Charlie's Blog

Following the Muse

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 1:54 AM

    It's been an interesting couple of years. I've done NaNo, and in five years I've managed to complete three solid first drafts (one took two years to complete and one was just getting started after 50k), but I haven't done as much with the edits as I hoped. 

     The same goes for my short stories—although I'm working on a quirky little western horror where the main character is a vampire-hunting grandmother who likes using garlic wherever she can. Apart from that story, and finishing edits on another, I haven't done much with short stories.

     I'd like to get my western done by the end of the month to submit to an anthology. I'd also like to rewrite a short story to see if I can sell it to another anthology in October. Both would be nice.

     For the past two weeks (ish) I have managed to write for an hour or two a night. Most of that was either editing or rewriting, but it feels good to writer longer stuff. I would really like to get back into my novels…

     What has kept me sane (relatively, as I tend to live in the land of puns and musicals) is poetry—and audiobooks. LOTS of audiobooks.

     I have dry spells where I'll listen to five or more audiobooks a week, but recently I've been writing more poetry, and resurrecting poems that were abandoned. And…it's paid off. 

     As I've been spending money on audiobooks and copies of anthologies to sell at conventions (three different anthologies this year, plus copies of two of my dad's books), plus the yearly costs of running a small press (for my dad's books) and I chose not to attend the Quills Conference this year. 

    (Long story short: I wasn't selected as a presenter and I have to pay for my membership and meals for both me and my husband—when I can convince them that even though he's a member of LUW, he doesn't want to attend the conference and only does so to act as my guide. Yes, last year I had this problem.)

     Anyway, Quills is a great conference, and I’m sorry I couldn't attend this year, but I entered ten poems in two categories in the Woolley Awards contest and wanted to attend the awards banquet on Saturday night.

     My husband and I had our anniversary on Thursday, so we chose to go to the banquet as a celebration of reaching a milestone. I hoped to get an honorable mention and maybe one of the three awards that come with a cash prize. I really didn't think I had much of a chance because there are a lot of great poets in the League. The two categories I submitted to were Light Verse and Sonnet. I haven't written any sonnets since college, and mine were definitely slanted to science fiction and fantasy. 

    To my surprise, I had two poems tie for first honorable mention, and one that I wrote as light horror won first place. It was a 32-line poem about monster-ish trees, with lots of rhymes. I like it, but I thought it was TOO light to win. I'm tickled it did. And one of the two that tied for first honorable mention was rejected for the HWA's Poetry Showcase this year.

     Then, as an even bigger surprise, one of my three sonnets won second honorable mention, and the one I liked best took first place. Wow. I love Shakespeare, and I love sonnets, but mine, while Shakespearean in form, were about books and history. I was really tickled about the awards.

     It was a validation for the work I've put in this year and encouragement after the lack of sales. And it gave me a much-needed boost to my enthusiasm for writing.

     I encourage writers to find a group that helps you grow as a creative and gives you the encouragement and support you need. I'm part of three chapters of the League of Utah Writers (one just for poetry), the Utah Chapter of the Horror Writers Association, and a writing group with my daughter and two friends we met at a convention earlier this year. I learn—and re-learn—my craft, I get great feedback, and I get the validation I need to keep going. It's awesome!

     And I'm branching out into new areas of literature. Thanks to my daughter, I finally dove into cozy mysteries. I love them. I've read over 60 cozy mysteries in nine different series. I love the characters and their network of friends, and I love that the sex and violence is off-screen. I'm thinking of switching from fantasy to cozy mystery for this year's NaNo. However, if I do, I'll need to have a list of characters, how they connect to each other, how many of them have motive and opportunity, and how the killer did it. Then I can pants the story itself. Gotta get those red herrings! I heard a fellow writer complain that she was disappointed in a mystery because it didn't introduce the murderer until the last part of the book. That never goes over well. 

     Anyway, getting two first place wins and three honorable mentions has really lit a fire under my muse. I'm eager to get back to writing now!