The Fictorians

When You’ve Got Support

16 July 2014 | No Comments » | fictorians

A guest post by Amanda McCarter.

Okay, folks, get ready for the cheese factor, because I’m going to lay it on you.

One of the things I love about being a writer is my mom. Yes, I’m going there. It’s an incredible feeling. She tells me she’s proud of me and that she loves my books and my stories. It does not get any better than that.

But that’s what moms are supposed to do, right?

They’re supposed to be partial and think everything you do is golden and amazing. Parents are supposed to support you and encourage your passion. It’s what they do.

I’ve got horror stories of watching friends and colleagues torn down by their parents and loved one because their writing is some time-wasting hobby that will never amount to anything. Every story is a struggle and a fight because someone is nagging them to give up their silly pastime or belittling them for doing it.

This is where I get to brag. My mother is not one of these people. She is absolutely tickled pink that her little girl is a writer. She reads all my books and bugs me about when the next one comes out. It’s fantastic.

And it means a lot to me. It’s special to me. My mother is my love of reading. I grew up with The Hobbit by Tolkien and The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey as bedtime stories. Whenever my mother finished a book, she passed it on to my brother or me. I grew up with bookshelves in my bedroom stacked full of Mercedes Lackey and Peter David and Frank Herbert.

We would take family trips to Hastings where we could rent a movie and choose a book. Sure, we could have gone to the library, but there was something so personal about owning a book. I could read it over and over again and never worry about late fees or giving it back to someone else. It was mine.

My mother gave that to us.

So my mom isn’t just a supportive woman with a proud smile. She’s a reader. She’s well read. The classics, mysteries, science fiction, drama, fantasy, romance. You name it, she’s read it. When she says she enjoys a book, she means it.

Yes, I get a pass. I’m related. But it does mean something when it comes from her. When she says she likes my writing, in my mind, I’m right up there with Lackey and McCaffrey and the dozens of other authors she’s read. Am I as good? I’ve got a ways to go. But I’m good enough for her and that’s a tremendous amount of strength.

Because when you’ve got the support of someone who loves you and loves your field and what you do in it, it’s incredible. She doesn’t just like my books because I wrote them. She likes them because they’re books. Would she have found them if we weren’t related? No telling, but that’s not the point.

Writers are susceptible to a certain amount of depression, angst, and self-doubt. Is this good enough? Should I even bother? Why did I write that scene? Who am I kidding? This is all crap.

But then I talk to my mom and things are right with the world. I finish what I’m writing and work through it.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have this kind of support. I know not everyone gets it. And my mother’s enthusiasm has spread to other members of my family. Two of my aunts are very interested in my writing as well.

I guess my point is, those are the people whose opinions really matter. Friends, loved ones. Yes, it’s exciting when an editor says nice things or you get an impressive review. But nothing feels quite as warm and fuzzy as your mom telling you how proud she is of you.

For the record, my big brother thinks this writing business is cute.

AmandaGuest Writer Bio:
Amanda grew up reading the works of Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert, and dozens of other fantasy and science fiction writers. As time went on, it occurred to her to write her own fantastic stories of faraway places and distant lands. Encouraged by her mother and family to write, a one-time hobby became an obsession and a passion. An obsession she hopes to one day make full time. Currently, Amanda lives in Tulsa, OK with her boyfriend, one snake, two cats, and two dogs. When not dreaming of faraway places and distant lands, she spends her time knitting, reading, and playing video games.

Raindancers

15 July 2014 | No Comments » | Quincy Allen

Everyday living for most people can be compared all-too-easily to what drought means for farmers, what the dry seasons meant to American Indians. It’s a barren time full of silence and waiting and subtle, fatalistic dread that nothing is going to happen, that life will wither and perhaps even die. And it’s that need for green, for life and living, which brings comfort and joy and the heights of emotional salvation when the rains finally come. One could make the argument that we read drama and fantasy and horror because we have an inherent, hard-wired need for emotional input—a need for rain.

That’s a writer’s job, at least some of the time. We must don the doe’s skull and bright feathers. We must clothe ourselves in tanned hides and wrap bone rattles about our wrists and ankles. We must dance, sprouting clouds of dust as we stomp our feet and we sweat upon the hard-baked clay of everyday life.

It’s our job.

One of the hardest things writers have to live with is the uncertainty that their dancing has brought rain, sprinkled or poured a little bit of life into a reader’s existence. The truth is that most writers, especially at the beginning of their careers, never find out if their dancing has borne precipitation. There is this gulf—a fundamental disconnect—between writer and reader, one that leaves writers with cracked lips and dusty throats.

I recently had two experiences—more milestones in my career—which gave me tangible evidence that my own dancing was not in vain. Last fall I submitted a short story called Family Heirloom to the magazine Steampunk Trials. It’s a steampunk take on the Underground Railroad where a white widow and a freed slave build an Underwater Railroad in Missouri.

Included in the acceptance email was a very simple accolade, and one I’ll never forget. The story had brought tears the editor to eyes. When I wrote that story, it was with the absolute intention of touching, playing upon the heartstrings of the reader. I intended to bring forth the emotions of suffering and sacrifice, highlight the resolve of an individual to carry on and enrich the lives of the next generation in spite of tragedy.

Because of that first editor’s response, I chose Family Heirloom as the lead in a short story collection of mine that came out this summer. It’s not a best-seller in no small part because it contains cross-genre short stories, which is really a double-whammy against people even looking at it, let alone buying it. And yet, in spite of its uphill battle to gain recognition, I recently received another bit of rain. One of the reviewers up on Amazon said the same thing as the editor: that the story had brought tears to his or her eyes, and that other stories in that volume also had profound emotional effects. A reader took the time to let me—and the world—know that there was rain to be found between those pages.

For a writer, there’s nothing better than that.

So, to all the writers who read this, I can say but one thing: keep dancing. And to every reader, for all the rain you have been given by authors, give them some back. Give them the rain they need in the form of emails and reviews and word-of-mouth praise for the rain that has sustained you.

Drought is a fact of life, but we all possess the means by which we can bring rain to those who need it.

 

Q

Pass It On

14 July 2014 | No Comments » | fictorians

A guest post by Guy Anthony De Marco

Every so often, I travel out to a new convention with my talented and lovely wife, Tonya. We normally drive our commercial van so we can transport our stock, shelving, banners, and boxes of books for authorly friends who are flying out. Tonya and I discuss plots, books, business, and have a grand time.

The first “new” con this year was RadCon in Pasco, Washington. This trip featured me singing 1980′s hits in my Arnold Schwarzenegger accent. You haven’t really experienced Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” until you’ve heard Arnie belting it out. I drove the 16-hour trip straight through with a couple of stops for fuel (body and vehicle), and to torture my poor wife’s eardrums.

Radcon supports a local project that has some of their guests traveling to local schools to talk to students. Elizabeth Vann-Clark, the con-chair, asked me to speak to the children at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richmond because of my technology background. Since I used to teach information technology at a couple of colleges, I agreed without hesitation. Elizabeth noted that many students don’t have an opportunity to discuss technology-based careers, which is why she started the program.

I met with the technology teacher, who introduced me and a fellow Radcon author to his classes. Most of the questions dealt with technology, but about a quarter were questions concerning writing genre fiction. The most popular question, with several follow-ups, was “How much money do you make?” and “How much money do you have?” I was a little more forthcoming about what I earned, noting the technology field was supporting my family while I worked on my novels and stories. I also noted that I travel around the country, going to conventions and talking with new or potential authors.

The experience was a positive one, and should I be invited back, I would be quite happy to visit the school again.

Writing is usually a solitary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Commiserating a rejection with fellow authors or answering questions for folks just getting into writing at a convention can be a very rewarding experience. Don’t shut yourself out by locking yourself in your office space. Interacting can not only help others, but it can help you when you’re working on a new project. Some questions may actually jog your brain into gear, firing up the virtual muse in your head.

One of the best stories I tell along this line came from an experience at OSFest. A group of Denver-based authors, including Fictorian contributor Quincy J. Allen, traveled to Omaha for the first time. The author track was a new addition, and there were a group of attendees who were just starting the path to publication. One of them was Sarah Whittaker, who showed up to almost all of our panels. We also chatted with her outside of panels during the con, and Quincy and I told her she should have something published by the next OSFest convention.

The following year, we saw Sarah with her new novel, The Raggedyman, available in print and ebook. I have to admit, I was quite proud that she followed through. I made sure to buy a signed print copy from her. Watching someone you helped succeed, no matter how small you think your contribution was, will always give you a smile.

I’m sure there were folks who encouraged or mentored you, formally or otherwise. It’s time you paid that gift forward.

Guy Anthony De Marco Bio:
Guy Anthony De Marco is a speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® finalist; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia, GuyAndTonya.com, and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com

Can You Hear the Voices?

12 July 2014 | 1 Comment » | frank

Do you hear the voices tooGrowing up, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I was such an avid reader, it just made sense. My mind naturally turned to stories and I invented whole worlds. I could see the fantastic places, hear the voices of the characters.

Hearing voice is not considered healthy in most professions.

I tried to drive the imaginary friends away, tried to tell them I didn’t want to hear their stories, and for a few years I was successful. But they kept coming back.

Eventually I admitted I had to write and I dove into the process, not caring how long or hard or difficult it might be. That proved I was in the right frame of mind to become a writer. I absolutely love the process of exploring my own little worlds and actively seeking out those voices that I alone could hear. And even though some people look at me funny when I tell them I write fiction novels, this is the one career where you’re supposed to hear voices, where it’s all right to carry on conversations with yourself for days at a time.

I have so many people to talk to, I could sit silent for days just listening.

But even better than exploring worlds of imagination, I love it when I can bring those worlds to life for other people. I love talking with someone who has read one of my stories, looking them in the eye and seeing their excitement as they discuss a scene or a character that they felt a particularly powerful connection with. They heard the voices and they saw the scenes.

The story came alive for them.

Power of Books

By Mladen Penev

Those are the moments that encourage me to keep writing, keep striving to improve my craft to bring these stories to life. It’s incredible to think that a few marks on a page can trigger visions of unseen worlds and make real the personalities and relationships of people who never existed anywhere except inside my head. A lot of people love a good story, but not everyone is a storyteller.

I am.

A little crazy I may be, but I’m loving the journey and I’m bringing a lot of other people along for the ride.

 

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