Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inner Monologue - Writing Prompt

June is here and with it comes the Circle read-around. As always, this is a chance to share our stories and become connected to our "neighbor." We read aloud.  We listen.  Once you have heard a woman's story, you can never be strangers again.

I am particularly excited about the June 9 read-around at Wellington Square since this offers women who have heard about our book collaboration project an opportunity to find out more and consider whether or not to participate. 

We are looking at an August 31 submission deadline.  I have included the link here for additional information on the project.

Now onto a writing prompt for our read-around.

A story becomes richer when the writer uses inner monologue.  It's almost like you're inside the mind of the character. It breaks down the emotional boundaries and the reader is offered insight into thoughts and motivations.  There is a psychological realism to the monologue. 

In memoir, the inner monologue is that of the narrator since the story is told through first person narrative.  In fiction, the writer can employ inner monologue with any number of characters to show various points of view.

Think about the character's "voice."   Do the thoughts fit the character's personality? This is showing, not telling.

Usually the inner monologue comes into play when the character is confronted with a decision, a realization, a memory.  In Catcher in the Rye the inner monologue was Holden Caulfield reflecting on everything going on in his life.  In my book, it was reflection on my husband, the love and the loss.

Write a piece using inner monologue to bring us closer into the character's world and thought process. Dig deep on this one.  And have fun! As always, if this does not suit, bring what your muse inspires.  For more information on the read-around:

All the best,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Memory of Kate

Recently I learned of the sudden death of Kate Raley, my editor for Again in a Heartbeat.  A woman of uncommon brilliance and sensitivity, Kate came to the first Women's Writing Circle read-around in November 2009.  She told me she had seen a notice posted about it in a coffee shop. 

She read a story in the Circle about a little girl who challenges a Catholic priest to defend the notion of heaven.  The little girl laughs at him, mocks him for his platitudes, questions his dogma. He is no match for her wits, her intelligence, but he has the power to hurt her.

It's tough work this business of memoir and writing from the heart.  The grueling nature of sustained investigation of the self often lies in the hope that at the end of the journey comes healing and peace.  Sometimes, though, even the writing doesn't help. 

After learning of Kate's death, I talked to a  fellow writing teacher of women's stories.  She often asks herself a question.  What is the one needful thing required to be able to help those who seek her out and move on to the next person? They want a  guiding light, a mentor, and imagine she holds the key to unraveling the mystery and pain of their lives through writing.  Of course no one can rescue another, she said.  My friend confessed that over the course of her long and distinguished career she often has to set boundaries. She only has so much energy, she must conserve some for herself and her family. This I know well even though I am new to this work. 

We  offer a place for other women to find their voice. Hopefully, it is a supportive place like the Circle.  Women read aloud their stories . . . their words resonate.  This is offering the one needful thing we can do, I told my friend. 

I remember Kate and how generous she was with me at a time when I most needed to tell my story. I often say she held the magic wand, taking my journalistic recounting and turning my words into compelling narrative.  But more than that, she listened.  She believed my story needed to be told.  Here is what I remember about Kate: 

After reading the first few chapters of my book, Kate expressed compassion about John, how irreplaceable he was.  The only man she ever loved had died years ago too.  “Maybe someday,” she said when I asked her if she dated.  “I haven’t closed the door.”
Sunlight broke through winter clouds and shone through the windows.  I got up to pour more white pear tea she had brought for us to enjoy.  I felt more hopeful than I had in a while.    
Kate wrote voluminous notes on the back of my typed pages, in margins, on separate sheets of notebook paper. 
“Stop being afraid of disturbing people,” she wrote.  “A writer’s job is to question, to disturb, to bring to light what’s left in the dark, unsaid.  As well as to reveal – it’s light and dark.  That is the world.  And writers have only that to write about.”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Book By Women About Women

What could be more satisfying than collaborating on a book by women and about women?  I don't know.  But then, I am a writer enthralled with the new world of writing and publishing options that enhance women's creative endeavors. 

The Women's Writing Circle is planning to publish a book of our writings.  Although in the preliminary stage, the enthusiasm for this project radiated at yesterday's read-around of the Circle.   Already 10 women echoed:  "Count me in!"

The intention:  "Our best efforts should motivate, reward and reach out. Our goal - share and connect - is meant to creatively add to the widest possible range of experiences and perspectives from our lives and memories."

Of the unspoken words of women throughout the ages, Virginia Woolf writes in A Room of One's Own:  "She lived in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed."

Our book's theme is women's voice, issues and perspective.  "A room of our own" is an apt literary metaphor for the Writing Circle anthology.

Here's what we have established so far:
  • Any woman who has attended the Circle may submit a piece; memoir, personal essay, poetry, fiction, etc.
  • The writing(s) is not to exceed 5,000 words.
  • There will be a cost of $100 per person for publishing, editing, and marketing expenses.  
  • Each submitted piece will be critiqued by the other submitters. Based upon feedback the critiqued piece will be revised. The revised piece will then be edited by an editor (to be chosen at a later date).
  • Each submitter is expected to be an active participant in all of the work that goes into publishing and marketing a book.
  • All who submit work for the book will own the copyright to their work.
  • The book will be published as a trade paperback and as an eBook.
  • The tentative deadline for the book’s release: April, 2013.
Additional details available next month. For writers who have not attended the Circle, but are interested in contributing to the book, our next read-around is Saturday, June 9 from 9-11:30 a.m. at Wellington Square Bookshop. There is a submission deadline of August 31.
I am excited by what may be a "first" for women writers in the Philadelphia area. 

All the best,

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jumping On the eBook Bandwagon

I hate to be one of those "I told you so people." In December I wrote on this blog why I decided to make my memoir exclusive to Kindle through Amazon's KDP Select program.  For the year prior to that I had made a case for self-publishing and POD or print-on-demand books and how exciting the technology was and how impressive the product.  Now it seems what I was saying has come to pass.  eBooks are the wave of the future.  So is self-publishing.

The decision I made to go with the KDP Select program is being made by hundreds of other self-published authors who have come to the same conclusion.  A desire to reach as broad an audience as possible.  Isn't this why we write?  We long for an audience to share our words, hoping our stories will captivate and connect. Who wants his book to enter the "proverbial black hole," as one writer put it?

And while I love book signings and meeting folks in person, there is something wonderfully simplistic about sitting at the computer, tapping into your monthly sales report and seeing sales taking place on a daily basis while you do nothing but enjoy the gorgeous spring weather. 

Royalties for an eBook sold through the Kindle are 70 percent for authors who price their books at $2.99 and up.  Anything below $2.99 and the royalty is 35 percent.  When I made Again In a Heartbeat free during two promotional periods on Amazon, more than 12,000 people in the US and the UK downloaded the book.  Interestingly, I received royalties for many of those "sales" although I am not sure why.  The program is intricate and the guidelines detailed in terms of payment. I don't pretend to understand it all. 

Since the promotions ended, sales continue and my book is now being noticed and reviewed by people living as far as England.  My sales ranking has gone up astronomically - ok, this may not last but for now I am enjoying Again In a Heartbeat being someplace on the Amazon bestsellers list below 30,000.  (The trade paperback version of my book, in contrast, is ranked around 2,000,000 - yes, that's right as in million.) 

POD is a product in which the author owns the copyright, the royalties are higher than anything you could expect with a traditional publishing house and the book can be ordered online and sent to a customer within 24 hours.  It's not perfect, but it is what it is for those of us not willing to wait forever to see our work reach the light of day.

The changes in the publishing industry are happening with mind-boggling rapidity.  I have no idea what might happen today or tomorrow, but I will continue to trust my own instincts and entrepreneurial spirit.   As I have said many times before on this blog, this is the joy and the challenge of self-publishing. 

Marketing an eBook through writing communities on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter has been a boost to my sales.  Now it is my turn . . . I am heading out this weekend to purchase a Kindle.  It's about time I jumped on the eBook bandwagon and began reading some of the great stories out there by independent writers.

Here's the piece I wrote in December on why I chose KDP Select.