Monday, December 20

More Micro-fiction!!

Posted by Shelly Holder

Surprise publication this morning! My short story "An Accidental Morning Bathroom Meeting" was posted to DOGZPLOT Flash Fiction Magazine, and can be read here.

As always, I'd love for comments and feedback! Thanks!

Thursday, December 16

Jedi Mind Tricks

Posted by Shelly Holder

I was thinking- shocking I know- that I should rewrite my chapter one like a Steeplechase challenge. Completely redo the whole thing without referring to the original.

But I LIKE my chapter one, which is kinda why I have no chapter two. Which implies the lack of chapter three which means no chapter 30 which means no book deal which means no royalties or book advance party or hot limo rides down any strip of any kind.

I dunno about this whole novel business. It's a bit different from what I usually do, so I'm unsure of when to stop and when to move on and when to toss the whole fudging thing in the trash for the nourishment of dust bunnies.

Who am I kidding about being a novelist? I should stick short forms I can actually complete.

I try and trick myself into challenges like this rewriting gig to convince myself otherwise, but the excitement is long gone and the spark fizzled on a short fuze. Hard work is no substitute for training.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: ADELE
What I want most: aspirin

Wednesday, December 15

Short (Short) Story Out!

Posted by Shelly Holder


Just a quick update to say my micro-fiction piece "They Burned Our Ssekabakas, They Burned Our Kings" was published today in the magazine SHORT, FAST, AND DEADLY! You can read the magazine here.

I'm super excited!

Please read and comment! This is one of my first ventures into fiction, so would love the feedback! Thank you!

Writee Now:
What I'm listening to: the fireplace burning =)
What I want most: mmm, ice cream? or cheesecake?

Tuesday, December 14

Top 10 Habits of "Proper" Writers

Posted by Shelly Holder

1) Adopt a quirk. 
Like writing entirely in green crayon. Or  drinking.

2) Get up only in the evenings. 
No, you are not aping  the vampire lifestyle, but have manfully (or is that womanfully?) stayed up all night in a burst of Divine Inspiration.

3) Also, adopt the haggard look.
You are lost in the world of wonderful glorious words. You forget to eat. To sleep. Shower. Even if you do all these things, fake like you don't for credibility.

4) Avoid people.
Be a bitter cynical misanthropic disillusioned philosopher. Don't interact with the unenlightened except in cyberspace. Or your own head.

5) Hold conversations with yourself. 
You'll be lonely (See #4)

6) Post witty and/or sardonic updates to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, the blog and other media sites.  Often. And refresh constantly. Like every 20 minutes because you don't want that upstart of a YA author to think SHE is more humorous than TOI.

7) Don't read anything other than Wikipedia. 
Wiki knows all. End.

8) Find a destressor. 
All this writing business is hard. Telling all your friends about the book you're going to write. Writing about the book you are going to write. Reading about ways to write your book. Take a break.... or a drink (you know, whatever works).

9) Live in an attic/garrett/ 700 sq. ft. studio apartment
When they said "bats in the bellfry" they meant that LITERALLY.

10) Be serious.
All the  time. Laughter is bad, and leads to serious injury,

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: the audio recording of Georgette Heyer's Venetia
What I want most: chocolate. in multiple forms. yummmmmm

Monday, December 13

Oh, I love this trend

Posted by Shelly Holder

Know the type to video spree hitting the internet? Here's a gem about the publishing business. A tad long, but hilarious.

From the article The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents by JM Tohline

I giggled hardcore.

Write now:
What I'm listening to: The video and snorting uncontrollably
What I want most: more books!

Friday, November 19

Thoughts on My Obsession

Posted by Shelly Holder

If you haven't yet gleaned to what it is by all my previous ramblings (I forbear to backlink; it would take the rest of forever; just click the tag at the bottom for others) HERE IT IS AGAIN:


Maybe it's my age, my relative inexperience, my own insecurities about being perceived as a "grown-up" or a need to be seen as a "working writer" when the label "student" is more accurate-- whatever my hangups, they translate into an unhealthy paranoia.

I think about my query letter more than the pieces I submit. (I know, this is backwards. But true.)

So it's FANTASTIC that I just got complimented on the DIRECT QUOTE "wonderful" cover letter I sent in. The editor was impressed that I tailored to the publication and read the archives both, so I guarantee that cover letter is the reason I got accepted to this publication. (YAY!!! Another new market wants to publish me!)

So I Present!
Shelly Holder's Formula to "Wonderful" Cover Letters

1) find out editor's name
2) check gender of editor- twice (website, personal website, social media sites)
3) read archives- ALL of them
4) read editor interview at Duotrope's Digest
5) re-read interview at Duotrope's Digest
6) re-read it a 3rd time
7) read website submission guidelines
8) re-read guidelines
9) read a 3rd time
10) compare with Duotrope's submission quidelines
11) start FIRST DRAFT of cover
12) personalize to market
13) mention author from archives that you identify with (legitimately! don't make this a gimmick)
14) add why you submitted to this market
15) re-read submission guidelines
16) read some of the editor's work if available
17) re-read DD's editor interview
18) re-write cover letter
19) make it polite & professional
20) send and die of brain hemorage

And then hope and pray and burn little offering of crumpled balls of bad drafts until you hear back, and try not to slowly turn into a mewling ball of despair.

I just sent out another submission last night, so I'll let you know how that last sentences goes.

But I currently have not showered, am gorging on junk food, and have a blanket over my head while watching Iron Chef America in the dark without my glasses. And there's ice cream in the freezer calling my name. YES ITS TEN A.M. DON'T JUDGE ME.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: the wonderful narration of Alton Brown on carrot frosting

Thursday, November 18

Interview With ... Myself!

Posted by Shelly Holder

Because I can.

Also, because that reporter never knew the kind of material she was missing out on. Heh.

Q: Current reading obsession?
>kill author. I love their philosophy.

Q: Bedside table looks like? 
Here by Wislawa Szymborska, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women by Amy L. Clark, elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish and Claudia Smith, a book of sudoku puzzles, a book of Fill-in-a-Word puzzles, this cd of Indian music I got in one of those boxed dinners from the international aisle, pencils, two notebooks, water, tissues, lamp, internet card
Q: Bookcase looks like? 
Stuffed to the gills. And spilling over. With more coming out of the woodwork.
Q: TBR pile? 
Similar. But includes the collected letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, Frida Kahlo's diary & biography Frida by Frida, Mark Twain's biography, Black Warrior Review, Blue Mesa Review, GRANTA, AGNI, Poetry, Alaska Quarterly Review, 88, Calyx, Partisan Review, New Directions and more. Much more. I didn't even mention the mind candy yet. The new Kris Longknife release. The new Jill Kismet release. Yay, fluffy. 

Q: Current book lust? 
I want to start reading Victorian Gothic. So The Mysteries of Udolpho, or The Romance of the Forest. 

Q: Best place to read? 
Anywhere I can concentrate. 

Q: Best place to write?
Ditto. But I work best when alone. Shut away and holed up somewhere.  
Q: Print or e-book?
Both. Whatever gets me to the words. But ultimately I do like print better. I'd love to have the money to have both versions of my favorites. 
Q: Library, bookstore, secondhand shop? 
Whatever gets me the book. But I like owning- I don't like giving back a book. It hurts a little inside. Lol. It's mine! MINE, I say! 
Q: Computer or pen and paper?
Pen and paper. Actually, pencil and paper, but whatever is at hand. I have my fair share of yellow highlighter notes, and believe me, that's a pain in the behind to transcribe. 
Q: Writing goal?
Uh, write everyday. Create a body of work that I can then mold into a chapbook, or have as a backlog to submit to different publications deadlines without creating something new every time. (NOT that that's a bad thing, just mentally exhausting and not always time effective.) 
Q: Writing to-do list? 
I don't wanna talk about it. No, really. I dunwanna.
Q: Can't live without?
My childhood stuffed cat Dinah (named after the cat in Alice in Wonderland.)
Q: Hot or cold?
Frigid, with multiple blankets. And maybe a scarf. But no socks. And for the love of everything, NO SNUGGIES! 
Q: Tea, coffee, or booze? 
All three? ;-) 
Q: Flip flops, sandals, flats, high heels, or boots? 
Boots of any kind. Followed by flats. I hate flip flops. 
Q: East Coast, or West Coast?
East. (I apologize, MidWest, I didn't even give you a chance.) 
Q: Current obsession? 
Hershey's Take Five candy bars! They're superyummy. 

Q: Something surprising?
I suck at Scrabble. I cannot recall winning a single game. Ever. As a writer, I am deeply ashamed.  

Q: Currently listening to?
Pandora "Down" Radio... and is this Cascada? Why, yes, yes it is. Lol.
Q: Thing you want most right now? 
Dinner. Let's go cook something yummy stomach.

Wednesday, November 17

Oh Plz, Professional

Posted by Shelly Holder

So what many of you don't know is that in the spring I was interviewed for a news article about my writing (and other, unimportant things, but we stick to writing here). It was never optioned/bought, so don't get excited.

Me? I'm not disappointed the article never ran. Or particularly surprised. Frankly, I'm even a little bit glad it didn't. Why?

The "reporter" who interviewed me was completely, scandalously unprofessional.

If I, the subject of your work, am not impressed, I doubt any editor is going to interested in your piece. Basic common sense, right?

At first, I was excited. Oh, shiny! I'm getting interviewed! But it soon devolved. The reporter had a huge lag time- weeks worth (and remember THEY contacted ME). Our first interaction is a brief email- no salutation, greeting, signature, punctuation, basic capitalization- but most horrendously....

This "professional" used "PLZ" and "THX!"



I'm sorry. Even if you're a 20-something, and I'm a 20-something, in a work capacity, SPELL OUT WORDS IN STANDARD ENGLISH.

Co-workers turned buddies?- check. Use all the abrevs you want.
Inner office email between said office buddies?- check. I doubt a client ever sees those.
Professional Twitter?- check. Necessary because of character count and oh so a la mode.
Texts?- check. See above "co-workers" (plus, Starbucks orders are just a hassle to type anyways)
A super hip writing blog- in balance, in context, with the right voice, and the right audience? Yeah, ABSOLUTELY!!

The first communication to establish a working relationship???

Oh, hells, no.

Actually, after that one email, I considered calling off the entire thing.

Two hours AFTER our scheduled appointment passed (a lunch meeting that just COULDN'T be interrupted) I was certain that a) this story would never sell, and b) I would never work with this reporter again.

The interview had good bones, but the story languishes.

Meanwhile, my obsessive butt is getting published! *evil twinkle* Anyone get a lesson outta that?

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: the new squeaky keyboard cover that got delivered today. It's almost typewriter-esque. I kinda like it.
What I want most: mmmm, some clothing from Urban Outfitters. And makeup from Sephora. Oh, and a pony.

Tuesday, November 2

All Sorts of Random

Posted by Shelly Holder

So there are a whole bunch of stuffs to address, with no logic. So, bear with me just for a little bit. Or ignore this post. You know, whatever.

First! I am happy to say that I have been accepted for publishing in Camroc Press Review and Short, Fast, and Deadly! Both publications have impressed me with their submission process, and I have enjoyed interacting with their editors. Seriously, go check both of them out. And read! And submit!

Also, I'm am in love with  > kill author. Their philosophy is just so unique and somehow "fresh" (which I should not be saying as if I were the cynical veteran of the small presses). Check out their interview with PANK magazine to see what I mean. 

Double also, I now have a HEE-UUUUUUUUUUUUGE fangrrl author crush on T.H. Mafi. She's super funny, agented, and only 22! *suddenly eyes January birthday with disfavor* I would be super jealous if she wasn't completely down to earth about all the hard work she had to do. Also, practical about writing trials and tribulations, without letting them getting her down. Actually, pretty much she might be the author I wanna be.

So I have also finally invested the time to use Duotrope's Digest, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The interviews with the editors are invaluable, and the stats on response times and rejections so helpful. I really think that I'm getting published in CPR and SFD because of them. Use it. Be an avid tracker. Help keep the stats accurate.

I have decided that I become more and more "out there," I need to step out of an amateur role. So I have taken down my book blog- it's no longer public. I don't need to be commenting on other author's books as another author. If I decided to stick strictly within the role of a reader/commenter, that's different. But I want to be peers with some of these people. There's just too much possibility for mishap, mayhem, and madness. I don't want some future internet drama cat fight thing to be hash-tagging MY name! So no more book blog. I'll leave that to another type of writer. And I think I might pull my reviews from Goodreads- or make it private. Something. There will be more purging. I will be the ultimate professional.

Um, also updates to the website. More hyper-linking. More samples. More "professional" details, and bio. (Do you see the trend? I'm kinda obsessed. lol) It's a work in progress.

And, yeah. I think that's about it. It was scattered. But whatever. So's my mind. ;-)

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: CSI re-runs
What I want most: some lotion

Monday, November 1

One Trick Pony

Posted by Shelly Holder

WHY is it that readers/writers are automatically assumed to be an endless source of self-entertainment? The standard reply to any literary soul's occasional "I'm bored" is ALWAYS "Go read/write something."

Why? WHY?

Is it incomprehensible that sometimes we need a BREAK from words? We love 'em, sure, but 24/7 language can get as boring as your day job stuffing envelopes. Sometimes, other creative outlets are appreciated people!

Gahhhhhhhhh. Non-literary people stereotypes about us booky types.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing at the moment.
What I want most: a mind break. Non-word related. No books. No writing. Gimme the mind fluff.

Saturday, October 30

Freelance= Non-Fiction?

Posted by Shelly Holder

Another pet peeve of mine. Why do self-help writer's magazines and articles and bloggers ALWAYS assume that the freelance writer is a journalist?

I simply don't understand. Freelance BY definition is multiple venues, so how come the modus operandi has changed to be multiple non-fiction MARKETS?

No, I am not interested in breaking into a cat magazine when I have no cats. Yes, maybe some crazy dude is challenging himself to query his way through the entire Writer's Digest Freelance Market (true story, but I have lost the link. Sorry! Later edit to come) but I am still a freelancer, am I not? AM I NOT?

Wheeeeeeew, and deep breath.

Self-employed. Frequent changes between publishers. Creation of works first then the query. Sounds like me, right? RIGHT?


And if you think otherwise, you are clearly more knowledgeable than me, so go ahead. Enlighten me. WHY SHOULDN'T THERE BE AN ARTICLE ON FREELANCING THE SMALL PRESSES? HUH? HUH?

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: Nuthin, calming down for bed (lol, we'll see how this goes)
What I want most: sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepppp!

Friday, October 29

Mind Break

Posted by Shelly Holder

There are no words for the love. No words.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: football game
What I want most: I'm completely happy! =)

Thursday, October 28


Posted by Shelly Holder

This makes me laugh and cry at the same time. Really, what are we poor English majors to DO in life??

Ah, careers and jobs and salaries and real life matters. How you depress me. So very, very much.

I like my rosy pink bubble of illusion, thank you very much. I'm comfortable in here. We have discussions about death in Emerson and the cult of Harold Bloom. And cookies.

Lots of cookies.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "Not Fair" by Kate Havnevik
What I want most: someone to tell me "Do X. Study Y. You'll be fine. Z is the greatest, happiest place in the whole wide world!" (*sigh*)

Wednesday, October 27

This is Not Medea

Posted by Shelly Holder

AMMMMMMMMM I about to do this? I think, I think... I think I am about to commit the ultimate writer's sin. Actually, I think I'm about to commit the TWO cardinal sins of writing. I am not going to listen to my editor, and I am not killing my darlings.

(*pause for horrified, stupefied look*)

Oh man, I can't believe I even said that. I can't believe that I'm at this point. But every time I look at the proposed changes on my poem, something wells up in me- "No. Just no. This isn't what I want to say. This isn't how I want to say it. This isn't me."

I've had great revision experiences, from several sources. I really have benefited from the input, and I have learned why the advice is given, as well as how it adds to my piece. And I have been recommended by a creative writing professor, at this point in my career especially, it's better to accept revisions and get published, then revert to the original format in a later chapbook.

Yet. Yet, yet, yetyetyet.

I am not Medea, and more importantly, I am not a minimalist. My style of writing is conversationalist. I tend towards the rhythm of spoken word poetry. There are a lot of "and"s and "the"s and "but"s in my writing-- many which can be removed, but also many that I think function as part of the poem. When I read it aloud, my version has a melody, whereas the proposed version is choppy, rough, fragmented with loss and awkward jumps.

I know that I'm likely still reacting with emotion. Time and distance would give me a clearer head to think through the changes. But even as I have accepted (and subsequently edited in) some points, there are others that I think I must stick by my guns for. I don't want to be the prissy, recalcitrant Speshul Snowflake Poet, but what about my artistic integrity?

I just really hope I'm not shooting myself in the foot.

To cheer myself up, and remind myself of the important tenents of writing...
Devin Galaudet's The Creative Writer’s Bill of Rights (or The Creative Bill of Writes)

1. The artist can turn off all filters and say anything about any subject, at any time, for any reason.
2. No subject matter, no how uncomfortable or offensive to self or others, is off limits
3. No single word: expletive or other no-no should be avoided due to political correctness or fear. If the word is appropriate in the context of the writing, it should stay. *
4. Any random thought should be written down by the writer, especially when the writer’s internal voice says, you can’t say that!
5. No matter how perfect a writing is, it could be edited down further or expanded upon.
6. Sometimes a writer will have to kill his or her babies. This means some great ideas/lines/articles will have to be removed, taken out, destroyed, sacrificed or edited in order to make the writing better. It can be a painful process.
7. Making changes that others have suggested, after careful scrutiny, gives the writer more authority as a writer.
8. Ignoring changes that others have suggested, after careful scrutiny, gives the writer more authority as a writer.
9. Getting a big authentic reaction is good – whether the reader liked the writing or not. Big reactions like “You suck,” is not a good reason to rewrite.
10. Taking a risk is a good thing.
11. Making a difference takes risk.
* Writing for shock value: using words and topics to offend for the sake of being offensive, is not creative. It is divisive and outside the scope of this sacred document — where is good parchment when you need it?
Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "Look No Further" by Dido
What I want most: Second opinions- revise, or withdraw? Comment!

Tuesday, October 26

Subconscious Tests

Posted by Shelly Holder

 A quick note before the regular post: This is Agonies' THREE HUNDREDTH post!! Thanks everyone that have stuck with me since the beginning, and thanks to all the new readers that continue to help me grow and reach new audiences! It's been a great experience, and I can't wait to see where we go in the future!

Want to know something weird and completely illogical?

I just had three poems rejected and I'm super super excited!

Wait WHAT?!?!?!?!! you all scream back at me. But it's true. Here, let me explain.

A while back, I was depressed because I had a huge string of acceptances. Wait, WHAT?!? you say again. But there were too many, too fast, and from publications that I couldn't trust on quality control. My first ever experience with "publishing" was back when I was sixteen and got caught up in the famous racket (see website for full story), so the easy acceptances scared me. In my head, my resume started to resemble a listing of vanity presses, not actual accomplishments. And I wasn't sure how to break the trend.

This weekend, I sent out a HUGE number of pieces to various publications (almost thirty different works!) and so far I have received five form rejections, two rewrite requests, and this morning's lovely gift of two personal rejections of "doesn't work for me" and "banal"

But again, I'm super excited. Because frankly the one poem IS clunky, and the other IS banal.

I think that I subconsciously choose poems that under a more lenient editor would have squeaked by into publication. The words are pretty enough but there's no real polish. And the fact that they got rejected means that my poems that HAVE been published with this group, really do mean something. To the editors, and now, to myself. I am able to feel more pride in my resume because the publication didn't care that I had published with them previously, and rejected my works anyways. There was none of the "return customer" strategies about this last submission. They hated my poems, and they told me, frankly and boldly without hesitation. 

I needed to hear that I was a bad poet, to remind myself that I AM a good poet with a bad draft.

As weird and illogical as that may sound.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: ticking of the clock, morning stirring sounds, trash bags rustling and wheels turning
What I want most: to be able to cook soon

Monday, October 25

The Chance Compliment

Posted by Shelly Holder

So today I want to talk about a chance compliment I received back in spring that has really motivated me in the successive months.

I had submitted to a publication on campus that was a little out of my comfort zone, one that focused on expressions of female sexuality. I was unsure about contributing to something so risque, especially with my conservative background growing up. Still, there was some poking and prodding instinct to go ahead and risk it! So I sent in two poems and a personal essay, and was published.

The magazine was released a few days before I attended a job related BBQ. I was the new hire, and unfamiliar with most of the people around me. As I sat down with my burger and my beer, all out of the blue, a male co-worker I never inner-acted with before asked me "Did you write such and such piece?"

Me: (stunned) um, yes?

I really liked it, he replied.

I couldn't believe it. One, that he read the magazine. Two, he read my pieces, three, associated them with ME, and four, remembered long enough to bring it up. What kind of alternative reality was I in? Was that really non-alcoholic beer, or had something else been slipped in?

But as I continue down the road, I realize more and more how wonderful a compliment he paid me. Here I had taken a huge personal leap of faith into a world I was not familiar or comfortable in, and yet someone still found me not only competent but qualified.

If that co-worker had never said anything, I'm not sure that I would have had the courage to continue submitting to that particular magazine. I probably would have left it as a one time fling with the wild side. But because of what he did, I find that I have the strength to embrace this new world. And guess what? I love talking about female sexuality. Not because I'm some uber-radical, or because I represent the conservative side of the argument, but because it's a part of my humanity. Not some stereotype, but just simple human experience.

Because of him, I was excited to write a second personal essay for the upcoming fall 2010 issue, which has been accepted. In fact, I'm working on a third I hope to squeak in under deadline (18 days!). And I want to pursue these topics to other venues, other magazines. I want to see where this can take me. I want to see how I grow and learn and mature in life and in writing. I want to surprise myself. I want to challenge myself. And I don't want to stop because of some excuse like "that just isn't who I am." I don't know yet. I'm not defined. I'm not fixed.

All I know is, part of me has changed for good because of a chance compliment.

And if sometimes I write with him in mind, well, maybe that's not such a bad thing either.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "Sand in My Shoes" by Dido (Somehow it's so apropos...)
What I want most: the Kris Longknife book that comes out tomorrow! Squeeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, October 19


Posted by Shelly Holder

Poem is published!

That is all.

Wednesday, September 22

The Pro/Con List Pt. 2

Posted by Shelly Holder

I've been writing a series of loosely connected posts about MFA programs, popular fiction, genre reception, and job prospects. Today I want to expand that a little further.

I think that the expectation to be good at one genre (to the exclusion of others) is slowly creeping over to smother the literary community. MFA programs force a single concentration. If you're lucky, you get the option to take electives in other types of writing, but simultaneous programs? The exception, not the rule.  Which is saddening. Why NOT try to develop general writing skills? I do understand the need for a defined area of study during the development of a thesis. Very reasonable on the academic administration side. On the artist's side...

If I'm paying the tuition, I want my investment returned. And I want to be fully trained to meet my professional goals when I graduated. However, my professional goals don't include a one-trick pony. I wanna be a writer. Not a poet, not an essayist, not a columnist, not a food writer, not a fashion writer, not a novelist. A WRITER. I don't have to be an expert to write all of those genres. I might not be as credible, but ultimately what I'm selling is my personal perspective, not an encyclopedia.

I'm selling my writing, and I never want to limit my writing.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "What Becomes of Us?" by Cinephile
What I want most: Venom by Jennifer Estep! Only a few days! =)

Tuesday, September 21

The Pro/Con List

Posted by Shelly Holder

I spent last night (this morning? lol) researching MFA programs. Even though I have a few years, the frenzy that my friends have just finished has inspired me (or terrified me) into getting a head start. Of course, that has stirred up a whole list of issues on its own.

As I said in yesterday's post, I have this thing about admitting up to my popular fiction habits. I write it all the time, but putting it on a resume or talking about it in a job interview sends me into embarrassed shivers.

And the thought of applying to Seton Hill's popular fiction program--

-- very enticing.

But also, not enticing.

Because in two years after graduation, I need to be searching for a job. And a job requires some training. And writing ability is differently measured when your background is in (Emile) Zola than zombies.

And while the program would be great if I planned to go full-time, I don't have the confidence to take that (very real, very big) financial risk.

However, at the Pennwriter's Conference I went to earlier this year, I sat in on Maria V. Snyder's workshop. She mentioned that she went back to school (at Seton Hill) after she was both full time and published several times. And that she benefited just as much from that order of doing things because she was approaching it with a different perspective and purpose. Which, I think, is pretty sage advice.

And something to keep in mind.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: Cat Power's cover of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie
What I want most: to find a downloadable version of THIS song. What IS it with iTunes lately?

Monday, September 20

Secret Mistress

Posted by Shelly Holder

So I have recently finished a completely empowering, you-go-girl, popular-fiction-is-not-a-crime kind of article. Here's the thing though-- with all my bravado, I still treat fiction as my secret mistress. It's the passion I get on the side while loyalty still remains with poetry.

The kind of fiction I write is not conclusive to the contests on literary magazines that I would submit my poetry to. My poetry is much more high-brow than my fiction (well, mostly). Still, that doesn't mean I lack ambition for my fiction. I do want to have it published, and I do want people to read it-- it's just stepping out a little and admitting to both at the same time. Especially in professional (day job) settings.
           *Yes, I write about pretty flowers and zombies.*

I cringe a little when I think about turning in my resume or showing up to a job interview. How do you make popular fiction credible to the literary (slash and/or snooty) crowd? When you live in (and for) academia, what strategies of reconciliation can you use to balance both sides (of yourself)? And how do you advocate something that (even) you (yourself) are ashamed of?

I don't like this trait. But I'm also not sure what to do about it.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "It's Not Alright ft. Sinima" by Iras
What I want most: to find a downloadable version of this song. Stupid iTunes.

Friday, September 17

Life Outside the Ivory Tower

Posted by Shelly Holder

After a morning full of a series of depressing articles: "So You Wanna Go to Grad School?" "Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go" and "Deprogramming from the Academic Program" my motivation is low and my confusion is high. Not about grad school, per se -- I'm pretty convinced that even if I learn nothing in an MFA program (and that's highly unlikely) the two years of concentrated output is a visible benefit.  Plus, any program comes with exposure to new authors/works and networking with professors and other students. So, an MFA is a 99% likelihood. 

However, these articles tap into the approaching reality of post-grad life. What kind of job can a creative writer find? Is it truly possible to support yourself financially as a full time freelancer? Is there even freelance work for someone not interested in non-fiction/journalism? How much writing do you truly do with a 9 to 5 job? Is it possible to find a compatible lifestyle balancing writing and "reality"?

There are no answers. Google did have somewhat encouraging search results for "writing jobs"- grant writers and business writers most numerous, but from companies I didn't expect and could be more enthused about than I expected. Still, it's a scary scary world out there, and I don't deal well with uncertainty. I work better having defined steps to achieve a goal, and while finishing my undergrad and then grad school takes care of the next four-ish years, I would still like some article out there to say "Hey look! Do this, and you become qualified for 'reality'!" 

Of course, that's the wet dream of every humanities major, so this is nothing new. 

So, to counter the depression, a return back to what I know. Writing. And a little offering of humor. 

Devin Galaudet's The Creative Writer’s Bill of Rights (or The Creative Bill of Writes)

1. The artist can turn off all filters and say anything about any subject, at any time, for any reason.
2. No subject matter, no how uncomfortable or offensive to self or others, is off limits
3. No single word: expletive or other no-no should be avoided due to political correctness or fear. If the word is appropriate in the context of the writing, it should stay. *
4. Any random thought should be written down by the writer, especially when the writer’s internal voice says, you can’t say that!
5. No matter how perfect a writing is, it could be edited down further or expanded upon.
6. Sometimes a writer will have to kill his or her babies. This means some great ideas/lines/articles will have to be removed, taken out, destroyed, sacrificed or edited in order to make the writing better. It can be a painful process.
7. Making changes that others have suggested, after careful scrutiny, gives the writer more authority as a writer.
8. Ignoring changes that others have suggested, after careful scrutiny, gives the writer more authority as a writer.
9. Getting a big authentic reaction is good – whether the reader liked the writing or not. Big reactions like “You suck,” is not a good reason to rewrite.
10. Taking a risk is a good thing.
11. Making a difference takes risk.
* Writing for shock value: using words and topics to offend for the sake of being offensive, is not creative. It is divisive and outside the scope of this sacred document — where is good parchment when you need it?

Write Now: 
What I'm listening to: The news (It's hurting my ears)
What I want most: chocolate, and good wine, and a hug

Thursday, September 16

Is It Over Yet?

Posted by Shelly Holder

So I have a question for you today: Is it worth reading bad books to know what NOT to do, or should one give up before brain cells die?

I started a book today. By the inside jacket blurb, I knew I was in for some far-fetched and convoluted plot "twists." By page 74, I knew I didn't like it. By page 140, I knew if I skimmed the rest of the book, I wouldn't have missed anything. Yet here I am, impossibly at page 294, still reading, still hating it, and still convinced that I should finish the da*m thing. Because 100 pages of "climax" and "conclusion" might teach me something about how to write CLIMAX! and CONCLUSION!


So, do you believe there's worth in a bad book, if not for the reader then for the writer? Or do you think that only good literature teaches us? What has been your experience in this area?

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: The Paternal Voice's horrible semblance of music
What I want most: to finish this stupid book

See? It Really IS for the Articles

Posted by Shelly Holder

Today I sat for a good chunk of time in the nail salon waiting for The Maternal Figure to finish up her manicure, and had the opportunity to devour a recent issue of Vogue (I love the wide variety of articles in the magazine-- not just fashion but many diverse personal narratives and lifestyle features). An interview with model Karen Elson on her recent music album release yielded a surprising breakthrough for my current writing slump. It read:
        The early songs I wrote were very self-indulgent,” [Elson] says. “Real woe-is-me. But living in Nashville, the songwriters I like here, they all manage to find a narrative; they use metaphors and stories to explain what they're feeling.” She rolls her eyes. “I don't need to show everybody my diary.

Yes, yes, I thought, this is my problem. My writing is a circle about this big (two curved fingers) because I write directly about myself and my feelings. I have mastered that. Now I need to make my circle this big (two curved hands) by using what I feel to write about everybody else. And knowing how to do so (metaphor, analogy) technically is not as important as knowing how to make the connection in the first place. I'm missing that first link. I'm missing a narrative.

How to make this jump is the troubling aspect that I've been wrestling with over the past several months. I'm not sure how to break through the barrier-- in my darker moments, I feel that this should be an inherent ability, and that I should just give up writing entirely.

But I have innate stubbornness, if not innate genius, and I am persistently pursuing ways to cheat my way over the wall, so I don't have to break through it.  Hence, the summer writing program (which unfortunately didn't work out) and the rekindled interest in "classical" poetry (see yesterday's post). Add a few literary journals in, and maybe the occasional self-help article, and hopefully this becomes the brew to spell me back into meaningful conceptions. Until then, it's just plugging along-- and finding the occasional fashion magazine with the helpful writing tip.

What do you do to make your work relevant in a larger sense? Do you focus on this consciously? Is it the words, or the themes that drive your pieces?

Tuesday, September 14

Adult Females Restrain From Emotion

Posted by Shelly Holder

aka, big girls don't cry.

aka, big girls read classic poetry.

aka, Shelly pulled up her big girl pannies and went to Barnes and Nobles to buy big girl poetry. Namely, Emily Dickinson, Slyvia Plath, and Langsten Hughes.

I figured it was time to stop salivating over Wislawa Szymborska and go read some other people. Okay, I'll never stop drooling over "Nothing Twice" or "Could Have" or any of my other favorites. But I should expand so that I won't be writing in imitation of Szymborska for the rest of my life, which is of course what I am doing now. Not in the good, healthy, learning way either.

Maybe that's why my poetry is so bad. It's not me and it's not her. It's somewhere in between, and somewhere in between is a lost, frigid, desolate, unpublished sort of place. Heh.

Anyways, I have worked through the scholarly introduction to Dickinson, and the first few pages. I haven't yet touched the others, out of a misguided need to finish the entire Dickinson collected works before moving on to the next poet. Which will keep me poetically ignorant until the end of doomsday. *Note to Self: Ignore AR tendencies, amp up rational diversification*

I take it as a good thing that I have at least bought the books. It's a 12 step program:

1) Think of the books
2) Think of the books in connection with the thought of buying them
3) Go to the bookstore and forget to buy the books
4) buy the books
5) put books on bookshelf
6) take books down, move to couch, forget, reshelve
7) repeat
8) open cover
9) read intro
10) re-read intro
11) read first chapter
12) re-read first chapter through to the end chapter

Yep, yep. That's how it goes. For pretty much any real book of hefty worth and weight. Especially my textbooks. I mean, recommended reading. No, I mean extra research, I mean..... damn. Daddy don't read this part, 'kay?

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: ABBA "Winner Takes It All"
What I want most: schleeeeeeeeeeep!

Friday, August 20

Tasty Little Bites

Posted by Shelly Holder

Mmmm, progress. It happens in tasty little bites, and you don't notice until you're full how much has been accomplished (eaten?).

I think this week has been a series of those Little Hostess mini muffins-- the blueberry kind in a lunchbox size pack. There's the surprise of the blueberry tartness, and the base note of the cakey sweetness, and overall fluffiness.

For one, my poem "Subconscious Answer" has been scheduled for publication October 19th on Yay! I have finally finished with revisions, and the editors and I are all happy. It's very different from how I initially conceptualized, but I think in the end that's a good thing.

Also, I added about 400 words to my first chapter. Not much, but considering I doubled the original (and total) word count, . . . . . haha.

And there were a few poems somewhere.

So it's little bites. Getting somewhere.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: TV..... not even sure what
What I want most: Venom by Jennifer Estep!!

Thursday, August 12


Posted by Shelly Holder

I had an Epiphany of the Week, but I've been sidling up to this idea for months now, so in all reality it's not that shocking.

I hate my published work.

Which is a horrible, terrible, awful thing to say on my professional blog about my work, to publicize my work to potential readers and publishers. Really, it's asinine to say such a thing.

Still the truth though.

I'm not sure if the emotion is based on the hours and hours of creation, and the hours and hours of revision that went into the completion of each piece. It might be just a case of "familiarity breeds contempt." I've no doubt it's an element.

But I also know that the pieces I'm most proud of are still sitting on my desktop after multiple rejections. Then I remember that not many days ago I wrote how my poem "A Writer's Apology" was the published piece I'm most proud of. Then I notice the subconscious qualifier of published. And finally I get fed up with myself for not being happy with myself along with the simultaneous acknowledgment of ambition and the desire to be the best at my passion. None of these thoughts should be cringe-worthy, but the tangle in my head would like to contradict.

I have flashes of content- a title, a new technique, an example of word choice.  I would never say I'm ashamed of my pieces. I've worked too hard for that. I'm glad of what I've achieved, and I wouldn't change anything. Still, I have a nagging sense of ... disappointment? discouragement? distrust? And the feeling persists until I push it all away with disgust.

I have the suspicion that I'm better at fiction, and only write poetry because I know the ending is only within a few more lines.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Sara Jackson Holman "Cellophane"
What I want most: faster internet... all these downloads are killing my reaction time

Wednesday, August 11


Posted by Shelly Holder

Oh noes! I got dissed on public webspace, so now I'm goaded into pulling out the big guns. Be ready, o' friend my friend. This writer is about to deliver a novel reading experience. I shall not suffer in silence!

The aforementioned friend and heinous slanderer found this meme on the internet, and thought to issue a fun challenge: Answer the following questions. (I bet now she wishes she didn't heh heh heh)

-Why do you write?
-What is your idea of success?
-What do you spend enormous amounts of energy on? Why?
-Who / what has influenced you?
-What belief do you hold most dear? What does your faith consist of? What do you refuse to believe?
-If you could interview anyone, living or dead, fictional or real, whom would you choose and why?
-Travel in your mind to a different time and describe what you find.
-What would you do if you had no expectations or duties to fulfill?
-What would you like to do or see before you die?
-What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
-What would you change about yourself?
-What has been hardest for you to forgive?
-What are your favorites? (Books, movie moments, plays, pieces of music, paintings, foods, holidays, animals, names, sports, activities, places, etc.)
-What qualities do you most admire in people? What qualities do you despise?
-Describe your ideal mate.
-What used to be important to you and now isn't? What didn't used to be important to you but is now?

Not all of these necessarily apply to writing, but I'm sure I'll find a way.

Why I Write

Every author is asked this question. Every author attempts an answer. And every author walks away a little uneasy, wondering if he got it right, or chose the right word to explain something he doesn't truly know himself. And the next time they are asked, the make it just one sentence clearer, one sentiment more understood, both to the audience and themselves. It's only the series of questions, the constant repetition, that's worth anything. So each time, we get up, and answer again.

On the other hand, there's a great instinct for the direction the drive blows in from.

If I may, I'll go off in a brief but relevant tangent.

I've been thinking lately a lot about the role that popular fiction plays in the psyche.  There has long been the claim that only "high literature" has any sort of profound influence on the mind, and that anything meant for the mass market is mere mind fluff. As I spend more and more time reading through the best sellers and blockbusters, I realize that this is absolutely NOT TRUE. Sometimes, the most resonating book is the very mental candy that is so despised by "literary" circles. Iris Johansen's Deadlock seemed to be a very accurate and moving depiction of post-traumatic stress disorder. The healing process that the main character goes through paralleled some of my own experiences in coping, and I not only indentified, but completed one more step in my personal progress. Somehow, as well-written as they might be, I doubt that reading Moby Dick or Great Expectations would have done the same. (*Disclaimer: I have no doubt that in a different situation, for a different person, the results might be reversed, but my focus is on stereotypes and expectations in the publishing world.)

I'm not saying that the author has to have this outcome in mind, but like Lilith Saintcrow can take pride in their "hack" status. Rather, I would argue that every hack has the unlimited potential to create a work both meaningful and influential. Indeed, might even have a greater likelihood because the result is unintentional.

So I write, crudely and merely in essence, to provide others with the same healing in words that I have found. Whether in serious or silly works, with set or unknown intent, I want to be the author that solves a few problems, and gets a few laughs along the way. I cannot think of anything better or more glorious than that. 

Right Now: 
What I'm listening to: Ranetki "O Tebe"
What I want most: some dedicated writing time- and go!  

Wednesday, July 28

The Motivation Factor: Accomplishment

Posted by Shelly Holder

I was going to make this a quick appearance, to announce that my poem "A Writer's Apology" is published today at but I've realized that such a brief note isn't satisfying to me. Trying to analyze why, I believe that it's because I have done so much in the past two days, the momentum won't let me skip out in laziness. So.

I think "A Writer's Apology" might be one of the most mature of my published works. I feel that I am developing the spare, lyric style that poetry celebrates, but with the technical details of punctuation (especially hyphens) that I wish to represent my voice. Of course, I have a long way to go. But this poem gives me hope.

She got edited out of the title, but this poem still is as it always was- for Michelle.

On to fun things. In the past two days I have:

-bought the home exercise machine I have obsessed over for two years. It's this awesome leg machine for the inside and outside thighs, and it's killing me. Conversely, I heart it.

-started my jewelry up again, and bought the books on metal working that I wanted. And am settling on a title for my small business license. Wholesale, baby!

-bought out of print Sherwood Smith books on Amazon. They may make some sh*tty business decisions that piss me off (see AmazonFail), but I admit I like the interface of the Kindle better than the Nook, and the secondhand sellers seem reliable. Hence, out of print Sherwood Smith at $9 and $10 instead of $25 and $32. Yeah, exactly.

- have bought entirely too many other books to qualify for free shipping, and have gorged myself on Kindle. Two forms of reading, twice as many deductions from my account. *rulerhandsmack*

-have discovered some fun new artists through various means, including the lovely single "Jar of Hearts" from Christina Perri, Tristan Prettyman, and The Pierces. And I have added to my collection of Zero 7, Moby, and ABBA (what can I say, I have eclectic tastes.) Yum, music.

-reread some old friends squirreled away here at Ye Olde Childehood Homestead. It's good to be home for the summer.

-gorged myself on Hollywood gossip. (I have this thing for Angelina Jolie. It's stupid, it's probably only half-true, and I buy the magazines anyways. Anyone notice that three or so this month have her on the cover? Fascinating. . .)

-finally got myself back into the business of submitting poems. I write, fairly consistently, but submitting is the real true talent behind it all. Trust me. Understanding the market is hard.

-ate entirely too much. Which leads me back to the beginning, and my super-duper awesome cellulite blasting leg torture device. Because I may be twenty-one, but this writer lifestyle has done nothing for me. The grass has withered, my friends, the grass has withered. Another side effect of living in the desert.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: The Pierces "The Secret" (I love the cheerful French style accordian melody against the morbid lyrics)
What I want most: Mmmmm, still the release of Jennifer Estep's Venom. But the whole month of September is rather wonderful for my in terms of new books.

Tuesday, July 6

Southern Vortex

Posted by Shelly Holder

I thought to inform you all of one of the reasons I have not been posting much lately. See, there's this new author I just discovered, and well . . . I might (just might, mind) have disappeared to read (and re-read, and then re-read again) her books. At last count, I think I might have been up to 4 complete read-throughs. And there are two books in the series.

Yes, I know. No, you don't need to point out how obsessive I am. Yes, I am aware it's not normal behavior. No, I don't need a shrink. Thank you, I'm fine.

I call it research. Friends and family cry bullsh*t. But the series is really good, and has a main character- Gin Blanco- that really appeals to me, in the same way Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels appeals. What can I say- an assassin with a love for cooking really hits all my soft spots.

Because the description from Jennifer Estep's website outmatches anything I could write about the books, I'll just leave you with this:

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spi­der. I’m the most feared assas­sin in the South—when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cook­ing up the best bar­be­cue in Ash­land. As a Stone ele­men­tal, I can hear every­thing from the whis­pers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibra­tions of the soar­ing Appalachian Moun­tains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for mak­ing the occa­sional knife. But I don’t use my pow­ers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it pro­fes­sional pride.

Now that a ruth­less Air ele­men­tal has double-crossed me and killed my han­dler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exter­mi­nate any­one who gets in my way—good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trou­ble, since irre­sistibly rugged Detec­tive Dono­van Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this cold­hearted killer needs when I’m bat­tling a magic more pow­er­ful than my own is a dis­trac­tion … espe­cially when Dono­van wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

Oh, yeah. *shiver*

I won't post the blurb for the 2nd book, because it gives away a few spoilers, but I promise- if you read the first, you WILL read the second. heheheh.

I CANNOT wait until Sept 28th when the 3rd in the series (Venom) comes out. *eyes calender maliciously*

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: Shuffle on iTunes has popped up with ... "Bendicion" by Zeri. I dunno how I got that. Or where. Is this Spanish? Hmmmmm.
What I want: Venom. Definitely Venom. Le sigh.

Author Relations

Posted by Shelly Holder

Say that you and Author X have a small but significant relationship (to you) where you've email back and forth a few times, did the whole comments on the blog thing, might even have meet at a signing or conference, and you want to take it one step further. You might have the time for it, but do they? And do they, fiercesome god/goddess of words divine,  really want to have an actual friendship, or are you just the lowly pion that is overstepping boundaries?

This question has been bothering me for some time. When authors turn into people, and not just the hands that touch the keyboard, for their readers, that's great. But the author is looking out at a vast, faceless crowd. So, how do you show that 1) the interest is real, and 2) not connected to books in the total omg fangirl sense.

I have no answers. But do you have (I don't want to say strategies because that sounds so . . . clinical) ideas for a polite, political, and non-invasive approach? Comment please!

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing. I am getting boring in my old age.
What I want most: There's this ice cream flavor that I can't remember the name of but tasted EXACTLY like a White Russian. . .

Monday, July 5

Synonyms Can Suck My Saki Pot

Posted by Shelly Holder

It's the author's dread nightmare. Rushing along, fully engaged in the plot, and then you lose the word you are looking for. You know the words around it. You know the words similar to it. But you don't have that word, and it derails the Muse train completely.

Alternative reoccurring nightmare.  Same scenario: rushing along, happy on the flat plained railroad track of plot lines. Suddenly, you look up, and you've used the same word in two back-to-back sentences. Or even worse, in the exact same sentence. Then you scramble, trying to find a similar word. Which context needs the original, and which context can you sub in the benched player? Does it work like you first imagined, or does it go somewhere different now? Is it better, or did it get a little more clich├ęd in here? And will somebody please fix that split infinitive!

Yep. Nightmares. This is why I say it again.

Synonyms can suck my saki pot. 

Write now: 
What I'm listening to: Nothing. Attempting to sleep soon. 
What I want most: New release Venom from Jennifer Estep --Sept 28th!

Thursday, June 24

Pouty Productivity

Posted by Shelly Holder

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?

I've had good mood days since the last post, but for some reason, it's today pouty mood that finally makes me productive. At least enough to make a quick stop.

Good news- I got the date from Everyday Poets when they are publishing the second poem that they accepted/bought. "A Writer's Apology" appears July 28th on the EP website. I'll put up another reminder when it gets closer to the actual date.

So I'm off to dive back into writing. I have a new pen and a new notebook to do justice to.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: National Geographic Channel
What I want most: to find a new ebook =)

Wednesday, June 2

Hotel Writer

Posted by Shelly Holder

I have come to the conclusion that I am in essence a hotel writer. I like to be utterly alone when I write. More than physically being solitary, but shut away in my own little bubble. Technically, if I had good enough focus and determination, I could conjure up this intensity bubble anywhere, and be able to write wherever I have my computer. For a while, I thought I was that kind of person-- able to shut others out no matter what and write.

I'm not.

I have been staying at Ye Olde Farme Homestead with Grandfather the Patriarch, the Maternal Figure, and The Rest of the Family/Clan/Mafia and I have not written a thing.

Not that I can't-- I have the ideas. Not that I'm unable to-- I have the Mac-nomer lappy, internet (clearly), and the sentences floating behind my eyeballs. But I have the bedroom and the kitchen table. Both of which are public enough spaces that if I sit to write, someone will look over. Someone will look over, and ask a question. Someone will ask a question,

(*pause for prime ironic example #1-- being asked to set the table*)

and a question will require explanation. Explanation leads to a second question, and the cringe-inducing need to explain not only the second question, but explain away the somewhat badly concealed disbelief in their eyes. "You're writing about what?"

Honestly, (and this is a trend in all my writing) I'd rather just present them with a completed manuscript rather than explaining the complicated creative convulsions in my head.

So public areas with strangers-- good. Public areas with people I know-- bad. It's more than the interruptions, it the almost circus freak in a side-show stares than get me every time.

So I am a hotel writer. Something about being able to blockade myself from all distractions --physical, emotional, mental, familial--works with the way I work. I probably would have made a very good monk if I switched a couple of generations and genders.

In the end, I am attempting to create my own hotel room. Here, in the middle of the kitchen, with people looking over my shoulder, the smell of lunch in the air, and very space for the circumference of me-bubble. Limited to . . . well, me. (And perhaps the chair I sit in) The new earphones I got on Recent Excursion #2 with MlleDiabolique to the Duke Lifelines poetry conference have this amazing suction-like ability to shut out noise (it sounds like I'm underwater). I'm looking for good writer-y music. Any suggestions? I currently have quirky/folksy covered with Lenka-esque band Au Revoir Simone. Got any other mood music?

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "Dark Halls" by Au Revoir Simone
What I want most: an office, all for teh writing

Tuesday, June 1

She's a Working Writer!!

Posted by Shelly Holder

It's official! I'm a working poet!

Today my poem "Spring is Here" was published by e-zine Everyday Poets, and I am so excited! Mostly because this signals the true launch of my career in writing...

I got paid.

I am a working writer!!!

Everyday Poets has a philosophy that if you write it, you worked hard, therefore you should get paid for it (but with the catch that it'll only be a nominal fee). So therefore, I have the largess of a dollar. (lol)

But do I care? No. I do not care. I absolutely do not care. In fact, I absolutely adore my dollar paycheck. If I didn't get paid electronically, I would frame said dollar. It's my first from writing and I love it.

Now, I'm off to watch the polls and the comments section, then to curl myself into a ball of misery when the reviews come back bad, gorging myself on coffee and chocolate. At least I have a new book released today that I'm super excited about-- it's ebook format too, which means I can have it in five, four, three, two...


Write Now:
What I'm listening to: country kitchen sounds
What I want most: book, or good reviews? book, or good reviews? hmmmmmmm.

Monday, May 31

Filler Tidbits

Posted by Shelly Holder

I am rather behind mentally on the whole blogging deal. I owe so many, have so many back-scheduled, and yet there is nothing. Nothing. 

Therefore, filler tidbits.

1. The strangest thing I've ever eaten was Romanian rooster gelatin. With a drumstick floating in the middle. Tasted like congealed Top Ramen jello.
2. My best friends are wonderful, and make my life truly special. I am so lucky and blessed.
3. If I could live in a different era I wouldn't. The advantages I have here-- specifically advanced medical care-- are what keep me alive. I would literally be dead in another century. So no, I wouldn't. Not even hypothetically.
4. If you only know one thing about me it should be ... er? I'm proud of my writing? (*eck, this is hard!*)
5. My favorite book of all time is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
6. The one beauty product I cannot live without is chapstick. Everything else I usually can do without. Emphasize on the "can" however. Does not mean I "do."
7. Blogging is wonderful, hands down. I adore it.
8. If I could star in a movie with one actor/actress, it would be Denzel Washington. I love him in The Bone Collector with Angelina Jolie.
9. One of the best feelings in the world is peace/contentment/stillness.
10. My current obsession is (*actually, what's NOT an obsession with me?*)
11. What's for dinner tonight? Chicken fried steak with gravy and french fries. Oh lawdy, I'm in the South.
12. The last thing I bought was a graduation present for a close friend. (*not to sound priggishly goodie-too-shoes in a public arena however*)
13. I am currently listening to nothing. The fan overhead. Crickets. Dogs barking. Going to bed household sounds.  
14. If I could have a home, totally paid for, totally furnished anywhere in the world, it would be in I'm not sure. There are so many places I haven't been yet, I would hate to limit myself. But as of this moment, Spain. Around Grenada.
15. The one thing I would change about myself is probably superficial, like my weight. But otherwise, nothing. I may not like certain things about myself, but I would not change them.
16. If you could go anywhere in the world in the next hour, where would you go? St. Petersburg, Russia.
17. The languages I would love to learn are you mean after I perfect my French? (*bwhahahahaha*) Um, Hindi, Farsi, Russian, and Spanish.
18. My favorite quote is: “What's the world come to, when the paper tells the pen what to do?"  from Lope de Vega's (the Spanish Shakespeare) Fuentaovejuna (the sad thing is, I saw the play performed live before I ever read it, and when I read it, I couldn't find this line. I don't know if I made it up, or if the actors took liberties, or the translation I bought just did a bad job... but I never did find that quote)
19. I am most afraid of dying before I ever do anything.
20. My favorite colour is charcoal gray
21. My dream job is to be a writer. Duh. =)
22. The one thing that brings a smile to my face instantaneously is a child's laughter.
23. The one word I use a lot is "like". And I hate it.
24. When I'm feeling blue I will read a book, curled in the fetal position, with blankets and possibly coffee/tea.
25. What inspires me is persistence.
26. My favorite season is definitely autumn. The best of everything-- rainy and windy without being unbearably cold, with scarves and cardigans and hot drinks and swirling leaves and muted, fading brillance.
27. My favorite dessert chocolate dipped strawberries.
28. How many tabs are open on your browser right now? 3: This window, Facebook, one "untitled" (I got distracted midway)
29. What was the first thought that crossed your mind this morning when you looked in the mirror? Girl, your roots! Fix that shiz.
30. The best piece of advice I was ever given was you can be anything you decide to be.
31. If I had a millions dollars to give to one charity, I would give it to Ronald MacDonald House, to set up a branch in a new city.
32. If at first you don't succeed you're just like everyone else. The norm, not the exception. So try it again. And don't be surprised if it's the fourth or fortieth time that pays off.

EDIT #1: I would actually change my mind about my favorite quote, to a line from the film adaption of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park with Jonny Lee Miller at the ball scene where his character says "There are as many different forms of love, as there are moments in time." It runs through my head more constantly than the de Vega quote.

EDIT #2: These questions came from dear friend MlleDiabolique's blog

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: country night sounds
What I want most: I have a couple books in mind... (*grin!*)

Monday, May 24

The Bane of My Travel

Posted by Shelly Holder

I've become resigned. It's no longer frustrating, no longer amusing, just another fact of life.

I have the worst luck in travel.*

Don't believe me? Here's evidence. And here. And I suspect that there are more in the archives, but I am lacking the motivation to troll through them all. (Feel free yourself, though.)

Anyways, I am stuck in another airport. More cancellations, more delays, a couple of missed connections... yeah, it's all here.

BUT-- I am going to Portland. To the book signing. The weather is predicted to be rainy and cold, and I have scarf and boots in preparation. I have artsy jewelry. I have brightly colored clothing. I have ... dammit, I don't have my book, I packed in the checked bag! Grrrrrrrr. Well, I will have a torrid Gothic romantic mystery by Louisa May Alcott when I get to Portland. (*grumble, grumble*) I will have a spiffy hotel (I'm obsessed with Embassy Suites. Yay Embassy Suites!) And tomorrow, I will have the newest Kate Daniels. Cosigned by the authors.

So, not thinking about the stupidity of air travel, thinking about the amazing two-day literary excursion in store.

Oh, they're calling me. Fascinating. Well, off to board the little silver sausage tube they call a plane. See you on the other coast!

*Correction: Air travel. I have the worst luck in air travel. Luckily, my car loves me.

Write Now:
What I'm listening to: "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train on the airport speakers.
What I want most: Some food. Real food, not airport stuff. To be in Portland. To escape the airport.

Wednesday, May 19

It's the Benefit I Wasn't Expecting

Posted by Shelly Holder

Moving into my new apartment has really improved my writing. It's fascinating how the little things have helped me out. Like, having unobstructed wall space.

(It's an mass-plosion of plotting Post-its.)

And having my own desk. Technically, I've had one for my whole college career, but actually building my own desk--

(from this)

(to this)

-- has somehow made me really excited about plopping my rear-end down for hours of writing.

Of course, hours of writing turns into surfing the net, reading my many books in the to-get-to pile, and other neglected objects d' interest.

However, not tonight. Tonight I have paint fume headache, and am going happily off into TV land to rest my aching mind.

CSI here I come.

Write now:
What I'm listening: About to plug in to the dulcet tones of Gil Grissom
What I want most: this headache to go away. The Tylenol to kick in. And the peace to be restored. 

Sunday, May 16

Conference Weekend Special!: The End is Nigh

Posted by Shelly Holder

The first day I was a skittish, chapped lip mess.

The second day I spent entirely turned to the right, presenting only my profile to the speakers, even if I asked a question, because I went swimming the night before and had a clogged left ear I couldn't hear out of.

By the third day, I had caffeine overdose headaches (I HATE 8 am mornings, and this was my sixth in a row) and spent the entire class hour playing the 30 second Bejeweled demo on my phone over and over again on because I was just. that. damn. desperate. (pencil-cum-stylus in one hand and one hand clutching the handle of a coffee cup).

I love conferences, but I love leaving conference just as much. What starts out as an adventure buoyed by spastic adrenaline degenerates into the stupid-stubborn persistence of a wild-eyed animal backed into a corner-- twitching, growling, trembling, bristling, and rolling eyes with the whites showing.

Information overload is dangerous. Being brain-fried can be hazardous to others. General surgeon's warning: Avoid writers at closing ceremonies. They bite.

Now, I need time to process.

And get that finger away from me! If you don't, I'll...

*chomp, chomp, chomp*

(blink, blink) Whoops.

Write now:
What I'm listening to: Ouran High School Host Club anime (it's research. no, really, it's research)
What I want most: to got to bed. It's 8 pm. I'm pathetic.

Saturday, May 15

Conference Weekend Special!: Am I Elitist, Or Am I Elitist?

Posted by Shelly Holder

I admit it-- I'm an elitist misanthrope. And nothing makes me hiss and spit with ruffled fur faster than other writers.

I'm not sure why writers as a particular breed can drive me crazier than a young kid on caffeine (with a puppy), but every conference I realize this.

Disclaimer: Writers are fascinating individuals, but get hundreds of them in limited square footage and those intriguing quirks turn into rage-inducing tics.

I both love and hate writer's conferences.

I'm the kind of girl who hugs that shadows in the back corner of the presentation room, claiming the same seat panel after panel. I listen, take notes, and write. I'm not particularly interested in promoting myself, and only somewhat in talking to people. I'm really bad at talking to people. Two or three will stand out, and I will consider approaching them. Maybe. If the right opportunity comes. If they are alone and bored, and if they casually catch my eye and seem willing to chat.

I'm not particularly shy, I just think that sometimes

I'm totally shy, in the sense that I don't like putting myself out there. I'm more reserved than inhibited, but either way, it means that I'm pretty quiet. I will talk to people, it's just hard to do.

I asked for the business card of one of the panel presenters today. This is a. big. concession. I also asked a question in a Q&A, talked to an editor at breakfast, exchanged business cards with another Y.A. writer, talked throughout the entire luncheon with both an older gentleman and an alum from my college, and asked questions after two classes.

Whew. So I have come out of today with two/three people to email and try keep in touch with. Eep!! o_0

However, insightful self-reflection can't erase my elitist tendencies.

I mean, people, you're writers. You CAN'T possibly think that you pronounce it JOHN-ruh. Genre, people, genre.

*snort* Writers. You love to hate them.

Write now:
What I'm listening to: Cell in the Sea by A Fine Frenzy
What I want most: an agent. lol.