First a few words from under the pile of literary criticism books:
This is what it’s all about. A real life book with a real life cover. This one’s by my friend Justin Bog, as you can see. On twitter he describes himself as a writer, reader, book/music/film /travel reviewer for In Classic Style. Pets: Zippy, Kipling, Ajax & Eartha Kitt’n often feature on his blog with stunning pictures of his garden in the San Juan Islands off the West Coast of the United States.
I asked Justin to write this for me because he is such a great example of how to build up a career as a writer.
When I started out thinking that I’d like to write, no, well, actually, thinking that it was really my only option so I’d better get on with it, I realised , okay, was told, that it’s not enough to be talented, not enough to be a good writer. You have to be aware of the market and work out the best way you can bring your work to that market successfully.
I can remember being told by a successful author, ‘I’m assuming you’re good, that’s just taken for granted, after that, you have to understand the business’.
Justin is one of the first writers I met through social media when I started to try to understand the business. He’s been very kind to me in many ways and has a massively inflated opinion of my skills. So he’s obviously a perfect guest on my blog!
Lucky for you he is, also, an example of how to get your writing out to a readership – and one with the credibility of having done it. He has recently published his first short story collection as an ebook. Here, he shares some of the secrets of his writing and publishing success.
Justin, I am very grateful for your generosity and openness. Check out the talent too, people. (It’s available on amazon.com at a great price – links below.) Cathy
I love Cathy’s writing, and she only says she’s a student of writing ~wow~ and taking exams . . . learning the craft. The philosophical musings, the searching for truth in style, subject, point of view, she shares on her Blog is required reading. I’ve been a fan for a very long time.
When Cathy invited me to write a Guest Post about my new book, Sandcastle and Other Stories, I jumped at the chance. (I actually thought: I’m not worthy, before squishing that dark self-loathing.) I am here to speak about the creation of Sandcastle, the short story, and the compilation’s journey to publication.
The cover of the new book, which Cathy pasted at the top of the blog, is a detail from one of my father’s paintings of the Jersey Shore Boardwalk Series. Both my parents were artists, professors of art, and I followed in their huge creative footprints.
Sandcastle, the story, began with one image: Brenda, a woman alone, watching an orange balloon float on its path above a crowded beach, and the dark thought of her own recent past. I am a huge fan of suspense stories, O.Henry tales, the sharp British tales of Rachel Ingalls, and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Reading suspense takes me to a wonderful mindset where I try to figure out what each character’s motivation is behind the scenes, all of this unsaid in the story. It’s for the reader to figure out this mindset, why people do the things they do. In real life, this is usually unknown unless someone wants to be on a reality show, and even then, “the why” is still only guessable. So, after the balloon flew away, I focused on Jane, a little tot in a tutu-styled bathing suit, whining to her mother about it. The mother came into being and I witnessed her annoyance.
I didn’t want to just say: She was immediately annoyed by her daughter’s whining. Although I could have done just that and left it. Dialogue made this moment important because it showed Jane’s mother’s state of mind, and Brenda took all of this in and used it further on in the plot.
Beginning with a character is how I like to write. Bringing a character to a fantastic end is the hard part. Every word became important in this story, every moment. There is very little fat to chew on. What happens is very shocking to some readers. It shocked me too, and that’s the best feeling any author can have.
The other nine short stories also begin with a character, what this character observes, what is important to him or her, what motivates an action. I love the psychological interplay between family members, friends, and strangers who meet for the first time. So, you could say, I’m a pantser, not a plotter, and I would tend to agree, most of the time. All of these stories have a distinct beginning, middle, and end even if the plot is interior, within the mind of one person sitting outside on a stoop watching the day pass her by, or awake late at night trying to get to sleep but too afraid to do so because of her night terrors.
How do you begin writing a story? Do you have an image? A character? A scene in mind? Do you think of the end first? What motivates you to write? I love the process from beginning to end, and the reaction a good story can deliver. Please let me know what you think if you like the book.
I just received amazing news I want to share with Cathy and her readers: A Washington State publisher wants to publish the print edition of Sandcastle and Other Stories. The publisher has been reading my blog and contacted me to talk about the future of the book in an alliance with a new publishing imprint. Just working out the details now. I am humbled and honored at the response my first eBook is receiving, and I thank you too Cathy for being a huge supporter from the very beginning.
Cathy, cheers for inviting me to stop by. It was a pleasure.
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