As promised, a new page

Since I’m apparently going to be a “real” writer, it’s time to unveil my new writer’s site, entitled “The Growing Works of Barbara Mountjoy.” I know I said I thought it would find a home at WordPress, but I couldn’t find a template that worked for me there. So please stop by and check it out!

The contract on the novel is on its way to me, but the publisher and I have already had extensive conversation about the very real possibility of a series to follow this novel, complete with potential plots and details. The artist is available to work this summer on the project, so perhaps some six months from now we will all be able to hold a copy of “The Elf Queen” in our hot little hands. I know I can’t wait.

Stay tuned for further good words! If you’re a writer feeling like your day will never come (like I did last week), I urge you to hang in there and keep trying. The success is even sweeter after the struggle. I promise.

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And then there was more…

I discovered this week that I have been merrily sending people off to look at my author’s website–and it’s not there.

*collective gasp*

Well. Surely I have to remedy that situation.

Therefore, please stay tuned over the next few weeks when I hope to unveil a new WordPress page, one I’ll be able to keep updated myself, as I never did know how to access the old HTML one. I will have a couple of interactive stories, one from a collection I made called “A Life in the Day,” a series of moments that changed people’s lives, and the other featuring a fictional Pittsburgh lawyer I’ve written about several times named Suzanne Taylor. Also a list of what’s available out in the world of my writing, and a lot of fun tidbits.

I hope it will be interactive for readers and writers and we will all come together and share great things. The leaves are coming out, flowers are blooming, and we’re all going to blossom into creativity!

Off and running!

Of all the corpses I’d seen in six years as a news reporter, Lily Kimball’s hit me the hardest.

This is the opening line of my 2009 NaNovel–like it?

Yes, National Novel Writing Month is ON! Sign-ups are still being taken on site, so if you’ve got a novel in you that you’ve always wanted to get down on paper, take the challenge. Now.

I’ve been holding off on this real hard all the last week until yesterday, when the writing could legally begin, so I seriously spewed forth copy yesterday, over 2000 words!

The story is written in first person, something I don’t normally do, so that’s switching me up a bit. You get a lot closer to your character that way; I expect she won’t be able to hide much from me, either. So far, so good. Look out vampires, here I come.

I missed the local write-in yesterday, but I’ve got another set for Wednesday afternoon. A writer friend and I are getting together for an hour or two of mad typing on our current projects. I need to get ahead, as I may have family coming in Thanksgiving week, and I want to get as much of that 50,000 words done in advance.

That being said, I’m off to write some more! AVANTI!

Moving ahead, pen/keyboard in hand

Halfway through October, and I’ve finished a first draft of my newest novel manuscript, a women’s fiction story about a downsized lawyer who meets a younger man dying of cancer and how they change each other’s lives. It’s about the longest first draft I’ve ever had at more than 75,000 words. I’m very pleased with it, and also pleased that it’s finished before–

NANOWRIMO!!!   nano_09_blk_participant_100x100_1.png

Yes, the crazy month of writing dangerously begins in only 15 days. I’ve got a story in mind about psychic vampires, since vampires are the flavour du jour, and we’ll see how it goes. I completed the task in 2007, lost my way last year, but this year looks good for a win.  🙂 The Erie group is meeting up at Borders November 1 at Millcreek for a Write-In–what a blast!

I’ve also recently won a writing course from nationallyknown teacher Margie Lawson, and I’m very excited about it! I got hold of several of her lecture packets and they are fantastic. I’m taking the two weeks between now and NaNo to bone up on her course on Empowering Character’s Emotions. Very exciting indeed!

I’m also reading, which is supposed to be good for writers as well– C.J. Lyons’ second book, Warning Signs, a medical thriller that has all the best stuff from ER and other medical shows I’ve watched, as well as sampling some Harlequin Blaze titles to see how others write sex. (Yes, Uncle Ed, this means that these manuscripts might actually be worth reading…)

All in all, it looks like a productive holiday season, which is good for me–traditionally a slow time for family law attorneys, since most parents try to hold things together for the benefit of the children for a few weeks.  Nice to have something to look forward to.

So ladies and gentlemen, warm up your word processors and get ready to NaNo!

For love or money?

Thirty-five years ago, I received my first check for a piece of writing. The Peru Tribune paid me five bucks for a sweet little piece about my grandmother’s Indiana farm. It was hokey as hell. But they printed it. And they paid me.

That’s the big dream of a lot of writers–to be able to earn enough money pursuing the muse to be able to pursue the muse. Such a small proportion of writers actually hit that mark that–well, Han Solo was right. Never tell me the odds.

Since then I’ve had articles and fiction printed in publications small and large, national distribution, some of them. One book in print, two stories coming out in Cup of Comfort book editions in the next year. All of which I’ve been paid for. Not enough to give up my day job by a long shot.

Fellow writers are confused about my devotion to my blog and my Firefox news writing as they don’t come with a direct paycheck. (Well, the Firefox gig pays with a share of ad revenue, but only as a result of clicks on the Google ads on the page. If no one clicks, then…nada.) Why waste your time publishing what doesn’t pay? You should concentrate on the works-in-progress that have monetary potential, they say.

I put some thought into this at the end of last year, when I created the blog. It was fairly quickly apparent that I couldn’t collect ad revenue at a WordPress-hosted site, so I put the ad on my homepage. Not exactly making money hand over fist. At Firefox too, I might earn pennies a day. But is that all that matters?

Writers write, so readers can read.

Oh, sure, there’s the “something flows from inside of me and I must put it down on paper, else I shall simply burst!” part. But none of that applies to a check, either. We write so others will read what we write. By this process, we share something special.

As you can see, this blog has been accessed some 13,000-plus times. Of course, those aren’t all discrete readers–I hope at least one or two of you stop more than once! But in about nine months, that’s about 1,400 times a month someone has read my words.

I totalled up the Firefox hits the other day–since I started writing for that site five months ago, I’ve had over 37,000 separate hits on my stories. Those are much more likely not to be the same folks over and over, just because of their fanbase.  So between the two, I’ve had someone read my words some 50,000 times this year.

Sure, I keep writing the other, the novels, the short stories, the travelogues, hoping they’ll catch the eye of an editor or agent somewhere, so that I can invest in my pursuit shoes. In the meantime, there’s 50,000 people who have read what I’ve written, people from all over the country–maybe all over the world.

These may not have “paid,” in the way so many of us would like to be. But I’ve got to believe the words have paid off, in the way that has been true since the first storytellers began, in the connection of one person to another, an idea that sparks from one mind to the next, changing both people, even in some small way, forever.

Waiting

Some people dwell on the past. Some people obsess about the present. Me, I seem to be always looking ahead, waiting.

I’m the family planner, so I’ve got many, many things that are coming. Doctor appointments, haircuts, prescription refills, family gatherings–all of them waiting to happen, but on my mind now, to make sure they’re not missed or forgotten. (Because, seriously, a lot more things get forgotten these days than there used to be.)

Same for the office. Half the time, I’m waiting on other counsel to send me the paperwork I need to move ahead with a case, or dates for court hearings, or clients to remember to call me BEFORE they do something stupid instead of after. Waiting, waiting.

Then there’s the writing life. I work really hard to pull together a story, polish it up, find an appropriate market, send it out–and more waiting. Sometimes days. Sometimes months. Even after an acceptance, sometimes you wait too–I got a short story accepted last week, and I’ve been waiting for it to show up so I can share the address with my blog readers, but it’s not there yet. My Cup of Comfort story is coming…in December. A writer friend of mine just got a copy of one of his works newly in print–that had been accepted in 2005! Godot arrived faster than this!!

Which brings me to the subject of patience.

The Cabana Boy would tell you this is something I struggle with daily. Moment to moment, even. I am not a patient person. I have always been a very hands-on, get-the-job-done, don’t-waste-my-time kind of person. I multi-task almost all the time, and find it hard to sit and do nothing. Even raising my older children, we moved through life quickly, accomplishing tasks and goals.

What a difference now! These three special needs children we’re raising are not geared toward fast-moving achievement. Their blossoms are slow–oh so slow– to open, and often curl and twist with missteps. Frustration and more waiting! But also, perhaps a bit of education. They say we choose our lives before we are born, lay before our souls the lessons we need to learn. If that is true, then I must come to terms with patience, with waiting.

American writer Barbara Johnson said, “Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” Here’s to a dance with auto mechanics. Let it be.

Three More Hours a Day? Maybe? Please?

I’ve been a fan of science fiction as far back as I can remember.

My favorite tv show as a child was Lost in Space. (Now I just gave away my age…) Then the Trek franchise began. I read Heinlein and Norton, Tolkien and Herbert, L’Engle and Spider Robinson and dozens of others I don’t remember any more. In college we were visited by the Star Wars phenomenon and I found Anne McCaffrey’s dragon series, which I’ve continued to read to this day, even now that her son’s taken over the crafting of those exquisite novels.

So it should come as no surprise that I enjoy writing SF as well. I’ve written one space opera entitled Horizon Shift, about a captain who nearly loses his ship and has to rebuild to survive, collecting a crew of odd characters. I have a couple of vampire novels, an inter-dimensional fantasy, a Next Generation novel that actually got some compliments from an editor but didn’t feature one of the regular cast as the star, so they turned it down.

But the one that’s on my mind today, Triad, features three strong women, each a commander of a faction, who find they need to work together to survive, despite their enmities and varied agendas. Those women are fascinating, one a broken princess, one a conniving bitch, and the other a devoted career woman who’s lost her child because of it. I wish I could stop everything else for a week or so and take the time to revisit it, update it, polish it again and send it off.

That’s the problem any more…so often writers complain about writer’s block–I’ve got writer’s diarrhea or something, so much to say and do with my writing, but no time to do it. The urban fantasy that’s the current WIP is progressing well for a first draft, not up to my NaNoWrimo standards , but moving steadily ahead–I think it’s nearly 30K words now. I’ve got one project in intense editing, about a third of the way through–it needs 10,000 more words cut and condensed. I’m trying to keep up here and also at Firefox News, where I intend to have several articles a week published, if I can find the time.

Tonight’s article at Firefox is an interview with author Keith R.A. DeCandido, who was gracious enough after I met him at the writer’s conference to grant the time for my questions. This man is a machine–three to four books a year in addition to his editing work and anthologies. AND he plays percussion in a band, and finds time for a fiancee and two cats, as well as martial arts training. Hard to believe. He has me in awe.

Well, I’ve heard I got the runner-up slot as the Writer in Residence at Devil’s Tower, Wyoming in September–so if the first place winner loses her crown for any reason, I’ll get a free cabin for a week of solitude solely to write. Maybe then…

Meantime, I’ll keep exploring the wild and wonderful corners of imagination in space and on earth. If you come along….be sure to fasten your seat belt. Maybe bring a map too. Just in case.