Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Life of a Caregiver

   Some of you may know that I live with and take care of two disabled women. One is my wife and the other is our long time friend from high school who is terminally ill. Most days both of them can handle the little day to day tasks of caring for themselves and leave the more difficult jobs like cooking meals and taking care of the house to me.
   Our friend suffers from kidney failure and has been on dialysis for many years. If you've seen pictures of the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, that's the shape her body is in. She is extremely weak and can get hurt or catch a virus very easily. When things are going well, I have a little bit of time everyday to write. Lately, things have not been going well and I'm taking this opportunity to write a little something while sitting in the doctor's waiting room.
   The last two weeks have been especially difficult as she had a kidney cyst rupture at the same time she caught some flu like bug. This means I have to stay close at all times as she is unable to get up, get dressed or go to the bathroom on her own. I also have to make sure she eats the meals I bring to her in bed.
   She has always been a very independent person so being in this situation is very frustrating for her and sometimes that frustration turns into anger. I know the anger isn't directed at me, but sometimes I feel like maybe I'm not doing enough. I don't think either one of them realize how stressful this is for me. I had thought about finding a part-time job to help pay the bills, but now I'm not sure I can leave either of them alone for that long. If I wasn't able to lose myself occasionally while writing fantasy, I don't think I could handle the constant worry that one day I'll wake up and find one or both passed away. I have to say also that if it wasn't for my faith, I would not have made it this long.
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do People Know You're A Writer?

   As you go about your everyday life, how many of the folks you interact with know that you're a writer? Unless you have an unlimited advertising budget, the only way people will buy your books is if they know you've written one. Even if you haven't actually published anything yet, it's not a bad idea to at least let people know you're in the process.
   Obviously I'm not talking about going to the mall with a copy of your book in hand and walking up to strangers with a "Hey, I'm a writer. Would you like to buy my book?" You'll be lucky if they don't call security. What I'm talking about are the folks you interact with on a regular basis. I've been going to the same food market for years and most of the cashiers there know I'm a writer. I enjoy working on cars a lot so most of the auto parts stores in town also know I'm a writer.
   Again, this was not a case of, in your face, "Hi, I'm a writer. Would you like to read my book?" Usually it would start with the typical cashier small talk, "Got anything planned for the weekend?" To which I would answer, "Not really. Just going to try and get some more writing done." "Oh, you're a writer? What do you write?" "Fantasies," I would answer. Either they loved to read fantasy themselves or knew someone who did.
   Now that I can order copies of my book from CreateSpace, I've sold more to those folks and their family and friends than on Amazon. I'm still getting requests, all word of mouth, as more people read the story. I also made sure that the local librarian knows that I write. I've been in and out of the library enough that she recognizes me when I come in. She was more than willing to read my book to determine whether she wants to add it to the library's inventory. If nothing else, I know she will give me an accurate and fair assessment of my story.
   Also because of word of mouth, I've been contacted by a woman who runs a small indoor farmers market style shop in the mall. She would like to set-up a small display of my books in her store. She hasn't read it yet but is interested because a friend read it and liked the story.
   Bottom line, don't be afraid to talk to others about your writing and any books you may have published. Sure, there are always those who don't care or won't like your story, but it only takes a couple to like it and tell others. You gotta be your own advertising agency. Good luck!
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Two For One

   Today's post will be in two parts. The first is an observation about "How-To" books on writing and the second is of a personal nature.
   I recently received the first two chapters of a story from a new person in our critique group. His first comment was that he'd read a "How-To" book on writing that said prologues are no longer accepted in modern fiction, so he had changed his prologue to chapter one and wondered how it read that way. I'm reminded of the saying, "Don't believe everything you read." Granted, new writers are discouraged from writing prologues because they haven't learned how to write them effectively. They usually end up as an info dump that detracts from the story beginning.
   Prologues, if written properly, serve the purpose of setting the tone of the story and/or the foundation. It should be short, to the point, and briefly describe an event that gives the reader a starting point. A significant historical event, the actual crime as it's being committed, or a decision made by a forefather, are all good prologues. It's like a newspaper front page headline and then you go on to read the rest of the story.
   His first chapter was actually such a well written prologue, I recommended he change it back to a prologue and start  his story after that.
   The other part of this post is that I have decided to go back to work. At 65, I don't have that many years left to be able to handle a working environment. With the cost of living continuously rising and my Social Security staying the same, I can no longer afford to pay my bills. I will continue to write, but my stories will take even longer than they do now. I will also try to keep up with my blog, but that all depends on what kind of a work schedule I end up with.
   Also, since no one has ever commented on the short examples of my writing I usually post here, I have to assume they are not being read so I will no longer continue to do so.
   Thanks for reading.