A Writer Reflects

Writer-once-upon-a-time-1024x576Earlier this week I was sitting a table in the breakroom at my day job, scribbling down story ideas. A random coworker approached and jokingly ask if I was writing a book. I answered straight-faced with a “yes”, causing him to look at me funny. With a sigh, I stopped writing and reached for my wallet to pull out a business card. I explained that yes I do write fiction, mostly fantasy, and had several things available on Amazon if he were interested.

o'connorI didn’t know this person. My day job is in a building with probably 400 people. I don’t know them all but I had seen this gentleman before in passing. The sigh was involuntary because I was being interrupted. Its the same as when you are trying to read or watch a movie and someone keeps talking to you. With a book or a movie often you can go back to the last line you read or rewind the film. When you are writing and someone interrupts your thoughts are gone once derailed depending on when they interrupt. In this case, everything was pouring out off the cuff and when I got suddenly got brought back to reality it was like someone turned off the water while I was drinking from the fountain.

Earlier that day I had been asked a question. I was stuck in a meeting with around sixty other people and happened to mention to one of my work friends that I have a new book of short stories out. This elicited surprise from those nearby, which confused me. I’m a writer. I don’t hide it. I thought I was quite obvious about it but it seems I wasn’t as apparent as I thought I was.

I was then asked, “If you are a writer, why aren’t you rich?”

I laughed because it doesn’t work that way. If all it took was to write and be semi-decent On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by [King, Stephen]at it to become well off, the distribution of wealth would be much different than what it is. My answer was: “Because I am not Stephen King, and even he started off writing in the laundry room.” (I work at an appliance company so this was met with more amusement than average.)

non-fictionIt is intriguing to note that people still equate books with wealth. Once upon a time books were hard to come by and only the wealthy had them. However, even then, the people that wrote the books were not as well off as the people that read them. Unless you are one of the few who receive a lot of advertising and tend to be decently prolific, writing a book is not the way to fame and fortune. Which isn’t why most writers write anyway.

I mean, we wouldn’t mind a little of the fortune. We all have bills to pay and would love the chance to be able to do so without worry or the necessity of having another job. It’s just not the way things usually work; regardless if you go the traditional publishing route, go indie, or do a combination of the two.

There are some writers who make a good living. I hope to be one of them someday. I library-425730_1920think that is the hope of most writers. Those that are actually in it for the fame and fortune are usually disappointed unless they have very good marketing teams.

Could I be more successful than I am right now? Oh absolutely. I just need to get over my ingrained insecurities, stop sighing at people who interrupt my writing when they may be potential customers, actually finish the dozens of writing projects I’ve got in the works, and then tell lots and lots of people that I have books and they should read them instead of hoping for some kind of divine osmosis to happen where everyone just suddenly knows my stuff exists.

I’ll get there one day.

dream time

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Bite Of The Sugar Plum FairiesChristmas is coming and the officers of the Arcane Investigations Division are finding the holiday season to be a busy one. Everyone has been working extra hours but Paul and Mike have been promised two precious days off if they can just manage this last case without major incident. All they have to do is break into an occupied house and round up a bunch of angry fairies without waking the owners or exposing the existence of the supernatural. Easy right?

Chasing Tall Tales

A week ago my mom bought a booklet of local ghost stories a thrift store for a quarter. Just twenty-two pages long, bound with staples and orange card stock, it really doesn’t look like much. However, the first story in this book has been driving me to distraction. Short enough to be considered flash fiction, the story is only two paragraphs long and is a reprint of something that appeared in a local paper nearly 20 years ago.

Roughly it states that, while working on widening a rural road, a road crew dug up a body of an adult woman. She was buried in the middle of the road with a wooded stake through her heart. Both the stake and the body had been petrified.

The lack of information immediately intrigued my curiosity. I am well aware that this a toothless gifwork of fiction. Sort of a local legend. It’s the kind of thing my older cousins used to make up to scare me when we took walks in the woods near my grandparents house. However, whatever it is inside that makes me a writer started whispering, “What if?”

It is plausible that a woman could have been killed and buried in an unmarked grave. Depending on when she was buried, maybe there wasn’t a road there at the time. Or maybe it was the only convenient spot. The story wouldn’t leave me alone. It claimed to have happened less than thirty minutes away, so I began digging. (Figuratively. I am pretty sure I would be writing this on the walls of the local jail if I actually tried digging up the road.)

Armed with just the name of the road I searched and found out that they did widen the road back in 1917. I also discover there has been precedence set for the petrification of human remains, if under the right conditions. The part of the road were the story claims the woman was buried runs close to the Hiwassee river. This is important because not only would the soil need the right minerals but it would also need the right amount of moisture.

In 1867 there was a great flood that decimated the area. It took out bridges and caused a train wreck where many died. There are even claims that the streets of Chattanooga were so flooded, that a man living on Lookout Mountain watched bodies float down them.

background-313572_1280So if the mythical woman had been killed and buried before the flood, then it is even plausible that she could have been petrified. If she existed. But if so, what happened to the body? Why was she buried in the road? Did whomever it was that killed her think they were slaying a vampire or a witch?

These are questions I don’t have answers to yet. I did find a similar story in a book called The Granny Curse and Other legends from East Tennessee by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett. It is about a chair haunted by the ghost of a vampire. (I didn’t know vampires could have ghosts but stranger things have become local legends.)

I am still investigating. Some people will probably laugh at me for chasing ghost stories and say I am on a snipe hunt or a wild goose chase. Just because it may not turn out to be true, doesn’t mean it isn’t teaching me a lot about the past. I had no knowledge of the flood of 1867 or of body petrification until now. I am sure it will end up being useful at some point, even if it is only in fiction.

A State of the Author Address

Writer-once-upon-a-time-1024x576I am a bit grumpy this morning. I thought about just rolling over and going back to sleep but I have way too much to do today. Hopefully, coffee will fix it.

It is still dark here so there isn’t much of a view from my window at the moment. So, I am also trying pinterest for a mood booster. Which could be dangerous. There are pretty pictures to look at but pinterest is kind of a Pandora’s Box. You can start by looking at landscapes and fairies, then the next thing you know you are looking at steampunk crocodiles and being attacked by a mountain of plot bunnies.

For once, I need not fear the plot bunny. The short story I was working on has been completed and will probably be available on Amazon by tomorrow. (Blood Relations by Tammi A. Miller) I have started a sequel to it already, though I hadn’t planned to.

I do still have a several actual books I need to be working on. However, I am home schooling my son this year. My writing time has become whenever I can make marks on paper. Short stories seem to be the format my writing is taking to adapt to the current situation.  Modern technology and google documents are a tremendous help with this. I once wrote on my phone while waiting for a public restroom stall to become free.

*Yawn*  I need more coffee. Good luck today my friends. My your writing be creative and you coffee/tea cup be full.

Cutting Back On Distractions

pocket watchThis is the beginning of a brand new week. It is roughly two weeks until Libertycon, I have my new short story out, several more in the works, and a lot of work ahead for all the hats I wear.

As a mom I will be venturing into the waters of homeschooling my rising 5th grader. As a writer I need to focus on getting more of my stuff finished, polished, and out there. As an employee I need to find away to balance all the work we have to do at night and my sanity. As a gardener I need to learn the difference between a garden and a jungle.

(That last one is for real. I just planted a simple, small square of ground. I didn’t even expect it to grow. I kind of just tossed seeds in the ground, covered them up, watered them, and left it alone. On occasion I water the plants some more. Then I leave for one weekend and when I come back pumpkin vines with leaves the size of elephant ears have started creep over the back yard.)

The point is since I have the same 24 hours as everyone else, and no one seems to be stickfigureselling extra sand for the hour glass. I need to cut back on some things so I can concentrate more on others. Finding these “things” is easy enough. I am a known procrastinator. Facebook and “checking email” are probably the main two ways I waste time on the computer, so I will start cutting back there. I will still visit facebook, twitter, and my inbox but I will be cutting down the amount of time I spend snared in the web.

I only post here once a week usually, so there won’t be any changes here. Maybe I will even be more on time with those Monday posts. Wish me luck. 🙂

Insecurities and titles

Tammi05-SneakPeek-AI am still getting used to the idea of being an author. I like the term writer better. It feels less…well self important, I guess. I am more of a bluejeans and t-shirts type of girl. The word “Author” makes me think of button up shirts and pressed slacks for some reason.

I should know better. I have met a lot of different author and every last one of them was very nice and not pompous at all. There were some in suits and some in slacks but there were also those in pirate costumes and utili-kilts with bottled frappacinos in the pockets.

It is an insecurity I need to over come. It is not like the other authors are going to turn on frabz-Pitchfork-Mob-ready-and-waiting-253c36me in mass and start yelling, “Fake! She’s a Fake! Raise the pitch forks!” Yet that is what I secretly expect.

However, it is the same at school gatherings too. I never feel like I fit in with the other parents. I feel like I need to make sure I am close to the exits in case the P.T.O demands a human sacrifice or something. Because deep down I know that it is going to be me or one of the lone dads in the crowd and I am pretty sure they can run faster.

Part of it comes from being an introvert and part of it comes from self doubt and the ghosts of nay sayers. Insecurity is a hurtle I will over come. It shrinks with each new book. I have three manuscripts in the re-write stage and one short story that is almost through editing.

you_fail_only_if_you_stop_writingThe short story will be sent off to my cover artist soon and then will be available on Amazon for the Kindle and ect. I have too much writing to get done to be hung up on insecurities. I will face them as they come. The title “Author” is just a shield. I am still a “Writer” underneath it all. Just like a Knight may wear armor but is still a squishy human inside the metal casing.