for the Writers, Musings

I murdered for you & I’m not okay

in my book. I should probably clarify that.

But isn’t that a beautiful blogpost title? 😉

I finished the first draft of my quirky meta murder mystery!

Honestly, it happened so fast. I thought I’d be agonizing over the last couple scenes for days. And I just whipped them out and suddenly that was the last sentence and I felt like there should be so much more time in it, but nope, that was definitely my last sentence of the story.

Murder doesn’t take as long as you’d expect.

So I was on a celebratory high. For about 2 hours.

Then came the pits. It wasn’t the murder part. I can kill off characters okay, with maybe a teardrop if I’m super attached. It was the writing part though. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I could ever make my writing what I wanted it to be.

I was worried I would be the writer that wrote but never got good enough to publish.

Or worse, I published and everyone would hate it and I’d regret having that in my publication history.

Or worse, I published and think it’s awesome and people are too nice to tell me that I just added to the public slushpile.

I’m discouraged. Kinda terrified really.

I’m thinking of edits and beta readers and ways to put my story out there in the world for all you lovelies, and it’s like THE REAL DEAL.

So if you could send some encouragement my way, I would be so appreciative.

Now back to editing so you all can enjoy the fruits of murder 😉

for the Bookworms, for the Writers

DNA of a writer: how my reading affects my writing

Last week I shared my top 10 books and their commonalities. Now you get to see the top 3 elements that are in more than half of my favorite books.

*Props to Maggie Schoepke guessing there’s a supernatural element in my fav books.
I don’t specify it that way here, but that’s definitely related to these.*

Are you ready? 🙂

The halfway point: Huge cast of characters forced together towards a common goal

  • 6 instances in 5 books

A slew of characters stories intersecting towards one common goal. Often by force, involuntarily, or unwittingly. Often that means multiple protagonists, multiple storylines (see above), etc. If you like stories that span many different characters and their own stories being intertwined, half of my reading list is for you 🙂

 

Very prevalent: Two different worlds

  • 8 instances in 6 books

This element ties in well with the above one, so it’s no surprise that it pops up again and again. Two different worlds doesn’t necessarily mean fantasy (although there is that in my list.) I have so many different genres in my list of favorites, but this theme came into play in different ways: fantastical world, parallel universe of the real world, psychological world versus real world, dual timelines, two perspectives of the same story, etc. If you want to see things from more than one lens, you might like some of my favorite books 🙂

 

The most common element {brace yourself…}: Blurred line between what is real & what is not

  • 11 instances in 7 books

If you choose to read one of the books from my list, you will statistically speaking likely see this element in play in some way 🙂

 

Though I have so many different genres represented in my favorites, there is a blurred line between real-world and not-real-world in many of these. Sometimes it’s a magical universe or an alternate reality. Sometimes the reader is unsure if it’s all in the character’s head: dream, imagination, or madness. Sometimes the story leaves the reader questioning if something magical is going on or if there’s a logical explanation that’s hidden. Sometimes there’s 2 different realities and no idea as to which one is real. Many of my favorite stories leave the reader unsure – sometimes until the end of the story, and sometimes the question is never even answered. If you want to question reality, my favorite books list might be for you 🙂

 

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This reminds me:

636028406905523050-1310144539_supernatural pic

 

Did any of the above sound familiar?

Three of my favorite TV shows share the above elements to some degree:

  • LOST
  • Heroes
  • Vampire Diaries

 

 So I think I’m onto something here 🙂 

 

Now that I have my list of all the things that I really love in books (and also apparently TV shows) and how that may affect my writing style…

What I tend to write – #MyWriteDNA if you will:

I write quirks, obsession, madness, misfits, strangers, and unbelonging. I write bigger than life stories….where small nuances change everything. I write community. I write to connect: characters to each other, disparaging ideas, and narrator to reader. I write awe and surprise and emotion and detachment. I write stories of questioning realities. I write lies and truth. I write the horror between the lines. I write unease and tension. I walk the line between reality and enchantment. Magical realism. Hope, crushed and fulfilled.

 

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Musings

When a character stalks an author…

Julia. I have neglected Julia far too long and she’s appearing everywhere. Haunting me in the people I meet, the clothes I wear, the stories I hear.  It’s funny how the pieces of a person just fall into your lap when you’re busy attending to other things.

maggie-schoepke-shattered-photo
Photo courtesy of Maggie Schoepke. You can follow her anime blog at teatimewithsenpai.wordpress.com

 


 

It started with Julia. No, not my character, a real person. She was sitting just a couple rows in front of me and I wanted to take a picture, because it was her, it looked just like my Julia. But it’d be weird to sneak a picture of a stranger in such a small room where it’d be noticed, even weirder to explain my stalkerish tendency. So I resolved to simply catch her full name during introductions and look her up on Facebook or Instagram because all the modern teens have those. And then it happened: she introduced herself as Julia. This really was my girl! Scarless, no blemishes to be seen, but a Julia that looked exactly like my Julia nonetheless.

Then the moment of truth came: Julia had left the building and I went to look at the sign-in sheet (which was available for all attendees to email each other. I wasn’t a total stalker. Others were copying the list as well.) And darn it! this girl’s name may as well have been Julia Smith. I searched Facebook and Twitter fruitlessly, for there were thousands of results and no mutual friends to bump the right one to the top. I’d lost her!

As a side note, I totally hope I encounter her again this year at the same lecture, and then I will fiercely force my friendship on her by taking interest in her work or something. And hope I don’t get a restraining order as I all too quickly ask for a group selfie 😉 I’m not a creeper really!

Sigh. This is what happens when a writer encounters their character in the real world. As if I’m not mad enough without this pull towards insanity…


 

Next came the story. There’s a book already out that sounds scary like my character, only with real life happenings and not paranormal urban fantasy. Some sort of teen angst Julia drama book. And I suddenly worry that I’m losing my chance, that someone will take her story from me and publish it so much faster than I ever could. Sure, every story has been told and it’s just a retelling, but Julia’s story is all mine and I don’t want to share.


 

Then came the Julia. Not my Julia or the Julia lookalike, but another Julia, one looking to join our writer’s group. How would this Julia take it when I read a story about her namesake falling to little bits in front of her? I don’t quite know, but she shockingly seemed okay with it when I summed up the story in forewarning. But with the name Julia semi-regularly on my tongue and referring to someone other than my character, it hearkens me back, back to the Julia I’m supposed to be living life with, or writing life with I suppose. Julia doesn’t like to share my attention, and her name is her name and my lips can’t utter it without regarding her specifically. My stories don’t deal in the most self-denying characters.


julia-dress-lularoe

Most recently, it’s shown up in clothes. What would clothes have to do with Julia? But then there was the LuLaRoe craze. The outfits with names of people – Carly, Joy, Irma, Randy, Cassie, Ana, Nicole, Mimi, and – you knew it was coming – Julia. And suddenly the Julia is covering my newsfeed, as if my real-world encounters weren’t enough. Social media brings up Julia like the plague, only a plague of fashionable comfy clothes (Woot woot!).

And once again, I feel the beckoning. I could wear her clothes in honor of her. But I have to sit with her too. I can’t just have her in my everyday life without taking the time to chat and tinker and understand what’s going on in her head and in her world. Her story needs to be out there for the world to see, like all the other Julias that are invading my life. I have to share this space with my Julia, the one and only most important Julia. Characters don’t want to share with the real world. Authors are demanded to live in the fictional universe until the character releases their grip, and balance is not something my characters will understand. Would yours? Does anybody understand balance when it comes to someone else’s life?


 

writing

 

So on that note… World, meet Julia. My Julia. You have all your Julia’s out there, and they’re just wonderful and I like encountering them. But there’s my Julia too.

 

She’s a little broken, a little unsure. But she’s got a story she’s ready to tell. And I’m busy writing it.

 

 


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Musings

When a murderer won’t shut up at 3am

Have you heard of “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler”? by Vladimir Nobokov. Very interesting book, written in the second person. Saying “You do this, you do that.” Not “I” or “he”, it’s about “you.” And “you” pick up a book at the bookstore, start reading and get enthralled in the tale, then suddenly realize the second chapter is a different story than the 1st chapter, so you return it to the store for a correct copy that doesn’t have the publisher’s error. Only the bookstore accidentally gives you a different book entirely. And so on the story continues with all these story snippets and “you” just trying to get your hands on an actual copy of the original book you wanted in the first place. Innovative story, not your usual thing.

Okay, so I’m not gonna go so far as to compare my own meager writing to world-renowned Vladimir. (Tangent: Doesn’t that sound positively vampiric? Great vampire name…) But my short story I’m working on is similar-esque. Very meta like Vladimir’s… but unlike Vladimir’s, my story has a narrator that’s a murderer telling the reader how the whole murder went down and “you” have to figure out what happened and who the murderer is. It’s like a quirky meta mystery thing.

Why am I writing this short story instead of my work-in-progress urban fantasy novel? Because I had a murderer stuck in my head, and goshdarnit, a chatty one at that. I couldn’t get quiet all night, furiously scribbling the notes and begging the murderer to shut up. Welcome to writer life! Talk about a sneak peak. So I promised this murderer a short story if I could just get back to my actual work-in-progress soon.

But I will say, it’s exciting to stretch my writing out of my comfort zone, figuring out clues and red herrings and second person and meta story. It’s so fun! 🙂 You’ll hear more about this project I’m sure in the coming months – hopefully to be available for you all to read!

 

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for the Creatives, for the Writers, Musings, My Creative Projects

Do You Have a Book in You?

If you’ve ever wondered if you could write a book, should write a book, or if you’ve dabbled with writing and wondered if it’s worth a shot to pursue it more seriously, I have news for you!

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I have a new FREE online class to help you answer these questions:

–Do I really have a book in me?

–Can I write a book?

–What’s the process?

–Is this really something I want to take on?

–What am I taking on?

I’m give you a brief overview of the writing world and help you decide if and how you fit into that. This isn’t supposed to be the end-all-be-all decision-maker, but I hope it gets you going in the right direction, whatever that may look like.

This free course has approximately 30 minutes of online material that you can go through at your own pace. After this course, you will have a more firm grasp of what you’re getting into when you sign up to become an author.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now here 🙂

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for the Writers, Musings

Why Writers Won’t Pay for Your Idea

Excuse me while I burst your bubble.

You hear someone’s a writer, throw your idea for a book at them and say, “You write it, we’ll split the profits.” Or maybe you have a writer friend and give them an idea to add to the story then ask how much of the profits they’ll give you to use it.

Either way: big no-no. Do NOT insult a writer by trying to find out how much money you’ll make from them. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be mentioned in the Acknowledgements section.

You know why?

Because EVERYONE HAS IDEAS. 

Say that with me: EVERYONE.

Writers aren’t looking for ideas. We’re looking for time to write down all the bajillion ideas we have. You don’t get paid for having ideas, you get paid for implementing them. The idea isn’t copyrighted, the physical manuscript or electronic file is.

Even if a writer uses your idea, you don’t get paid. In fact, everything a writer has written is gleaned from ideas they gain through living their life with many many people, and they just can’t pay everyone when they hardly get paid themselves.

 

To publish your idea, you have two choices:

1) You can write the book yourself. 

Don’t worry, there is a second choice.

 

2) If you want someone else to write your story idea, you actually can. It’s called a ghostwriter. You *pay* them – that’s right, they don’t pay you, YOU pay THEM – for their time, energy, and talent. They don’t need an idea, but you need a writer.

 

I know, it sucks, the thoughts of you kicking back, relaxing, and watching the money roll in from a book-to-film bestseller…..but alas, it costs first, either your time & energy or your dollars.

 

 

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for the Writers, Musings

My #1 Hit Single

I’m not sure how this happened. Adele’s song “Hello” just went down to #2 on the Billboard chart, beat out of the #1 slot by Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” Justin Bieber isn’t *that* great, certainly can’t compare to Adele. I mean, even I could create a song better than that – I just don’t have the time. If I had the time, I’d whip out my instruments, have a record deal, a tour, and a #1 hit single in no time, give Adele & Bieber a run for their money.

What, you think I’m crazy? 

I’ve had music lessons – piano, guitar, violin, and voice. Plus I sing allllll the time in the car and Glee is my favorite TV show. 

Still think I’m psycho? 

I’m telling you, I’d have a #1 Hit Single if I just had the time. 

I could so do that. 

Okay, none of that is true, we all know that. It takes a whole lot more than having general music knowledge to make it big. First off, I’m not necessarily skilled just because I learned some music. Secondly, once I am skilled, it takes a whole lot of knowledge about the business world of music just to get noticed, let alone succeed with a record deal, concert, and/or hit single. Newsflash: Adele & Bieber & anyone you hear on the radio had to work hard to make it! Not just anyone can do it. Right?

So that up there? Psycho wannabe popstar? Not me. But it’s a whole bunch of people out in this world, only I’m not talking about the music world. I’m talking about the writing world.

“I’ve been told I should write a book – I just don’t have the time.”

“I’ve always wanted to write the next NYT Bestseller, I’m just too busy.”

I’m going to say something you might disagree with…. You can’t write that book!

At least not now. Just because you aced High School English doesn’t mean you can write a book. There’s rules that don’t apply to academic English you have to learn. There’s lots of practice to make your great story idea into an actually readable masterpiece that reads like what you imagine in your headspace. And even once you have studied and practiced and finally finished that manuscript, there’s a whole lot about the writing business you have to learn/know to make it big, in addition to a hint of luck.

Think you have what it takes to be a writer? Then make the time and do it. Learn. Practice. Grow.

Otherwise, let me break it to you – you cannot write the next bestseller if you have the time. It takes a whole lot more than just time to get there. Just because you have a great story doesn’t mean you have a great book. And it’s okay if you don’t have that. Because maybe you have what it takes to make the next Billboard #1 Hit Single – something I don’t have.

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My Creative Projects, Stories

A Seussian Red Cross

For our most recent staff retreat, I was given the opportunity to write a poem, in the style of Dr. Seuss, about our team. What other workplace asks you to write such fun material? 🙂 Enjoy!

 

Seuss

A Seussian Red Cross

In a land of nonsense, quite grand they do say,

Where children and grownups quite ridiculously play –

The Who’s & the Horton’s, Sneetches & Zax,

Grinch & Lorax & Cat in the Hat –

 

There’s only one group to handle that clatter,

One crew enough to tackle the matter.

The Seussian Red Cross jump into the fray,

The Seussian Red Cross will save the day.

 

We’re led by our captain, the Betsy of Pratts,

While Amber and Bryan have Betsy’s back.

 

The Grinch stands no chance with Crystal around,

Sending cards & good cheer to all soldiers’ towns.

 

When Thing One and Thing Two muck up the house,

Alyssa’s team shows them what we’re about.

Providing for needs, while home disarrayed,

Working hard to ensure the family is safe.

 

When Green Eggs & Ham cause a terrible slump,

When “in a box with a fox” causes a bump,

When Sam-I-Am has no clue what to do,

Traci’s team brings calm to the hullabaloo.

 

And while the medics of Seussville need quite a lot,

The Blood Services team transports blood on the spot.

 

What a crew, what a team!

But don’t forget behind the scenes.

 

Eileen’s got a group drawing Who’s far and wide,

To help out the town, in blue and grey skies.

We can’t do this alone – not if we tried.

 

This they know, as do Lyn’s own patrol,

Who wrangles the money from high and from low.

 

Then there’s Brooke and Biz Ops,

Her behind-the-scenes team.

They help with buildings and fleet and little big things.

 

Oh the Places You’ll Go, thanks to Beth in HR,

Oh the Thinks You Can Think if you travel so far.

She gives money and vacation and holidays too,

Our own personal genie in this land of Seuss.

 

We can’t deny, it takes a full crew,

And Trish spreads the news with gusto renewed

By coffee and lattes and java and such.

You really just can’t compete with this bunch.

 

There’s so much about Seussville to love & to cherish,

But the Seussville Red Cross is greatest of greatest.

 

Red Cross

 

 

 

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for the Bookworms, for the Writers

What the L’s in a PenName?

To pen-name or not to pen-name – for any writer, that is the question.

There is a lot of factors that go into choosing between one’s own name or a pseudonym, and I thought I’d give you a brief sneak-peek at the process.

(Writers: Kristen Lamb has a post discouraging use of pen names in most situations. Rachelle Gardner has a post on problems to consider if using a pseudonym.)

So how’d I decide on mine, on keeping my own name, but adding the middle initial?

Step 1 – Default Setting

If you can’t find a really really good reason to use a pseudonym, you should be using your own name. That’s the default. I thought I might have good reasons until I read the blogposts mentioned above. (Writers: read those if considering a pseudonym.)

Step 2 – Google That Name

I googled myself. You know what comes up when I google “Amy Sauder”? Not me. “Amy Sauder – Peoria area photographer” shows up. That’s right, there’s an Amy Sauder, also in Peoria, also an artist, who has a perfectly legit photography business. Seriously, check her out.

With someone else topping the google charts, I can do one of the following:

  • compete for “Amy Sauder” space on google by creating alot of internet content with great Search-Engine Optimization
  • rely on readers to type “author” when googling me and photography clients to type “photographer” when googling her (a completely legitimate option that many choose, and it works)
  • find a different name so she has her google space and I have mine

Step 3 – Devil is in the Details

Sharing google space is not enough reason to choose a pen name.

With a pen name, everything is more complicated. Marketing is more complicated, because you lose the audience you already have with your own name. Paychecks and legal documents are complicated. Remembering the little details – like how easy/quick signing an autograph is with a chosen pen name – is complicated. I toyed around with pen names, sure. But it didn’t seem like a good option even still.

In order to avoid the sharing of google space and to avoid using a pen name, I tried my middle initial.

What happens when you google Amy L Sauder? Well now, you have a whole bunch of me, though not much popped up at all when I originally googled it. “Amy Sauder, photographer” still tops the google “Amy Sauder” charts – and I’m there too a little lower – but if you remember the L, I fill that space mostly.

Picture a Bookshelf

The final step, at least that I’m discussing at this point.

Imagine a bookshelf….where’s your book fall on the bookshelf? Usually books are ordered by genre and then by author’s last names.

In an ideal world, I don’t want my book crowded out and hidden next to the Stephen Kings or James Pattersons of the world. Can I see a place for my book under my name on the shelf? You bet I can! No overcrowding here.

And so, Amy L Sauder was born. And in the grand scheme of things, I think I might actually like it more than just Amy Sauder.

What’s In Your Name?

What about you? Do you have a pen name? Do you think you’d use a pen name? What are your thoughts, ideas, questions? Let me know in the comments!

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Musings

This Place of Wrestling

How many of you noticed I didn’t post last week? Raise your hand.

*Raises hand*

No?
no one?
just me?

Would you believe that, after over a year of regular posting, I actually forgot I didn’t have a post ready for last Thursday? Would you believe that I’m figuring out this whole writing thing and teaching thing and actual-day-job-ing thing and it’s still not balanced well?

Truth is, I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.

If you’ve followed me from the beginning, or even for more than 6 months, there’s been a drastic change. Before, my blog was focused. Too exact, too precise, too lifeless. Now my blog is a little all over the place. Like me.

I’m rebranding, which is a professional way of saying things are gonna look different around here. I don’t know what they’ll look like yet. I’m kinda figuring it out as I go.

Thanks for bearing with me here on this journey. And if you have thoughts, ideas, or comments do feel free to contact me.

I want this to be a place of wrestling. And I want this to be a place of grace. I want this to be a place of growth. I want this to be a place of whimsy of course. And writing. And reading. But mostly wrestling, with life and ideas and preconceived notions and logic and nonsense. I’ll have grace for your wrestling if you’ll have grace for mine. Deal?

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