in a weekly Haiku/Senryu challenge. Creating an atmosphere in 17 syllables is another wonder in my writing life. Sparse writing indeed!

I’m a member of a three-piece band and we have started to write our own material. One band member had written a verse, bridge and chorus of a potentially beautiful song and thrust the words toward me saying, ‘Go on, you write the rest!’ I’ve never written a song before but I called upon my Haiku experience, picked appropriate words for the story, fitted them to the rhythm (I had to make rhyming couplets too!) and was happy with the tale I had to tell in short verse and definite syllables.

Blogfests and challenges do take up time in a writer’s life but I have found such experiences in flash fiction and short story writing to be as important and useful as writer’s workshops and conferences. The short story can propel an idea, which had no outlet otherwise, ‘out there’ and give the writer free rein for exploration.

Until a few days ago I wouldn’t have thought I was capable, let alone eager, to write horror. I dropped some beads on the landing at the top of the stairs and one looked slightly different from the rest…..hmm….I’m thinking a flash story of something nasty lurking in the bead box……..

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Ack! I'm already frightened :) Something in the bead box, and then you dip your hand inside... *shivers*

Thank you so much to Margo for her great words. Think she's got a point? There's still time to sign up for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. One short story of 750 words (no more than 1000), and help from your fellow bloggers to HONE it to its best shape. It will help you develop your skills as well as bring thoughtful feedback so you can feel confident enough to send it for publication (if you want, of course).

What alternative ways do you try to hone your writing skills? Poetry? Haiku? Song lyrics?
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