Books by My Bed

Hello bloggy-friends and readers,

A really neat blog called We Wanted to Be Writers has published a piece of mine in their series called “Books By the Bed”. I’d love it if you hopped over and read it!

http://wewantedtobewriters.com/2014/12/books-by-ilana-masads-bed/

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Exciting News!

I’ve been published in an anthology.

It’s titled After the Fall, and is a collection of a post-apocalyptic short stories.

I’ve known about this for quite a while, but it’s now been released on Amazon, and it looks lovely! So far, the anthology, published by Almond Press is only available as an e-book, but it will eventually be available as a paperback as well. If you’re interested in seeing it or purchasing it, click here.

 

Look forward to some more fiction posts during the coming days as well, as I’m queuing some up right now!

My First Publication

I am honored, terrified, ecstatic, nervous, pleased, proud (and so many other adjectives that seem quite incompetent to describe the strange muddle of emotions in me) to share with you the following link, which leads directly to my first ever credited publication:

http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/18949/master-plotto-week-two-winner-ilana-masad.html

Thoughts on Closure

I am contemplating closing down this blog. I love it, and it will always be the place where I gathered my courage for the years to come and whatever they might bring, but the truth is – well, there are several truths. First, I don’t have the readership that I used to have, because many of the bloggers I used to be in contact with here have abandoned their blogs months or years ago. Second, I don’t actually get very much feedback on what I write anymore, and stats don’t give me any idea on the quality of what I’m posting. Third, I feel a pull towards working on things that I feel are too long to put here.

Fourth, and perhaps this is really the most pressing concern, I’m going to begin sending out some of my work to both print and online magazines and try to get it published. I’m trying to edit my stories and get them ready for this move and work on more stories that could be publishable.

Then again, it’s always nice to have a place to continue practicing in, which is always what I’ve used this blog for, so maybe I should keep it. Or I could just make it private. I’m not sure. Just wanted to let my few regulars – for whom I am eternally grateful and with whom I’d love to stay in touch – know that I’m thinking these things.

An Honest Cover Letter

Dear Publisher or Literary Agency,

I love reading. I love writing. I bet you hear this all the time, but I just want you to know that I mean it. When I begin to talk about books, I feel my stomach leaping and the tips of my toes curl in excitement. When I sit down to write every day, I feel as if this is something I will gladly be doing for the rest of my life, even if it doesn’t result in a lot of money. I’m fully willing to become a waitress to support my writing habit.

However, it’s probably harder getting published as an unknown waitress who writes during her hours off than as a literary agent or editor at a publishing house. Working with you will give me an “in.” Am I being too blunt? Forgive me, but that’s the point. I’ve spent the last two and a half hours drafting (or attempting to draft) clever, concise and comprehensive cover letters in which I subtly explain why I will get down on my knees and beg to work for you. My mind is fairly wrung out, and so in order to refresh and cleanse it, I’m telling you the truth.

The truth is that while my biggest goal isn’t to become a publisher or literary agent, these are jobs that I would do a lot to get if they would help me support my writing habit while also letting me deal with books all day. I’ve been working in a bookstore during the last month, and I’ve found that the mere presence of hundreds of books is enough to keep me motivated and happy. Only think how well I’ll work for you at a job that would involve not only seeing books but reading manuscripts and writing letters!

I fear that my formulaic cover letters will get swallowed in the mass of other likely, qualified candidates that will contact you. If I had the guts, I’d send you this letter instead – although, to be fair, I’d probably work at it a lot longer and make it wittier and more touching than it is.

The bottom line (or, rather, lines) is that I love books, I’m passionate about the written word, and I would love to work anywhere that helps in the process of getting a book from the writer’s personal hard-drive and into the bookstore where I happily purchase it. Even though you’re businesses and your goal is to profit, you also save my life along the way by continuing to publish the books without which I wouldn’t know how to survive the emotional and mental turmoil that every human being goes through.

Hire me, hire me, hire me,

Help me keep writing and books in my life forever by letting me leap into the publishing world during my sophomore year at college,

(I promise you won’t regret it,)

Sincerely,

SlightlyIgnorant

Return of the Book Week (the Length of Which is Ten Days, Actually)

Last year, some of you may vaguely remember (in the farthest recesses of your mind that contain those details that are actually pretty useless and unneeded), I worked at Hebrew Book Week. I’m doing the same thing this year, and today I spent some seven hours setting up stalls, heaving books out of boxes, removing the books from their plastic wrappings and setting them out. My back aches, my wrists hurt and my legs are exhausted, but I got to handle books all day, and in my opinion that’s the best kind of manual labor for me.

Until June 25, I might not have as much time to read all of your lovely blogs as often, although I’ll do my best. I do have most mornings off, but since I’m working on different versions of my resume and gearing myself up to start writing cover letters, I might not have those mornings as leisurely times. I’m applying to internships, you see, at publishing houses and literary agencies in New York City, for next year, and it’s all very exciting and nerve-wracking.

Finally, my current work in progress is coming on well. I think I may have written what is going to be its closing paragraph today, which felt incredible. Since this is the first book I’ve written that has been new to me with every sentence I write, I’m excited to see that maybe it’s actually going to wrap itself up and not leave me hanging and confused as to what on earth I’m supposed to do with the collection of moments in it.

Sticking With (Rather, Not.)

On this blog, I’ve posted many an excerpt. I’ve mostly posted short pieces – character studies, scenery descriptions,¬†dialogue, short scenes that seem to need to belong to something longer, short stories, and a few beginnings to novels.

All this is great. It’s exactly why I started this blog – in order to try things out, try to figure out different genres and create different characters for myself to think over. I’ve practices my style, flow and different voices [at least, I hope I’ve managed to write in different voices].

But I’ve gotten addicted to having people read my work. I love posting on this blog and being able to get feedback on what I write. Why is this a problem? Well, in many ways, it isn’t. It’s good that I feel a connection and an obligation to be here, because it helps me sit my butt down and write most days.

The problem is that although I start many things, I haven’t finished a large percentage of them. Yes, I wrote a few complete short stories: The Princess Without a Name, One-Eyed Steve, Spam. But my longer works in progress always seem to shudder to a halt. I do have on fantasy novel [hopefully, eventually] that I’ve never posted anything from and probably never will, but other than that, I seem to get stuck. I don’t know if many of you remember my first attempt at a thriller, Move? Probably not. But I was so excited about it for so long, and then I just couldn’t think of anything more.

How do I dedicate the time to just one project, make it a commitment and try to finish it? Forget finish – how to I pass the fifteen page mark? I’ve written papers that were more than twenty pages long, so why do I get stuck with longer fiction? The irony is that I’m usually much more of a novel or novella girl – I enjoy short stories, but only really specific ones and only when I’m in a certain mood.

My whole goal in writing, besides the mere pleasure it brings me and the fact that now I’ve started I don’t ever want to stop, is to succeed in creating something that speaks to someone. Even just one person. When I daydream about being published one day (and I don’t allow myself to do this often, since it’s much too scary) I think about that one letter I’ll get, or that one email, from someone like me who just really enjoys reading and had fun reading something I wrote. That, for me, will be success right there. To make even one single person feel like I feel when I read novels or stories of any kind. That’s a bigger goal than I think it is, I’m sure, because all I ever hear are the horrors of publication, and I shouldn’t be striving for that in my writing anyway.

I should be striving to tell true things. Or have a basis of truth in what I write. I don’t mean that I should write an autobiography or base characters on real people – just that there should be some truth in the emotion and underlying tones of whatever I write.

This has turned into a much longer post than I intended. So I go back to my main question. How do you finish things? How do you just stick with something and finish it?