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Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Roles:" an Autobiography

      I have often thought of the saying, to paraphrase  "All the worlds a stage and all the people actors."  I thought that statement was stupid, I didn't connect to it.  But then I was working on a talk about roles, that I was going to give in conjunction with a project I've been working on for around 20 years.
      The project was a book (nonfiction), about being a survivor of a sexual abuse/assault.   The book would include others who have lived through such ordeals.   This would also include incest survivors and include help for men as well as women.  So for book publicity, I would have a little speech prepared, and it would go a little something like this:


      In life, we play many roles.  When we are children, we are son's, daughters, brothers, sisters nieces, nephews, grandsons, or granddaughters, and students.  When we grow up, our roles change.  We become mothers and fathers, Aunts and Uncles.   Grandparents later on.  Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, Firemen... And we dream about these roles when we grow up.  What we want to be when we "Grew up."  
     Nobody ever says, "I want to be a rape survivor when I grow up."   Yet that is a role that Robert Patton forced on me at knife-point in November 1994.    It's a role that makes one of my many catastrophic changes in my life. What he did to me, can never be undone, I will always be this role.   

     However,  now I do not let it define me, it is in my past.  What got me to this point, was the day I stood in court, giving an "impact statement."  This is when a survivor (or someone else) can read to the court, before sentencing.    I stood up and told Patton exactly what he did to me, and how he changed me for all time.   Then I read a poem that told him in part that I had been in a prison, the poison of what he did trapped in a wound that nobody else could see.   Yet, now he would be the prisoner, and that I was free.   With those words, I was free.
    That day was 12 years ago, and so much has passed.   Both of my parents are now gone, but I'm so happy they were there that day.   What happened to me, also forced roles on them.  Roles that they were not prepared for, parents of a rape survivor.  That night, was only the second time that I ever saw my dad cry, and it would be the last.   I felt worse for my parents that night in the hospital than I did for myself.  I had to put aside my pain and fear to help them.   The guilt that they didn't keep me safe, haunted them for a long time.  I didn't get that at first, but after a time, I grew to understand somewhat.  But it didn't make it any easier for me to cope with that knowledge for a long time.

      I was not alone in bearing this role, I had 36 other women who bare the same scars.. my sisters, linked by a role not everyone can understand.   Rape takes away everything, your sense of safety, sense of self.  Security is gone, and you look over your shoulder and become over sensitized to sounds, and casual touch becomes like a brand.  PTSD is real for us.

     But once I gave my impact statement, I was free from his shadow, his presence.    While I can never forget or forgive, I can cut that binding of power that he held over me for 10 years.   I do not feel a damned thing for him now.   I'll never forgive him, but I've let go of the anger.

      I've never identified with the role of victim, but I feel more powerful being called a "Survivor," for that is what he didn't do to me, he didn't define me.  Once he left that night, I won.

    


Saturday, June 17, 2017

The I-Files. Yes, been watching Mulder and Scully WAY TOO MUCH!

      I don't know about you, but when I get a really good idea...I like to write it down somewhere. Sometimes I don't have anywhere to write it on, so I grab what is handy.   I pull a napkin or a receipt from my favorite coffee shop or bookstore (those are longer and wider typically).  I even tell folks to use their phones notepad/evernote/fill in the blank app.  Some even have voice recorders, or you can get the old fashioned kind and buy a small tape recorder (voice recorder, I have 2, but darn it, I can't find them to save my life!).

So what I do, is to take the idea down with whatever is at hand. I write it down; the place, date and time down to...even what spurned the idea (as the action that created the idea might make it's way into its story).   I may make further notes (brainstorming), if that comes.  If it doesn't then it will be kept and worked into another story later, or might tie in nicely to another WIP (Work in Progress.)

Once I get it down on paper, or on the recording device (and assuming that I didn't lose those either) then it is time to move it over to my I-Files.  I actually call mine "Shiny New Ideas," and it's a spreadsheet in Google Drive.   That way I can get them anywhere, and on any device I choose.    It looks something like this.

IDEA                                                                      DATE:                                             SOURCE:

JOHN AND HARVEY FIND LOST DOG            03.22.77                       DOG WANDERING


If you want you can put more detail in those fields.   For instance;



  • Weather and setting
  • Anything else that strikes you about this.  
  • What they were wearing.   

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Revisiting Old Friends...AKA Finding "Buried" Treasure

     Finding stories you don't recall writing is fun.  It's like unearthing buried treasure, without the X to mark your spot. For me it is like revisiting old friends.  They may not have been completed stories either;  I may not remember all the details of where I wanted to take it.  But, I sometimes come up with new, and perhaps even better ideas.  As these are unfinished projects, it might have meant that the original idea wasn't good enough, or have enough strength to pursue to completion.

     It can be a challenge to decide where to go with, or recapture the interest in it; sometimes you just  have to let it go.   But you should never get rid of those treasures,  they can become the basis for some other project.  Or I may get some more fleshing out on the idea, but that is about it.  And sometimes it can be years before I get around to revisiting these old friends.

     So I hear you..."Hey, can you give us an example?"

     In full disclosure, I haven't actually haven't had much opportunity to pursue a formerly buried idea, because most of my project ideas are very incomplete.  And new ideas that I know I will publish, come up.  So the first, and only time that I recall that  I've used this advice was with my 2009 Nano novel.  That one was written as a sort of fictionalized auto biography.  The main character was a rape survivor (like myself), who had a very dysfunctional relationship with her mother (who was based on my mother, aunt, and a few other women I knew.) Her father was more like my dad.   That project was all handwritten, and I really liked it much better than the one I tried to rewrite with the same basic idea for Nano 2012.   The secondary character was taking over too much (when she wasn't in the first one at all).  The only reason I had her was to raise the stakes for my main character, but the story really didn't work. I probably won't rewrite it again, as the character is too close to me.  But if I find my original again, or can recreate the original closely from memory,  then I would definitely finish it.

     Revisiting these stories can help you see how far you've come.  You may not use them again...but they are precious for showing your progression as a writer.  They may also be given away if you so wish...pay it forward to other writers.  But remember, ideas cannot be copyrighted, and also cannot be stolen.  As was said (badly paraphrased) "There are no new ideas, only how you  transform them, and make them your own."




Image result for treasure map free clip art
  

Friday, June 2, 2017

What Would You Like to See Me Cover in a Blog?

I've been pretty much at this blog thing for several years now, and I've covered a lot of stuff in that time.  But I'm trying to get ideas for new topics to cover.   So I'm coming to my readers and writers, what would you like to see me cover?    Would you like more "How tos?"  More on NaNoWrimo?  

I plan on craft posts as well, so what are you having trouble with, in your writing?    Inquiring minds wanna know.  Yea, I love to quote old material :)

Would you like to see more short stories?    Stuff that I've published?  


I would quote Ferris Beuhler, but I won't.


Image result for ideas for writing topics

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May Events

Now that my piece for the Carrie Fisher anthology "Drowned by Moonlight," is done, I have some more exciting events to share with ya'll.

May 12-14,  Columbus Ohio.  Marcon Science Fiction/Fantasy/Gaming/Real Science, and tons of other things (masquerade anyone?)  They have a great dealers room, and art show as well.   Entirely fan run (yours truly used to be one of the concom), this con has been around as long as I have.  In fact Marcon started out as "March Convention," and started in March of 65 as a luncheon for Science Fiction writers.  I too started out in March of 1965.    Would be fun to figure out what the first day was.
My Schedule:  I will also be helping out in the consuite.  So if you attend the con, stop by to see me there.  :)

L. Anne Wooley's Schedule
FRI8:30PM - 10:00PMGrantLiterary WritersWhat Writers Wish Their Readers Knew About Writing   This is the one I'm Moderating.
SAT1:00PM - 2:30PMMcKinleyLiterary ReadersHumorous Science Fiction and Fantasy 
SAT8:30PM - 10:00PMDelaware DLiterary, Literary Readers, Literary WritersParanormal Romance

Marcons Website:

http://marcon.org/


The rest of the month, I'll be working on my blogs, and my weekly writing event online.  The next big deadline for me is another anthology.  




Presenting.... The Art of Public Speaking and Why We Should do it!

Holding presentations are an excellent way of building a fan base and creating networking opportunities.  Whatever your presentation is about takes the same kind of skills, or similar skills, to whatever you are doing in your professional life.  If you master the skills described below you will be able to function effectively, and more importantly professionally, in your career as a writer.

Why is this important to learn?  Well, writers have to be able to do a few things.  Sell themselves (marketing), as well as do readings, panels at conventions and interviews.  Learning to speak effectively, builds your brand as a writer/author.

But how to get over the nerves and butterflies that go through us to become effective speakers?  This is something I still struggle, even though I've done plenty of public speaking events.  I've moderated panels at conventions before, as well as been on panels.  I've held online classes on writing.  I've even read my work in public.

Even though I have plenty of experience under my belt, I still get nervous before "going on."  This is only human nature though.  Human nature is to be nervous before doing something that could go either incredibly right, or incredibly wrong.    Luckily, I've never had anything go the latter extreme...thankfully.  But I've gotten tongue tied before, and looked like an idiot.  But luckily, those are few and far between.

So how to do so.  Well, preparation is very very important.  What are you going to present?  How are you presenting the information that you have to relay?   Preparation (I will repeat again), is extremely important in being an effective presenter.  You don't want to just "Wing it." (which I have before, and it wasn't horrible, since I knew the subject really well), but also it wasn't very organized which is the second step in becoming an effective speaker/presenter.

You need to have your material organized in an easy to understand way.   Also having slides (PowerPoint is excellent), as part of the topic is also very important, handouts, and even Cd's with the program on it can also be helpful as a take home from the panel/talk, etc.  Bookmarks to put out at freebie tables.


There are organizations out there that help in getting comfortable with public speaking.   Toastmasters was the first one I heard about from another writer friend, whom joined to get some help speaking after suffering a stroke.  It helped her recover faster.  Here is their link to the worldwide organization.  https://www.toastmasters.org/

Acting classes can help you learn how to project your voice as well as the Toastmasters.  This comes in handy when you have to project your voice to the back of your audience.


Things to avoid when public speaking:

  • Avoid saying "ummm," or "errrr." too much, that is the way you show your nervousness, and can have your audience start to lose focus/interest.
  • Don't talk in monotone, that also can make your listener nod off.   Think Ben Stein in that one show, and in Ferris Buehler (but it's hysterical there, so maybe not a good example?)
  • Do not chew gum, or eat anything to a presentation, WATER IS A GREAT THING TO HAVE.  It helps you from going dry, and also you can use it as a foil for when you hit a brain fart.  Or when you want to stall for some reason.
Things to do:
  • Make sure your equipment (mics, audio/visual) are in working order before you start.  This will lead too a smooth professional presentation.  If you don't know how to do this yourself, hope you have someone who is knowledgeable in this area help you.  Or you can learn part or all of it yourself.  
  • Project your voice if you don't have equipment, or it doesn't work somehow.  
  • Practice in front of a mirror, and into a microphone.  That way you can hear what you sound like, and get comfortable making eye contact etc.
  • Practice in front of friends and family.  If you can, do some readings in a book club or a library maybe.  That way it's a bit less intimidating.

Public speaking can be fun, but it can also be a nightmare too.  If you follow some of these steps: 
  1. Be prepared.
  2. Avoid the pitfalls of public speaking.
  3. Have your equipment in working order.
If you follow the advice laid out in this article, you should have a pleasant experience and also one that will linger on in your memories, and those of your audience.   

Saturday, May 6, 2017

PUTTING OUT YOUR MARKETING BRAND PART 3 WHERE TO PUBLISH YOUR WORK

In our first two parts, I spoke about Facebook and Twitter; how valuable they are in keeping in touch with your fan base, and in marketing.  In the second, I covered blog tours and hosting an online event.  Those are some of the tools in our marketing arsenal...but what about publishing the work?  After all, this is what it is all about, our first step of marketing.  After all, if you don't have your work out there, marketing is not necessarily going to be something  you need to do right?  *Note:  There is such a thing as pre-marketing your book too.  (Including cover reveals, and the blog tour stuff can also be done before the actual release.)
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With the boom and advent of self publishing, there are many ways to get our work out there.   However, buyer beware if you use a VANITY publisher, they are big big no no!  If in doubt if it is a Vanity press?  Look on Writer Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/).  Also search them through the Better Business Bureau, and online.   They will tell you unbiased information on these basic scams to the publishing world.  Normally, you shouldn't have to pay to publish your work, unless you are self publishing.   

Sure traditional publishing has it's pluses; they have easier ways to get you into book stores, and help promote you...but they are not always the best option.  Traditional publishing, you release a lot of control to the Publisher, and you do have to help out with the promotional side as well.


Self publishing is exactly what it sounds like.  You have to get out there and market it, upload it to places like Amazon/B&N, and/or printing out copies.   You have control over your cover, your press releases and the like.  You can do your own book trailer.  But another word of warning, self pubbing is a numbers game.  You really have to promote yourself well, and effectively, and market to your target audience. 

While there are several folks who have become really big names that are self published, I think that the traditional publishers still have a slight monopoly on publishing....though this is also changing.  The big publishers have seen how some folks have done really well by doing it themselves, and they have taken them on after seeing how successful they were.  Traditional publishers are now seeing the benefits of taken on self published authors.

Now another word of warning here.  You need to make sure your book is in professional shape before self pubbing.  You need to get a "beta" reader and/or editor (pay for someone good, get references too), to look over your work and edit the crap out of it.  After all, your reputation as being a professional is on the line.  Which is why I don't like seeing unedited books out for sale, or ones that think, "I'll fix it in later editions."  If you can wait until a beta reader/editor can go over it with a fine tooth comb, and fix the errors (like spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc), then you really should.  I can forgive one or two errors in books, as a lot of traditional published books also have some error too, but if it's filled with errors, then heck no.  And once you have shown that you re not professional, its tougher than heck to overcome that.  This is also one of the reasons self publishing doesn't get the credit it deserves.  

Finding the right fit for you can take a number of steps to figure out which one is the right option.   And just remember, it takes some writers years to become "Overnight sensations."  JK Rowling was turned down many times for Harry Potter before someone took a chance on her.  Other well named authors also didn't have it easy.  It takes dedication and perseverance to make it to the top of your game.  You have to really love writing and be dedicated to working at the publishing game to get out there.  My best of luck to you.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

So I just did a thing.... :)

I'll be back too my regularly scheduled blogs at some point.  Lot's of stuff going on in personal life now...but I just did an interview with  R.R. Virdi (of the Dragon Award Nominated Vincent Graves "Grave Report," series.  Check them out if you like urban fantasy.  :)

http://rrvirdi.com/author-spotlight-l-anne-wooley/

That's the link to the thing.  :)