Category Archives: Writing

To self-publish or not to self-publish, that is the question

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Yes, that is the question but I’m beginning to think there’s more to it.

For some time now, I’ve been internally debating whether to move forward and self-publish the first book of my paranormal trilogy via Amazon.com’s print-on-demand and Kindle direct services. After reading Kristen Lamb’s blog post, Why Traditional Marketing Doesn’t Sell Books, I’m going to hold off and regroup.

After a thorough edit by Gloria Campbell, a professional book editor, I’ll go back through and make sure I have the highest quality product I can offer readers of my debut novel. I also want to be sure I’ve taken into account the major principles Kristen mentions in her book, We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media.

For those who are interested in my self-publishing progress, check back here and on my Facebook page (see below) as I’ll be posting updates on what I discover and decide.

Facebook page for Tessa D'Uccelli Blu

Author page for Tessa D'Uccelli Blu

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Momentum

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Momentum is not only what I feel like I’ve achieved today but it is also a free set of tools from Creative Folk–website of Laura Simms, The Creative’s Coach–which includes a Goal Guide and Dream Reality Checklist. I downloaded it and thought it might help me and my new fellow writing buddies, Shirley and Adrienne, set some writing goals so I brought the goal guide to Tullys in Redmond where, Shero Writers, our inaugural writing circle, met today. (The name is a placeholder just because I thought it’d be fun to name our threesome.)

When I got home, I filled out the goal guide in no time. When I got to the “Accountability” section of the goal guide, I was stumped. And then it came to me: write a blog post summarizing my goal setting plans every month. That way, I would be “putting it out there” for all to see. One is much more motivated if one’s goals are public, right? Well, that’s my thinking anyway.

The goal guide consists of a template where you fill out sections. Here’s my goal guide for September:

Last Month’s Successes–Completed 4-week Intuitive Writing class with Vedika Dietrich; Received thumbs up from 1 agent and 1 editor to submit the first 3 chapters of my manuscript; Learned a lot at PNWA conference; Splurged on headshots for promo materials; Submitted short story to Line Zero magazine

Last Month’s Challenges–Didn’t edit or write enough; Allowed inner critic too much airtime; Not much blogging; Juggling family and job search priorities

This Month’s Goals–Rewrite first 3 chapters; Write a short story about either my broken engagement or my mother’s purse, based on prompts from Intuitive Writing class.

Potential Challenges–Increased job search activity and/or starting a new job; Eve visiting Sept. 1-6; Not inspired to edit/rewrite same old, same old; Not carving out enough time in my schedule; Balancing writing with working on my Sketchbook project, Encyclopedia of Friulan Proverbs.

Challenge Busters–Schedule regular time to rewrite; Limit my TV time (and other distractions) to 3-4 hours a week.

48 Hour Actions–Set up and complete four 30-minute timed writings; Rewrite my synopsis; and Subscribe to Writer magazine.

Other Actions–Register for SIWC October 21-23; Send out 2 query letters to other PNWA agents/editors; Create a Tessa D’Uccelli author blog; Set time on calendar to attend the free Northwest Bookfest October 1-2; Register for the 6-week class “The First 20 Pages” at Hugo House.

Resources–Writer’s Digest and Writers magazines, hard copy or online; Seattle7Writers.org; Hugo House and WritersNet classes

Accountability–Write a blog post (this is it!) summarizing my goal setting plans every month.

When these goals are achieved, I will feel…elated that I pushed past my rewriting writer’s block to get one step closer to my pre-Thanksgiving Day manuscript submission deadline!

Cocooning these goals is a Supporting Thought. Mine for September is “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” ~ Syliva Plath

The goal guide is a straightforward one-pager that I can easily read at a glance. I will keep one copy at my writing desk in my home office as well as carry one with me so I can always have it at the ready wherever I happen to be. No excuses! It is part of the reason why I invested in a Livescribe Echo Pen so that if I don’t have my laptop handy, I can write and record my words when I’m on the go.

Next, I focused on the bigger picture that my goals are helping me strive toward and that is the dream of publishing a novel. That’s when I completed the Dream Reality Checklist. Lots of good questions to help me hone in on what I truly want and figuring out a way to get it. The bottom line of that checklist is improve my craft with daily writing practice. I believe with the wisdom nuggets I gained at PNWA and “Shero Writers” now in place, I’m well on my way.

Stay tuned for next month’s progress on my September writing goals.

Thoughts I had after my July 27th Intuitive Writing class

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Our instructor, Vedika Dietrich, had planned a few different timed writing themes for us such as:

I remember…

What I don’t remember…

What I didn’t say…

In my mother’s purse…

Next up, we had to write out a word or phrase on small slip of paper and add it to a box from which we’d all pick a theme that a fellow classmate suggested. The theme I wrote out, “Green dots don’t become her”, was chosen by Vedika. Ah, sweet revenge 😉 The theme I chose, “The reason I love my favorite book is…”, was a little challenging for me** (see below for what I wrote) but I managed it reasonably well nonetheless.

Vedika told me at the end of the class that she enjoys how I really enjoy my writing as evidenced by how much fun I have when reading it aloud to the class (something we have to do after each writing exercise.) My friend Anne told me that she thought I was one of the two people she thought were the best writers in the class. Anne and Vedika’s comments made my night and, held me aloft for the next couple of days until today when I decided to write about what’s been going on in my head since then.

Our homework for next week’s class was to bring in no more than 3 works of our favorite authors. We had to be prepared to explain why we love those authors and that particular work. We also had to read a paragraph from each book we brought in. Yesterday, I was eager to start my homework and quickly came up with three of my favorite authors:

Armistead Maupin 

Nick Bantock

Marlena de Blasi

One of the hallmarks that speaks to me regarding why these authors are my favorites is because I own 95% of every book they’ve ever written; in part, because I just can’t get enough of how they tell stories especially the way they weave the location that often stands shoulder to shoulder next to their most important characters. Their stories are rich in texture, just like a tapestry so that if you were to close your eyes, you could feel the sights, sounds, colors, and aromas swirling out of the book and into your surroundings, enveloping you in their midst. Their words cushion, comfort, evoke, and stir something in you; establishing a foothold and ultimately blending with your vocabulary. A very sensual process, or so it seems to me.

This is how I hope others experience my books. My stories ignite a fire in them. A theme, character, or location in my stories fires up their imagination in some way—to explore that theme in other readings, to try out an aspect of a character like they would a new piece of clothing and see how it fits, or visit a location that is central to the story as part of their must-see places to-do list. As I explored the idea of fire further, two stray thoughts appeared and before they trailed off, I went looking for more information around them.

The first stray thought came by way of the Hopi and what they believe about the guardianship of fire. Let me explain…

The Hopi creation story talks about how Great Spirit made a set of sacred stone tablets, called Tiponi, into which he breathed his teachings, prophecies, and warnings. Before the Great Spirit hid himself again, He gave out Clan Rocks to all four races a long time ago. They are stored by each race in the following locations:

White – Switzerland
Black – Kikuyu tribe keeps them at the base of the Kilimanjaro Mountains in Kenya, Africa
Yellow – Tibet
Red – Four Corners/Hopiland, Arizona

Each rock represented a responsibility, which the Hopi call Guardianship. To the red people in the East, He gave the Guardianship of the Earth. To the yellow people in the South, He gave the Guardianship of the Wind. To the black people of the West, He gave the Guardianship of the Water. To the white people in the North, He gave the Guardianship of the Fire.

If you look at the center of many of the things the white race does, you will find the fire. They say a light bulb is the white man’s fire. If you look at the center of a car, you will find a spark. If you look at the center of the airplane and the train, you will find the fire. The fire consumes, and also moves. This is why the Hopi believe it was the white brothers and sisters who began to move upon the face of the earth and reunite us as a human family.

Perhaps the white man or woman can also use the power of the written word to create a spark within people to act, to imagine, to love, to explore, to pray, and so on. Not that the white man or woman’s writing has that sole authority to do so but maybe it is one way that we can take the physical aspect of the fire that our race guards and offer its power to humanity to inspire all races through the mental, emotional, and spiritual realms within us.

The second thought I had was to check out Sage, a free oracle game of sorts that Nick Bantock created on his site, where you can go and click on any card and receive a message. The message I received was quite apropos to my first thought. Here it is:

Is fire born within each heart, or sparked by experience?

There’s a lot to ponder in that phrase. The first thing I thought of was the phrase, nature versus nurture. The second thing was the lyrics in Lady Gaga’s new song, Born This Way. The third thing is the Violet Flame of the I AM presence of St. Germain.

If I were to take the essence of those thoughts, I come up with this:

When my attention goes to the discriminating selective intelligence that is my Higher Self, an energy begins to flow. As I allow this radiance to continue through me, it intensifies and expands until the point of light within every cell of my being responds to it.

Vedika calls this “The Crack”. You might also have heard runners refer to it as “the runner’s high” or artists when they “go with the flow”. Meditators know it as the merging with the Oneness. Whatever you want to call it, it is that which puts me in a zone where there’s no time or time flies and I’ve been in a creative space with no boundaries and no judgments. Perhaps it is my divine fire or spark coming out and through me…freeing me to be me. I also have deep respect for the kindling that starts that fire because it sometimes, in my case anyway, goes a long way to keep that home fire burning.

I’ll sum up what has kept me going these last few days with a great quote by Albert Schweitzer:

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

** Here is what I wrote for the writing suggestion I pulled from the cool tin box in Vedika’s class: “The reason I love my favorite book is…”

First of all, I have so many favorites that it is hard to pick just one but pick one I must, right? Well, how about instead I write what makes a book a favorite of mine. Often favorites become favorites if I really like the author. Take Carrie Fisher. She makes me laugh, a lot, every time I read her work. When I read Shirley MacLaine, I’m often shocked at the things she did as part of her Hollywood life. When immersed in Robert Ludlum, my fingers itch to turn the pages faster. If Steve Martin‘s book is between my palms, I go a little slow to savor his take on things.

I recently read a new author who I think, because of the way she talked about violets in March, that she’ll become a candidate for the night table pile with her upcoming second novel. Speaking of which, Italian language books are slowly making an appearance at both the home office desk and night table piles.

One genre that is a perennial-to-the-death favorite is a good exploration of something spiritual. I think one of the reasons I can’t describe a “favorite” is that often the latest book I read, regardless of the genre or author, becomes my new favorite.

Is that normal? Should I care if it isn’t? What is normal for a favorite book anyway? I’m sure there’s no prescribed formula, no judge standing over me.