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Self-Promotion – Thanks, But I’d Rather Staple My Head to the Floor…

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What’s the hardest thing about writing? A lot of people I talk to say the actual writing is the most difficult part. They’re terrified of being confronted by a blank page, of creating the perfect first sentence, and then having the discipline to leave that sentence alone and move on to the next one. When I tell people I love writing, I get a lot of you must be a masochist comments (we’re using the most general definition here, folks, so don’t go too crazy on that one).

But I honestly love creating new stories. Learning about new characters. Coming up with backstory. The endless possibilities of an empty page. These are all reasons that I write.

No, in the world of writing, what really scares me, like, makes me slightly nauseous, worse-than-a-herd-of-tent caterpillars, is, SELF-PROMOTION!

I recently found out that two of my short stories were accepted to two different anthologies, and I was crazy excited. But then the realization hit – if I want people to read these stories, and the stories of my fellow anthologists, I have to admit confess tell people about the book.

It may seem like a contradiction to a lot of you – after all, doesn’t a writer writes stories so others can read them? Yes, we do. But we don’t always want readers to know it’s US who wrote that particular story. There are several reasons for this. There’s the factor of privacy, especially when we have families or other careers. Or, we might write for different levels of readers, and may not want to scare our younger readers by introducing them to body decomposition too early in their childhood (should they stumble upon our other work). So some of us use ***spoiler alert*** a pen name, which can make promoting work, especially physically, quite difficult.

Then, there’s some authors who really have no interest in letting the world know them beyond their writing. When I asked the other authors from the Love is Love anthology about it, DJ Tyrer, author of Desert Roads, confessed he’s much more comfortable presenting himself in a way that’s removed from directly interacting with other people. He admitted that this probably stems from a general shyness about his writing, something that Crystal Reavis, author of the novel Areal and publicist at Breaking Rules Publishing, also relates to. She explained that while she has no issue helping other writers promote their work and loves to talk about writing in general, when it comes to her own work, she’s extremely shy.

Both Crystal and DJ are skilled and accomplished writers, and have absolutely no reason to be soft-spoken about their craft. So why are so many of us hesitant to promote our work? I think one of the main issues is we’ve become a society where we almost need to be apologetic about any success. We aren’t supposed to be openly proud of things we accomplish.

Alicia Graybill, author of Dragon Dances, shared her own struggles with this. Alicia told me that, while she knows her work is good and people will enjoy reading it, she has a hard time getting over the culturally ingrained notion that, “I need to be modest and humble.” Take That Chance author Tricia Ridinger McKee said she feels pushy when letting people know about her upcoming publications, and she’s even been told to ‘tone down’ her enthusiasm for her accomplishments. Both these women are talented story-tellers and have every right to be proud of what they’ve achieved. So again, why are we struggling so much with this whole self-promotion thing?

The answer may come from a writer’s obsession with words and our tendency to over-think a word’s meaning. According to the Oxford dictionary, self-promotion is “the action of promotion or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way. Wait – what? We don’t want to be forceful or in someone’s face. We just want them to check out our book. Maybe we just need a different word – let’s check out synonyms for self-promotion: boasting, bragging, self-flattery, self-glorification, bluster, showing off, vanity….the list does not improve. No wonder this is such a difficult thing for writers (or anyone) to wrap their mind around. There’s so much negativity around the meaning and idea of self-promotion.

So let’s ditch the whole idea of self-promotion and go with something that doesn’t have such a negative implication. We could create a new term for it, like sharatizing. Or maybe, adversharing. Of course, we’ll have to educate people on what those mean. So how about something that’s already out there, but that has a more positive meaning. Like, self-advocate.

Oxford defines self-advocacy as “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.” Doesn’t that sound better? Brainline.org goes even further and states: “Self-advocacy is understanding your strengths and weaknesses, developing personal goals, being assertive (meaning standing up for yourself), and making decisions.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t mind representing myself and sharing my views and interests with other people. I also have no problem standing up for myself and for things I believe in. So yeah, I think I could extend my self-advocating to my writing much easier than self-promoting it. Let’s give it a shot…

My name is (sometimes) Francis Currier, I’m an author, and I’m advocating for our book,  Love is Love, published by Breaking Rules Publishing. This is the first book I’ve ever taken part in and I’m very proud of what we accomplished! Please check it out at https://www.breakingrulespublishing.com/store/p181/Love_Is_Love_Anthology_-_Feb_2020_Issue.html and support the amazing authors who contributed to the anthology, and the wonderful publishing house that believes in us!

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So for all you writers, artists, and whoever you are out there who are trying to let people know about what you do or create, the next time someone accuses you of showing off or boasting about your work, tell them you’re self-advocating. And for those of you who still think we’re just bragging – bugger off.

So…it’s been awhile…anything new with you?

Well, since you asked…Yes! Let’s just pretend that it hasn’t been forever since I last updated this thing and continue like we just talked a few months ago. I’ve actually been writing pretty consistently, I’m almost done with a book (more on that in another post), AND I just had a short story accepted for an anthology through Breaking Rules Publishing! It’s been a busy couple of years months, people!

How have you been?

Running…Not Just Good for Your Ass…

I went for a run tonight. Now that the weather has cooled off so much I find myself more willing to run, which is good because there are several reasons I need to run. It’s healthy, I’m less crabby, and most importantly, it really gets my brain going. I think it’s because it’s one of those mindless things that I can do with my body so my brain is free to plot. There’s also a lot of visual stimulation so my brain picks up little prompts, such as:

That’s a weird hole in their yard. I wonder if you could bury someone in that hole?

He looks a little scary. Like someone who might attack a runner and drag them off into the woods…(quick look behind me) Ok, good. He’s not behind me…

What’s that in the woods? It looks a little bit like a hand…no, it’s a twisted branch. But it could be a hand…

Along with the weird little stories my brain creates, running also helps me figure things out for books I’m currently working on. I work on back story, plot arcs, character relationships, potential murder victims, potential murderers, and even dialog.

So it’s good that I’m running again – now I just have to figure out how to write things down while I’m on the move…

Picking the Perfect Funeral Home

I’ve been researching funeral homes. Specifically New Hampshire funeral homes because buildings in New Hampshire have a very New Englandy look to them and when I’m describing the funeral home in the book I’ve loosely titled Going Under, I want locals to say, ‘huh, I wonder if she’s talking about the old Jameson place?’ – or whatever the building’s name might be. It might seem like a simple thing to do – to pick a funeral home – but it really isn’t. Some funeral homes look like they were once a privately owned home so they look just like a house.

This is Bennett Funeral home in Concord and I think it looks like a nice family home:

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This one is Roberge Funeral Home in Somersworth – I don’t know the history on this place but I’m guessing it’s not around anymore. It again has the feel of a home:

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Then, some funeral homes look very commercial. I don’t favor this type but it really depends on what you’re going for. They look very nice and well run, which isn’t the feel I’m going for with my funeral home.

This is Phaneuf Funeral Home and Crematorium in Manchester:

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This is Edgerly Funeral Home in Sanbornville.

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I’m fond of the in-between funeral homes. Something that looks grand and old, and looks like it could easily be a business.

Connor-Healy Funeral Home in Manchester:

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My favorite – Perkins & Pollard Funeral Home in Pittsfield:

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The family run funeral home in Going Under was originally a fairly grand place that got a a decent run of business. It was run by two brothers and their families until one brother ran off – allegedly with a woman. After he left, the business went under and over the years bodies have gone missing, the dead have been poorly prepared, and family members have been stabbing each other in the back. Sometimes literally.

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I love writing. I’ve loved writing since I was a kid and I realized I had all of these stories sitting in my head. Stories I would create and tweak while pressed up against a cow on a December morning, washing poop off her udder and thinking I would much rather be home writing. I still have a letter my sixth-grade self wrote to my highschool graduate self that described how I was going to be a writer one day. Of course, that letter also said I was going to live in a huge old house with a lot of cats and never get married.

The truth is, one of the hardest things for me to do is actually sit down and write. Part of this is because I don’t have the focus for creating that I used to. Your brain has lots of time to roam when cleaning cow udders and horse stalls, but not so much time when working a full time job, being a full time mother, a full time wife, and a full time chickener. All of those full time positions also leave me little time to sit down and write things.

But I have so many bodies that need to be found. So many bodies that need to be hidden. And lots and lots of people to kill in rather horrible ways. So my goal is to take time to write. To get these stories down and put them here. To make my characters come alive (or dead)! If nothing else, the attempt sure beats cleaning cow udders.

Where Even the Dead are Fashionable…

A wonderful, wonderful friend who knows I’m slightly twisted made me aware of one of the more horribly fascinating practices I’ve ever read about. The Ma’nene Festival, which roughly translates to ‘ceremony of cleaning corpses’ is practiced by the Torajan people for the Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The tribe has been participating in this practice for more than a century and what basically happens is that every three years they exhume their dead. They dress them in fresh clothing, brush their hair, clean them off, and then the tribe admires and celebrates their dead family and loved ones. After the celebration they wrap them in several lengths of new cloth to help prevent decay, and put them in fixed caskets. Then they put them back in their resting place until the next festival.

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The idea of doing this would have most people running from the room screaming ‘ick ick ick!’ and it only highlights the different way our culture handles death. Quiet, somber funeral homes. Bodies rushed out of the home as soon as the person is dead, and that’s if they actually die at home. Embalming and burial within the week. Most people have a difficult time even discussing the process of burial, much less viewing a dead body so I can’t imagine anyone in our society actually digging someone up to give them an updated hairdo. This is really a shame when you think about it. Perhaps it’s my fascination with the mortuary sciences, but I really like the idea of parlor viewings, family participation in care of the deceased, and celebration for the life lived.

Both ideas give my brain lots to play with in regards to writing. While I don’t usually don’t write sci-fi fantasy, the idea of the Ma’nene Festival just begs for a nice cemetery piece. Perhaps someone not taking care of their dead loved ones the way they were supposed to and they need to be reminded of their duty…hmmmmmmm

And of course the funeral home business will definitely be dissected in my book loosely titled In Deep…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3780998/Indonesian-villagers-dig-dead-relatives-dress-Ma-nene-festival.html