Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

2022: Too late for setting goals?

Am I the only one who feels like our world has changed -- and keeps right on changing? If I'm trying to set goals for 2022 (see below for my best efforts), why does it seem like I should only plan in 6-month increments? That the very floor beneath my feet may just shift again?

Will this be the year when we can meet with others without worrying about masks, vaccines, and boosters? My research for my current writing project takes me to the 1840s when many people didn't have jobs or homes or enough to eat. So I am grateful even as I know others face down these challenges still, every day.

With hope and commitment, here are my goals for 2022:

Writing. Finish Scattered Stones (final revisions now underway!). Begin research for book 2 in the art crimes series. Write 2-4 short stories. Write weekly in my blog, including a monthly Author Interview. Participate in two wonderful writing communities: the Insecure Writer's Support Group and A Round of Words in 80 Days. Meet locally with my small writer's group when possible. Write a poem a day for April's National Poetry Challenge. Work on that slow-growing family history (with photos). Evaluate progress monthly.

Marketing. Develop a feasible plan I can follow consistently to build connections with readers and build my audience. Evaluate monthly.

Quilting. Finish at least 6 comfort quilts by year end. Finish two quilts (nearly done) for my grandkids. Begin creating Jason Yenter's beautiful quilt, Enchanted Garden. Maybe restore my grandmother's quilt (see right) that she sewed in the 1950s and that I rescued from a very sweet German shepherd.

And that's all, folks. A simple list that will keep me busy! How about you? What are your goals for 2022? Yes, I'm taking names for future Author Interviews if you are interested. And, if you'd like an ARC (advance review copy) of Scattered Stones, please let me know. Just drop me an e-mail.

Meanwhile, may we all have a very good 2022!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Author Interview: Shannon Alexander

Have you experienced the thrill of creating a short story?

This month’s Author Interview brings a special delight: Shannon Alexander talks about her love of short story writing – and what led her to write her new book, The Business of Writing Short Stories, a step-by-step guide that takes us through the entire process of writing, submitting, publishing, and marketing.

My own writing career began with a short story, so Shannon’s comments resonate with me – and I think they will inspire you!

Shannon, what led you to write The Business of Short Stories?

I've spent years watching writers think they have one path to success. A single journey: novels. That's simply not true. Yet I see a lot of curiosity about short stories. When I do a workshop, there's always a good showing. That means people want to try it out, to dabble, to learn. And I love talking about short stories and encouraging others to write them and to experiment with something different. A lot of people equate something like a chapter of a novel to being a short story, which also isn't true. In fact, I've seen that repeatedly when judging the short story category of writing contests. People send in a chapter of their novel and think they've submitted a short story. Those are two completely different things, and no one is fooling a judge with a chapter.

I want people to play in the sandbox with me. I want them to learn and see how wonderful the short story world can be. It's addictive in a way, the ups and downs. It moves significantly faster than the novel world, so there are more disappointments, but also more triumphs. Each publication is a world all its own, with a new experience for each story. It's fascinating, it's fast paced (comparatively), and it's worth trying out.

But I also wanted to write my book so people could get to the meatier parts a little earlier without having to learn everything on their own. Maybe others can have a quicker path than I did. Maybe others can make fewer mistakes. That, right there, is worth it. It can be hard to find short story resources, especially when compared to the sheer volume of aids for novel writers. I wanted to remedy that.

Most writers I know struggle to find a balance between writing and those three key areas your book covers -- submitting, publishing, and marketing. It's pretty easy for writers (especially beginning writers) to be intimidated and/or overwhelmed by identifying and choosing the next best step in any of these categories. What do you recommend writers should start with -- and why?

The writing is always going to be the most important part. If someone isn't writing, there's nothing to submit, nothing to publish, and nothing to market. We're creatives. We're meant to create, and that's where we soar. But in many ways, that's the part that comes easiest to us. Which is why my focus in the book is less on writing the story and more on everything that follows. My hope is that this allows writers to do their own thing with their writing and to then have a guide for how to submit, what matters about publishing, and how to market – as a bit of a shortcut. After all, the writing is the truly individual part, what each writer has to be true to. 

If you write when you're inspired (or when you're able), you're going to get words on paper. It doesn't matter how fast or slow you are. You go at your own pace. You should never compare that to someone else. As you're getting those words down and finishing those stories, you can set aside a block of time, preferably when you're not feeling the pull to write, to do all the other things. I can be doing other things when I'm submitting and marketing, but not so much while I'm writing. So I save my submitting and marketing efforts for when I'm relaxing in front of the TV. Others set aside a specific day of the week or a particular portion of the month. Each person has to figure out what breakdown works best for them, but for me, if I'm not writing when I have the urge to do it, it's going to stymie anything else I try to do instead, because I won't be invested in it, and my mind will be drifting back to what I want to write.

Short version: writers write. And then we muddle through the rest of it when we're able. Just like an artist putting paint on a canvas, there's more to do when the paint dries. We're not happy about having to do it, but as long as we fit it in around the edges, we can make a go of it. Whether that means playing it by ear and doing the other things when a chance presents itself or scheduling blocks of time, it does need to be done, but it can't take the focus away from the writing.

Thank you, Shannon, for talking with us today. Your comments make me want to start short story writing – as soon as I finish revisions on my latest novel, Scattered Stones, scheduled to be completed later this spring!

If you found Shannon’s discussion inspirational, you can preorder her e-book now.  Here are the details:

The Business of Short Stories: Writing, Submitting, Publishing, and Marketing by Shannon Lawrence.

ISBN: 978-1-7320314-5-6  Release Date: February 1, 2022

Book Description: Whether you're looking to add short stories to your repertoire as a solo pursuit or in addition to novel writing, The Business of Short Stories covers every aspect from writing to marketing. Learn the dynamics of short story writing, where to focus your editing efforts, how and where to submit, how to handle acceptances and rejections, what to do with reprints, and how to market yourself and your stories online and in person. 

The information in The Business of Short Stories has been distilled from over a decade of short story publishing experience so you don't have to learn the hard way. You'll find information on submission formatting, cover letters, querying a collection, sending proposals to writing events, how to create a website, SEO, social media, and so much more. This is an invaluable resource for short story writers. There's never been a better time to get into short stories!

About the Author: Shannon Lawrence has made a career of short stories, with over a decade of experience and more than fifty short stories published in magazines and anthologies. In addition, she's released three horror short story collections with a mix of new and previously published stories. Her true crime podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem is going into its third season.

Podcast Website:

Please stop back by on Shannon’s launch date, February 1, for part 2 of her author interview, a more personal look at how she came to write short stories!

And thank you for reading Shannon’s interview. Have you written short stories. How was that experience for you?

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

IWSG: Ah, regrets . . . I have not these . . .

Today, or should I say tonight, is the first Wednesday of 2022. What a world of promise in this new year ahead. Don't we all hope for an end to Covid-related drama?

Today is also Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) day. Here is our opportunity -- as writers -- to share our thoughts, struggles, and dreams, perhaps to encourage ourselves as much as we wish to encourage others!

Now for this month's question from IWSG: What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

Thanks for the easy question this month, IWSG! 

Even as a teenager, I wrote. Poetry. Stories. For a very long time, my biggest regret was that I didn't start writing seriously sooner. Becoming a writer always seemed just a little outside of what was possible. I dreamed of 'some day' instead. Worked my way through school. Became a teacher. Married my dear husband. Our daughter, her DH, and two grands came along to enrich our lives. 

And then I retired! Was that only 15 years ago? Almost immediately, I began to write those stories that once I only dreamed of. Writing led to research into the 19th Century, travel to Scotland (just a beginning), and more writing. Today, I feel enriched by the whole writing process -- and by connecting with readers and other writers. 

Maybe everything that came before led me to this: Nearly every morning begins with settling down at my computer and writing my stories. Another novel is nearly complete, and a new story (planning, researching, drafting level) awaits. Regrets? Truly, not a one. How about you?

Why not join in with a monthly blog post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group? You could answer this month's question, go visit 10-12 other folks (see the links HERE), and celebrate your own writing progress! Why not visit our co-hosts for this month: Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

As our Ninja leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh says, Let's rock the neurotic writing world!

 And May 2022 be very good to you.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Last of 2021 . . . almost!

Outside, it's 14F with snow flurries expected throughout the day. We're taking our granddaughter to see Encanto, a lovely way to almost end the year. And what a year it's been. Don't ask her about Covid. When she says Covid, it sounds like she's swearing! 

So, I'm sending Happy New Year wishes to you! 

Despite all, we have much to be thankful for. We're warm, safe in our little aparto, dinner is already made, and we're sharing stories from long ago, bundled up with good memories. Allen and I have been married nearly 47 years! What a miracle it seems now that we actually met. All because a friend I worked with needed a ride to the airport -- on a Friday night. At midnight. 

His roommate said whoever was nice enough to give Cap a ride, he'd treat that person to dinner. I guess he was expecting a guy because when I knocked on the door of their apartment, Allen nearly closed it in my face. We did have a lovely dinner at a small French restaurant. 

After we dropped Cap off at the airport, a moment came when we both tried to speak. Allen said, "You go first." I screwed up my courage and said, "Would you like to stop for a drink?" He laughed. "I was going to ask you the very same thing." The rest is history. When Cap came home, we were there to pick him up, and we were already a couple. And I'm thankful for so much, our daughter, and now son-in-law, and those grandkids!

Do you look back to a special day? I  hope so. 

May you be blessed with good family memories from the past, with  more to come in 2022!  

And, oops! I almost forgot. If you haven't picked up a copy of The Seventh Tapestry: An Art Crimes Mystery, why not do it before January 3rd? Wouldn't you like to be distracted just a little by a budding romance, a mysterious medieval tapestry that carries secrets, and a series of deaths no one seems to solve? Click HERE to take advantage of this free offer! 

Happy 2022 and happy reading!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

IWSG: Of Stress and Delights . . .

How did it get to be December so fast? This first Wednesday of the month (and every month) is Insecure Writer's Support Group day! Our group shares thoughts about struggles and concerns, offering support to writers everywhere by reading each others' posts and connecting. 

This month's IWSG question: In your writing, what stresses you the most, what delights you?

Ah, the IWSG gods gave us an easy question this month. Straight out, I get stressed when 1) I stop writing -- as if I believe the words will not ever leap from my keyboard again, and 2) when I can't see the next step -- whether its drafting or revising. Usually scaffolding helps me climb up out of that sense of emptiness. Usually.

And what delights me about my writing? How about that moment of insight, when something new appears. This can be something a character does, or when an unexpected scene develops. Or when I set a writing goal (yes, number of words), and make that goal every day. As I'm deep in revision just now, I'm feeling so grateful for revision tips and strategies from Annette and several others, including the famous Donald Maass (via his nicely structured, focused, and positive exercises for revision in his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook). 

So, last month, your comments helped me center on a new title for my current story. Did I need a cover to inspire me? Yep. Again, thanks to Pixabay, I happened on the perfect image, and thanks also to Book Brush, here's the cover. For now.

These last two years have been challenging for us all. Maybe you find writing (or reading) to be one of several anchors, to keep us connected to what truly matters. Covid-related issues are not going away quite yet. 

For a time this last month, my foot problems escalated to the point where surgery (and 2-3 months of non-weight-bearing life) appeared certain. Even Maass says that for our characters, life can (and truly must) get worse -- to add conflict to the story. But I don't need worse -- none of us do just now. A second opinion led to a new diagnosis, the fact that surgery would likely not be successful (saved from bed rest), and the long-term outlook not so good. But I have today -- to write and to cherish what is possible. Truly, that's enough.

May the coming month be good to you and those you love. May your writing go well.

Thanks go to Alex Cavannaugh, the inspiration for IWSG and to this month's co-hosts: PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray   Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!  Share, if you like. Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG. 

And why not visit at least 12 new writers to see what's happening in the IWSG world!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Just Today? Frank Zafiro's Crime Mystery for you!

Just thought you'd like to know that Frank Zafiro is running a freebie today (I don't know for how long) on Amazon for his Beneath a Weeping Sky

If you like an engrossing story with characters who immediately engage you in their lives as they face down gritty challenges, prepare for immersion into River City!

Frank is an amazing and prolific writer -- with diverse interests. His stories are shaped by his police experience, and, as he says, his stories reflect "both sides of the badge." His love of writing translates into many forms -- novels, short stories, blogging, and podcasts. Did I say he loves hockey? 

Just this last Wednesday, I "sat down" with Frank at a Zoom presentation on websites for the Inland Northwest Writers Guild here in Spokane. He is a wonderfully supportive and generous writer, a gifted speaker. 

I hope you check out Frank's website: Frank Zafiro: The River City Author.

Snow is predicted for this afternoon. I can't wait to get started on Beneath a Weeping Sky, a lovely distraction from holiday prep.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Beneath a Weeping Sky (River City Crime Novel Book 3)

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

IWSG: What Could Be Easier?

The first Wednesday of each month is Insecure Writer's Support Group. This online community of writers is another way to celebrate the writing life -- by sharing our challenges and goals, accomplishments and doubts through posts on our blogs. At times, what can be uncertain becomes more clear. In sharing, we may strengthen our resolve on our own writing path -- and encourage other writers.

We don't have a word requirement. And there's always some sort of writing question to answer, if we like. November's questionWhat's harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

What we do ask participating writers to do is very simple: Write on your blog, somehow related to the writing life, this month's question, or whatever takes your fancy. Visit about 12 new writers' blogs and post a comment. Delight in the variety of the writers in our community as we write. And remember to thank (and perhaps visit) those writer/bloggers who cohost this month: Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

If your skills take you to Twitterland, here's our Twitter handle @TheIWSG and the hashtag is #IWSG. Now for the goodies!

November's questionWhat's harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb? As long as it takes me to write a story (typically 2-3 years), the blurb feels like the easier process, for I'm writing/editing about something I know very well.

Usually, the book title swims up as I write the first draft. Except, not this time.

Readers of my 'Stones' historical fiction series (Standing Stones, Years of Stone, and Rivers of Stone) have let me know they want to find out what happened to Moira and Dylan. After all, as did happen in mid 18th Century, Dylan left his wife behind on a small Scottish island -- and never returned. So, what did happen? Will they be reunited? This last year, I've been working on Island Wife, a kind of working title, for that's where Moira was left behind. Maybe the new title will be Scattered Stones, for that fits the series. With about another year on revision, that title just might stick.

Does it help you to know that titles don't necessarily come easily? Or, they may. I do believe a title should resonate with the theme of the book. Maybe Island Wife focuses too much on the character who's been abandoned, while Scattered Stones hints that what once was apart can now come together!

Update on NaNoWriMo: So far, on target with 1,700 words a day. True, we're only at Day Two, but I do appreciate the challenge and focus on drafting and revising (so far, only new words). I haven't tried 'sprints' . . . yet, but I feel a part of the NaNo community sprinting ahead just by posting daily word counts!

Update on marketing: Aargh! I'm one with all those writers who would rather eat asparagus than market. Well, broiled asparagus with butter could be better than marketing! This month, I took the plunge and joined 18 other writers to promote a book giveaway (actually short stories, novels, AND samples) through Book Funnel!

Why not zip over to see what free reading awaits you? 

Here's the LINK.

Isn't November the month you really would like to curl up on a comfy chair,    avoid the snow outside, and read a delightful new author?

Meanwhile, stay safe, and may November be a good month for you!