NaNoWriMo

•October 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Well, I signed up for NaNoWriMo.  I don’t know how I’m going to make this work. I don’t know enough about my novel to get all those words in that amount of time. I don’t even have a title for the book, or the series it’s a part of. But I still signed up! Welcome to the insanity of being a writer!

~ S.D. Bullard

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Research

•April 27, 2016 • Leave a Comment

IMAG0224_1_1 (2)This is my latest research.  I went through them all, tonight.  Read them out loud to the dogs.  It was kind of fun!

I started my writing career with poetry, at the age of eight.  I hit that pretty hard for the first few years.  While I started my first book shortly after, poetry was pretty much my bread and butter for a long time.  Then it sort of dropped off the radar.  I moved more solidly into prose.  Novels are my forte, now, with a sprinkling of short(ish) stories when I feel ambitious.  My poetry has not disappeared completely, but it takes more effort now than in the past.

Point: somewhere around two or three years ago, I had the first line of a poem pop into my head while I was mowing the yard. I still haven’t finished it.  In fact, I had forgotten completely about it until I randomly ran across the notebook in my car glove box.  But I’m closer.  It’s coming together.

And the best part is, it’s all geared up to be a children’s book.  Also haven’t done one of those for a while.  A LONG while.

My first attempt at a children’s book was when I was probably about nine or ten.  I had one of those big, fat, shiny pens with a like five different colors.  You know, the kind where you push down the different tabs.  I used that pen and crafted a little book for my little brother.  It was called Hiccup, the Blue Camel.  I don’t remember much about it.  There was Hiccup.  And he was a camel.  And he was blue.  And he had a friend whose name was Claire.  That’s about it.  The drawings were terrible.  The story probably was, too.  It was drawn and handwritten on computer paper and stapled together.  There was a follow-up, too.  I think it dealt with Hiccup’s dreams (that MIGHT have even been the title).

Several years later (probably five or six), I decided to start a series of children’s books.  I think they may have been inspired by Hiccup and his adventures.  The series was called Rainbow Buddies.  The plan was for me to write the stories and my friend to draw the pictures, as I had (have) no talent in that area and she was very good.  I believe I wrote two of the texts: Ricky the Red Rhinoceros and Oscar the Orange OstrichRicky  was the only one illustrated.  It was cute and fun.  But it ended there.  I don’t believe Oscar even got his illustrations.  And that was the end of the Rainbow Buddies.  There was one other illustrated book in there somewhere.  It was called Runt and was about a dog (I don’t remember the actual story line).  I did the illustrations on that one myself (which may have been why I then turned to those who have talent).

My only other foray into the land of writing children’s books was another series I started called the Bee-Attitudes.  Again, I believe I wrote two of them and had one illustrated (my mom this time, another very talented artist).

That brief (probably not brief enough) background leads me to where I am now: on the brink of having a children’s story I might actually want to try to do something with. And that’s when I realized: I have no idea how to enter that world.

I’ve been researching the publishing industry and how to “break in” for around 17 years now.  But, it’s all been related to novels.  A children’s book is a far cry from a novel.  Do I submit a query letter?  Do I determine how the pages should be broken up?  Who are the big name agents and publishers?  I know the rule about “don’t send in the illustrations, illustrators will be chosen if your book goes anywhere”, but that’s about the only rule I know.

So, I did the first thing any brilliant person does when they need to learn something and don’t know where to start: I Googled.  One of the first pieces of information I found was to know what’s on the market.  Well, I should have guessed that one.  But, much as I’m a fan of children’s books, it’s been a while since I’ve looked into what’s new.  And considering my idea is a rhyming text, I went back to the trusty Google and looked up top rhyming children’s books in 2015.  I made myself a handy list, and off to the local library (first round only; the other half is on hold).

Thus, the research.  I feel more confident about the idea of trying this for real after reading those.  Now, I just need to crack down on the last few line of the text.

If any of you have any experience in the children’s book market and can offer advice, websites or books, I would be grateful.  Happy writing, friends!  Read some rhyming kids’ books!

~S.D. Bullard

What Do You Mean “Favorite”?

•February 28, 2016 • 4 Comments

I was at a basketball game for a friend’s kid today.  End of the season.  Tournament time!  They won their first game and had an hour before their second.  We sat outside in the sun while the kids snacked and rested a little.  I was talking to my friend and her younger child about school. They were discussing costumes for an upcoming spirit-type day.  The kids at their school were supposed to dress up as their favorite book character, and she was having trouble deciding who to be.

“Maybe, I’ll dress up like a mockingbird.”

“A mockingbird?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “Like, To Kill a Mockingbird.

“There’s not really a mockingbird as a character in that book,” I told her.

“Oh.” She thought for a minute.  “Who’s your favorite character from a book?”

I stared at her. “Child, that’s like asking me to choose a favorite book, which is like asking me to pick a favorite breath of air in a day.”

Give me a specific genre, and I MIGHT be able to pick a favorite (or two) book. Give me a specific book and I MIGHT be able to choose a favorite character.  But those aren’t even guarantees.  In some books, I like the characters all equally.  In some, there are certain characters that stand out, that reach out and grab a special piece of my heart.  This is true in my own writings as well.  Some stories have all characters created equal, some don’t.  And my favorites are not always the most obvious choices. I tend to like the secondary main characters: the sidekicks, the siblings, the best friends.  You know the ones: the Samwise Gamgee’s or Neville Longbottoms.

How about you. Do any of you have a book character you could genuinely identify as a favorite above and beyond all others?  If so, I’d love to hear!

8 Days a Week…If Only

•February 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

So, the other day I decided I needed to order in my chaos.  Not in my normal life, no, that’s asking far too much.  No, I needed some order, and some direction in my writing life.  I have so many projects that when I actually have a chance to write, I never know what I should work on and it’s a mini panic moment before I can get anything done!  And let’s be honest: half the time, I never end up getting anything done.

And so, I decided to take charge.  I knew what I would do.  It was a simple solution!  I would simply assign a project to each ay of the week. That way, all I would need to do was say “what day is it?” and I would know what project to tackle.  Easy.  I sat down, typed out the name of each day of the week and started randomly assigning.  Only to realize there are seven days in the week (yes, I actually knew that before), and I have eight current projects.  I hadn’t ever actually counted them out.  Laying it bare like that, I saw that I have two blogs, one revision, three books in progress, one short story for a contest, and a query letter for a book ready to go out to agents.  That’s eight.  Too many for the days of the week.  The problem is, I can’t make myself cut any of them out!  Although, the short story has a deadline and if I can ever get the query letter polished then, well, then it gets even more complicated with that book I suppose.

So far I’ve already broken my own schedule.  In fact, tonight is the first night I’ve followed it: Sundays were for my two blogs.  Success!

How about you?  How do you handle multiple projects at a time?  Or are you smart enough to only have one project going at any given time?  Feel free to weigh in!

~ S.D. Bullard

You Know You’re a Writer When…

•February 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment

…you post a Facebook status update, then while you’re re-reading it, you notice you started the post in present tense and you ended it in past tense, and you’re like, “Uh-uh! Not in one of MY posts!” and you frantically look for the “edit post” button!

 

~S.D. Bullard

Xylophone

•December 17, 2015 • 1 Comment

Another small triumph!  I placed second in a mini-contest for On the Premises online magazine.  I had to write a 50-word story with one, and only one, word being “xylophone.”  Check it out by clicking HERE.

 

And for all my readers here who are also writers, On the Premises has begun a new short-story writing contest.  They are taking entries between now and March: join the fun!

~S.D. Bullard

The Housedogs’ Handbook – Ch. 4

•October 31, 2015 • 3 Comments

The Housedogs’ Handbook

Chapter 4 – The Vacuum Beast

 

Despite the long-standing relationship between the Housedog and the Human Owner Person (HOP), there are still some aspects about this two-legged creature that the Housedog does not completely understand. One of these things is what the HOPs call “vacuum”.

Just about every Housedog will know this word, because almost every Housedog has some breed of this beast living in their home; sometimes, more than one. Experts are still studying this phenomenon, but to date, they have not been able to establish what, exactly, it is. There is no smell of life to it, yet it frequently growls and whines.

The Vacuum Beast is generally a docile creature. It sleeps more than the Feline Persuasion of House Pet, seeming to prefer enclosed spaces like closets, spare bedrooms or corners. But every once in a while, the HOP will wake it up and tie its leash to the wall. The HOP then exercises the Vacuum Beast by chasing it back and forth across the floors.

Although we have not fully identified the nature of the Vacuum Beast, we have developed two accepted responses to its activities.

The Defensive

Many Housedogs find this the most attractive of the options because it plays on the natural desire of the Housedog to be protective. To properly execute this response, the Housedog must be ready the moment the Vacuum Beast is removed from its dormant position.   Circle around the Vacuum Beast, keeping a close eye on it. (Another option is to stand in one place, with feet braced, often in the half crouch position, with the hindquarters raised and prepared to propel the body forward.)   The HOP will fasten the Vacuum Beast’s leash to the wall and then wake it up. As soon as it is awake, the Vacuum Beast will start growling and moving, dragging the HOP along with it. As this can be dangerous to the HOP, it is important to try to stop it. Utilize any of the following tactics:

  • Jumping at the Vacuum Beast
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Pawing
  • Snapping
  • Biting

It is vital, if you choose to go this route, that you do NOT touch the HOP; they will be moving around quite a bit, as they are apt to do (See Chapter 7), and may get between the Housedog and the Vacuum Beast. Exercise the caution every good Housedog is inherently endowed with.

The Passive Aggressive

This is a good tactic for the older Housedog and the lazy Housedog (yes, we regretfully admit there are, in fact, lazy Housedogs out there). To utilize this method, lie down in the location most inconvenient for the Vacuum Beast. This method, while easier in execution, does take some research. The Housedog must watch the Vacuum Beast and determine its pattern of movement.   Then lie down wherever it has been determined the Vacuum Beast is heading. The Vacuum Beast will generally come close, hesitate, then shy away. At this point, the Housedog must get up and move to the next location the Vacuum Beast is headed. The Housedog truly adept at this can make it look as though they are trying to stay out of the way, while in reality they are putting themselves in the way. The benefit to this tactic is that it will often frustrate the Vacuum Beast, and may discourage it from coming out as often.

A Note

While it is not an accepted means of response, we are aware that there are Housedogs who deal with the Vacuum Beast by hiding. Considering that the Vacuum Beast almost never moves around the house without an HOP, it is important that a good Housedog keeps a close eye on this creature. Never forget, our primary responsibility is to keep the HOPs in our possession safe. This means that, regardless of our fears and discomforts, we can never leave them on their own. Remember: they are fragile creatures.

 

~ S.D. Bullard

*Thanks to Vala and Deeks for their invaluable input on this article