short fiction / writing

“I’m Sally O’Malley…”

While I’ll never be as flexible as Sally O’Malley at 50 years old, I do feel as if I’ve accomplished a few, little things in just over the past couple of years alone. It’s weird to start a writing career while edging so close to 50. I keep going over the “if only’s” again and again, the main one being “If only I had kept my writing going when I was young up until now.” I feel like my brain has an ongoing hangover though due to the day job. This coming term though, I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll not spend so much time writing copious feedback on student papers. You’d think after 20 odd years of teaching composition that I would’ve done this already, having learned that so few students not only read but adhere to the feedback, but no, I’ve not. I’ve been good about limiting feedback in the last couple of assignments, but I really ought to give detailed feedback on the first major assignment, and that’s it. At any rate, between giving feedback and reteaching what should’ve been taught in high school (hell, even middle school), it’s what’s been keeping me from writing much of anything. I feel as if my brain actually hurts.

So writing this is good for my soul, even if it’s just a blog entry.

It’s not like I’ve not been writing at all though. I’ve written a number of short stories since Red Station, my second published book. Every time I’m invited to submit a story to an anthology, I take it on because it keeps me committed, and like my students, I must get the writing done. As a result, longer works get moved aside, barely halfway done. The coming year, I intend to finish Northway, the book about the lady in red from Red Station. I want you to hold me to it, if you’re still around.

I’ve two other big projects happening right now that are writing-related, but they don’t involve me writing any fiction, if anything much at all (sort of):

Starting in January, I’m going to be teaching a fiction writing class at another college. I’m antsy and excited. I mean, I’ve never taught any sort of creative writing class at all. The head of creative writing there, whom I’d met through a mutual good friend and colleague, seems to have enough confidence in my skills. I’ve had a couple of readings and taught a lesson with one of her creative writing classes before as a guest speaker and had a great time, so I think that certainly helped. Next week, I’ll be poring over every fiction class syllabus and reading list I can find. One of the things I’d like to incorporate somehow in the class is a module on the publishing business. Every creative writing course I’d ever taken never went over the reality of the business side of writing. Nowadays, there are so many shortcuts that students could learn about that could help lead them to a potential writing career.

The other project I have going on is another book, a collection. I’d had this idea percolating ever since Scares That Care this year. I’d attended the charity convention, and it was a fun, but awkward, affair as I’d had to explain to every person who’d asked why I didn’t have a table that I’d not had any inventory left, so obviously, I was unable to sell books there like everyone else. It didn’t help that all of my extra money that I’d had left was going towards just getting there and staying there. Therefore, I wouldn’t have been able to purchase more stock, secure a table, and get author decor and swag as well for it. Frankly, I don’t know how authors are able to afford all of that. Anyhow, it also didn’t help that I’d not had a new book out. As I’ve learned from established authors, you’re only as good as your next project (it’s worth noting they forgot to add the rest: “You’re only as good as your next PUBLISHED project.”). I’d spent so much time writing those stories I’d mentioned, and I’d seen a few authors with collections out, so I thought, Why the hell not?

Those same authors had done something I’d found intriguing with their collections. They’d put them out themselves under their own imprints. I did my research and discovered it wasn’t hard to do at all. I’d not self-published before (aside from this blog of course), and I’ve been amazed at how relatively inexpensive it is. I set a budget that I considered reasonable and wouldn’t affect my livelihood. I had a name for the imprint, so I commissioned my sister to create the logo for it. Then I purchased a pack of ISBNs. All I had to worry about, besides the taxes of course (ugh), was the process of revising, designing, and publishing. There’s marketing to consider as well, of course, but that comes in increments of time, starting with blurbs from authors I admire.

By putting together and then self-publishing my collection, I’d finally have another book out, something that would keep me relatively current rather than dead in the water. Don’t get me wrong, I like working with publishers, but I didn’t want to have to wait until I’d gone fully Sally O’Malley by the time my next book came out. Self-publishing gives me control of the timeframe. It’s worth noting that as of today, I’ve only a bit over a month left before the big 5-0.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of what I’m doing right now with you. Blistered Siren Press is just for my collections so that I have something to put out when I’m hitting a publishing dry spell. If it gains any sort of reader, editor, and author (or reader/author/editor?) interest, I might expand the press in the future with a partner who has much more free time than I do. Or I might not.

Here’s the logo my sister created:

Here’s the cover for the collection, Always Listen To Her Hurt, which comes out on Kindle Dec. 31st (pre-orders are up). The paperback will be out by the second week of January.


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