Writing

Now Available on Amazon.com for Kindle and in Paperback

I’m delighted to announce the launch of my latest book: “The Weight of Air: A Short Story,” and the accompanying giveaway of 50 copies of the Kindle Edition! Enter the Giveaway!

An early version of this story had been collecting dust in my desk drawer (my computer, really) for nearly two years. I liked the original story called “Murdering Time,” but couldn’t generate a lot of interest in it from literary journals. I realized it lacked something—I just wasn’t sure what.

Then, a few months ago, I received a number of emails from a Canadian publication, Broken Pencil Magazine, urging me to submit a story to their Indie Writers Deathmatch (yes, it really was a bloodbath). So I decided to pull out a creepy old sci-fi story I’d written a few years back but never published, and I revised it for the contest. Lo and behold the story, “Fogger,” was accepted as one of the 16 finalists in the Deathmatch, and went on to make it to the semi-finals. I was happy to receive a prize package from the magazine, but was even more excited to learn that they had decided to publish my story.

The experience inspired me to pull out more of my old stories that I’d previously given up on and refurbish them. I’m very happy I did. This new story, “The Weight of Air,” is twice as long as the original, and I finally figured out where the story was supposed to go. It’s amazing what a difference some time, distance, and a couple of additional years of writing experience make!

Once it was completed, I submitted “The Weight of Air” to a few literary journals. When I received a rejection, I was actually thrilled. I know it sounds strange, but the editor wrote to me that “there is much to admire in this story, but unfortunately it is not a good fit for [our journal].” She went on to say that it would probably do well with a journal looking to publish more commercial fiction. She also enclosed the comments of the reader reviewer at the journal, which were extremely complimentary. Among other things, the reader said it had a “Compelling plot that both anticipates and upends readers’ predictions/expectations,” and that it was a “delight to read.” That made me feel great!

Since delighting readers is really my major goal, I decided to publish the story myself! I hope you will check out The Weight of Air on Amazon. And, my advice is to all you writers out there: Don’t ever give up on your work, maybe that story or novel just needs a little tweaking. It’s worth taking a second look and a second leap!

Please enter the Weight of Air Launch Giveaway!

Tea Party

Tea Party

“When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

I love great quotations and epigraph. In fact, my original draft of Transcender: First Timer, featured an epigraph at the beginning of each chapter, but due to space and copyright considerations, I dropped them before publishing the book. Since, as you may have noticed, I’ve had a bit of difficulty keeping up with my blog recently *blushes*, which I attribute to lack of a consistent theme, I’ve decided to select a favorite quotation or epigraph each week and write about it here.

I chose to begin this blog series with one of my favorite quotations on writing from Steven Pressfield’s the War of Art, a book I highly recommend to any writer or aspiring writer. For me, the above quotation beautifully sums up a strange phenomenon that sometimes occurs when I’m writing. During those mystical magical times, when I’m in the zone and the elusive Muse drops by for tea, the story takes on a life of it’s own, almost as if it’s writing itself. It can be an eerie experience. I’ve had characters say and do things I never planned or even dreamed of including in the storyline. But in that otherworldly place where my own existence is subservient to the narrative, it’s the characters’ story not mine, and I’ve found it best to let them run with it.

For example [spoiler alert if you haven’t read the entire Transcender Trilogy]: In a scene in Book Two of the Trilogy, one character tells another that someone with whom she is close is not human at all, but an automaton. Of course she was stunned to learn this—but so was I! It definitely was NOT a planned plot element. I soon realized, however, I should have known it all along, and if he could fool me, he could certainly fool her. In fact it worked so well with the rest of the story that I couldn’t imagine why I hadn’t thought of it in the first place.

These are the mind-blowing moments that make all the drudgery, anxiety, and crippling self-doubt of being a writer worthwhile. Of course, it takes some sustained writing for this marvel to occur, but anyone who has slogged away crafting an entire book has most likely entertained the Muse on more than one occasion. Here’s hoping she visits you (and me) often!

Wishing you happy reading and writing and Happy Father’s Day to all you dads or surrogate dad’s out there!

The Reader, Jean-Honore Fragonard

The Reader, Jean-Honore Fragonard

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from social media lately and it’s been refreshing, but its time to get back on that horse, and my first order of business is this blog post (apologies to my Facebook and Twitter friends). I have been busy personally during this little respite—traveling, getting through the holidays, and moving into a new house. I have also been busy professionally writing short fiction. It’s true! Those of you who have read my somewhat long-winded trilogy may not believe it possible, but lately I’ve been turning out finished products that are between 3000 and 5000 words. Why? Well, I was inspired to try my hand at short fiction for several reasons—the major ones being to explore new ideas and try out new genres. Also, I read this wonderful article by Anne R. Allen http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/9-ways-writing-short-stories-can-pay-off-for-writers, which suggests, “short stories are having a revival in the digital age.” One need only look at the success of Kindle Singles for confirmation of this statement. http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/sep/05/amazon-kindle-singles-short

 

If that isn’t reason enough to write short fiction, here are some other considerations that influenced me, and five reasons why you may want think about taking it up yourself.

 

  1. You Probably Already Have Short Story Material Lying Around.

This summer I took some writing workshops for fun and my own edification. I had in mind to use my assignments to explore ideas for my next novel, but by the end of the summer I still had not decided which plot I was most attracted to—I loved them all. Then I realized that I already had material enough for at least three short stories using what I had written in my workshops. If you’re like me and many other writers, you probably have numerous half-written novels or stories growing mold in a desk drawer or on a flash drive. Why not dig out these hidden gems, dust them off, and revise them as short fiction? Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Use your skills to transform your discarded material into something salable. Don’t get me wrong, writing short stories is an art, and you need a slightly different skill set to master the craft, but there is help out there. I found these two books to be enormously informative: Short Story: From First Draft to Final Product, by Michael Milton http://www.amazon.com/SHORT-STORY-FIRST-Draft-Product-ebook/dp/B00FDUMTRE; and Let’s Write a Short Story, by Joe Bunting http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Write-Short-Story-Bunting-ebook/dp/B008Z96GF6

 

  1. Writing Short Fiction Helps Hone Your Writing Skills.

One of the best and most experienced editors I ever met told me that the key to good writing is clarity. I’ve never forgotten this and have lately striven to make my writing more crisp and concise. Writing short fiction forces you to do this. You take a big story and whittle it down to the minimum amount of words possible to get the reader on board, sweep them along for the ride, and deposit them at the end of the express lane feeling deeply satisfied. It’s not always easy, but it forces you to dump every superfluous adjective and adverb and use the precise word necessary to covey the exact idea or emotion you’re trying to get across. I took one of my stories that began at 5700 words and cut it down to 5000 words to enter it into a short story contest. Then I found another contest that seemed even more perfect for my story, the problem was, I had to cut it nearly in half—to 3000 words. It was painful! But, I was shocked to find that I actually liked the 3000-word story much better. It was an enlightening exercise.

 

  1. You See the Results of Your Labor Much Sooner.

It took me about a year to write each of my three novels—that’s a big chunk of time. Looking at the busy year ahead of me, I decided I wanted to take on some shorter projects that would allow me to do more in the same amount of time. Writing short fiction has not only given me a sense of accomplishing more in less time, but it has also opened up a new area of interest for me, which I can turn to whenever I’m stuck in my writing or looking for a pleasant distraction. I’ve even done a little genre-hopping with my stories. Writing short fiction has also boosted my writing confidence and given me a better understanding of story structure (which is the same regardless of length).

 

  1. Writing Short Fiction Gives You Credibility.

Okay, I won’t lie—it’s difficult to have a short story accepted for publication and the review process takes a long time, months in fact. But agents and publishers will tell you that winning a short story contest or having a story appear in a reputable publication, beefs up your resume’ (or query) considerably. We’re all looking for credibility and recognition even if we don’t aspire to be traditionally published.

 

  1. Writing Short Fiction Pays.

Many literary publications pay thousands of dollars for the short stories they publish (and the copyright almost always reverts to the author). Also, dozens of contests are held each year offering hefty cash prizes for the winners in addition to publication. Then, too your story may be picked up for inclusion in an anthology—another great way to earn money. But hey, if you have a story that is polished and you feel will appeal to the masses (or even just your fan base) you can publish it yourself. Kindle Singles sell for prices ranging between $0.99 and $4.99—or about the same as a full-length book.

 

If any of this has inspired you to delve further into the opportunities out there for short fiction, you’ll find many helpful articles and books out there to guide you along. Good luck with your writing, and keep an eye out for some of my stories coming soon on Kindle (and elsewhere, I hope!).

vladstudio_frosted_1024x768_signed

May the wonder of the Holiday be yours!

 

Christmastime always makes me nostalgic. My most memorable Christmases are those I spent as a kid. The holiday season has always seemed magical to me and it was even more so when I was a child. There were many years when I received a memorable gift that had a lasting impact on my life – my first Barbie doll, my first record player (complete with Beatles records), my first transistor radio (with ear phones so my parents didn’t know I was listening all night), and the list goes on.

As an adult, it takes a little more than a Barbie doll to rock my world, but I’m excited to report that I’m finally getting a new car this year. It was difficult to think about parting with my reliable old Mercedes, but when someone pointed out to me that I have readers younger than my car, I decided it was time! Also, our family is gathering in our new home this year, and we all seem to be embarking on exciting new phases and of life, for which I am thankful.

Anyway, the holiday season is such a hopeful time of positive new beginnings, and even though I’m not a child anymore, I feel like one at this time of year.  This quote from Agatha Christie seems to sum it all up, “Suddenly you find … that a whole new life has opened before you … as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.” I wish that feeling for you this holiday season and throughout the coming New Year!

As a small Christmas gift to my readers, I’ve placed the Transcender Trilogy Complete Box Set on sale from December 23 through December 26. Only $1.99 for all three Kindle books. Makes a nice gift. Tell all your friends!

Complete Box Set

Complete Box Set

 

Jaden and Gabriel by Kat Gavin

Jaden and Gabriel by Kat Gavin

Greetings readers, authors, and aspiring writers. I wanted to share with you some more fabulous art from the amazing Kat Gavin, and to list a  few of the many reasons I love writing (and reading) young adult fiction. Also, scroll down for an awesome Transcender Trilogy countdown sale!

  1. YA IS NOT JUST FOR TEENS! Okay, we didn’t need studies to tell us that adults, young and old alike, read YA, but I was surprised to find that over half of YA readers are over the age of 18. It makes sense, though—some of the most courageous, edgy, and freshest stories today are being written under the YA mantle. I just read an article entitled Against YA that made me want to scream. It suggests adults should eschew the “satisfying endings” delivered by most YA novels in favor of the “complexity of great adult literature.” http://goo.gl/dl8fIW. Seriously? I write (and read) YA precisely to escape the complexities of life. I want to be entertained—to laugh and cry and fall in love with fictional characters, and to have a break from the stresses of everyday life. Bring on the satisfying ending—it’s why I persevere to the last page!
  2. YA CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO BE. Do you love sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, adventure, and romance? So do I. That’s why I toss them all into my books. In YA, it’s no-holds-barred—from light comedy to dark techno-punk and more. There’s no set formula. Typically, the protagonist is a young adult. That’s it. No steadfast rules. I spent a lot of years practicing law and always thought I’d eventually write a legal thriller. In fact I have several half-written, cheesy legal thrillers tucked inside my desk, but I lost interest because they were boring. Good YA is rarely boring. It takes its own course, and if you give it free rein, you may be surprised where it will lead you.
  3. YA DOESN’T PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING IT’S NOT. Have you ever read a book and felt the author was more worried about impressing the audience (or the critics) with how erudite (read: pretentious and snobby) she is rather than telling a good story? Ugh! A big DNF. YA doesn’t pretend to be high literature. It’s designed to engage the emotions, introduce relatable characters, and speak in a distinctive, youthful voice. We’re all familiar with what it’s like to be young and struggling with first love, difficult friends, parental love/hate relationships, and all the other messy challenges of entering adulthood. These incredibly powerful, unadulterated emotions are what inspire me most. YA gives us a vehicle for understanding how others deal with these universal issues, and after all, isn’t that what story is all about? Seeing how other people clean up the everyday messes of life.
  4. THE YA STYLE IS FUN TO READ AND WRITE. Despite the fact that there are no hard and fast rules for writing YA, I admit that most YA novels seem to have a style of writing that is unique to the category. In general, YA is character driven and plot-heavy (as opposed to stream-of-consciousness or descriptive narration), and it’s faster-paced with large chunks of dialog. The crotchety old curmudgeons out there will say that’s the problem with literature today—it caters to the fast food, instant gratification junkies in our society. Actually, I believe it’s a more modern, engaging way of writing. If the author constructs scenes and shapes characters in an easy-to-visualize manner, snappy dialog can propel the story along like a well-made movie, sweeping up the reader as it goes.
  5. YA CREATES READERS OUT OF OTHERWISE DISINTERESTED YOUNG ADULTS. Have you seen high school summer reading lists lately? Okay, they’re still overloaded with dry, fossilized, dreary tomes from another era, but they seem to be getting a little better. The more enlightened librarians and teachers of today are sprinkling some YA selections in with the timeworn classics of yesteryear, and the results are not surprising—students are discovering the joy of reading! Kudos to those farsighted souls who realize that present day teens do not relate to Lord of the Flies (believe me, I had to listen to my son’s daily complaints).

What do you like most about YA literature?

TRANSCENDER TRILOGY BOX SET: BOOKS 1 AND 2 ONLY $0.99 for a limited time!

BUY HERE

Transcender 2 Box Set

Thanks to everyone who entered the Goodreads giveaway of ten signed copies of ILLUMINOSITY, and congratulations to all those who won! You’ll be receiving your books soon.

Transcender Complete Box1

If you missed out this time, never fear, on Monday, July 21, I am beginning a week-long, whirlwind Blog Tour and Giveaway—two posts a day with some amazing bloggers! The grand prize is a $50 Amazon gift card and a set of signed Transcender Trilogy books. Second and third place prizes will be awarded also, with a chance to win a Transcender T-shirt.

Transcender T Shirt I hope you’ll follow along and join in the fun! Take the Transcender Character Quiz to see which character you are most like, and don’t miss my Dream Cast for the Transcender Movie. Should be a great time with plenty of opportunities to win!

Transcender Blog Tour Schedule:

 July 21     Ensconced in Lit – review and Crystal in Bookland – guest post

July 22     Pandora’s Books – guest post and Ensconced in Lit – character interview

July 23     YA Book Nerd Reviews  -review and Wonderland of Reading – review

July 24     The Whimsical Mama – guest post and Fly to Fiction  – Review

July 25     Tea and Fangirling – Review and A Reading Nurse – guest post

July 26     I Heart YA Fiction – Author Interview and Mary Had a Little Book Blog – guest post

Also, please sign up for my Newsletter, if you haven’t already. I only send them out occasionally when there is something special to announce!

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck in the Giveaway!

Hi Everyone and Happy Father’s Day! Thought you would enjoy another amazing sketch from talented artist Kat Gavin. This melted my heart. So gorgeous!

Jaden and Gabriel

Jaden and Gabriel

I’m excited to announce a Giveaway on Goodreads of ten signed copies of ILLUMINOSITY, Transcender Trilogy Book 3.  The giveaway runs from today, June 15 to July 15.  Please enter to win here:  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/96384-illuminosity-transcender-trilogy-book-3.

I’m adding a link to an Excerpt of the first three chapters of ILLLUMINOSITY just to whet your appetite. Hope you enjoy!  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/94935558/ILLUMINOSITY%20EXCERPT.docx.

Also, if you’ve read Books 1 and 2 of Trilogy, I would greatly appreciate it if you would stop by the Amazon page for my two-book Box Set and leave a short review.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K8CTRTK . By the way, the Box Set makes a great Father’s Day Gift!

 

 

So thrilled to unveil the cover for my latest book, ILLUMINOSITY, the exciting third and final installment in the Transcender Trilogy. Once again the talented Carrie Drazek has outdone herself with this gorgeous design.

rsz_illuminosity_amazon_cover

Enter the Giveaway for $50Amazon Gift Card and signed copies of the first two book in the trilogy at ENSCONCED IN LIT http://goo.gl/SdJxfq 

Announcing the Upcoming Release of

ILLUMINOSITY

by Vicky Savage

May 15, 2014

Mystery, romance, and high adventure in parallel dimensions.

In this highly anticipated conclusion to the Transcender Trilogy, Jaden Beckett faces her greatest challenges to date. Her choice is clear: leave the love of her life or face certain death.

With Warrington Palace under siege, Jaden and Ryder are wrenched away from each other, as the powerful Inter-Universal Guidance Agency seeks Jaden’s ultimate demise.

 Heartsick and alone, she begins a new chapter of life as a Transcender, only to discover that her fiercest battle has yet to come.

 Is Jaden safe anywhere in the galaxy? Or should IUGA ask itself that question, having underestimated her before?

With her usual wit and tenacity, Jaden fights to discover her place in the multiverse, the true meaning of destiny, and the keys to the mystery of eternal love.

 

 

Re-Blogged from my Orangeberry Book Tour

Vicky's StudyI’d like to share some pointers I’ve picked up since embarking on my journey as a writer:

1.      BEING AN AUTHOR IS AS MUCH ABOUT MARKETING AS IT IS ABOUT WRITING.

“That can’t be!” you cry. But alas, it’s true. Writing the book is the easy part. Whether you’re and indie or traditionally published author, expect to spend a large chunk of time marketing your books. You’ll find many aspects of it can be fun. Accept it as part of the process and enjoy!

 2.      YOU NEED AN AUTHOR PLATFORM.

An “Author Platform” is simply your internet presence, your visible “brand.” It’s what readers will find if they Google you, and it’s an efficient way to develop a loyal fan base. Generally, a platform consists at a minimum of a website, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account, blog, and, optionally, accounts on LinkedIn, Pintrest, Google+, and/or Instagram. Don’t panic. It’s not as daunting as it sounds and it can be built over time.

3.      YOU MUST SHOW UP FOR WORK.

The good news: being a writer is great fun and there’s no dress code! The bad news: you actually have to do the work. Make a schedule and try to write at the same time and for several hours each day. Don’t answer the phone, check your email, or raid the refrigerator. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done.

4.      YOU WILL VISIT THE PIT OF DESPAIR.

It’s unavoidable. Every writer experiences bouts of self-doubt every now and again and for no apparent reason. It’s an occupational hazard like black lung disease (only worse). The best way to handle it is to recognize it’s temporary. Focus on your accomplishments, read a piece of amazing writing, polish the chapters you’ve already written, call a friend who can be trusted to talk you off the ledge. Just relax until it passes.

5.      READING IS AS IMPORTANT AS WRITING.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” – Stephen King. I find reading invaluable for three reasons: it keeps me current in my genre; it keeps my writing sharp; and it’s a relaxing break from writing. Actually, I feel like I’m still working whenever I’m reading a good book, because I’m observing another author’s style, plot development, character growth, etc.

6.      NO MATTER HOW GREAT YOUR WRITING, EXPECT TO GET DISSED.

They say you’re not a real writer until your first bad review. Regardless, it stings like hell. Learning to shrug off a bad review is essential to surviving in this industry. Maybe the reviewer just didn’t understand your book, or didn’t really read it. Sometimes, though, the reviewer has a valid point, in which case we need to take our medicine, no matter how foul tasting, and try to benefit from it. My recommendation: grow some Rhino skin.

7.      IT’S OKAY TO SHOVEL CRAP AS LONG AS YOU CLEAN IT UP LATER.

The best advice I ever received as a writer is: “Do whatever it takes to get that first draft completed.” Don’t worry about how inane or ugly it is. You can fix it later. It goes against our perfectionist tendencies, but it really works.

8.      WRITING IS A LIFE-LONG HONING OF THE CRAFT.

I’m constantly amazed at how much I learn every day just by reading other writers’ blogs, participating in author forums, or listening to readers. Remember, even after you fearlessly claim the title “Writer,” there’s always room for improvement.

9.      AN EXTENSIVE VOCABULARY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KNOWLEDGE OF GRAMMAR.

Vocabulary and grammar are both important to writing, but rules of grammar are broken more often than they’re observed in novel writing, especially where dialogue is concerned. I do little things every day to expand my vocabulary. Grammar I leave to the editors.

10.  EVEN ON ITS WORST DAY, WRITING IS MUCH MORE FUN THAN PRACTICING LAW.

Enough said!

Writer's Self Doubt

Okay, you’re cooking along on your manuscript. You love what you’ve written so far, the story’s gelling, and it looks like you might even meet your deadline. Then one day you plop down in front of the computer and what the?… it’s just not there anymore. Your mastery of words has evaporated, your ideas have turned to dust, and your brain is completely sucked dry of all creative juju. It’s even looking like the stuff you thought was so brilliant yesterday is actually a pitiful pile of banal blather that needs to be thrown into the trash compactor with wet coffee grounds poured on top. You begin wondering why you didn’t just become an auto mechanic like your aptitude tests all said you should.

Don’t despair, you just have a case of writer’s self-doubt. It happens to us all of us. At one time or another we all face the fear that our writing just isn’t good enough. So, what’s the cure? Some writers suggest that you simply write your way out of it. Well, hello? Writing’s the problem in the first place. Sometimes a different solution is required to remove the grotesque mass of creativity clogging goo from your stream of consciousness and to get your fingers tapping those keys again in that magical, enigmatic rhythm that causes delicious prose to literally pour onto the page like hot caramel.

Soothing Self-Doubt

Researching this subject, I was stunned at the number of articles on writers’ self-doubt. It’s an epidemic! So how do you wrestle the culprit to the ground and kill it? The short answer is: You don’t! That’s giving self-doubt way too much power over you.

The key is to relax and cut yourself some slack. Self-doubt is like the common cold—you can’t cure it, but you can soothe it and shorten it. Eventually it will go away by itself. Trust me.

Here are a few techniques to soothe and inspire you while waiting for your creative juju to return.

  • Embrace your self-doubt. Robert Hughes said “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” All talented writers have experienced self-doubt at one time or another. So, if you want to be considered up there with the greats, self-doubt is something you learn to deal with.
  • Focus on your accomplishments, and resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Re-read your good reviews and fan posts. Ignore the people who just don’t get your work. It doesn’t matter how amazing your writing is, someone is going to trash it. It goes with the territory. Keep reminding yourself of how much you’ve already accomplished and how much more you still want to do. Call your mom, she’ll tell you how great you are.
  • Find a good book on editing and polish up what you’ve already written. I love the rewriting process, because I always find a sentence or paragraph or scene that can be made better with a little shrewd editing. It builds confidence to improve on what you’ve already got, and it’ll give you something constructive to do until this passes. I recommend Stein on Writing by Sol Stein.
  • Re-read a great piece of writing. Dust off your favorite book of all time and be reminded of what inspired you to write in the first place.
  • Make a list of your favorite phrases, descriptions, and scenes of all time. Read through your list when you feel stuck. Find one emotion-packed word you can use or a phrase you can tailor to fit your own plot. Plug it into your story and start writing.
  • Watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s superb TEDTalk “Your Elusive Creative Genius,” http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html. She’ll convince you that the divine attendant spirit who really writes your books is just taking a little break … she’ll be back!

Most of all, be patient!

About


I’m the author of the Transcender Trilogy, TRANSCENDER: First-Timer, STREAMING STARS, and the upcoming ILLLUMINOSITY, which blends science-fiction, fantasy, and romance in an exciting cross-dimensional adventure.

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