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An Interview with Rue Volley

Rue Volley

RUE VOLLEY

USA Today best-selling author & Award winning screenwriter

Rue Volley is a USA Today Bestselling Author and award-winning screenwriter who is best known for creating compelling storylines with a multitude of twists and turns that leave her readers virtually speechless. 

She specializes in paranormal romances that include otherworldly characters who, regardless of their supernatural abilities, feel oddly familiar, or in other words, human. This, coupled with her easy reading style, wicked sense of humor, and excellent world building skills, has garnered her a fiercely loyal fan base over the past decade who support her regardless of what genre she chooses to write in.

Some of her best works include 13 Ways to Midnight, Hellhound, The Devil’s Gate, and A Vampires Tale of Blood and Light, all of which utilize her skill at piecing together compelling dramas that highlight her love for vampires, witches, angels, and demons across many genres including young adult, new adult, urban fantasy, and erotic romance. 

Rue Volley’s work seems to be synonymous with one phrase in the publishing world: Thoroughly addictive

She is accredited with two award-winning screenplays for film, Hellhound (original script, 2014) and Awakening (contributing screenwriter, 2015). IMDb: imdb.com/name/nm7043310/ 

As a graduate of Lindenwood University’s MFA program, I had the pleasure of chatting with Rue, via email, about her books and how she built her platform.

What are the biggest tips you would offer to students who want to get published and market their work?

The biggest things about publishing include a professional cover, professional edits, and professional formatting. Branding is also important because you sell yourself along with your books, so professional pictures, a logo, a beta team, and marketing material— like business cards, banners and merch for signings— matter.

Marketing budgets are key, so they need to save up. Email blasts providing through the top marketing companies are important and ad stacking (where your ads are overlapping) will help a book rank higher. Amazon also has an algorithm with reviews and your overall review ranking. The site will market your book to potential buyers once you got 50 reviews at no cost to you.

That’s great to know! Speaking of branding, what did you use to create your website?

I have my domain through Wix. I love them. [They have] easy html embedding and tons of add ins; plus, you can build a strong email list and manage it easily. I suggest Wix to all the authors that I mentor.

So, you have an email list for your fan base. How did you get your fan base?

You have to dedicate yourself to it. I began reaching out on social media first. I connected through posting in groups, doing giveaways, and offering free copies in exchange for honest reviews. I was one of the first authors if not the first to start sharing their links online. I got a lot of flak for it then. It was like we weren’t supposed to try to sell our books. So, I built my own groups and began to build. I treat this like a small business. I started gaining fans who loved my books and that’s where my team began. It started out with maybe 10 people, and now I have 40,000 on my fan page.

That was a brilliant strategy!

I didn’t know if it would work, but it worked for me!

Really, I think that’s good advice for Lindenwood’s students, especially since most are already social media savvy.

Exactly. They need to find which social media outlet works best for them and connect that way. Mine was Facebook. Very and many writers end up quitting. It isn’t easy. It took me years to build my base.


Be sure to check out The Midnight Saga!


For  business inquiries, please contact ruevolley@gmail.com.                                                         

Connect with Rue:
Website: http://www.ruevolley.com/ (Links to an external site.) 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ruevolley/  (Links to an external site.) 
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Rue-Volley-146299465525490/?fref=ts


This interview was done by Molly E. Hamilton, a graduate from Lindenwood University’s MFA program. Molly is a Writing Specialist at Lindenwood University with a passion for helping students learn about the publishing world and getting their work to readers. She enjoys writing and doting on her dog, Oscar, an incredibly cute papillon.

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The Published Perspective with Molly Hamilton

This week for The Published Perspective, we spoke with Molly Hamilton. Molly is a former Lindenwood student who recently graduated from Lindenwood’s MFA program in December of 2018. 

Q: How long have you been writing? 

A: Well, this sounds cliché, but I have been writing since I was six-years-old. My older sister, Meagan, inspired me. She was always telling me stories and writing stories, so I wanted to tell stories, too. My stories were supposed to make people laugh. I wanted to bring some joy to people. I kept up the hobby. I was always creating as a kid. Meagan and I made worlds together and still do!

Q: How was your experience at Lindenwood?

A: It was a great experience. I even got to “meet” Kevin J. Anderson. He writes Star Wars stories!

Q: How has Lindenwood helped shape your writing?

A: Lindenwood provided me a place to mingle with other writers and workshop. I’ve had a history of being shy with my work, and the classes forced me to be more open so I can get better feedback. The best lesson I learned is audience awareness. I learned that my “clues” are way too subtle for readers to pick up on and that some of my fantasy worlds need more explanation! Being in the MFA program made me hyper aware of how I’m relating key information to readers in my writing. As an undergrad, Professor Spencer Hurst and Dr. Plate were super supportive. They made me feel like a “real” writer and gave me hope. 

Q: What are some goals for your future career?

A: I have a MFA in writing now. I got that degree for three reasons. First, to improve my writing. Second, to give myself more credibility as a writer so I can better attract an agent. Third, so I can teach Creative Writing at a college level. There’s things I taught myself that I want to share with Lindenwood’s students, most of which is about publishing. However, I’m leaving my options open. I’m just going to see what happens next. 

Q: How many pieces do you currently have published? Where?

A: I have been published seven times. Three of those publications are gone now because the magazines have closed. Understand, I’ve been sending work out for about seven years and many literary journals and magazines are volunteer run. Some lifespans are short. But, currently, you can find my work in an anthology called Harvest Time—edited by Glen Lyvers, Scarlet Leaf Review, and in World of Myth Magazine. 

Q: How many pieces have you sent out?

A: Oh my. I have no idea. But, I can tell you I have 106 rejection letters. However, some editors didn’t even bother to send me a rejection. It’s very competitive. It’s gotten to the point to where I’m genuinely excited if an editor bothers to give me a personal rejection letter instead of the classic “copy/paste” ones. 

Q: How often do you send out work?

A: I try to have at least three submissions out at all times. Now, when I was an undergrad and a grad student, I didn’t usually make that goal. I was so busy! If you were to look at my publishing record, you can see the activity go to nearly zero while I was in school. Most of my publications came from my summer time submissions. However, now that I’ve graduated, I’m making my “at least three” goal. 

Q: How long did it take to get published?

A: My first short story was published when I was 20. That story was rejected 14 times before Inwood Indiana published it. So, I was trying to get that one published for 9 months. It isn’t usually a fast process. On average, I wait about four months before I get a “yes” or “no” from an editor. That’s why I look for magazines and journals that take “simultaneous” submissions. That means I can send the same story to multiple magazines and journals without suffering great wrath. The more I submit something, the better my chances of finding a publisher are. 

Q: How do you navigate rejection? 

A: I took my first rejection hard. I was 19, and I just had a professor from Washington University tell me how wonderful my story was. This professor raved about it and insisted that I send my story—the one that got rejected 14 times— to The Fairy Tale Review. So, I smugly submitted. And, I got the kindest, sweetest rejection letter I have ever gotten. This editor took the time to write me an explanation. She complimented me. She even asked me to email her when I got my story published so she could read it again. I didn’t even know I should appreciate that. I was angry. I was hurt. I went straight to my mother to man about my misfortune. But, after a few days to cool down, I realized rejection is just part of it. I swallowed my pride and got over it. 

Now, I keep an open mind. Most of the time, rejection letters are copy/paste or “form” rejections. They don’t really say why the editors didn’t pick it—problem spotting is best done through a beta reader or a workshop. However, if I get several form rejections for the same piece, I’ll go back and re-evaluate it. A “resting” period helps so much with revision. I can usually guess why my piece isn’t working when I take another look after a while. Getting a distance between myself and the piece is so important. 

If an editor actually specifies what was a hangup for him or her, I’ll consider the advice for a few days and then decide whether or not the advice would help. It’s easy to get defensive about artistic choices, but, in the end, the advice is often very helpful. 

Q: Any tips for keeping your spirits up?

A: Just remember the publishing world is super subjective. You have to keep trying. My sister, Meagan, once had a story published almost immediately after she sent it to a snobby magazine. I was so happy for her, but so jealous! She didn’t even revise her story. It was a first draft. But, the editors connected with it and loved it. Plus, my sister is an excellent writer. you never know what will click for people. I just had a poem published called “Romances.” It’s about medieval literature. I didn’t really think anyone would like it, but I was wrong. You just have to try and see where it goes. 

Q: Any expert advice for fellow writers?

A: 

  1. Don’t rush editing and revising. You want your writing to reflect your best work. 
  2. ALWAYS read an editor’s guidelines. Messing up a format or rule is a great way to get instantly rejected. 
  3. Get support from other writers. 
  4. Look for publishers on duotrope.com. Just pay the 5 dollars a month. It’s worth it. It has saved me hours of time in searching, and it keeps track of my pieces when I should query.
  5. Finally, to learn about publishing you can come see me at the Writing Center (LARC 333) or check out our PowerPoint on publishing. It covers everything from format tutorials to finding editors. 

20190320_124957 Since interviewing with Arrow Rock, Molly has had another piece published in World of Myth Magazine. She is crushing the publishing game!

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The Published Perspective with Victoria Lane

Our next author interview for The Published Perspective is with current Lindenwood University junior, Victoria Lane.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I’ve only been writing “seriously” for the past few years, but I’ve had the desire and drive to write for as long as I can remember. I can distinctly remember filling out lengthy documents on my family’s computer with story ideas in early elementary school. I was always excited to be able to exercise my creative writing with school projects, and I was probably the most enthusiastic person submitting to our junior high’s annual literary magazine. 

Q: How has Lindenwood contributed/helped shape your writing?

A: I haven’t taken many English or creative writing classes since I have been here, but I think being here has given me the opportunity to write— and improve my writing— with a purpose, something I didn’t really feel I had much of on my own. Having access to regular writing opportunities, like the annual Creepy Campfire Story contest, has given me real goals to work toward with my writing, and I think that it helps.

Q: What are some of your future/career goals?

A: My future is constantly up for debate, but my current ideal life involves working at a video game company in a creative capacity, preferably as a game designer. It sounds unrelated, but as I hope to work creating concepts for games, helping write game plots, mechanics, and scripts, I think creative writing will be a beneficial skill. I’ve always been really interested in video games as storytelling devices, so I hope to, one day, see some of my stories come to life as well, this time interactive. 

Q: How many pieces do you have published? Where?

A: I’ve had a few pieces published through school magazines and Lindenwood’s literary journal Arrow Rock, but I have only had one story published elsewhere. The piece was featured in the Missouri edition of Z Publishing House’s Emerging Writers series. After the first publication of the piece, the publisher contacted me again and asked my permission to use the same piece in a more comprehensive, national edition, America’s Emerging Writers. 

Q: How many pieces (on average) have you sent out?

A: I was actually very lucky, and I was published after my first submission. To professional publishers, I have only sent the one piece, though I intend to submit more over the next few years. 

Q: How often do you send out work?

A: I definitely do not send them out as often as I should! School work keeps me incredibly busy, and my rare free time is seldom spent trying to do more work. I think my brain tends to turn off the moment I submit my homework, but I hope to be more persistent in the near future, submitting more pieces to more places. 

Q: How long did it take you to get published?

A: When I was published, I wasn’t actively looking to be. At the time, I thought being published was some far-off fantasy. Although I enjoy writing, I never really considered myself a “writer.” I thought that to be published, one needed to not only be a writer, but a good one. I have an intense fear of rejection, so I was not willing to seek it out, especially considering the horror stories surrounding submitting to publishers. However, after submitting to Arrow Rock, Lindenwood’s literary journal, I was approached by a publisher, asking for my submission in their upcoming series. I decided I had nothing to lose, and I did. It took a few months to get an acceptance email, but the whole process was much quicker (and less painful) than I imagined.

Q: How do you navigate rejection?

A: Rejection is a difficult topic because everyone knows it is terrible, but it is also something we all must deal with in some capacity or another. I have always had an extreme fear of rejection; if it’s not inherent to all people, it certainly is to me. The real problem with rejection is that it can be very limiting and detrimental to self-improvement and growth. We see rejection, and we think that it is all we will ever receive. Despite knowing that nearly everyone is rejected at some point, we sometimes are unable to believe that our work may someday be accepted, loved even. I’ve used rejection, a short-term failure, as a reason to quit certain things in the past, but I’ve come to realize that, while rejection may be devastating at points, it is not a barrier that can’t be overcome. A rejection, at least in this context, is not a permanent state, and it’s not a reflection of one’s true skills, talent, or capacity to improve.

Q: Tips for keeping your spirits up?

A: I think it is important to have faith in yourself—in your skills and your ability to improve them— because, at the end of the day, our limitations are largely determined by our own ideas of what they should be. We think we can’t do something, so we won’t even try. Sure, sometimes our time is better spent seeking out other things, but sometimes, persistence would be far more rewarding. It is hard to maintain a positive outlook at times, but it is important to realize that success rarely comes from giving up. Failure, at least, gives us the experience to better ourselves. No attempt reaps no reward.

Q: Advice for fellow writers?

A: Most people who write have been told this a thousand times, but I’m going to say it once more: read. You don’t need to read constantly, but you should familiarize yourself with the way others write, the way the most famous and beloved books are written. A mistake I see far too often is people thinking that writing well is as simple as putting words to paper. In reality, the quality of written works tends to rely on the details: things like realistic character interaction, good imagery, foreshadowing, and the old “showing, not telling” trick. I think most people, myself included, would benefit from really analyzing the different ways characters can interact, information can be revealed, and plot points can intersect and overlap. 

My writing used to be very straightforward, vapid, and boring. I read my pieces and hated them. Then, I started thinking about my favorite books and which aspects of them made me love them. I started paying more attention to authors’ specific words while I read, and I looked for good storytelling in different media, like film and television. Over time, it became clear that there was more to telling a story than simply “telling” it. I also think it is important not to fear rewrites. I struggle with that quite a bit, but if something is not what you wanted it to be, if it isn’t working, it should be fixed, not ignored. One of my favorite quotes, from Aubrey de Graf, is “don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” 

Lastly, I’d say that you should write every idea down, no matter how ridiculous or irrelevant to your current project. I have documents upon documents in every device dedicated to housing mine. Some ideas take hours to make into something viable, and others take years. I always recommend going back and looking at past projects, things you once loved but have since abandoned. It’s amazing what kind of clarity sometimes accompanies the passing of time. Some of my proudest work came from adopting and heavily revising old pieces.

 

InterviewPhoto1Victoria is the President of Lindenwood’s Creative Writing Club which meets every other Wednesday at 2:30 in the Writing Center (LARC 333).

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The Published Perspective with Madi DiMercurio

The Published Perspective with Madi DiMercurio

 

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I’ve been writing fiction since second grade and self-publishing for the first time in seventh grade.

 

Q: How has Lindenwood helped shape your writing?

A: I’m first a fiction writer and I’ve been able to broaden my type of writing. Now I have the basic skills of poetry and the confidence to write non-fiction. I’ve had the privilege to receive feedback from peers and professors about my craft and had the cool experience of being a part of a workshopping group who gave truthful feedback. It’s all helped me write better and find my weaknesses and how to strengthen them.      

 

Q: Speaking of publishing, how many of your pieces have been published?

A: I’ve had two published in the Lindenwood University Literary Journal, Arrow Rock (“Toxic Dreams”, and “His Sunflower”) and one with Z Publishing. The other’s are all self-published on Blurb.com. I find it fun to design the book. It’s cool to get published, but I get excited when I’ve created and written something on my own that is bound that my family and friends can read.        

 

Q: About how many pieces have you sent out?

A: Three. Four times in total. I’m a novelist mostly so I only have a few short stories.  

 

Q: How often do you send out work?

A: Pretty rare. Mostly if I’m in the mood or if I have to for a class.   

 

Q: How long did it take you to get published?
A: Well, Z Publishing contacted me. So, it seems like I cheated maybe? But I guess right away after they saw me in the Lindenwood Literary Journal through WordPress.

 

Q: How do you navigate rejection?

A: I really don’t like it. I give myself time to have a day of sadness. I have momentary doubt about whether my short story is good or not.  Then I kind of say, “Fine, if you guys didn’t want it maybe this other journal will.”

 

Q: Any tips for keeping your spirits up while submitting?

A: Just keep reminding yourself that the first time with 99.9% be a rejection. For me the hardest part is not hitting the submit button, but getting the email and not knowing what it will say. So just keep reminding yourself that it is not personal, and that there are many more journals out there that may want your work. You just have to work for it to find the right journal at the right time.  

 

Q: Any advice for fellow Lindenwood University writers?

A: Don’t stop writing. And first and foremost write what you love. Don’t worry about what’s popular. And don’t let people put you down, ignore the doubt and negativity and push through all of that. People are writers because they love the art. So don’t stop because of other people’s opinions.  

 

 

 

portraitMadi DiMercurio is a junior at Lindenwood University. Her work has been published with Z Publishing House and The Arrow Rock Literary Journal. She has also self-published through Blurb.

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The Published Perspective with Emerson Holmes

Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing from some Lindenwood graduates as well as current  Lindenwood students who have been fortunate enough to have their work published. They will be sharing about their personal experiences with publishing in hopes to encourage you, the reader, with all your future and current publishing endeavors.

Our first interview is with Emerson Holmes, a current junior and English Literature major.  

Q:How long have you been writing?

A: I’ve been writing creatively since 4th grade. I actually still have stories I wrote from around that time.

Q: How has Lindenwood helped shape your writing?

A: I took a writing class here, Writing Creative Nonfiction, that I really enjoyed. It allowed me to expand the genres that I wrote in, and a piece that I wrote in that class is in fact a piece I managed to get published.

Q: Speaking of publishing, how many of your pieces have been published?

A: I have published three pieces, all online: two poems in the Eunoia Review, and one experimental nonfiction piece in Crab Fat Magazine.

Q: About how many pieces have you sent out?

A: I’ve sent out about 9 or 10 pieces in the last year.

Q: How often do you send out work?

A: I send out work about once a month, depending on how much work I have completed at the time and how much editing I feel I need to do on that work.

Q: How long did it take you to get published?

A: Well, I’ve been submitting for about two years, and my first publication was in November, so about a year and a half.

Q: How do you navigate rejection?

A: I keep in mind that it’s not personal; it’s just my work not fitting in with a magazine’s specific style.

Q: Any tips for keeping your spirits up while submitting?

A: You gotta remember that getting rejected is just an opportunity to improve. If the editors don’t like your piece, make it better. Workshop it, edit it. Then send it out again.

Q: Any advice for fellow Lindenwood University writers?

A: Write often, and edit twice as much as you write. A piece is never done being edited, you can always improve. The Writing Center here is a great resource, as well as your friends. Have someone else look their piece over, and ask them their opinion.

 

Image-2.pngYou can find Emerson’s work in both Crab Fat Magazine as well as the Eunoia Review.  

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Pride & Publication

From the depths of our brains, hearts, and souls, we create. So, it is natural for us creatives to be incredibly protective of our work. Once we let go of our piece and allow others to view what we have written or created it’s hard to control what’s going to happen next. We want our writing and art to find a home, but to find that home it has to go through a few, if not many, rejections. We also have to understand that while we are all great writers and creators, the inevitable “Thanks, but no thanks,” email will make its way into our inbox.

Upon reading that rejection, the news can feel very personal and losing sight of reality is a real possibility. The reality being that maybe that specific literary journal had a theme in mind or the other submissions just fit better than yours. Maybe they had a really hard time deciding and that other piece simply had one less punctuation error. The truth is, literary journals are managed by human beings, and oftentimes there are numerous human beings sifting through submissions. Much like a Twitter feed, numerous human beings equate to numerous opinions. Maybe you sent in a piece about a cat and one of the editors just recently lost their cat, so reading and accepting your piece was just too much for them. Usually, when we get that “no” email it takes a few days if not weeks to get back up and send it out again.   

In the upcoming weeks, we will begin a series called “The Published Perspective” in which we will speak with past and present Lindenwood students and pick their brains about publication.

So stay tuned, fellow creatives and keep submitting!

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NaNo … Now What?

So, you’ve finished your NaNoWriMo piece (or not, no judgment!).  

You’re probably wondering what to do with it. Or maybe you think it’s trash, but desire an outside opinion before you tank the whole thing. After you’ve reminded yourself this month was simply about the process, maybe consider attending a writing workshop or a creative writing club meeting  where your piece can be discussed by other writers.  

This sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. Trust me.  

Okay, I have full blown panic attacks leading up to workshops, but it really is beneficial. There is so much good that can come from hearing how others viewed your work. Think of it as a focus group, a small percentage of potential readers (and lovers of your work) will give you, the author, feedback. In the real world this is referred to as a beta reader, and most beta readers want money for their services.  

Creative writing workshops are free advice for your story. Maybe you have missed a major plot hole. Maybe a character needs more development. Maybe your poem doesn’t flow well. Sometimes it just takes someone else’s eye to catch it.  

“Can’t nothing heal without pain, you know.” -Toni Morrison, Beloved 

Too embarrassed or shy to face your fellow students? St. Louis and the surrounding areas offer many other options for not only workshopping your piece, but also finding a solid writing community to help encourage your efforts.   

St. Louis Writer’s Meetup Group  

St. Louis Writer’s Guild 

Saturday Writers (St. Charles) 

Writers of St.Charles County 

Or join us every other Wednesday in room 333 of the LARC for Lindenwood’s Creative Writing Club. We would love to have you and workshop your NaNoWriMo piece! 

It’s been a great semester and we hope you enjoyed the blog. We know we’ve had plenty of fun writing about the struggles we all have as writers as well as the love of the craft. It was fun planning events for The Dark Carnival on Lindenwood’s Campus as well as the Write-In’s for NaNoWriMo. We know you’ve all got some great projects created from this experience! Keep on writing and follow your passion.   

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” – Bishop T.D. Jake  

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NaNoWriMo: Progress and Perspective

For this blog post, we have decided to shake things up a bit and give you all a little glimpse into our individual NaNoWriMo experiences. We do this in hopes that you will not feel alone in your writing endeavors. Obviously, our experiences cannot encompass all writing experiences, but we hope that you will find a sliver of yourselves in our stories.

Day 12:

Twelve days in and I am ready to throw in the towel.

I have this vision in my head that loses translation on paper. The novel in my brain reflects the end of autumn, when the leaves have finished showing off and fallen to the ground, leaving the trees bare for winter. I can see hues of warm amber and gold tones filtering through fictional blinds in a living room I’ve decorated in my mind. Van Morrison plays softly through the empty home. My characters are broken individuals who cling to each other in order feel life. They are dependent and filled with shame. They are fictional, yes, but they are real to me. All of it is in a way.

Yet something is lost when I sit down to write. I blame sleep, laundry, and the impossibility of the entire French language for my lack of time and passion. I’m annoyed by my own ideas. They feel like indie, hipster nonsense. I want to believe my writing is important to me, to someone, or to no one at all. I delete and rewrite, never receiving the 5,000 word medal.

I fear I am missing the point completely. The point being to simply put words down. Who cares if they are good? Who cares if they make sense? Who cares if they create more questions than answers? Whatever comes from this month is purely for me and my personal growth. It is about developing a routine in my writing, sitting down at a computer and ripping ideas from my mind without fear or hesitation. I genuinely want to be comfortable filling a blank page.

Am I supposed to feel this way? Slightly elated by the idea of creating, but then horribly defeated with what I create? It feels so “starving artist” to be self-deprecating. Like I should be wearing a beret, smoking a cigarette, and drinking sustainably-sourced coffee when I complain on this level.

This is all probably part of the process. Or at least, part of my process. At this point, I hope my process manages to squeeze out 10k words by November 30th.

-Stefanie Hammond

 

 

 

 

For the longest time, I’ve been one of those writers where if I’m not feeling it, I’m not writing it. I write better when I’m emotionally invested. So, when I hear about this thing called NaNoWriMo, I’m half excited and half terrified. I’m excited because it gives me an excuse to finish my novel. Who cares that I’m at 48 thousand something words already? My personal goal is to finish my novel. And I really want to finish what I’ve started with my characters. They both deserve some type of ending. Even if it’s not a happy one. Let’s be honest, I’m really looking forward to a sad ending, or at least one that leaves knots in my stomach. I’m tired of happily-ever-after endings; I’m not in high school anymore.

I’m terrified because I realize on the twelfth day of November I’ve only touched my novel between six and eight days. I’ll get about two hundred to five hundred words and say, “Okay, I’m good. I hit my mark for the day.” I realize my whole issue for the longest time is that I think way too much when I write just to get more content down. It’s the best thing in the world when you’re really diggin’ a scene and you start typing it out and you get lost and the story kinda takes the reigns. Writing is so much easier when my characters tell me what needs to happen. But when I’m just writing for content, I’m too hard on myself. I start at the beginning and write to the end – therefore my thoughts start to spin, and logic pushes creativity aside. I’m not that person who can sit back and just create scenes that I see happen down the road that I can fit in later like a puzzle piece.

During NaNoWriMo I’ve been writing when I’ve got the time – because let’s face it being a Creative Writing major, I’m working on three other writing assignments, studying for French, and reading my sixth eighteenth century novel this semester for a lit class – and punching out some words that make sense and I know later I won’t have to trash all of them. That’s probably the wrong way of doing NaNo but I hate making double the work for myself.

If this weren’t NaNoWriMo I wouldn’t be in my dorm room for one. I would be twenty minutes down the highway back at home in one of my three favorite spots. One highly possible situation would be sitting on my bed with the lights out, door closed, and music playing. In order to get away from reality and back to the reality in my novel. I use everything I can to help focus in on the characters’ lives and not my own. Usually if I’ve got something good, I’ll finish typing a chapter in three hours. I call it a success when the characters pull me in a different direction than I originally planned. But I don’t write every day and it’s not planned.

So NaNoWriMo is hard because I have to force myself to sit in my dorm room and write words that seem more block shaped than waves and colors and emotion. But I write on because my goal is to finish a novel I’ve been throwing around and changing for the past three years.

-Madi DiMercurio

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NaNoWriMo

One more day until NaNoWriMo commences!

For some writers National Novel Writing Month means a month full of hope and new opportunities, while for others, NaNoWriMo signals an intense 30 days of writing hustle. Hopefully you’ve spent the last couple days mapping out your future, November endeavors, but if not, no need to worry!

You may suddenly realize that you don’t have a solid novel idea, or it’s not developed enough to start banging on the keyboard. Sit in a Walmart for a day. Write down what you observe. Make up the backstory. Just write. It doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly brilliant. It’s for you and you alone. Use your words as therapy.

It is important to view NaNoWriMo as a blank slate filled with opportunity. This month, these 50,000 words are for you. Your taste. Your style. Your desire to put words on a page.

If you have a working novel idea but you don’t have a complete outline in your head, you can always skip around and come back to the plot holes. I repeat, you can skip around! Don’t worry, it’s not just you who falls victim to the idea that you must write in chronological order. If a middle scene comes at you, start writing. If the climax or pieces of the end come to mind, write that, too. It doesn’t matter if it’ll be changed later. The idea of NaNoWriMo is to set a goal and force yourself to stick to it. Stop procrastinating with those binge-worthy Netflix shows and start writing your own binge-worthy story!

Don’t write novels? There is still a place for you in NaNoWriMo. The ultimate goal of November being to simply get words on a page; poetry, short stories, or song lyrics. Whatever you put on paper, however it gets there, just push yourself to create.

For years, I thought I belonged in a mental institution or needed professional help because, seeing a shoe discarded on the side of the highway, I would formulate an entire journey and story for the shoeless hitchhiker it belonged to. My friends didn’t do this. They thought about “normal” things, like bills and 401k’s. I realized that while I loved my friends, there are significant benefits to being around other writers.

There is effortless breathing in community. A place to gasp and loudly declare, “I do that, too!”

So please, consider participating in NaNoWriMo. Even if that looks like showing up to a Write-In to eat snacks and talk about story ideas. We want to see you!

Our first Write-In is Nov 8 from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. in room 333 in the LARC on Lindenwood University’s campus. We sincerely hope to see you there!

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A Different Way to Publish

Self-publishing has come a long way in the last ten years. Though there have been major improvements to the industry such as ease and use for the less-than-tech-savvy author, many writers are still very divided on the topic. There are plenty of articles online demeaning self-publishing, claiming it to be a surefire way to have your work underappreciated and undervalued. Some go so far as to relate self-publishing to selling your soul to the Devil. While some of those articles make valid points (minus the whole selling your soul part), there are many overlooked advantages to self-publishing.

To give you a more detailed look at self-publishing, Lindenwood University student and self-published author, Madi DiMercurio, will give you a brief overview of her own self-publishing experiences.

The dream of having my work bound into a book has existed since the summer of seventh grade. I brought up the idea to my grandma and she suggested lulu.com. This site was new and I was honestly turned off immediately because they were so simplistic. Specifically, the formatting of the cover wasn’t what I had in mind for my short story, but I made it work. It seems they have developed a lot more since then.

In high school, when I had written a handful of finished short stories, I wanted to put them together. I picked the best five and found blurb.com. Blurb had better formatting options at the time and I felt freer with how I wanted to present my work. Blurb is a photobook company upfront. But if you look further into their website there are also books created. I created eight books using blurb and have had the easiest time. They have great tools for those who are naturally creative but aren’t masters at the technology side. They’re customer support group is fast and friendly. And they also have a group called Reedsy that has editors, cover designers, and publicists all one click away to help with any or all steps of getting your book out there.

Both Lulu.com and Blurb.com have ways to put your work onto Amazon, this appears to be a newer option for both companies that I was never acquainted with.

Lulu is less expensive than Blurb. But Blurb does cater more towards photo books so they up their prices for color printing. If you’re making a book (aka a novel or chapbook), the black and white option is less expensive. But you also pay for what you get. It’s great quality on Blurb. I’ve never regretted it.

Self-promotion and marketing are key factors in self-publishing success. The only self-promotion I’ve done is sharing my published work on Facebook and Twitter…mostly to let my family know I’ve got something new up. Honestly, it’s hard work to self-promote, almost like a full-time job. I heard somewhere that it takes seven times for someone to see or hear about your book before they pick it up or buy it, this idea is daunting to me. It means it takes a lot of work to get yourself out there on top of the work you have already put into writing the book.

Fear of rejection is a big reason why I don’t promote as much as I should. But I also very strongly believe that I write for myself before anything else. I’m okay with not wanting that attention, but the attention is addicting when I get it. I also don’t feel as if I have this skills, knowledge, or secret tricks on how to get more people to turn their heads towards my work.

The most important reason why I self-publish is to have a finished, bound book for myself and my family. If I get outside interest that’s cool too, but getting that attention isn’t on my to-do list. I write for myself first and foremost.

 

Thinking about self-publishing? Here are some of the main publishers for self-publishing (in no particular order):

CreateSpace

Amazon Kindle/Kindle Direct Publishing

Blurb

Lulu

AuthorHouse

Xlibris

Outskirts Press

Book Baby