Well, I could say it was the winter of our discontent, but I believe someone already beat me to the punch by several hundred years. Darn you, Bill S! Anyway, let me just say, it’s winter. More winter. Still winter. Winter, winter, winter! It’s snowing as I’m typing this. Or maybe it’s progressed to the freezing rain part of the program. Hard to say. Ice and snow, snow and ice. Blah blah blah. In a few months, I’ll be complaining about the heat and humidity! Why not? That’s what writers do, right? Complain about stuff, any stuff, all stuff! And especially we complain about the weather. But soon spring will be here, and then will come the monsoon-y rain. Hahahaha. When will it be autumn again? Bring on those changing leaves and crisp blue skies and demonically cute pumpkins!
So, while we’re muttering about the weather and all that it brings (more ice to melt to flood the basement? Fantastic!), let’s do something practical. Let’s do something positive. Let’s DO something! And what would that be? I heard a chorus of voices from out there, or perhaps it’s just some peepers practicing for the advent of spring. I have no idea! I’m just typing this stuff as it pops into my head! Scary, huh?
How about you give yourself a writing challenge. It’s DO-able! I know because at the beginning of February (the 57th month of winter, it seems), I decided that each day for the first ten days, I would start a new short story. It didn’t have to be fleshed out; I didn’t have to know where I was going (I rarely know what direction I’m heading when I sit down to write a short story. I just fold up the plot map, stick it in my trusty rucksack, and start heading off into the grand countryside of writing! Look out for the avalanche of adverbs! Duck under those dangling participles! Oh, my God, it’s the bog of verbosity! Anyway, it’s perilous out there in the literary landscape! Wear your galoshes and bring lots of bug spray!). Where was I? Oh, yeah, so I decided I could write a few lines or a few pages; it didn’t matter how much I wrote; I just had to get something “down on paper.” And I did. Ten different story beginnings … One of them came out to about five pages. As it happens, I did this self-challenge for the first time a few years ago, and also did ten different story beginnings. Afterward, I looked them over to see if they needed to wrap up the fish, and some I still liked and some made me wonder what I was thinking, and some I fleshed out into stories that I then submitted and sold. Win-win, right? I hope to do that this time with these beginnings. We’ll see. For one wild moment, as I was working on the tenth story beginning, I thought, hey, I could keep doing this … I could keep writing story beginnings for the entire month of February … and then I would have 28 possible stories! But I didn’t. I chickened out. I am pretty sure I could have come up with the requisite number of story ideas … someone once told me that I was like a popcorn popper, with ideas just exploding all over the place. I think he meant it as a compliment. Hahahaha. Um, hmmm … Anyway, I think I might try this again. Maybe I’ll go for two weeks … or maybe a month. You never know. (But, of course, you will, because I’ll be sure to tell you all about it. Really.)
I hope you will push yourself with a writing challenge of some sort. Try a poem, even if you have never written one. Write two poems! Or even three! Research an article! Start a novel! Just do something … and that truly is the name of the game, and maybe, if you and I do these things, and push ourselves a bit more each time, there’ll be a little less discontent. It will still be winter, but what the heck, right?
Next month is April, for those of you who are not calendar-challenged, and what does April mean here at HWA Newsletter HQ? Why, it means, columnists switch columns with other folks, and mayhem and fun and lots of laughter ensue. I’ve already got three sets of switcheroos set up … including the editorial. Why, yes, there will be a new editorialist in town, and she will, no doubt, use fewer ellipses and exclamation marks and less alliteration. Perhaps, I should have a chat with her first.
I’d write more—you know I could—but it’s past time for dinner, and the only light on in the house is here in my office, and the cats are scratching at the door, and wait … what’s that sound? There’s someone or something upstairs in the darkened house! Oh, wait, that’s me! I’m upstairs! Heh! Yes, time to feed the cats and myself, in precisely that order. I hope I have left you with a few thoughts to chew on.
So, while you’re strapping on your snowshoes and thinking about challenges, don’t forget to send me stuff. You know the drill by now. You can look back in previous issues for the lengthy (utterly exhaustive!) lists of what I want and don’t want. (Don’t send me blog stuff. Nope. Nope. Nope.) Yes, the newsletter has archives at the HWA Web site! What? Archives? Back issues? Wow! Yes, all those issues you missed are still there, so there’s no excuse not to go back through them and catch up on the musings of your favorite newsletter editor or columnist or see a progression of incredibly useful, informative, and entertaining articles over the years. Do it! And please don’t forget to let the columnists and article writers know that you enjoy reading their words; no one wants to operate in a vacuum, right? So, please E-mail them and tell them how much you enjoyed the latest column or interview or whatnot.
If you decide to send me something, query me first at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can send me a private message on Facebook. Do NOT query me in a post on my Facebook page or HWA’s page; I will delete it after getting excessively grumpy and grousy and grrrrr-y about the whole thing.
And don’t forget to send photos of your book signings and readings and seminars and dictionary-tossing contests and other writerly events.
The deadline for each issue is ALWAYS the 15th of each month, so send your news/photos/whatever early to the proper person (Your local chapter! The calendar! Your fiendish item! Recent releases! There are so many options!)—that is, BEFORE the 15th and not on that date or shortly after because that’s when the columnists send me their stuff; they need YOUR stuff before the deadline! REMEMBER: This is all FREE promotion for you and your work! Month after month of free promotion with no strings attached! FREE! FREE! FREE! Take advantage of that!
Don’t forget that you can purchase a display ad or two or three … The prices are very reasonable. Ad sizes are listed in the advertising link on the front page of the newsletter. Let other HWA members see what you’re doing!
As always, I would like to thank my intrepid proofreaders Dean Wild, Allie Yohn, Lori Gaudet, Marge Simon, Joseph VanBuren, Naching Kassa, Marty Young, Anthony Ambrogio, Amanda Niehaus-Hard, Chad McClendon, Morven Westfield, Greg Faherty, Walter Jarvie, Joel Jacobs, and Sheri White. And thanks to mistress of the dark Donna K. Fitch for all her extremely hard work getting the newsletter put up at the Web!
The deadline for the APRIL issue is Friday, March 15.
I cannot tell a lie. I like ellipses. Truly. You may have noticed I use one or two hundred of them per editorial. Just think … I usually edit even more out before I do the final draft. Heh. Heh …