September 26, 2016

How About a Flash Story?

It's been a while since I've shared any short fiction I've written, partially due to the end of the weekly Flash! Friday contests. So how about a story? This piece was included in Scripting Change's anthology Beyond the Words. (If you haven't yet grabbed a copy, you should—all proceeds are donated to support literacy!) 

In any case, I hope you enjoy, and I'm looking forward to your thoughts!

Immortalized in Ink

Photo by Heather /
CC license
    When was the last time you died?

    They say the pages give you lives—open the cover and step through. Escape into the words and find your solace, or adventure. Everything you never knew you needed exists within a book.

    Until the story ends.

    I’ve lived a thousand lives, and none at all. Each time the cover opens, the path begins anew, an invitation to the reader to walk, hop, duck, devour, run—or linger. Meander through new minds.

    How do you read?

    Infuse the lines with life. You trade yourself for moments, thoughts that aren’t yours yet wait for you—your heartbeats, gasps, and sighs the only way to matter. The pages flip at fingertips then flutter shut, marked, altered. Characters still, frozen and impatient.


    Under your eager eyes they breathe again, huddled in armchairs or splayed out on the floor, cradled in your hands once more until that final page, your fingers’ parting touch a bittersweet caress.

    My story stops but doesn’t end.

    Shut on the shelf, I wait for you, your children, friends. I’ve memorized the words, the whole of my existence, unchanging. Emotions laid out in snapshots, catalogued yet incomplete, mold to their reader’s temperament, rely on your vicissitudes.

    Trapped in my life, I live it over with you.

    You laugh, learn, ache, love, grieve, then shed my story like old skin, discard it on a growing pile. Husks wither, dry, decay, but pages stay, a fresh supply.

    Immortalized in ink, I wait, and never die.

September 19, 2016

Are You a “Real” Writer?

It was pointed out to me that the link in last week's post was broken (sorry!). So I did some research, and I'm not sure what happened to that author's website, but I've decided to resurrect this post here on my own site. The tone of that site allowed me to be a little snarkier than you may be used to, but I 100% stand behind the snark given the topic. Enjoy!

There is no shortage of posts and articles out there explaining what it takes to be able to call yourself a “real” writer. Some have simply outdated guidelines, like that you must have an agent and a traditional book deal, plus an advanced degree of course. Others include absurd requirements, such as creating weirdly codependent relationships with famous authors, entirely in your own head; desperately wanting a typewriter; or huffing the scent of books (rather than, oh I don’t know, reading them?).

But many “rules” are quite pervasive, appearing countless times, so let’s take a look, shall we? In order to be a “real” writer, you must:
  1. Write Every Day: Because the moment you’ve missed a day, or goodness forbid two, you lose the right to consider yourself a writer. No sick days, no family vacations, no breaks, and no days spent researching rather than writing; if you’re not writing every day, you’re not a writer. But then, if you can go an entire day without a desperate need to write something, which if unfulfilled will make you want to jump off a cliff, you’re obviously not a writer anyway.
    • Couple quick questions, though, how many days in a row must someone “bank” before this rule comes into effect, transforming him/her into a writer? Is two weeks straight enough? 100 days? A full 365 in a row? And does it matter what you’re writing every day, or does a text message count?
  2. Subsist On Coffee / Caffeine: Here’s a little secret: I don’t drink coffee. I wish I could, in fact, but I’m allergic. I also don’t drink soft drinks, and I’ve recently stopped drinking tea except very rarely (and never for the sake of staying awake). Apparently this means I will never, in fact could never, be a real writer. This strikes me as discrimination of sorts, but the title of “writer” must be kept exclusive somehow, right?
  3. Eat, Sleep, & Breathe Writing, and Prioritize Your Characters Over Real People: You have a life outside of writing? You’re clearly not committed enough. You can participate in social situations, and actually focus on the people you interact with rather than the characters in your head and/or eavesdropping on strangers for snippets of inspiration? Clearly you’re not (meant to be) a writer, because real life must absolutely take a back seat to your need to scribble on every surface while borrowing quirks to give your characters, or planning plot points to write next. 
    • Some people take this all the way to prioritizing writing over healthy eating, sleeping, or basic hygiene. Because health problems are inspiration, and body odor will just help keep all those pesky people who distract you away.
  4. Pay Some (Undefined) Percentage of Your Bills Through Income from Writing: Money makes the world go round. By this logic someone who goes running regularly, participates in marathons, etc. can’t call him/herself a “runner” unless s/he gets paid; someone performing in countless unpaid productions can’t call him/herself an actor. Who decides the cutoff here, though? I mean, if you’re paid enough for one cup of coffee per year, is that satisfactory? Or does it have to be enough to fund that addiction to coffee a writer must absolutely cultivate?
  5. Always Carry a Notebook/Writing Implement: This does make all that unplanned scribbling more convenient. It also saves you from digging through your garbage, like that old napkin or the bag from your popcorn, before knowing it’s safe to throw it away—lest it be the home of your latest great idea. I actually think having a notebook and pen/pencil with you is wise, overall, but how many times can you leave the house without those before you’re disqualified from being a writer?
  6. Hoard Books: Not read them, no. Own them, and own many more than you have actually read. Borrow your books from friends or the library? Not a true writer. Why? Well because you must be able to leave your mark on the page (you’re a writer, aren’t you?), with highlighters and margin notes! And if you want to leave your books clean from scribbles, you will never be a writer.
So many more rules are constantly spouted, but how do you measure up so far? I definitely fail according to these rules [Still! Even almost 2 years from the original writing of this post!], so I’m definitely not a real writer. I have written four novels and published three, but that obviously means nothing in the face of this popular wisdom distinguishing between “real” writers, and those who are merely posturing—like me.

Sarcasm aside, no one really knows (or perhaps everyone believes s/he knows) at what point someone truly falls into this special category of “writer.” In some ways, “writer” is a false distinction anyway, as many people actually mean “professional writer,” “author,” or “successful writer,” and variations thereof.

If you’re looking for hard-and-fast rules, I say go do something more easily delineated, like becoming a lawyer or engineer. Otherwise, maybe we should be focusing on being writers, rather than calling ourselves ones. Or go get that MFA in Creative Writing, because earning that sheet of paper will definitely make you a writer.

September 14, 2016

Cover Reveal: When It Holds You by Nicki Elson

Two posts in one week may be surprising, but I'm making an exception to show off the cover for the awesome Nicki Elson's upcoming release: When It Holds You

    Virtual. That’s where she was supposed to stay—only in my online gaming life. I never intended to meet up with her in person. And I certainly hadn’t counted on her being who she is.

    Cliff Walsh has dozens of hot, smart, and willing paramours in his video games. Who needs to look further? The twenty-eight year old attorney is done getting his heart smashed by real-life women who fit his perfect-mate checklist. From now on, he vows to keep his romances digital-only…until a certain redheaded gamer twists all his preconceptions and touches a place in his heart he didn’t know existed.

    I always thought I knew what love would look like, but sometimes you don’t recognize it until the moment when it holds you. ~Cliff

How do you like the cover and blurb? Tell Nicki your thoughts in the comments!

September 12, 2016

Who Am I, if Social Media Says I'm Nobody?

Why do we look to strangers on the internet to define us? I've written before about the phenomenon of people chiming in (with ridiculous requirements) on who is "a real writer." But this isn't limited to the publishing world by any means. Just consider this article from the Huffington Post discussing "62 Signs You Are A Full-Fledged Adult Now." Because apparently we can't know if we qualify as an "adult" without someone else—a random stranger writing an article—telling us that that's the case, assuming we match their view of what an adult is.

Think about it: how many posts like that have you seen?

"X signs you're officially a             "
"You Know You're a              When..."

Why do we need someone else to tell us who we are? Why does someone pulling together these criteria into an article or blog post suddenly legitimize us, as "true" fans or "real" writers or whatever else?

I think the answer comes down to social media. Culturally, we've come to a point where having followers on Instagram or Vine or whatever is "in" at the moment makes you "somebody"—get enough and you'll be flying around the world for interviews, being invited on shows like Dancing with the Stars, etc. If no one follows you online, if no one likes your Facebook post, if no one comments on your blog posts, then you're nobody. That's the message being constantly perpetuated by the veneration of social media.

I call bullsh*t, but then maybe that's why I fail at social media. I'm sorry, blog readers, but I know who I am whether you comment or not (though comments are always appreciated!). I know who I am whether my tweets get seen or not. I have no identity crises related to not getting enough likes or retweets or whatever else, even as I recognize that, when it comes to social media metrics, I am failing. I'm happy to connect with all of you lovely people, and let's be honest, it's an important part of being an author or any kind of entrepreneur in today's world, but I am not defined by it, or by random articles online.

According to more than twenty sources I read while writing that post I mentioned, about what makes someone a "real" writer, I don't qualify. Not by their benchmarks. But I have three published novels, and thanks to NaNoWriMo, a fourth one drafted. Why should those posts' definitions of what makes someone a writer take that away from me? I understand why they would want it to—power, theirs over all of us—but why do we, generally, let them?

I slip sometimes, when social media, including this blog, starts to feel like screaming into the void. But what I question is my ability to create engaging content, to connect via social media with other writers and readers—not who I am as a person. And if that makes me a failure at social media, I guess I just have to accept that.

So who are you, outside of internet articles and social media metrics? Because that's the you I'd like to get to know.

September 5, 2016

Welcome to September

Happy Labor Day! Can you believe 2016 is 2/3 over?

September 1st was a sort of "reset" button for me this year. I've been spending a lot of time thinking, about my life and career both, about finding a better work-life balance, about what I want from my writing specifically. Much of that contemplation has been underscored by audio recordings of some RWA workshops, some more useful than others of course. 

One of the main parts of my life I'd like to balance is how much time I spend on social media vs. how well it actually connects me with fellow book lovers. Rather than continually shouting into the world, I'd really like to get back to the root of the "social" part, finding a way to truly connect to those who like reading, and maybe already like my books, and want to chat both with me and other readers in a more intimate setting. 

So, as I mentioned briefly last week, I've created a dedicated Facebook group precisely for that. The structure of the group is still up in the air, and it will be decided by those who join, whether you want dedicated giveaways, access to ARCs, early cover reveals, to help with some creative decisions, or just to hang out and chat—join the group and let me know!

And now, for a little bit of business:

Thanks to all those of you who entered the various giveaways celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Mortal Musings! The winner of the main prize pack, including a fold-up bag, deck of cards, and autographed print book is:

Wendy T. Congratulations, Wendy!

And because I like you guys, starting tomorrow you can enter to win a print copy of The Whedonite, my sweet short story of geeky love, via Goodreads:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Whedonite by Aria Glazki

The Whedonite

by Aria Glazki

Giveaway ends September 18, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway