If Writing Is Not Your Day Job, Are You Still a Writer?

I had my answer ready before reading this. What is yours?

Waiting Outside of Parnassus

At what point is one allowed to call oneself a writer is a question that I’ve spent far too much time contemplating. When I was younger, I would shy away from calling myself a writer because my writing wasn’t serious, wasn’t good, wasn’t published, wasn’t published in a paying magazine, and myriad of other reasons. I now say that the only thing that makes a person a writer is that they write (something I’ve heard a lot of other people say for a long time before I accepted its obvious truth). As long as I spend a good portion of my time getting words on the page, I am a writer. Maybe not a good one, a successful one or any other qualifier, but I am inarguably a writer, though there is always a little (or huge) part of me that doesn’t think I can call myself one. Part of the…

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Where I’ve Been and Where I Hope To Go

dreamstimefree_168463I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts. Writing has not ceased to be an important part of my life despite my absence from social media for the last several months. Like many of you, writing is not that thing that pays the bills, so I’ve sacrificed much to do this thing I love. As writers, we spend lots of time in solitude when we do have spare time, because if we don’t this thing we love will not get done. So for the last several months, perhaps the last year for some of you, I have not been around because I’ve had to choose between hanging out on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites and writing.

As I’ve been hunkered down trying to figure out how to apply the craft I learned workshopping with other talented writers for the past several years, I’ve had much time to reflect on how exactly I’d like to enter the writing world. In that time, I’ve also been studying the self-publishing industry with great interest. After much soul-searching, I’ve decided that I shall take that route when I publish my next few novels. The invitation from the big time New York agent didn’t work out (and that’s a blog for another day), so I’ve decided rather than spending countless hours, days, weeks, and years querying, I’ll just become my own publisher.

Believe you me, I didn’t come to this decision lightly. It is something I feel best fits my life at this moment in time. I think it was all brought home for me when I realized I would never make a “thirty writers under thirty to watch,” list in my lifetime as a writer. My career in writing began after forty, and I’ll never get those years back that I languished as a person who “desired to write” versus that person who now has a “passion to write.”

In the summer of 2014, “Reasons” will debut. Then in the Winter of 2014, the sequel “That’s The Way of The World,” will follow. And somewhere in between, “The Parisian Assignation.” I am going to be writing nonstop, so I will need your encouraging words to keep the creative juju flowing. 🙂

I’m looking forward to having you all take this journey with me. ~ B.

P.S. – I have not done a blog post in so long, I’ve totally forgotten how to do it. “Help me Blogger-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” (Sounds like a refresher tutorial is in order.)

Iced ~ Damn Good, But Protagonist Inappropriately Young!

Iced-by-Karen-Marie-Moning225x341I gave four stars because I didn’t know how to give three and a half. I loved the storyline of this series more than the ShadowFever books because Dani is a compelling character, even if she can be a bit annoying, but what fourteen year old who’s lived through what she has wouldn’t be? Also, I couldn’t give this a higher rating because I felt like the character of Dani in this series should have been older given the subject matter she’s being subjected to in this book. Clearly, Ryodan has an inappropriate thing for her, well he and Christian McKelter and several of the other men in the story. Dancer is the only one who rightfully should have a thing for her, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the direction in which this is going. She is destined to be with Ryodan, and hopefully this will happen only after she’s twenty-one.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW:

Despite the fact there wasn’t any blatant sex in this book, there was plenty of sexual innuendo. Heck it began with 14-year old Dani indavertently touching Ryodan’s penis, and all the penis jokes throughout. Poor fictitious 14-year old. If this were an older Dani (even 18), this story would have received five stars from me, but I suppose I shouldn’t impose my morality on this very well-written story. All that aside, this story was more compelling than Mac’s stories, because Dani begins as a very strong character, despite have been abused by her mother who didn’t know how to mother a child with her gifts, then used by Rowena to do her bidding, then befriended then kicked to the curb by Mac, this child has been through a lot. Then in this story, she is “hired” by Ryodan to investigate the myserious Icing going on in AWC Dublin. Ryodan is already more than a little in love with the woman he hopes she will become, and his attraction to her is not just for her mind, either. What ticked me off was Ryodan’s entrance into a relationship with Jo, one of Dani’s few true Sidhe Seer friends form the Abbey. Of all the women in Chester’s he could’ve chosen someone else given that this was someone important to Dani. I can’t fathom how he’s going to get out of that one unless Jo dies, because Dani has seen them doing the dirty, and I don’t think she’s likely to forget anytime soon.

I suppose the character I sympathize with the most of the men attracted to Dani is Dancer, with Christian McKelter coming up second. Dancer doesn’t have the sophistication to compete for Dani’s heart yet, unless there’s something about him we’re going to find out later on. She loves him as her friend, and he’s technologically savvy, but she (and Ryodan) feels like he’s a liability in battle. Christian McKelter has the power to compete for her heart, but he’s a “death by sex” fey (fae), so I don’t think she’s going to give him any real play, but you never know. Christian has become something he didn’t want to be, so he’ll be acting according to his nature. Eventually, he will act on his feeling for Dani if given the chance, and he’s saved from the Unseelie monster who took him off to knit with his innards. I think his feelings for Dani are genuine even if his memory waxes and wanes due to the Fae change driving him mad. His sacrifice may soften Dani up to him. However, if she decides to give her virginity to him in the end, I think it would only be to piss Ryodan off, and Ryodan will kill Christian if given half the chance.

I look forward to reading the next installment, although it’s likely she’ll be fourteen again given how it ended, unless a time leap occurs in the second book (and I really hope it does). I don’t want to read the next two books torn between being a mother who has children older than Dani and hating that she has to be subjected to such a grown up life before her time.

Cloud Atlas and Other Meaningful Things

My most recent movie experience was the beautifully rendered “Cloud Atlas,” The Wachowski brothers and Tom Twyker’s brilliantly directed film adaptation of David Mitchell’s famously non-film-adaptable book. I’ve always loved the work of the Wachowskis, and have felt since being obsessed with “The Matrix” films that they could do no wrong, especially when it comes to bringing epic films to the big screen.

Six intertwined stories provides the viewer with a magical ride through time and space, as all stories move forward as one. The movie might prove to be confusing at first for those who haven’t read the book. The common thread among all the characters remains a mystery for the first half of the movie. However, the end resolves it very well. It is a three hour film, so you’re given a good amount of time to grasp the overarching theme. You will most certainly enjoy the gorgeous cinematography before you; It will all come together so perfectly in the end you won’t be disappointed that you didn’t know what was going on in the beginning.

A most brilliant aspect of the film is that all the actors play different characters throughout the film, finding themselves in different stories and eras. I absolutely adored the futuristic plot with Jim Sturgess. Tom Hanks’ role in the editor’s story was the initial big story, but it felt almost forgotten as the other stories unfolded. The film gives viewers the feeling of having seen not only Cloud Atlas as a whole but a whole other series of films as well.

cloud atlas

The actors in this film were superb. All their different characters were sometimes so believable, you couldn’t tell who was under the makeup sometimes. Tom Hanks shines from the opening sequence to the very end. Halle Berry was also equally exceptional as the journalist and Hugh Grant always has the uncanny ability to either become the characters, he plays. Hugo Weaving, the inimitable Mr. Smith from “The Matrix” series steals the show, and is mesmerizing both as the devil or in his much-reprised role as an assassin.

The costumes and make up were stunning and should have an Oscar nod for that feat alone. Changing the race and age of an actor is always tricky, but in this case, you don’t forget who they are. The score is also an incredible achievement–powerful and beautiful–which lent much to the tone of the movie.

Cloud Atlas will take you through a gamut of emotion, from bursts of violence that appall, to moments of levity, to raw coldness. You might shed tears, as the characters make decisions you believe to be ill-advised, but certainly heighten the story’s conflict.

Cloud Atlas is not an ordinary film. It is an adventure that will take you places you least expect. Don’t enter the theater trying to figure it out or understand what’s happening all the time. To steal a phrase from the Matrix, “free your mind,” let yourself go and you’ll find you will come to understood what it was all about. This is a non-linear plot reminiscent of Memento. If you’re looking for a beginning to end plot progression, then this film isn’t for you. But if you want to have a unique experience, watch Cloud Atlas once, or maybe twice. I know I’ll be seeing it at least three times.

As I write this, I am so very pleased and excited to share with you that my short story collection, “How Blue Can You Get?” has been published. It can be found on CreateSpace, Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats, and in Amazon’s distribution channels throughout Europe. These are stories I wrote over a period of about two years via Zoetrope.com’s Flash Factory prompts, and or just from my sheer imagination. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Blue-Can-You-ebook/dp/B009YQ8HSI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1351627001&sr=8-2&keywords=How+blue+can+you+get+beverlyn+elliott

How Blue Can You Get? – A Collection of Short Stories

On November 1, 2012, I’ll be self-publishing a collection of flash and short fiction. Please stay tuned so you can snag your copy once it’s posted!

The following is an Amazon link: http://ow.ly/eTU2C (copy and paste into browser) and a description. Enjoy!

BookCoverImage

HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET?

These stories originate from a daughter of the south, who summered in Michigan as a child. The author has come to realize that there is an undercurrent of blues across the nation. These flash and short fiction stories seek to capture the essence of that blues:

A gentle giant of a black man protects a woman in the post-depression south.

A mother and son try to salvage an ailing relationship after the death of a favored son.

The first zombie apocalypse occurs during Greek Antiquity.

A four year old traverses the vicious circle of life in the hands of neglectful parents.

A couple unravels after the delivery of their stillborn child.

A woman finally finds the courage to confront an abusive husband.

The Next Best Thing Blog Challenge

My Next Best Thingthe-next-best-thing-who-is-the-greatest-celebrity-impersonator-6

I was tagged in “The Next Best Thing” Blog Challenge by Angel Lawson at Succumbing To My Awesomeness (http://succumbingtomyawesomeness.wordpress.com/), a fun and also very informative blog which Angel shares with her readers and fellow zombie apocalypse believers. I am at a very boring family reunion in a tourist mecca in Tennessee where it‘s also as hot as West Hades, so I’m going to give this a try.

Here are the rules
Answer the ten TNBT questions listed below about your current WIP.
Tag five other writers and link to their blogs so we can hop over and read their answers!

My Challenge Answers:

1. What is the title of your book/WIP?

“That’s The Way Of The World,” which I hope to publish via a traditional publishing house early next year, or self-publish in the Fall. It all depends on what the agent says who has my 50-pager. (and, yes I stole that title from a song by the fabulous, Earth Wind & Fire). There is a pre-quel, too, entitled, “Reasons” which I will definitely self-pub by the Fall.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

The book is very loosely based on something that happened to me when I was in college. I took the few bones from my college experience and fleshed it out into a book, well actually two novels.

3. What genre would your book fall under?

The pre-quel would be considered New Adult. The Main Characters are 16 and 20 when they meet. The second book, which I hope to publish first is what most would call Chick Lit, but is a contemporary romance with suspense leanings.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My main character, LaVada, would be played by Paula Patton and Eric, would be played by Michael Fassbinder (or Bradley Cooper). I also have to cast Julian, the husband LaVada is not in love with, as Daniel Sunjata.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“That’s The Way Of The World” – LaVada Troudeau, PhD, a cell biologist at Johns Hopkins University, has spent more than a decade recovering from the betrayal of composer/conductor Eric Daniels, causing her to abandon everyone in their shared past–a chance meeting of a friend who is also Eric’s brother forces LaVada to confront her past, deal with the chaos that emerges from renewing old friendships, and solve a mystery that rocks her world with fresh betrayal.

6. Is your book published or represented?

Hope to hear news about representation soon. If that goes awry, I’m going to happily self-publish.

7. How long did it take you to write?

Six solid months for the pre-quel. I’m still working on the second book, and I have a self-imposed deadline of October 1st for completion.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to?

I would compare it to Bridget Asher’s “The Pretend Wife,” or Julianna Baggott and Steve Almond’s “Which Brings Me To You,” or maybe Emily Giffin’s “Heart Of The Matter.”

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

One of my all-time favorite authors is J.D. Robb who writes the “In Death” series featuring Eve Dallas and her spectacular leading man, Roarke. I love how she marries the futuristic police-procedural mystery with a bit of romance.

I thought I would combine a mish-mash of seventies and nineties culture, with a Nobel Prize winning, cell biologist MC who has to decide whom she should trust after having been betrayed once by both of the men in her life.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in your book.

“Reasons” and “That‘s The Way of The World“ tackle the themes of abiding love and betrayal. There is a healthy dose of conflict interwoven with life during the times when AIDS came to the forefront of health and threw a chink into the sex lives of people all over the world. If you like the music of the seventies, a bit of mystery, and a strong female main character who refused to let love derail her life’s ambition, you’ll definitely like these books.

These are the five writers I‘m tagging, whom I interact with on some of the many social networks I hang out on:

Tracey Garvis Graves http://www.traceygarvisgraves.com
MyFanwy Collins http://www.myfanwycollins.com/blog/
Nicole Wolverton http://www.nicolewolverton.com
Tiffany Madison http://www.tiffanymadison.com
Laura Kaye http://www.laurakayeauthor.blogspot.com

Happy After Fourth of July Weekend, everybody!

Bev
xoxo

My Fictionista Workshop Article

On July 5th I had another non-fiction publishing credit to debut on The Fictionista Workshop’s Writer’s Toolbox. I tackled the very riveting and important subject of Story Structure. Authors, readers, and friends, if you get a chance, give this article a gander. It’s a great one to file away for future reference when you need a resource refresher. Enjoy!

http://www.fictionistaworkshop.com/fictionista-press/writers-toolbox-story-structure/

The Waiting Game, and My Woeful Lack of Blog Entries

The title of this post is appropriate for just about every aspect of my life right now. I’ve been waiting since I was a teen to get to this point in my life: finding time to write, seriously. About three years ago, the time finally came for me to do just that. I dove headlong into writing with a group of women (and men), taking the work of another beloved writer and putting our own spins on it. Then I immediately began waiting until the day when I could step out and write my very own.

The Waiting Game

Some years back when I was a young mother, juggling toddler boys eighteen months apart, and a princess of a daughter around aged ten, I thought I could write again, seriously. I began to spend every waking moment of my days sitting behind my desktop (laptops hadn’t caught on so much back then—and I’m totally telling my age, again), waiting for inspiration to hit me. Rather than succeeding in penning the great American novel, I managed to let my house become an utter wreck, and I’m sure my husband wondered more than once whether he’d made a mistake when he married me. Needless to say, I abandoned the “waiting game for inspiration” and shelved my writing desire once again (the first time I’d done so, I was seventeen and off to college).

Throughout my life, I have always found things I needed to do that were more important than my desire to write. It’s what a woman does, especially if she has a family. I’m convinced that the woman who is able to write through career, marriage and motherhood is an absolute saint. I couldn’t do it because I had tunnel vision when it came doing things. I had no talent for multi-tasking, which often manifested itself by some aspect of my life either generally lacking or suffering horribly. So writing became that thing I always gave up for other things, until about three years ago.

Today, I hold my writing time as sacrosanct, and woe to the person or persons who tries to rob me of it. Ask my husband who will attest to the fact that I can become positively rabid if you attempt to take away my sacred writing time. I have forsaken most of my other hobbies for this thing that has consumed me. No longer do I spend any significant time watching television, visiting friends, shopping, or child-rearing (thankfully, all my children are now past the age of needing my constant attention). My husband would argue that I don’t spend much time being a wife, either, but I don’t complain that golf has usurped my place in his life, so there you go.

I was thinking recently about the “waiting game” and what has taken the place of waiting until the right time to write, and I came to the conclusion that my quest to find an agent has become my new “waiting game.” As many of you know, I was contacted by an agent on behalf of his client a month and a half ago to inquire if he could consider one of my short short stories for an anthology. Of course, I quickly replied in the affirmative, because that was a no-brainer for me. I need exposure in any form I can get it, and being in an anthology with one of my favorite authors is beyond cool, and would increase my cachet just a bit in the writing world.

Just the validation alone of being asked made me feel great, but then he took it one step further and told me that he felt like I had the “talent to write a publishable novel,” and that sent my belief in my writing potential into the stratosphere. At that point I was like, even if this guy, a 35-year veteran in the publishing industry, rejects me it’s a huge boon to my writerly self-esteem that he would deem my writing publishable. So, yeah, I took his words to heart and prepared my 50-pager and synopsis to send to him.

Then, I hired an editor to help me get it submission-ready (that process in itself will require a blog of its own), and roughly two weeks ago, I sent it out to the agent. So now, I’m in the middle of the “waiting game to land an agent.” I’ve heard it can take up to ninety days to get a reply from an agent and only after that period of time is it proper etiquette to inquire about the status of your manuscript. Now, I’m trying to psyche myself into writing and forgetting that my manuscript is now in a pile on an agent’s desk in New York somewhere waiting for him to read it and decide whether I’m worthy of his representation.

Meanwhile, as I put everything else on hold (except my day job and the traveling I’ve been doing the end of this fiscal year) during the writing, editing, and preparing of this 50-pager, I haven’t blogged, I haven’t tweeted, I haven’t networked with other writers; I haven’t done anything except tweak, re-tweak, and re-tweak that 50-pager for submission to a man whom I would really love to represent me after finding out who his other clients were. Also, the fact that he’s an old-school kind of agent really intrigued me, too. He actually will roll up his sleeves and edit, if need be. So, to say that I will be disappointed if I don’t land him is an understatement. However, I won’t be devastated and stop writing, because this thing is so under my skin now, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to.

I’ve said all that to say, readers, please forgive me for not reaching out to you in the last couple of months. Thinking about the few of you I have—and hoping you won’t jump ship on me—I realized the new “waiting game” had begun in earnest. Once I hear back from this agent, I won’t give up. I’ll keep pushing until something I’ve written is published, even if I have to go the self-publishing route, which is looking more and more advantageous as I hear the success stories of some of my contemporaries. Therefore, fear not my gentle supporters, I’m still alive and writing!

Realizing My Dream

QUOTES_Langston_HughesAs I write more and learn more about writing, this really and truly the only thing I want to do. However, I’m not naïve enough to believe that I have arrived—that my writing is critically spectacular and I can totally support my family on it. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. I have stories that I want to tell that my limited writing skill is totally unable to do justice, so I’ll keep those ideas close to my heart until I’ve written a book or three.

In recent weeks, all the hoopla around Fifty Shades has made me realize something—and this has played out in other mediums of entertainment as well. Your creative offering doesn’t have to be the best one on the market; it just has to have that special something that propels it forward in the collective hearts and minds of willing consumers. And it has to enter the market at just the right time to catch that spark that pushes it into the stratosphere. This has happened with The DaVinci Code, Twilight, The Kite Runner, The Help and many, many other stories.

Somehow, E. L. James was able to bottle that lightening with her Fifty Shades stories. There has been much said about it as she has racked up the notoriety, accolades, and denigration for this trilogy of books. It underscores that people have widely varying opinions on everything, and aren’t afraid to voice them across the internet airwaves.

My only opinion now is that James has received her seven-figure payday, so we might as well move on from beating the dead horse that has become a thoroughbred. I am not and never did hate on Ms. James. I just hope Vintage helps her to improve the quality of the 750,000 paperbacks they will glut the market with.

I have written a novella that I am busy editing for publication on Amazon KDP to build myself a following. I have only been a modestly successful writer by fandom standards, so I don’t have the luxury of the legions of fans Ms. James has taken with her into superstardom. I want to build a base of readers who will like my writing style enough to tell a friend, who’ll tell a friend, and eventually they will happily read my offerings as eagerly as J.D. Robb’s and James Patterson’s fans do.

Several weeks ago, I entered an original fiction contest at The Writer’s Coffee Shop and as I await their decision on its suitability for publication, I can’t help but be excited that I am moving forward with my own dream of getting a book in print. Will my romantic drama set in exotic Paris be a hit? I have no earthly idea. One thing I do know is that if it is not accepted by TWCS, I won’t stop there. I will continue to tweak my stories, to hone my craft, until I have a novel in print somewhere.

The only thing that matters to me now, is that I’m finally going to get to do something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. If my writing career goes nowhere, at least I’ll be able to say I’ve realized my dream and removed another item from my bucket list.