My First Publication: Midnight Runnels in my Hands

A few months ago, I mentioned that my first publication was at hand. That I’d somehow, miraculously, managed to send out my prose poem, and likewise managed to get it accepted. The lucky midnight gods were on my side, for once, it seems. So, anyway . . .

Proof that I'm not making all this up.

Proof that I’m not making all this up: Midnight Runnels by Michelle Mueller

When my parents came to visit me, they brought along one of the free copies I received from the literary magazine, Sheepshead Review, for the publication of said poem. (I think my mom kept the other one to go around at work and say, “LOOK, look what my daughter did.”) Imagine my surprise to see that I was on page number 3, that my little Estonian sock-inspired poem, Midnight Runnels, was the first entry in the entire magazine. (I was still trying to figure out why my name was there at all, to be honest.)

This publication is by no means a huge thing. Only a handful of people will read it (probably mostly my mother’s coworkers). Probably only a minimal amount of them will actually like it.

One small step for publishing, but one great big leap for me. Because I’ve finally gotten my name out there: Michelle Mueller, but-I’m-not-a-poet extraordinaire. I’ve finally grabbed the elusive literary bull by those sharp and deadly horns and taken on my own voice. I’ve finally started redefining my growth as a writer, pushing myself to believe I have something worthwhile to say and, more importantly, something worth sharing.

So yes, in the publishing world, I’ve gone baby steps, maybe. But baby steps are the beginning of what may grow into big kid successes. You’ve gotta swim in the kiddie pool first before you get to dive into the deep end, after all.

Write on, friends.

Write or Die, and Other Useful Writing Applications

Image: Morguefile

Image: Morguefile

Rather than just reblogging, I figured I’d give the simplified version of my Sarcastic Muse post from yesterday (the one about torture). If you want to read the history of how I started to suck at finishing my work, then you can see the whole post by clicking here. Otherwise, the useful, fun stuff is below:

There are online applications made to help writers who have problems getting their daily writing done: whether it’s starting, finishing, issues with meeting word count, drafting insecurities, or perfectionist problems, etc, etc. A few of these were fairly recently brought to my attention, and so I’ve been sort of testing the waters. If you have any (or all) of the above-listed problems, then try one (or all) of the following applications and see if it helps.

ilys: This is my current favorite, so it gets the top spot. You put your word count in at the beginning, hit start, and then you’re stuck looking at a large box that only permits one letter at a time. One letter. You like seeing the whole word? Not today! Perfect for people who constantly go back and reread as they’re writing.

Write or Die: This program doles out consequences or rewards, depending on your progress, and is therefore intended to motivate you with the threat of well-meaning torture. If you’re the kind of person who only runs when you’re being chased or refuses to back down from a challenge, then perhaps this one will work well for you. They have a free online version and a downloadable (but not free) desktop version.

Written? Kitten!: Do you spend hours of potential writing time looking at cat pictures? Look no more. With this program you can kill two birds words with one stone. Set your word count, reach it, and voila: a cat photo. The program also has the option of puppies or bunnies, if cats aren’t for you.

Scrawl: Scrawl uses the power of sound as motivation. You start stalling with the word count? Your ears will be begging you to write, write, write. It’s just annoying enough that you’ll probably listen (to your ears, that is). The rest of the site is pretty cool. Give it a look.

What are your thoughts on these applications?

The Printed Book vs E-book: Which Do You Prefer?

A couple weeks ago I was in Helsinki on family business (as in, my parents were visiting me in Estonia, and we stopped by Finland). My boyfriend is from there, so going to Helsinki once or twice a year is something of a habit. After all, it’s only a few hours away.

Books

The fruits of my expedition (minus the French academic book)

Though I like the city — the seaside view, the market, the antiquity of some of the buildings — my favorite part of visiting is actually going to the bookstore. Why? Well, because then I can actually get physical books to read.

One of the things I somewhat regret about my move to Estonia is my reliance on my iPad for book access. There is a bookstore in Tartu, of course. And there is even a section that has books translated into English, but as you can imagine, the selection is more than lacking. So whenever I go to Helsinki, I always go to their big city bookstore and peruse for titles I’ve been holding off on buying in order to get them in print.

Despite the ease with which I can get books with just a simple iPad application and the internet, I miss having the actual book in hand. There’s just something about the smell of the pages. The way you can see them grow or lessen on either side of the cover as you make your way through it. More than once, I’ve cursed the fact that I don’t have certain titles on my bookshelf.

Alas, I am a happy camper. Although, I keep drawing out my read of Prince of Fools because I want the experience of having a physical book in my hand to last as long as possible. It’s the little things in life, right?

So what about you? Which do you prefer? Which do you read more: printed or e-books?

Writing 101: How to Treat your Beta Readers

I have done a lot of beta reading this past year, and in turn, I’ve had people read my own work. Nothing is more essential in the early stages of a manuscript than its beta readers, so if you have a collection of reliable readers, you should do everything in your power to hold onto them. In the following article, I’ve amassed a series of points that I think are important to take into consideration when you ask people to read for you.

 Writing 101: How to Treat your Beta Readers.

Satisfying my Inner Editor

Today, I was bad. Today, despite my promises, I did the unthinkable but inevitable read-through of the 3,000 words I wrote yesterday for my novel. Inner editor has defeated me, but I figured I’d explain and defend my choice first.

Image: Morguefile

Image: Morguefile

Yesterday, I used the program over at ilys.com. Yes, I finally allowed a computer program to put a lock on my inner editor. Funny thing is, despite my stubborn misgivings, it actually kind of worked. I started writing, was annoyed for the first five minutes over the fact that I couldn’t really see what I was writing, and then I got over it. And then I wrote and wrote and wrote. Originally my goal was set to 2,500 words, but by the time I felt the scene was “complete,” I was just above 3,000.

Writing 3,000 words in one sitting is nothing new for me. I am the kind of person that writes by the scene or chapter. There has to be a sense of completion before I’ll stop, so that’s typically my magical number. Give or take a few words. The problem is that I don’t write 3,000 words every day (try once a month for a novel, for instance), and when I do, it takes hours. However, writing 3,000 words without stopping to think about what I’m writing, without pausing to correct spelling or grammar or sentence structure or anything at all, enabled me to write those 3,000 words in just over an hour.

After I finished, I was so horrified by what I thought I’d written that I actually did a very un-Michelle-like thing. I copied my scene, pasted it into a Word document, saved it, and refused to read it. Unlike my normal writing sessions, since I hadn’t been able to reread as I wrote it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d written. I could remember bits and pieces of dialogue, a few lines, but otherwise, I found myself drawing a blank. Admittedly, I was daunted by the fact that I didn’t know if I’d written anything that would actually benefit my story.

Today, I couldn’t resist any longer. Inner-editor was ignored for 24 hours (that’s a record), but alas, I had to know. I opened the Word document with closed eyes, then I practically peeked through my fingers. I started reading. Spelling errors. Some repeated sentences/ideas here or there. The formatting was messed up due to how I’d written it (and my inability to see anything). As for the text itself? I took it slowly. I started from the beginning. Fixed the quotation marks. Combined sentences. Rewrote a few of them so they sounded less like a five year old had written them. Added more detail, took other details out. This took me about two hours, if I’m being honest.

And I got to the end, and I did another un-Michelle-like thing. I smiled over what I’d written. I smiled.

It wasn’t perfect by any means. It still needs editing. But I’m content, for the moment, with what I have on the page. Content enough that inner-editor Michelle can move forward with the story.

There is hope for me after all.

Have you guys used ilys or some other kind of writing program? Opinions? How do you satisfy your inner editor?


 

Zoey reaches up and retakes his hand, running her fingers across his palm. “How are you flying?”

“How are you sitting on the water?” Fyffe says, grinning despite himself. “This is my world, Zoey. You’ve awoken to a dream.”

My First Professional Edit: The Things I Learned

Image: Morguefile

Image: Morguefile

I seem to have been gone a while, but despite my lack of presence on social media, I have been staying busy. Recently, I finished my first professional edit for friend and fellow writer, Robyn LaRue. As this is a step toward furthering my career, I am quite proud of the things I have learned in the process of working with her and her debut novel, Shadows Wake.

It’s been a long six months of editing, and from what I gather, an even longer few years for her as the novel’s author, but the end result is something, in my biased opinion, worth reading.

A summary of my own experience can be found on the Sarcastic Muse by clicking the link below:

My First Professional Edit: The Things I Learned