Friday, December 19, 2014

Forty Pounds

Ever been on a diet?  Successful or not diets are a beast of their own.  Read how Marnie - who has successfully lost some weight (40 pounds) comes up with a plan to help her daughter Kate without harming their relationship. 
Link here--Forty Pounds or in the links segment at top -
I call it light reading!  And it has been nominated story the Howard O'Hagan Award for Short Story through the Writer's Guild of Alberta.  Thank you to the folks at Prairie Journal! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

100 Day Challenge - the end?

I only have a few days left of my 100 days.  The 100 Day Challenge. by my definition, included a set of goals to be met during a stretch of days 100 long.  Now it is time to take stock.  It was worth it.  I discovered a number of things about my writing, about my personal motivation skills and about my hang-ups.  And now I hope to apply my new knowledge after the 100 days is over.  Wish me luck! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Writer's Process - an example

An editor asked for a paragraph concerning the writing of one of my short stories.  Here's my response; it tells a little of how the story came into being.

I’m a collector of details that people tell me. Here are two stories that served as seeds for To Love Andy. I met a newly-married gentlemen in his 70’s who told me that when his first wife died ‘her sister thought that I’d marry her but I didn’t want that.’  The second story is of a woman dying who said of one of her helpers ‘that woman is after my man.’  (FYI – she was correct.  After her death her husband made the helper his second wife.)  When I added in my long time admiration of those who provide palliative care, and the possibility of life in review for the patient, the story evolved.   To Love Andy provided technical challenges in its triple view points of the younger sister, the dying sister and the dying sister’s dreaming self.  And while I met some of those challenges, I absolutely appreciate the editing skills applied by staff at Persimmon Tree. 
The publication of this story is pending.  Watch for the link.  Update - March 17th.  Persimmon Tree has a new issue of their online magazine and To Love Andy is no longer available to read online.  I certainly do not regret the time my story spent with them, but for you to read it now, you'll have to get in touch with me personally.  Or wait until it is included in a collection form.  Thanks goes out to everyone who read it.  I hope you enjoyed the piece as much as I liked writing it. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writers Process - New Trick

I'm pretty optimistic here, but my countdown experiment worked and it might work again.  So a little background - I began the process of writing a first draft of 'Open Water' by labelling my document Open Water 10.  The next day I titled my work Open Water 9.  The idea was that I would countdown to a finished first draft.  Voila - today I will be viewing my Open Water 1 and declaring it finished. 

FYI - finished in this case means the first draft.  I will then move to another project and Open Water will be returned to at some unspecified time in the future, likely when I am doing revision work. 

Once I have a name and a sketch of my new story I think I will try this countdown approach again.  It might work twice! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hunting

Link to 'The Hunting'

And this is a popular posting that I've brought back.  Thanks for reading. 
The market 'Transistion' that took my story “The Hunting” do have another of my submission to consider.  They are a good market and I like to keep something on their desk as much as I can. 

The seed image that ‘The Hunting’ came out of was a casual encounter with two brothers who had returned to their old stomping grounds for another hunting season.  Their relationship was casual and comfortable but I asked myself what if this wasn’t the case. What if the hunting trip was crucially important to the siblings?   
I have an in-house hunter as my resource, and I received a compliment on the authenticity of the details from him as well as the editor.  Here’s the link to The Hunting.  Once you reach the site you will have to look a little further clicking on Get Involved -Transistion  and then choosing Spring 2012 and going to page 33.  Write that down and then click on  It’s a fine story, although dark.  Take the time to read it.

Link to 'Nothing in the Cupboard'

I thought I would republish this popular posting.  As it says at the bottom.  Thanks for reading.

Link to 'Nothing In The Cupboard' 
Of all my published stories this has to be a favorite.  I wrote it pre-chemo brain and it languished for a number of years in a file.  Then I had an opportunity to send it for review by a 'real' writer.  She sent it back with a few corrections and the instructions that I was to start marketing more.  It was a turn-around moment for me. 
When I conceived this story, I wondered what would happen if you told two stories at the same time, one that went from beginning to end and one that went end to beginning.  When I found an intriguing obituary the story came together. This is the result.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Countdown Story

I struggled long and hard on the short story that I recently completed.  I didn't like that.  So I thought that I would try something different.  I am doing a countdown this time.  How?  Well the first document/day's work on 'Open Water' is labelled Open Water 10.  The second is Open Water 9.  I will see what happens by the time I get to Open Water 1.  It's a mind game but one that I hope will keep me focused.  And wouldn't it be neat if I have my completed first draft by Open Water 1? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Inclusion in Anthology

Hurrah!  I just received an e-mail.  Scars Publication puts together a collection every year and my story 'To Speak For Janey' will be included in their 2014 anthology.  More details will follow.  Sweet news = happy writer. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 75 Approaches in the 100 Day Challenge

Day 75 is one of those report card days. 
How am I doing? 
What percentage of days have I wrote? 
Where am I at with the projects?  Answers are Good.  About 80%.  And I am finished two short story drafts, and two study workbooks have been completed.  I have started a third short story, and I have begun a potentially year long set of workbooks.  And surprisingly, I have started a second blog.
Now if I can just remember how this worked so I can repeat it after Christmas. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halfway to 100

More on the 100 day challenge – There is a group of three of us that began this challenge.  And uniformly we have all decided that our challenge is to write more often. 

It’s the half-way mark for me, but not for my friends.  My approach was about the calendar segment of 100 days.  My plan was to start September 10th, then end 100 days later.  This is a form of goal that I am most comfortable with.  My friends both chose to stack their 100 days as days when they wrote.  Fair enough. We all have lives.  There will be and have been days when we don’t write.  And each writer has their own methods of getting the words onto the page.

I set out to ‘challenge’ some of my less desirable habits around writing.  One is how I quit before I’m actually done the project that I’ve chosen.  So I publically declared the two projects that I planned on working on during the 100 days.  The first project was a workbook for writers.  The quit factor certainly arose, but I would not admit defeat.  So when it is completed, after much whining and teeth gnashing, I celebrated.  Then I took on and completed a second workbook that was comparable.  Now I believe that I can finish something that I’ve started.  I’ve proved it to myself twice. 

My second project is much bigger; I know it is going to extend well beyond the 100 days.  I have chosen to use John Updike’s short story collection – My Father’s Tears – as stories to model.  This is how I do that.  I close read a single story of Updike’s and then write a story that echoes some of his elements.  His ‘Morocco’ story, of persons stranded in a foreign country, inspired my story ‘Day Zero’, of persons also in a foreign situation/place, that of the drought of 2002.  I have my first draft of that story completed and I have hope that I am close to first draft of the second ‘modeled’ story. 

I am here.  Fifty days in and I am on the second story out of the eighteen of my chosen project.  I will have to apply the ‘do-not-quit’ lessons many times.  But I will be a stronger writer because of this challenging workout. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To Speak For Janey

Here's a little story that waited a long time in the files.  It is one of my more recent revision efforts that paid off, as it gained publication.  The story itself is the second (and last) of a collection of linked stories that I attempted over ten years ago.  It seems like this story was written by someone else.  I guess it was. 
Thank you Down In The Dirt.
Update - Down in the Dirt included my story in two of their publications but now things have moved on and 'To Speak For Janey' is no longer available to view online.  Maybe you'll have a chance to read it sometime in the future but for now it's not possible. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Second Blogspot

This is your invitation to follow my second BlogSpot.  Why do I have two?  Read the first posting at Sixty Plus
I think of Sixty Plus as being more of a blogging blog, while A Simple Blog is a place to showcase my published stories.  I'll see if this is a good idea as time passes. 
Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two Weeks In

Two weeks ago, I launched a 100 day challenge.  So, by my calculations that means I have 86 days to go.  I’m not exactly close to the home stretch, am I?  

The experiment has already taught me a few things or I’ve remembered them.  The first is that there is time for this.  I’ve always had the time; I just haven’t always had the perseverance.   I’m working on that.  My first step was to complete a workbook with chapter by chapter assignments.  Even though some chapters were laden with additional assignments, and some assignments really made me balk, (or almost puke) and I sincerely wished I could quit, I went to the end.  Writers persevere.
The second lesson is that I don’t have the time.  I know. I know.  That’s the opposite of what I just said.  I’ve found that I’m busier than I realized.  And I’m really, really good at distractions.  And at promises that say I will do this later a.k.a. avoidance.  I’m working on this too.   I repeat to myself – I will be glad later on that I wrote, which handily outweighs the other mantra – I don’t want to.  Writers are focused. 

The third thing I’m learning is about trust.  Trust in the process – it might look like I’m up against a brick wall, but I will write something.  Write around it, or think about one sentence, or write down the difficulty in colored font and go on.  Or write what I think I need to do next.  Or put the keyboard away and read, carefully, watching for the way my words can come forth.  Or I can acknowledge that I’ve written enough for one day and I can wash the damn windows.  Go for a walk.  Bake some muffins.  There is always tomorrow when I will come back to the page.  In fact there are 86 more tomorrows.   How much will I have discovered by the time my 100 day challenge is over?  I want to find out.  Writers are curious. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

100 Day Challenge

It’s begun!  This is day one.  Day one of a 100 Day Challenge, that is.  The idea presented itself a couple of months ago.  And last night at Writer’s Group, three of us outlined our writing goals for our own version of the 100 Day Challenge.

I have given this a bit of thought and here are my goals.  I have committed to writing at least 80 days of the next 100.  At the very least, but my life can take a twist or two where time gets away.  I have decided that I will complete a writing workbook entirely – to combat my tendency to skip assignments.  I have chosen a small collection of short stories to use as models for my next stories.   

I have great faith in the power of accountability.  So while it works for me to set  goals and to track my progress and to work though difficulties, no one knows but me when I slip and slide and suffer.  This will be different.  Just knowing that two other people are on day one, that two other people will put fingers to keyboard, will carve out a segment of their day to write, will be my sisters of the word has enormous power.   And if I falter?  I have two friends to help. 

Day one is good. 



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's Not Natural

New Story! – New Link! 

It’s Not Natural is at SNReview.  I can’t tell you how pleased I was that this market took a second story from me.  Yahoo!  And as we were travelling when I received the e-mail that it would be published, I am very glad of my laptop.  Also, as luck would have it, I was in a community that had WiFi but only for the previous week to my using it.  We were the Yukon, which is amazing to visit, but quite remote and I wasn't sure what to expect for Internet service. 

It’s Not Natural is a story that I wrote during a winter long self-assignment.  I was reading a book of short stories and for every story I read, I decided what the other author’s story was about.  Then I would write a story about the same thing.  It’s Not Natural, I hope, has other layers but it began as a story about….someone who was unhealthy.  And so that’s part of the story behind the story. 




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A little funny compliment

And since things have been busy for me, there has been a decided lack of posts here at my BlogSpot.   Sorry about that.  But I have been busy and even through my summer holidays the writer has been at work.  And the marketer is working too. 

I have received the hardcopy version of Transistion who took my short story 'Gamble'.  They ask for and received a very condensed version of this story, but I am grateful and pleased with this publication.  I will link you to this.  You will need to click on 'Get Involved' then Transistion before you can choose the Summer 2014 Issue and open the PDF.  My story is on page 18.  And if you do all of this just to read it, thank you. Summer 2014 Transition  And while you are at it, I see that they now have Spring 2012 issue in the right spot and you can find my story The Hunting on page 60 of that issue.    Again, if you go through all of that just to read these stories, I'm a grateful writer. 

Funny thing happened - I sent them a bio that included a list of my publications.  Apparently they believed that my bio was too long and they condensed it.  It reads - Liz Betz, a rural Albertan writer who is widely published.  I smiled.  And then I thought it was a flattering take.  And then I thought it's true.  Or true enough. 

That's all for now.  The next while I will be travelling but I am going to dream up options for the next writing projects.  So that is my plan.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Organized Market Binder

This writer is keen on being published. That means marketing. And the steps to marketing are a lot of effort. So I am rather pleased with myself because I have an organized market binder. It helps me, and rather quickly I must add, decide where to send a particular story. I can tell at a glance if the market is open, if it has a good track record with replies, if my word count (or theme) suits their needs. I can also tell easily if I already have a story with them. Twice last year, I had two stories at one market which is not very professional at all. It was this fact that prompted me to revise my marketing routine.

My binder consists of three components. The first is a three page list of the markets I have gleaned from many sources. I mark a little = sign beside the markets that I send a story to. Then as they return home I make that symbol into a #, so I know that market is open again.

The second component is my cheat sheets. These are sturdy binder dividers that come in various colors which made it easy to have a colour code for the markets too. Each market has 1/3 of the divider page where vital information is noted. The submitting address and the desired word count are two basics, but other things such as reading periods, policies on frequency of submitting and whether or not they are okay with simultaneous submissions go here as well.

The third part is a diary page for each story. The title and word count are at the top. Then I record where the story has gone to, the dates I sent them off and the dates I got a reply. And just once in a while, I get to move the story diary into the done file because it has been accepted.

It hasn't been very long that my new improved marketing binder has been finished but I've already found it to be very helpful. Good job, me.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 - Off To A Good Start

‎Monday, ‎6 ‎January, ‎2014

And the year is off to a good start.  Here is the link to Sourdough at JMWW.   This story of mine was published this morning. 
The story behind Sourdough is about a writer using 'writer ingredients'. 
First off, I was actually pursuing the making of sourdough bread.  I had done this once before, almost 40 years ago, when I got instructions from a magazine article.  Now I was on the Internet and picked up quite a bit of quirky stuff concerning sourdough.   1st ingredient - write about what I am interested in, or to put it simply use life.
Then as I listened to a friend's preparations for her son's marriage, a what if crossed my mind.  That is the 2nd ingredient - What if the bride jilts him at the altar?  
Further into the work of story building I pulled out two books of quotes and chose two quotes.  That is the third writer ingredient- hit two things together and see where the sparks fly.  The things don't have to quotes; they can be  ideas, events, observations or other inspirations.  But for this story I used two quotes and these two quotes let me know my main character just a little.   One quote survived intact - the bit about the elephant- but the second is woven into my character thoughts.
The fourth writer ingredient is to develop a character.   As you might realize, I had some components already in mind so I pictured a real life person that I know slightly as being the type of person who would quote things.   Somehow having the visual of a real face helped to create the imagined voice of the character who told the story.
Obviously the real source of ingredients is - the imagination.  Writing does not have a clear cut recipe but every story has ingredients and if you think that imagination is the most important, you'd be mistaken.  Work is. 
By the way, my nostalgic attempt at sourdough bread making was okay but it's nothing I intend to repeat soon.  And the real life wedding went off without a hitch. 
I hope you enjoy the story.