I originally created this site as an online space to curate my portfolio of published writing. It felt outdated to drag around my case filled with poetry collections, magazines, and journals in which I'd been published, and, quite frankly, I would have to clean off a lot of dust if ever I had reason to get it out!
Being published provides a kind of confidence in your writing -- the knowledge that, at least one other person, usually the editor, thought your writing was good enough that it might warrant a reading audience. I'll have to admit that my circles used to include professors or friends who were such editors, and they would have ocassion to see something that I had written and sometimes ask if I would submit for publication. This was always a thrill and an honor. It meant that I rarely had to stick my neck out and risk the rejection that comes for submitting your work unbiden. It also made it easy.
While I don't currently have the network to easily facilitate publishing nor the time to submit for publication, I continue to write and have mostly returned to my first love: poetry. Motivated and inspired by the support of my writing group, I actually sit at the keyboard and try to put some of the poems in my head on paper at least once a month to have something to share at our meetings. I've decied to brave adding a few of them here from time to time, even if they have not yet gotten the "publication vote of approval." My first is a reflection on the gift of time written this Saturday morning. I hope you will enjoy.
NaPoWrimo continues, but I have not. I'm not suprised that being back to work and life circumstances have prevented me from the dedication I showed during the glorious week of spring break. But today, Saturday, I have been able to play a bit of catch up. I'll confess that some of the poems I've added are ones that I'd started or written previously -- like today's Day 13 poem , Rosemarie's Closet, shared on what would have been my mother's 90th birthday.
Since I am back to my poetry writing roots these days, and I've noticed on this first day of April, which coincides with my spring break, that there is this thing called NaPoWriMo this month, I think I'll be a fool and sign on! I've listed this as my participant site, so I will even try to post some or all of the poems as the unedited, slapdash, creations they will be as a special feature of my poetry page on this site.
Remember that This month, the idea is just to get something on the page. We"ll leave the editing, criticizing, and stressing out for May and beyond!
As promised, I have been spending this summer's writing time, so far, making revisions and final edits to my first novel. I have formatted and edited until I can no longer see the periods for the paragraphs or the sentences for the page! LOL! At this point, only a professional editor could do more -- should I decide to go that route. For now, I am officially putting The Bedroom Window to bed.
Let me know if you have an earlier version that you'd like to swap out for a PDF of this one!
Perhaps I will now begin this process with one of the other two novels I have written during previous NaNoWriMos, or maybe I will just spend some time writing for writing's sake. It's summer after all, and Vacation Veronica can spend her time doing what she wants to do. Such precious, valuable freedom!
Summer is only a few weeks away! I will be taking my novel off of the Swoonreads site in June to begin working on revisions, some of which will be based on excellent feedback offered by my early readers! If you wish to read the current version on Swoonreads before I take it down, finish it soon. Watch for a revised and improved version of The Bedroom Window in the future. With deep gratitude.
I guess I do feel a bit faint at the prospect of putting my novel out there for public consumption. Consumption is right. I have posted The Bedroom Window on a crowd sourcing site that allows members of the reading community to rate and comment on what writers submit there. Scary!
How did I find my way to Swoon Reads? I agreed to moderate a Fierce Reads event at our local, independent book store, Bookshop Santa Cruz. In preparing to moderate a panel discussion with four authors, I read each of their newly published works and investigated the process through which their books came to be.
Teen favorite, award winning author Scott Westerfeld’s latest, Spill Zone, a graphic novel, was the big draw. He and Taran Matharu, publishing the third in his Summoner series, which already has a fan following, enticed an audience to meet two debut novelists. I felt a kinship when I learned that Taran Matharu’s first novel began as a NaNoWriMo novel! He then posted it chapter by chapter on Wattpad and gained an appreciative readership there. Kristin Orlando’s You Don’t Know My Name had its inception on Swoon Reads, where it gained the attention and positive feedback that catches the publisher’s attention. Swoon Reads publishes under Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. Publisher, Jean Feiwel, wanted to establish a way for readers and writers to connect with Macmillan. This librarian by day, writer by -- any time I am able -- was taking note.
I’d gotten my first NaNoWriMo effort as far as I could with my own revisions and editing. I had tremendously helpful feedback from early readers; friend, Iraq war veteran, and scholar of all things Afghanistan, Jim Misencik, enlightened me and corrected me when necessary on my scenes set in South Asia. Creative writing/English professor English teacher team, Greg and Candace Gilbert, gave me valued encouragement and positive feedback. Fellow novelist and Facebook friend, Mary Oswald Hubbell, took the time to put editor’s eyes on my manuscript and gave me helpful notes. Others gave me the positive feedback and thumbs up I needed to brave a broader audience. Talented friend and graphic designer, Nathan Kosta, wanted to make sure I had a professional looking book cover!
So, my novel is now online as an ebook at: www.swoonreads.com Anyone can join if you’d like to read The Bedroom Window! Your comments and ratings will be appreciated.
About Swoon Reads.
CNN. Swoon lets YA readers choose which books get published. 2014
Thank you encouraging first readers!
Early positive feedback indicates that my first novel might be worth finding a professional editor and agent!
Once you’ve read and worked with a manuscript for so long, you no longer have any perspective, so I truly appreciate the reader responses I’ve received. I am especially grateful for one reader’s careful notes, which enabled me to make some important edits right away! (If you’ve seen some errors in this draft, they may already have been taken care of). ;)
Meanwhile, NaNoWriMo looms just around the corner. I’ve spent a lot of time on my first novel, and I won’t really be able to focus on either of the others until I have more time again – like I do in the summer – so what do you think, shall I dive into the creative writing process again this November? I’m already thinking about my next story . . . :-)
Thanks so much to you supportive and encouraging friends for checking out my website, reading, and even commenting on my blog! (Special thanks to my brother Jon who gave the site a careful going over and provided valuable notes that helped me clean it up!) Your interest really gave me the impetus to move forward. Moving forward meant getting back to the writing itself.
I was able to get feedback from a few of you that, of my NaNoWriMo novels, The Bedroom Window most piques your interest. So that is the one I have been working on chapter by chapter, day by day, setbacks and all. I believe I have now created a readable manuscript. (Gratitude to my earliest reader, Jim, an Afghanistan veteran and scholar, who provided invaluable feedback early in the writing process that I hope helped me integrate some reality into my fiction).
If any of you would like to be among my first readers, please let me know. Initially, at least, I want to retain control over knowing who is reading my novel, so I have created a PDF version I can send if you let me know you’d like it. Just message me via the contact page and provide your email address.
Please feel no obligation to request my novel. I appreciate your support of my process without expectation that you read the product. I firmly believe the motto: “Every book its reader. Every reader a book.” I know we all have particular tastes in the kinds of novels we like, and I certainly won’t expect everyone to like my novel. But, if you do read it, I would appreciate hearing back from you any particular responses you might have – if there are parts that made you laugh or cry – if you found any part of the plot believable – if you identified with any of the characters or found their relationships relatable. Your positive, constructive feedback will be extremely valuable in helping me know whether and/or how to move forward. Thanks!
This was not supposed to be the next post on my blog. My next post was/is going to be all about working incrementally day by day to complete a revision of one of my novels, and announce it being posted on my website!
Two days ago I had a setback in the progress I'd been making revising The Bedroom Window. In moving drafts from my old, barely functioning laptop to my newer, better functioning loaner, I somehow missed the most recent draft. Keep in mind, I began this novel four years ago, and have made previous efforts to tackle the revision in spurts and starts. It was when making some of the current revisions on the draft I've been working on so far this summer, that I discovered some different wording and turns of phrase from the printed manuscript I have been working from. I exclaimed a few choice words and turns of phrase upon this discovery.
I knew what I needed to do, but I felt so deflated. Yesterday, I couldn't work up the energy to do anything; get in the bike ride I'd missed the day before, read another chapter of the book I'm currently reading, or face the task of figuring out what revisions I'd missed in my novel. I kept telling myself that it was good I'd realized before I am even quite half-way through the process, but I was most annoyed at how I had done this to myself. I hate it when I am my own worst enemy. I literally felt drugged, devoid of energy, and slept a fair portion of the day away. This when there are precious few days of summer, when I don't have to be at work all day, to devote to my own writing.
Today, I gave myself a tutorial on using the compare and combine features in Word. Figuring out which version to compare with the other made my head spin. Seeing that one way had 702 revisions and the other had 805 made me tremble. It didn't take long for my former English-teacher essay-grading mathematics to kick in and make me realize it would take me hours to go through each of those edits individually. I did my best to combine both drafts and create a new document to work from. I've probably lost something that I'm sure was the perfect, Noble-Prize winning excerpt, ;) but I am ready to continue on with the painstaking work now. I even did a little reading, and I took an awesome bike ride. It's amazing to me how energy can shift like that. I won't question it, and just be grateful it did.
I do hope my novel will be more interesting to read than this blog update. I will continue to plug away!
What did I do over summer vacation? I created a website! Not for the school or the library or a friend, but a totally self-indulgent website for me, about me, and by me. I created it using Weebly, and even exceeded the amount of free space allotted and forked out the bucks to pay for a starter plan! Why, you may ask, did I want to spend my free days of summer laboring over such a narcissistic task? Well, in addition to the many other hats I wear – mother, wife, sister, auntie, friend, teacher, librarian, I like to consider myself a writer. I want to consider myself a writer? I dare to consider myself a writer! By my own definition, used to encourage thousands of student writers over the course of my teaching career, I certainly am a writer. If you write, you’re a writer. Right? But those demons that lurk just beneath the surface of any self-deprecating writer will always question . . .
So, to prove my commitment to my writing and to my identity as a writer, to myself as much as anyone else, I decided to create a virtual space where my writing could live. This required accessing print copies of articles and poems published over the past decade and a half from my dusty portfolio and soliciting my tech savvy hubby to digitize them for me. I requested this labor of love as my Christmas gift. He also got me a groovy new tablet. Guess which gift I love more? Then I just needed the time – time so preciously given to us in the education profession each summer – to design a website and curate my virtual portfolio there. It was at times challenging. I learned new things. I was able to traipse down memory lane as I recalled the people and periods of my life when I wrote different pieces. It was fun!
Now it is scary. Even though I have absolute control over making changes - the website is of my own making - hitting the publish button freaks me out. What if people see it, hate it, mock me? What if, upon entering the digital world, I discover what it means to be “trolled”? I already learned from the helpful customer service advocate at Weebly why it is worth paying to keep your domain information private! While creating the website, I adhered to advice given by our wise Uncle Ramon: “Tend to your own legend, because nobody else will.” On the other hand, the only actual physical fight I ever had was with a neighbor who declared: “That Ronni Daley thinks she’s so cool.” She nearly broke my nose. What if I’m knocked down a peg or two for such flagrant self-promotion? Or, what if nobody sees it? What if nobody cares?
And it is not done. The most important reason for creating this online world for my writing was to motivate me to continue working. With my work in the cloud and more easily accessible, it can become my writing workshop. Just like “a room of one’s own,” I have created a space where I can experiment and play. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) inspired me to try my hand at writing novels for three Novembers running. Right now they are each the kind of rough-drafts one might imagine being produced by a tired teacher librarian cranking out a word count at the end of long, November days. I’d like to work on them, and with the goal of publishing chapters as I make them readable to an audience, I plan to do just that. Perhaps I will even dare solicit feedback from kind and gentle early readers. I have created a Contact page for just this purpose. By proclaiming myself a writer to the World Wide Web, I am applying upon myself the pressure to tend to the least requirement of such a title -- and write.