The Poison of Jealousy

The Poison of Jealousy

 

This week I have been suffering with an affliction known as poison sumac. Not to be confused with poison ivy, sumac is a woody plant, and in my case it was a tree-size. I encountered it during a rescue mission on a 50-year-old-farm and because there were no leaves, I mistook the vile thing for a popular tree and promptly dug it up and then rescued a bucket load of daffodils scattered around it.

I told the doctor, all of my itching is worth the discomfort.

As someone who can dig poison oak without so much as a blemish, this affliction both surprised me and had me sitting at the doctor’s office begging for a shot.(and pills and cream). Back home, I sat on the couch I replayed a conversation with an author friend of mine. She is a veteran author who has written for several esteemed magazines and recently released a charming book. However, like me, she has encountered quite a bit of what I call jealousy.

This year, as an effort to encourage readers to shop local, sustain local booksellers in the community, and feed starving authors (including myself), I am writing a quarterly newsletter featuring up to four books. Featured authors do not know I am choosing them and I have not been paid to write about them. In most cases, I haven’t personally met the author.

I provide that backstory, because I recently learned that some authors have crossed their arms, pooched out their lips and are pouting. Yes, the jealous authors who-I’d bet money-don’t even know me, nor have they taken the time to know me.

Jealousy, you see, is like those tiny blisters on my arms. Jealousy starts small, with a pooched out mouth. Then it begins to itch. So we scratch it.

I included all four authors in the email mailing of my newsletter and those authors shared my newsletter with their readers. I don’t use a secondary carrier. Instead I paste the newsletter in my blog, AND, I send the newsletter in a personal email to the readers I have met during my years of traveling. (FYI: Your contact information is always safe with me).

Shouting out the books others have written is what I do. Again, I invest my time, for free. Here is an example of my blog posting last year featuring Susan, Jolina, Ann, and Karen. None knew of my plans. No compensation for my work. My newsletter is my gift, a valuable one, to my readers.

However . . .

Like the sumac blisters, jealousy festers. It collects and annoys until one either must scratch, or explode. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my newsletter sparked an email from an unhappy author.

Yes. It. Did.

Not from the authors I featured, but one I did not.

I am writing to her today. No one shared your name with me but you need to know this. Lean in close because this is important. You do not understand how badly jealousy is damaging your career.

There. I said it. You are sabotaging your career.

I am not “always” promoting one particular author. I am promoting authors who have written books I like.

Lean in again. Support others. Be nice.

Readers who know me trust my opinion. I read several genres and you-missus unnamed author- must understand that we authors are in a big ole gumbo pot together.

We are not in a competition. There are plenty of readers out there. That is why I pick several different types of books. I do not surround myself with people who read only what I read.

I want to grow. I want to be better every day. I want to be a better writer and a better friend. I want to make a positive impact on this earth. Most of all I want to help people.

Now I ask how did your remarks benefit you?

Did your remarks about another author make a reader want to buy your book?

Did your remarks about me want anyone want to help you sell your book?

Again, let me whisper. Stop it my colleague. Just stop.

Don’t scratch the jealousy blisters my friend. Treat them. Cure them. Stop scratching.

And yes, several people are going to think this blog post is harsh. But it is past time that rude and jealous authors be called out. Because here is the truth, I can be that author. We all can. Authors are afraid. We are loosing contracts. Publishers are dropping us. And people think Amazon is making us rich.

It isn’t. None of my author friends are wealthy. None of them.

Jealousy is inside all of us, the fear that we aren’t selling enough books. We look at Facebook (which is you believe that hype you should really get a reality check), and we believe that we deserve the same sales as someone else.

We do deserve success. We have worked hard. And that is why I help others. Unprompted. Unsolicited.

If you are an author who has experienced jealousy, do your friend a favor, tell them to stop. Tell them how badly they are hurting you and their own career. Or, just forward them this blog.

If this blog has been forwarded to you it means someone cares enough about you to help. Perhaps the jealousy consuming you is keeping you from attaining the success you crave. If you are wondering why aren’t my books selling? Here is one possible reasons: your attitude toward others.

You can’t act on fear, or jealousy. Instead WRITE A GREAT BOOK. If you have a good book your colleagues will support you, IF you play nice.

Just be nice, or as my grandpa used to say, “Be somebody!”

Stop scratching the itch, or soon you will be poisoned with jealousy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

Stepping over to the e-side Why I released Mountain Memories exclusively through Kindle

 

Readers who have either met me briefly or who are life-long friends know that I am a champion for the printed word and Independent Booksellers. I’ll do just about anything to help those folk out which is why I dressed up in overalls and rode a stick pony while filming the Harlem Shake at The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia and why I delivered a jug of “the recipe” for the “Mountain Women” event at FoxTale in Woodstock. When I’m not in a bookstore, I’m in the library giving readers the opportunity to meet Billy Albertson, the man behind my first book. I am a self-appointed author cheerleader, linking their latest releases and events the moment I learn about it. I prefer, without debate, a real printed book. So why did I release Mountain Memories: True Stories and Tall Tales from Appalachia exclusively through Kindle?

 

In a word: Money. mountainmemoriescover

 

Just writing those words make me feel dirty. Y’all know me for my honesty and there it is: money.  I don’t have any pie-in-the-sky notions about becoming independently wealthy with Mountain Memories. Honestly, I am very nervous about this e-book release. My tummy is all queasy, I’ve been weepy. I am just not myself. I want in my heart, to release a printed version, but I am eyeball deep in my novel. There is a conundrum authors’ experience, the fear of loosing readers. My first book came out in the fall of 2010, a lifetime ago in the publishing world. I know that I must act, must keep engaging readers who fell in love with my first book In the Garden with Billy. If not, they will forget about me. That is the cold hard truth we don’t discuss at the dinner table.

 

This May my critique buddy, (and pretty fantastic author) Carmen Slaughter, noted that it was National Short Story Month. I already had the twitch to return to short stories, where I cut my teeth and first put pen to paper. Yes, I write every single word on paper first. I can’t help myself. While I wrote Amazon established a new division for “shorts.” Acceptance into the shorts program requires approval by an employee of the company. Like them or not, Amazon recognizes trends, or perhaps sets them. I dunno. I have long said the trend is toward more short stories, what with our constant interruptions and no-time-to read.

 

My collection gives voice to my people. My people aren’t stereotypically southern, we’re rural Appalachia. There is a difference. I also know that no publisher, unless it is a vanity press, would print my regional collection. I know this. Independent Booksellers know this. You, the reader, now know this. My words had no home and y’all know how desperately I need a home.

 

As Carmen monitored my progress I typed and challenged myself to write words that might surprise readers. I want to grow, remain fresh, unpredictable. Feeling like I was handing a chunk of my heart, I sent a story to Carmen, then to Beverly who was my first reader, and finally to Laurie, who is a bookseller. While they read I polished Mountain Memories. Then, a miracle happened. Mercer University Press accepted Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Cue the Peanuts Happy Dance and Hallelujahs!! I am over the moon, humbled, honored and deeply indebted to Mercer University for taking a chance on this terrific book, which is a sequel to In the Garden. The publisher is excited. I am excited. Billy is excited. However, the book won’t be ready until 2014, and 2014 is a long way away my friends, which brings us back to money.

 

Dental bills, car repairs, and the high cost of everyday living; writing is my job. Not to mention the emergency garage door repair (don’t y’all breathe a word to my husband about that….promise?). I know I am preaching to the choir. I know that some of you are nodding as you read this. And (hang on here comes more honesty), authors only receive about one dollar per copy of every book sold. Doesn’t it always come down to money? And don’t we always feel punched-in-the-gut about our lack of money. So there you have it.

 

Now you know, the reason why I chose to release Mountain Memories: True Stories and Tall Tales from Appalachia via Kindle. I’m no technical guru. I don’t own an iphone or any thing that starts with an i; but a little birdie told me that you can also read Mountain Memories by other avenues. Amazon has links that allow you to read using Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac, ipad, iphone, or even your eyeball (haha). Click the link here to choose what works for you. And know, truly know, that I appreciate every single one of you. I do not take lightly your purchase. $ 2.99 might not be much for some, but for me, it is and I am thankful for you. In appreciation, if you leave a review on Amazon and email me the comment through my website HERE I will email you a short story FOR FREE.

 

Those who don’t have an e-reader, can purchase a pdf copy directly from me through my website www.reneawinchester.com

 

Here’s a little tease. An example of a  true tale and half truth.

 

From: Remembering:[this is a true tale] 

 

We are here.

 

Here, where wild hogs have ploughed the ground and the ditch doesn’t drain well anymore. Here, where Cinnamon ferns throw spores to the wind, where fronds unfurl and ferns grow tall; already four feet even though it is only mid-May. Here, where our ancestors rest in peace. The gardeners in the group covet Mother Nature’s ability to hide treasures such as this. Mother Nature does an excellent job hiding the graves of our people behind a hedge of brambles. For that we are thankful. Otherwise their resting place might be disturbed by folk who don’t understand the importance of heritage.

 

We are here, in our place heart longs to visit, where our soul finds rest. We are here, where we our people expect us to be each year at this same time. We are in a place others know as western North Carolina. In a place millions know as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We are here, in a place our people fought to save; in a place they never wanted to leave.

 

We are home.

 

Feeling their spirit, I quickly wipe away tears and gather the flowers made of tissue paper, just like Aunt Edna used to make. I think she’s pleased her tradition remains. Each year I assemble the flowers using recycled paper and pick buds from my own garden. I am unwilling to adorn graves with plastic, partially out of concern for the environment, but primarily because I want to honor the old ways. There were no plastic flowers back then; only fresh-cut stems placed in glass jars, or colorful paper twisted around pipe cleaners.

 

The hike to the cemetery is strenuous. Even the youngest family member stops to rest or beg the nearest adult for a piggyback ride. As we ascend, native flowers such as Jack-in-the-pulpit and trillium, greet me. As does the rose bush my great grandmother planted where the combination church and schoolhouse once stood. Again I smile. There is still something left of her in these woods, even if I am the only one who remembers. The government may own the land, but I own my memories.

 

From Nathaniel Preston’s Funeral [this is a half truth]

 

Mittie Cleveland walked down the aisle of the First Baptist Church like she once had many years ago. Fifty years had passed since her feet last touched the maroon-colored carpet. On that day her future husband had fiddled with his watch while she marched slowly toward the minister and a man she adored, a man who would never return the adoration. Mittie interpreted the gesture−a toe tap anticipation−as eagerness, that her future husband was excited about their new life together. As she inched forward the baby growing inside her womb kicked for the first time. Smiling then, she had looked into the pale blue eyes of a man she barely knew and pledged her life to his, until death parted them. She had not known then, because it is impossible to know ones husband well on your wedding day, that impatience, not eagerness caused him to wind his watch. Mittie quickly learned that neither patience, nor fidelity, was her husband’s strong suit.

 

In Defense of Prayer

On Monday night I posted the following request on my Facebook account: Tomorrow, please pray for my daughter. It is her last day of testing, and two of her most important tests: Math and Japanese. Truly, she needs your prayers. I really don’t know what to pray for, just know that we need them. Thanks, R

Never would I have thought that I needed to defend my request. If you are reading this post hoping that I will defend the post, you might want to stop reading right about now.

I don’t expect my Facebook friends to know me, they couldn’t possibly know that yesterday I functioned on three hours of sleep, worked in my garden, helped my husband construct a frame where we will lay tile (yes, my toe really is broken), fixed dinner, took my daughter to a job interview, and wrote over a thousand words for a short story collection. My Facebook friends don’t know that I do NOT have cable television, that I don’t care who is on American Idol, or Survivor (is that show even on?) I live in Atlanta where I desperately try to be as unplugged from television and its bad news as much as possible. Friends know that if something bad happens in Atlanta, please call me on the phone, otherwise I’ll be working, doing, and living the life I so love.

My face-to-face friends also know that I am not a bible scholar. I am a believer, a sinner, a reacher-out to God on a daily basis. I pray for strangers, random people, friends I know, and sometimes I even pray for myself.

So imagine my shock when I found the following comments to my prayer request: (name withheld)

 I believe deeply in the power of prayer, but I have to say now that my prayers are those who are victims of the devastation in Oklahoma. That is deep and horrific suffering there, and those folks need great prayers for healing. I’m a mom, and yes, I know the need to pray for a daughter. Mine has been through some life threatening times. What we need here is perspective . I do hope you send up some prayers for the many tornado victims. I mean this. I do not take prayer lightly. It is a deep focus of my spiritual energy merging, I hope, with God. So please do send some focus and prayers to those in the deepest need. I’m sorry but Math and Japanese tests don’t compare to the loss in those tornado torn states.

There are many reasons why a person might post something of this nature. Which is visited her Facebook page to see if perhaps she lived in Oklahoma, had posted a plea for those she knew. There were none. No prayer requests, no mention of the victims in Oklahoma at all. What troubles me further is that this person is an author, a colleague, someone who while I do not personally know, made a conscious decision to take the time to write this on my wall. I don’t really understand why she did and that’s ok it is what it is.

As an author there is an unwritten rule that unless you are a Christian author, published by a “Christian Press” it is in your best interest to keep God in a box, beside your bed, taking Him out only when you need Him, never during a book signing, conference, conversation where someone else might overhear, become offended and decide not to purchase a copy of your work. Now if you have written about a controversial subject, or one that uncovers the evils of the church, then by all means talk all you want. Otherwise, answer questions in an indirect manner, politically correct of course. Don’t offend someone who might be there to purchase copies of your book.

While I was in Texas speaking at the Pulpwood Queens I met a group of Queens who had a photo of their friend, Susan. Susan’s image sat at the table with them, wore a different tiara each night. Drawn to them for personal reasons, I asked about Susan’s illness, cried with these ladies, understood their concern, admired their love and devotion to a friend. When it was my turn to speak on the panel, I am sure that some people were offended when I began my talk by asking for prayer for Susan, whom I did not know other than having just learned that she had cancer and was in the fight of her life.

Here me clearly, selling books is not a priority in my life. At that moment, praying for Susan was.

As an aside: perhaps this is why I don’t have a book contract, because I won’t put God in a box, because when asked, and sometimes when not, I try to give God the glory and credit for my life. He gave me the writing gift, I did nothing, nothing but provide the fingers, and even those are not my own.

I don’t mean to ramble, but this morning as I prayed I was just overwhelmed with the suggestion that my prayer was less important than those in Oklahoma. Or worse, that someone thought I believed my prayers were more important than the victims in Oklahoma. Then I remember God himself says, “come all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. (All). God doesn’t prioritize, saying: “Today is BIG PRAYER day. Don’t bother me with little prayers. No! Don’t bother me with those small prayers, I don’t have time. God does not prioritize sin (no big or little sins) man does; and He does not prioritize our prayers. He is always waiting for us to reach out to him with every concern.

God didn’t say, “Today is Renea’s day. I’m only listening to her prayers. Today, she gets everything she wants.”

Because honey, if God proclaimed a Renea day my mouth would ramble things that I really, really want:

Could there be food for those hungry, the starving, those who won’t eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, not those who have run out of ice cream and feel a slight twinge

Could the abused children be removed from their circumstances, could they know love

Could there be peace, just today since it’s Renea Day- could we have a day, where no one is murdered, where no one dies from violence, (please, it’s my day)

Could there be jobs for the mom’s and dad’s who have been searching for years

Could there be healing from terminal diseases, all of them… not just cancer

Can those struggling with addiction be cured

Could there be love, a hunger to love one another instead of saying something to harm another

Could rain be sent to drought ridden areas, and sun sent to those areas underwater

Could the homeless be comforted, the dying not be alone, could we learn to love each other

Could we ALL reach out to you and be hungry for more of YOU, Lord

 

Author Conference at Kennesaw, Georgia May 18, 2013

May and June are typically the busiest months for book releases and writing conferences. This year I have the honor of leading a workshop titled, Creating Memorable Characters Through Dialogue. 

Dialogue is an excellent way to describe a character without saying, “she had red curly hair,” or “she was angry.”

Remember, words are power. While it is the author’s job to create believable characters, they should also develop memorable characters. Dialogue is an excellent way to do that.

For those who can’t attend the conference, here is one of the many tips I’ll share. This is an excellent way to find the voice of your protagonist. Sit down, literally, with them. Have a discussion. Ask questions. Listen for their response. Interview them. Document their responses.

What you don’t want to do is force your protagonist, or antagonist. Making them bend to your will is a recipe for disaster.

Now, regarding using dialogue. Under the show, not tell category, my beloved friend and mentor, Wilma Dykeman, could have written Lydia was desperate, hungry to read books.

Instead she used dialogue in her book The Tall Woman. She used it brilliantly I might add, in the following excerpt:

Lydia speaking after learning she was denied access to books.

“No need to be down-hearted. I always say if you can’t go to town in a buggy, use a wagon, and if you don’t have a wagon, use shank’s mare. Now where’s that first book on the world’s geography?”

This dialogue shows the reader that Lydia was desperate, and determined to read even if she had to walk ten miles and collect a single book. This my dear friends, is how you use dialogue to develop your characters.

For those in the Georgia area, please click the links below to register for the conference. Only a few spots remain. See you there!

Red Clay will be held on Saturday, May 18th in the Social Science Building at Kennesaw State University

Red Clay Potter

This Conference will host workshops in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, mystery and thriller, teen fiction, and book publishing and marketing. Workshops will focus on molding and shaping one’s craft Furthermore, each workshop is designed to leave writers with techniques, tips, and tools to apply to their own craft.

We have an outstanding list of speakers for you at this years event! Terry Kay, 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, will offer the keynote speech at 9:00AM. Afterward, attendees will be able to choose the workshop that is most applicable to their writing endeavors. Clickhere to view the workshop times. Our speakers are covering everything from the writing process to publishing. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts and connect with other writers!

Click here to read more. Stay informed by joining our mailing list.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of  In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

The Harlem Shake, Indie Bookstore Style

The Harlem Shake, Bookstore Style

Breaking News: It is world wide knowledge that Indie Bookstores go the extra mile to sell books. They have free giveaways, quirky contests, and sometimes . . . ask authors to act a fool while someone captures their shenanigans on film. Cat Blanco, owner of The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia recently did just that, ask me and a handful of others to act a fool.

Younger readers will recognize The Harlem Shake as a phenomenon that has taken over YouTube.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, here’s the gist: as best as I understand. The video begins with a group of people hanging out. These people could be in the Starbucks, college dorm, or in this case, a local bookstore. All of the sudden a kooky person enters, dancing all kray-kray while no one else seems to notice. Then when the music hits a certain note everyone starts dancing kray-kray.

For the record, we realize our feeble attempt is in no way similar to the “Original” Harlem Shake. We’re just trying to spread the word that Indie bookstores are anything but boring.

Cat assembled the group and we picked out our headgear (apparently head-adorning-implements are required for this type of activity). Next, it was time to cue the music.

Law have mercy. It's a good thing none of our parents have internet access !

Law have mercy. It’s a good thing none of our parents have internet access !

What you can’t see on the video are customers entering the store as we’re standing there wearing hats, motorcycle helmets and bunny ears. Cat explained, Don’t mind us; we’re just filming a Harlem Shake video.

She said this like it was an everyday occurrence. Then she asked. . . wanna join us? The look on their faces was priceless. By the way, no one volunteered to join us.

harlemshake1 (1)Cat also pulled the guy next-door from the barber shop. C’mon, join the fun. Here’s a pic of her covering adjusting his silver wig.

As my people would say, They help my time.

It took a couple of takes, before the video was done. Even now, we look at the video and smile. We were supposed to stand in one spot and shake our booty. But there was something about the music, the excitement that filled the room that made up hop around the room like excited bunnies.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited an Indie Bookstore you’ll see that they are, loads of fun. No stuffed-shirts hoity-toity folk in here. Most Indies bookstore owners remember your name, and your reading preferences. They provide jobs for the neighborhood and are far from being extinct. If you haven’t visited The Book Exchange well it just up the road from you on Canton Road.  The address is 2932 Canton Road, Marietta GA 30066. If you’ve got your eye on a new release, or you want to load up on your favorite used books give Cat a call at (770) 427-4848.

Cat is known for hosting fabulous author events that bring New York Times best-selling authors to North Georgia. If you have never attended an author event, here’s a listing of upcoming author appearances:

April 16, 2013 Wendy Wax

May 16, 2013 Charles Martin and Patti Callahan Henry

June 4, 2013 Karen White

harlemshakemyra1I promise. We will leave our goofy headgear and stick pony at home. You will find that we’re just a group of passionate readers happy to support the local Indie, and a group of devoted authors acting a fool all for the love of books.

Please visit The Book Exchange on Facebook and LIKE their Page. We’d hate for all our Tom Foolery to be for naught. Oh, and while you’re there please follow me, or send me a friend request.

And now, without further ado, the video. The Book Exchange’s version of the Harlem Shake. harlemshakeyoutubepix

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

Do Authors Need an Author Page?

Do Authors Need an Author Page?

Or, is a Personal Page Sufficient?

This week  I was discussing the pros and cons of creating an author page with  Amy Hill Hearth. Amy is a New York Times bestselling author who created an author page at her publishers insistence. In order to be honest with y’all, Amy and I were actually discussing the cons of an author page.  We really can’t ascertain any benefit. Anything that causes an author to manage two pages (personal and professional)  is inefficient and nonsensical.

Amy explains: The emphasis from S&S is never to have a page devoted to a single title. It should be under your name. We are supposed to be building our “brand,” that is, ourselves.

Publishers want their authors to tweet twice a day, blog at least weekly and have a social media “presence” on Facebook. For that reason, I have noticed several friends who are shutting down their personal page and opting for an author page. The problem is this: will people move with you? If they do will they be pleased with an impersonal author page? (most are not)

So I posted a comment on my wall stating that I would not create an author page (because I enjoy a more personal interaction with people). My sweet friend, Theresa Shadrix, explained that I didn’t need both.

Oh Theresa, my angel, tell us more!

She explained that if one sets their “permissions” on FB to allow followers, then there isn’t a need to create another page.

Not totally convinced, I visited Shawna Coronado’s Facebook page. Shawna is the knower of all things plant, marketing, and friendship. One little look and I was convinced. She has a friends section,  AND a following.

The reason authors are strongly encouraged to create an author page is that Facebook will cut you off at five thousand friends. Once you reach that number you can not add any more. Author pages accommodate an unlimited number of followers and are supposed to inform readers each time you post. To test this theory, visit some of the pages you have liked. Did their latest post appear on your news feed? Probably not. I have found that unless I have interaction with people on their wall, or visit their page,  I rarely see updates from pages I have “liked.” So asking people to “like” your page probably does not reach the target audience you intended. Why? Because when people “like” a page they rarely take the extra second to click the button “show in news feed.”

Be honest, you don’t do it either. You didn’t even know there was a drop down button. You were just asking for likes.

Shawna bypassed all of this which was why I sent her a message asking her about her decision. Here is her response;

I was speaking online to Scott Monty, who’s a famous SM expert that works as a VP at Ford. My complaint was about the fact I was double posting for a fan page and my own page and the whole “fan page” thing seemed ridiculous. He said, “It IS ridiculous. If you have your permissions set right you can just get subscribers and they can comment and follow you — you can leave comments or send them notes — SO the idea is more like a Twitter following.”

This idea I liked. It eliminated the double posting. My fan page was going nowhere because everyone wants to know the more personal side of me and I was posting all the personal stuff over on my regular page. Therefore, I closed down the fan page and kept up the personal/regular page allowing people to subscribe (“follow”) as they want to.

By the way, you should follow Shawna or at least visit her website.

Those who don’t want the burden of having two sites can make the transition in less than one minute.

Go to Account Settings  (top right of your FB page)fbcapture

Click Followers (on the left side of page).

Check the box to “Allow Followers.”

fbcapturefollowers

Answer a couple quick questions and you are done !

No more double postings. No need to create an author page and then transition everyone over to your author’s page. No more fretting that you have an author page with three followers. Readers can find you in one easy place and you can devote time to writing.

Thank you for reading. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me here.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

Enduring the Feast and Famine of Writing

I write this during what I call a feast time. The feast time in the life of an author happens many times. It is a moment, perhaps only an hour long, where words come faster than mortal hands can type, or in my case, write. All reasoning escapes authors during this moment. We become excited, yet emotionally unstable. We embrace this time all while knowing deep in our soul that the feast-moment is fleeting. We fear the feast time almost as much as the famine. What if we can’t capture the words as they tumble through our brain? What if the characters hide and leave us with few words and even less hope.

Last week while suffering from self-loathing and immense self doubt I was certain, absolutely certain it was time to return to the “real world” and get a “real job.” My husband is certain of this as well, all the time. We have a son in college and a daughter waiting her turn. If you’re seeking sunshine and the words everything will be fine I’m not that kind of author. Writing is difficult. The journey, slow and methodical. If you are in this business for financial reward…well, (don’t stone me) you might be disappointed. Ten years ago I abandoned the corporate world, moved to Atlanta and “got serious” about writing. My journey from inspiration to publication transformed the confident women I’ve always been into one who anguishes and wrestles with words. Those awards I’ve won…well, somehow they make me more nervous than confident.

Let’s not talk about the past; let’s talk about today.

Today, I have two, yes two works in progress. Why two? Because the muse, that silent and elusive wench whispered another storyline in my ear at the precise moment I locked myself into the writing room bound and determined to either write, or die trying.

I create in a room without technology…if not I’ll spend all day on Facebook and blow every ounce of creativity I possess. I’ll end the day with self-loathing and spend the afternoon polishing my resume’.

Have I mentioned that I recently diagnosed myself with ADD? I didn’t have that before I became an author. Nope. I could sit for hours on a single project. Spend hours writing court briefs. Those days are long gone. Today I think about writing while folding the laundry, vacuuming, walking the dog… just to name a few. I write on sticky notes, used envelopes, my hand. I am a mess.

Meanwhile, back at the notebook, I consider actually writing. Pieces of pulp pressed flat, lined, and bound together with glue rest in my lap. I sit pen-perched ready to launch my protagonist, Carole Anne, on a certain course when this new idea descends in a tsunami of words. For a moment I fight the new idea. I am certain this new plot is a distraction sent from the evil one whose intent is to stand between me and certain success.

Did I mention that becoming an author also made me paranoid? The paranoids were never after me when I held a job in the real world.

Knowing that if I moved a muscle, if I eased out of my seat to grab the recorder two rooms away, my muse would give my story to someone else (writing also makes you superstitious). I did the only thing possible, I wrote. Fast. Using tiny strokes of the pen that consumed the least amount of energy, I wrote, and wrote joy filling my heart, while Carole Anne waited patiently, her story−for the moment−less important.

Carole Anne understands. She arrived the same way as the current story.

For the planners among us, those who must outline, or perish, that methodology is also acceptable. I’m not trying to tell you how to write, merely explain that the ebb and flow of writing (for me) looks like a train wreck mixed with a tornado.

After writing three front and back pages I had pressed enough of the story onto the pages for the Muse to reveal an outline. Oh it is a beautiful thing, this outline. I have never written an outline before. I would share it if not for the above referenced superstition. My muse does not like me sharing her secrets. The more I talk about my work in progress, the less she reveals. The less she reveals, the less progress I make.

Grammar kind of goes out the window during the feast time as well.

Now I need y’all to insert smack-dab in the middle of this word-flood an approaching critique group meeting. This meeting, designed to encourage multiple-personality writers like myself, takes place at the Book Exchange in Marietta, GA. Writers submit five double-spaced pages of their work in progress. We read, bleed upon the pages in a loving way, discuss characters, and (hopefully) make each other’s stories better.

I will probably miss the meeting. Prior to the first meeting we voted on the rules. My (now) fifteen pages of handwritten curled-up-notebook-page prose does not meet the pre-established typed (and for the love of humanity, printed) protocol. Nor do the tiny sentences written three lines high per each line. My writer friends understand. They know that I can’t stop, can’t interrupt the flood, the flow of words. They know that next week, the tide will probably subside and a famine arrive. Perhaps that is the best time to meet with my colleagues. Perhaps their support will sustain me during the famine.

When the famine comes, it arrives bearing nothing but self-doubt, loathing and a plethora of want ads for which I am qualified.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes and Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She loves to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

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