Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Path to Getting Published: The Blog Tour

I tried to give Brooke Fossey the blog tour/cheese touch for the "My Writing Process" blog tour, and she turned around and tagged me on Twitter for the "My Path to Getting Published: The Blog Tour." Click on her name to read her fabulous post.  She even has pie charts.  Not only do I not have pie charts for this post, I don't have any death stuff lined up for this week, so here goes...

1. Where are you on your publishing path?




Right now, my memoir "Death Becomes Us" is out on submission, which is crazy fantastic, but is also making me a bit anxious.  The thing with memoir is that rejection feels personal.  "You mean you don't like me?"  Waaaaaaah!!!

I have to remind myself that I am simply a character in a really important story about other people.  I'm just the messenger.   Plus, rejection is part of writing.  If you're not getting rejected, you're not submitting.  And if you're not submitting, you will never be published.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

David Goodner , one of the wonderful members of the DFW Writers' Workshop, tagged me to participate in the "My writing process" blog tour, so for today, it's all about writing.

What am I working on?

In addition to revving up the old Death Writer blog, I've been writing a novel about a menopausal vampire.  It's called Forever 51. Yes, yes, I know.  Does the world really need another vampire story? I didn't think so either, but this woman was quite insistent that I tell her story. And so far, it's been quite fun.
Here I am having fun.  Damn, I love photo booth!


I don't know about you, but I think that's what we should aim for as writers.  FUN!  For the first time in quite a while, my butt is in the desk chair, I'm typing words and I'm laughing my ass off.  I'm thinking about all the crazy stuff this vampire is going to get into and I don't have to worry about the truth.  Or even getting published.  I get to make shit up and let me tell you, that is liberating. Despite my enthusiasm for fiction, my first love will always be nonfiction.  It's always way stranger than anything I can come up with in my imagination, so I hope to be returning to it soon.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Because I know so very little about vampire mythology, I've been reading several books about those blood suckers.  I think what makes my story different is that it hasn't been told, at least not from what I've read.  And yes I know, there are a lot of books about vampires.  I don't have the time or inclination to read them all.  But it seems that a lot of vampire stories focus on sex, power, youth and beauty, which is kind of like what we're already saturated with in real life.  My story takes a look at what happens to a woman who is perpetually stuck at an age that renders her invisible and unimportant, at least in American culture.

In the genre of nonfiction, I don't know how different I am as far as the writing, but I do know there is only one Pamela Skjolsvik and nobody has lived my story.  One of my strengths as a writer is voice.  I am what I am and that's all that I am.  I'm Pam.  I'm attracted to a lot of stuff that people fear, but I present it in a Mary Poppins, spoon full of sugar (humorous) kind of way.

Why do I write what I do?

Let's see.  I write what I know and if I don't know, I go find out about it.  I enjoy that process. It gives me permission in my head to go live or something.  If I have my writer hat on, I can go talk to someone in prison or follow a hospice nurse around or ride along with EMTs.  Pam without the writer hat would not do that.

I'm lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) in that I've had a fairly odd life filled with a fair amount of trauma and unusual characters, so it's been fairly easy to write what I know.  With death, it was a BIG I don't know.  I didn't have much experience, so I did my research and found out about it.

Why vampires?  Well, death, or at least the realization that our lives will end at some point is usually what inspires people to live their life to the fullest.  So what happens to a person who can't die and is stuck at an undesirable age?  How do they get up in the morning?  What motivates them?  I want to find out.

How does my writing process work?

I do a lot of writing while driving and washing dishes.  It's all in my head, of course.  And then when I've got things sorted out, I sit my booty in a chair and verbally vomit it out onto the blank page.  Then I take those pages to my writers' group and read them out loud.  That is probably the most important step for me and it's not the feedback so much as hearing the words out loud and the group's reaction to them.  Like a 12 step meeting, I take what I like and leave the rest.  I've learned you can't be too attached to what is on the page.  Kill your darlings and all that.

Then, I go home, I look at my scribbled feedback and I make those changes immediately while they're still fresh.  Then I let it sit for a day or two and come back to it.  It's a long damn process.  I'm lucky that I always have dishes in the sink and I do a lot of driving.

I am not going to tag anyone.  I figure most of the people I know and follow have already done this and if they haven't, they are welcome to say I tagged them.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Guest Blog: Interview with Death

Today I am very excited to have a guest blogger!  I was introduced to Amy Wallace through a mutual friend.  You'd be surprised at how often I get set up with people because of death.  It's like a death match!
Speaking of matches, in this corner we have Amy Wallace, author, counselor and fearless death inquisitor.  She's taking on death.

DW: Tell me a wee bit about Amy...
A:  I grew up in the Boston area, graduating from Wellesley College way back when, but never really loving New England. When a friend suggested I check out the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 24, I packed up my Pinto, spent a month wandering the country, arrived in the Bay Area and have lived here happily ever since. I began exploring death and people’s relationship to it while at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sofia University) getting my Masters in Counseling Psychology. After 3 years as a psychotherapist intern, I realized that being a full-time therapist was not quite the path for me and went back to working to pay the bills. Thank goodness for years of experience in sales and those transferrable counseling skills! The research and exploration for my book on the fear of death started me down a path that has really become my passion: to empower people (including myself) to have a more powerful relationship to death and to die as consciously and fearlessly as possible, with as few regrets and unfinished business as possible. I’m even beginning to study to become a death – or soul – midwife . . . someone who accompanies the dying, hopefully in such a way as to enhance what I have come to consider one of the most important aspects of our lives: how we die.  You can check out her book by clicking on the word here.

Amy Talks to Death


Amy: It feels weird to say “Welcome, Death” . . . I have a fear that, if I call your name, talk about you, or have the audacity to welcome and interview you, you’ll decide to “take” me! Is that crazy?

Death: Well, yes, in a way. There’s a lot I’d like to share about myself, my part in life, why people’s fears are unfounded, and how things really work. That superstition you speak of – that if a human talks about me, I’ll come and get them – that’s so silly! Think about it. You talk hypothetically every day about many things (winning the lottery, for example); does that make them happen? No! In fact, the more you know about anything or anyone you fear, the less you fear them . . . true?

A: Yes, I can see that. But a lot of us are just too scared to face what we’re scared of!

D: I promise you: your talking with me or anybody reading this interview has nothing to do with when they will die, so let’s take that off the table, shall we? On the other hand, it could have a lot to do with how they die, and even how they live.

A: What is one very important thing that you wish people knew about you?