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the flash fiction podcast

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You’re Worth More than I Can Pay You

I still have the email, so I can give you the direct quote:

“As a writer, I did my work, and I anticipate being paid.”

I try to be very transparent about what we do here, so this conversation usually doesn’t get that far. But it happens. These conversations haunt me because I know. I get it.

The other one that hurts is when I see writers in forums talking about how excited they are for an upcoming publication even though it doesn’t “count” because they didn’t get paid for it.

I’ve talked about this before, and I don’t want to spend a ton of time here rehashing what I’d like to do if I had the ability to do it. Jim Szabo of Secondhand Stories and I chatted about it back on Special Episode 14, have a listen there if you are curious. But here it is in a nutshell: if I made money doing this, I would pass that on to the contributors. And if I expected to make money doing it I would not have started it in the first place.

My message to writers is simple: if you expect to be paid, expect fewer options to submit to. Ninety-two percent of literary markets don’t pay their writers, not because we don’t want to but because we can’t afford it.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there are terrible people out there. There are for sure big websites that are making plenty of money and not paying their writers enough or anything. There’s plenty of that going around and it is not pretty. But that’s not the real world of short story publication.

Which is why I’m going to tell you my actual story, with numbers. I really hate the business side of all of this and I’m one that usually likes to focus on craft. But to run the numbers is the only way to explain why I expect you to work for free. Which I don’t. But I’m grateful that you do.

Producing No Extra Words costs me about $30 a month. The reason it is that cheap is because I put a lot of time into it. I don’t have the financial ability to outsource anything, so it’s $30 a month plus hours and hours of time. I do not expect compensation for my time.

For the first 2 years of existence, I covered 100% of the costs myself. In June I launched our first ever fundraising campaign. We now receive $8 per month in donations, which I am extraordinarily grateful for. It helps offset those costs, but it doesn’t cover them, nor does it reimburse me for 2 years of costs.

And that’s okay. I didn’t start this as a moneymaking endeavor. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for everyone who has submitted work and everyone who has pressed play. You all mean more to me than you can imagine. I’m telling you this not to complain, but to explain. To explain that if I have to pay you out of the -$22 a month I make doing this, I will quickly go under.

We work with around 6 contributors per month, sometimes more. If I gave them each $20, my costs would go from $30 per month to $150 per month and we would close down. I can’t sustain that. And that doesn’t even begin to address the problem of wanting to compensate the 194 writers who have shared pieces with us to date, many of them several pieces, for no compensation. Also, $20 per story would be an average of less than 3 cents a word for most people, hardly a living wage for writers.

I’m certainly not the first person to point this out, and writers often point out, well, that’s the cost of doing business. You wouldn’t say to your hairdresser or web hosting service or auto detailer that you don’t have the money to pay them, would you?

Well, no, but if I couldn’t afford to pay them I would stop having them do work for me. If I can’t afford to keep No Extra Words running, it goes away, it’s as simple as that. Numbers don’t lie.

Having explained the output side, let’s talk input for a minute, because your next question might be how can I increase revenue to cover this cost? The answer is, it’s rough. I can’t charge listeners. Even if I could get consumers to pay me in a world where most web content is free, iTunes and the other apps that distribute this content don’t allow me to charge for it, so I’d have to completely change how we distribute, likely losing me more than I’d make. Not to mention losing an existing audience that I care deeply about. Or I could charge writers a submission fee, but I choose not to do that. I feel that the you don’t pay me I don’t pay you arrangement is more fair than the you pay me maybe I’ll pay you if you’re good enough one. Maybe it’s not, but that’s a choice. So we either exist as a non-paying market or we cease to exist, simple as that. And I like existing.

Most markets that do pay are able to because they make money on advertising. This is why literary markets struggle so much. It’s a small audience that consumes short fiction, and they are far from lucrative to advertisers.

So there you have it. The making of a non-paying market. All I can pay you in is exposure, promotion, experience, and previous credentials. For which non-paying markets regularly get made fun of in social media. Yes, I understand that that isn’t pay. Although I think your work is valuable, the market does not.

Before I close, I want to very quickly address the other accusation that is often levied at non-paying markets: that we are fine doing what we do as long as we make it very clear that we feature the work of amateur writers, not professionals. To that, I will simply say this: you are not the gatekeeper. I showcase good work here, and I don’t care if it’s the first story by that writer or the 1000th. One of the reasons I started this endeavor was that I found more literary markets than I care to mention to be snobby, elitist, and unappreciative of work that didn’t meet a certain self-imposed “literary” standard. Everyone who contributes here is a writer, and I value all their voices.

If you’re a past contributor of mine you’d better believe that I’m going to promote your book on my Twitter feed or be there for you on launch day. I’m thrilled to be included in your resume. I want you to outgrow us, to build beyond us, to get to the point where people pay you and pay you well for your work. You are worth that, even if I can’t give it to you. And maybe when you have reached that point you’ll occasionally get in touch with a piece of writing that was well-received elsewhere and you think might suit our show. Or maybe you won’t. There’s no expectation.

So to the 194 people who have to date agreed to share their work, and the more that will in the future, thank you. I can’t give you a check, but you have to know that without you I am nothing at all. And together…together we are something. Together we are art. We are priceless.

Happy writing,

Kris

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Being an Ally Writer: Reflecting on Pride

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Last weekend I picked up a paperback copy of I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson at my local used bookstore.

Like any book nut with limited shelf space, I have to differentiate between books I want to read and books I want to own. What elevated this book to the latter category is a relatively minor character, the protagonist’s best friend. She’s a nine year old girl with two moms. And what’s remarkable about that is how unremarkable it is.

Most books, especially children’s books, with LGBTQIA+ characters are about being LGBTQIA+. But for LGBTQIA+ people and their families, that identity is just part of who they are. Like all of us, they are nuanced and have many stories to tell.

The most clearly defining feature of the moms mentioned in this book is that they were on the older side when they adopted their daughter. So she and her friend, being typical kids, call them the Gray Moms because of their gray hair. If you’ve read this book and remember these moms at all, that’s probably what you remember. And it’s highly likely many people who have read this book don’t remember the moms at all…because it it is no big deal. But for the kid reading the book who has two moms, or whose best friend does, it’s a way of simply seeing themselves represented. And that’s both remarkable and entirely ordinary.

The good news about LGBTQIA+ representation in literature is that it exists and has gotten better. The Lambda Literary awards are now in their 29th year of honoring LGBTQIA+ literature and writers. And this post from Barnes and Noble shows that books with LGBTQIA+ books that don’t make sexuality their main theme are available…and great. Even though there aren’t enough of them.

The bad news is that recommendations, reviews, and book lists can still be hard to find. Googling “LGBTQ reads for kids” gets you this list from the San Fransisco Public Library. It’s not a bad list, but the median copyright date is 1996 and the newest published was in 2008. While there are certainly classics in this area (and if any historical fiction writers are reading this, I think the market for good historical fiction covering LGBTQIA+ history is ripe,) having this be the first thing would-be readers encounter is problematic. Even more updated lists have problems. This list from PFLAG has just seven fiction titles on it: four for teens and three picture books, no middle grade titles at all. Two of the teen books are from the 1990s. As a resource list, it’s very good…but where are the stories?

So the need is there. But how do I as a heterosexual cisgender female  writer acknowledge it and work on creating a more inclusive literary community?

The number one thing any of us can do to promote diversity in writing is to support diverse writers. My Google adventure made it clear that while these books exist and are fantastic, they are not getting the attention they deserve. You can help by reading them, promoting them, reviewing them, and talking about them. You don’t have to be an LGBTQIA+ reader to appreciate a good story. I was thumbing through VOYA, a trade publication for librarians, yesterday and found an article that sadly is not currently available online about how authentic representations of minorities in children’s literature is in some ways more important for white kids than minority kids. If children of color can easily relate to classic characters like Harry Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the kids in the museum in From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, certainly white, middle class, suburban kids can relate to and learn from Amira in The Red Pencil, Maddy in Bayou Magic, or Naomi in Becoming Naomi Leon providing they have access to these characters. Reading about people different than us is one of the great gifts literature gives us…story is story. Not getting pigeonholed as a reader and reading and sharing stories by a diverse and talented group of authors is something I can easily do.

But can we do more? Can I also include some of these characters in my writing?

This gets to be dicey category pretty quickly. I remember the stir Patrick Jones created when he wrote about being a white writer portraying minority characters for Voya last year. Writers are always told, write what you know, and then one beat later that stepping outside of who you are can be very powerful. But you can step too far too fast and drown out the voices we need to hear. The fabulous website Gay YA keeps a master list of young adult titles that feature LGBTQIA+ protagonists, while at the same time acknowledging that some of those characters and books are problematic. I don’t want to be the well-meaning writer that creates problematic characters. But I also know without the groundwork by writers who created these admittedly problematic characters back in the 1980s and 1990s, there is no Will Grayson, and no Tiny Cooper, not to mention the 100s of other characters celebrated over on Gay YA and that would indeed be tragic.

For Episode 82, I wrote a short story of just 100 words and four of those were the writing prompt. My main character has two moms. You don’t get a lot of backstory in 100 words, but it was an important enough point in this character’s life that I included it. I did it without thinking about it. It wasn’t a defining moment in the story, it wasn’t my intent to make this character a token, she is just someone with two moms, just like the best friend in I, Emma Freke.

The instant that episode went live, I found myself worrying. Did I portray this character in a way that was offensive? She gets angry at her moms in the story for what they are doing to her and remarks that they aren’t even the interesting sort of lesbians (or something to that effect, in 100 words you have to cut a lot.) Would that be seen as inherently homophobic? I worried a lot about that little story. But all the feedback to date has been positive. I’m glad I took the risk. I’m glad that at the time I took it I didn’t even think of it that way, just as me trying to create the best character I know how to.

I 100% understand that diverse voices need to come from diverse communities and that as I speak from privilege there’s only so much I can say on this issue. But I don’t want writers to be afraid to include the people around them in all their complex glory for fear of offending. I will never forget when a friend of mine discovered that Ezra Jack Keats was a white man. As a child, the characters in his books were among the few she could find on library shelves who looked like her and lived in a world like hers. Her whole life she had imagined Ezra Jack Keats as a loving grandmotherly black lady. Finding out that he was a white man who was inspired by the children in his neighborhood surprised her, but did not offend her. It made the characters no less real and it made their inclusion in her childhood no less important.

I don’t have answers, but it’s good to poke at literature a bit and see what the barriers and who the gatekeepers are. It’s Pride weekend here in Seattle and there are lots of things to read that challenge and inspire the way I look at the world. There are still problems to solve, but more stories are being told. One of many reasons to celebrate.

Happy Pride,

Kris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Poetry Month Wrap: why poetry matters

This month I asked our poet guests to share why poetry matters. Before we send Poetry Month 2017 into history, I want to share my own thoughts with you.

Facebook does this sometimes wonderful and sometimes terrible thing where it will show you what was happening in your life on this date in history. Throughout April, in and amongst the talk of baseball and reminders of the toddler when he was a baby, Facebook has been reminding me of past Poetry Month highlights. The 7th grader who wrote an acrostic about a murder investigation spelling out “Who Was It?” The 2nd grader who wrote the 2-line poem called “Failure to Write a Poem.” The kid who wrote hers in yogurt on the playground (she was supposed to be in trouble for leaving trash on the playground and attracting critters. I snapped a picture.)

I have always been an evangelist of poetry, maybe because I don’t trust my own skills at writing it. As a young librarian I would bring poetry into April storytimes, wrapped poetry books up like gifts to make people curious enough to check them out and once bought a bunch of bulk coffee candy and attached it to 3×5 cards with words like “Wonder” “Rage” “Curiosity” and “Bravery” written on them to get people to attend a poetry coffeehouse. (Thirteen people showed up and read some pretty good poems.)

When I became a school librarian, poetry became part of my mission. Every April I would hijack the library curriculum and do poetry with a bunch of K-8 students. We wrote concrete poems. We wrote poems using Google, a Kris invention that I swear I’m going to make a book out of someday. I read the poetry of Gertrude Stein to third graders and discussed Pablo Neruda’s book of questions with fifth graders. I stapled poems all over school and gave awards to students who arrived with poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day. We explored the found poetry of Phil Rizzuto and Donald Rumsfeld.

What I wanted the kids to know is that poetry is alive. It isn’t always funny (our instinct is to share funny kids’ poems with kids, and while the work of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky is great it subtly tells kids that all poetry rhymes and is funny.) It doesn’t even have to make sense, but what it asks you to do is to feel something, to think about something. When a third grader tells me that after awhile he stops being mad that Gertrude Stein’s poems don’t make sense and just listens to how the words sound, he gets it. What he is learning is that words matter, that words can be something, that they have power.

Both of our poets on the show this month have had a message for us: now is the time. If there was ever a time to speak, now is it. If there was ever a time for art, now is the moment. As a teacher I know that you have to convey information in different ways because not everyone will see or understand it in the same form. That isn’t just true in the classroom. Poetry asks us to take things in in a different way, attacks our senses in a different way. Poetry is worth advocating in a world where, in the words of George Carline, “More people write it than read it.” We could all afford to read a little more of it.

So I’m saying goodbye to Poetry Month 2017, but I’m not done pushing for people to write and read and think just a little more. That fight has only just begun.

May a poem impact you today,

Kris

Speaking Without Being Spoken To: women’s voices matter

A morning newscast last week talked about how female Supreme Court justices are being increasingly interrupted and talked over by attorneys in violation of court rules. I tuned in at the end, so I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but I did hear the listener feedback. Apparently, in the 21st century, even the morning news collects listener texts which are read aloud by the newscasters, breaking what I think should be rule number one of all media: don’t read the comments.

The female newscaster, while pointing out that she doesn’t think it’s necessary to give airtime to misogyny, read a couple of comments about how of course women need to be interrupted because they talk so much and have a tendency to ramble. One comment explicitly stated that women needed to be “taught when to talk.” The newscaster ended her segment by saying that in 2017 it is disconcerting that someone out there thinks that women need to be told when they can speak. She also told the commenter, well, I have a microphone and you don’t, so take from that what you will. As I also have a microphone, I was cheering when I heard that. And then I headed off to podcast editing.

I’ve been podcasting for almost two years, and I still spend a lot of time cringing when I hear myself talk. I was editing a conversation I had with my co-host for my other podcast, and I wanted to crawl under the desk. Every time I spoke too quickly, or said um, or interrupted because I had an idea come to me, I wanted to dive into the computer and lecture myself about good manners or speaking when spoken to or some other thing like that. And then I thought…but I have a microphone.

Last weekend, I heard Ira Glass, one of the most famous radio people in the country, say um, repeat himself, and end with ya know, all in the same ten seconds. He didn’t cut it out. I don’t know if it occurs to men that they shouldn’t interrupt or should be careful about rambling or need to sound like an authority and not like they are wavering, but I hear that all the time from female podcasters.

A couple of weeks ago I was a guest on the New Parent Podcast. And it’s been hard for me to share it, to be honest. Not because it’s personal. I mean, it is personal, but I’m a pretty open person and that didn’t bug me so much. What bugged me is how I sounded. I felt like I talked too much, I felt like I talked over the host, I felt like I wasn’t clear…I was just second-guessing myself all over the place. On a topic that, frankly, I have some expertise on, namely my own life and story.

Why do we do that? Why do we think we don’t have something to say? I’ve done this in the past when I’ve been a guest on other people’s shows and I still don’t understand why, but when people comment on news stories by saying that women need to be taught when and when not to speak I have to wonder if there are cultural forces involved.

I was recently invited to become part of a podcasting advocacy group wherein a group of podcasters work together on improving their shows while at the same time supporting each other and advocating for each other’s shows and audiences. While I’m not sure exactly where this is going to take me yet, I can tell you I am very exited about the possibilities. The power of voice…I don’t think I really understood it until I became a podcaster. And it still scares me just a little bit. But I have a microphone and I am ready to speak up.

May your words carry you far today,

Kris

Need inspiration to get your voice out there? The Austin Film Festival is looking for people with great ideas for fiction podcasts. Enter and share yours!

March is #trypod Month!

Followers of this website know that I like throwing the occasional blog post into the podcast mix and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I also have some topics in mind that I want to talk about, but today is not that day. Today is a toddler yelling in the background a pile of audio to edit kind of a day. I am so excited about all the stuff coming up on the show…great contributors, awesome segments, and some cool new stuff. But it doesn’t lend itself to a lot of blogging time.

Instead, I’m here to talk #trypod month. This is an initiative put together by a bunch of the big podcast hosts to reach the 80%. As in the 80% of people who don’t listen to podcasts. The best way to reach them is through the 20%, that is you out there who do listen to podcasts. You are the best ambassadors to tell your friends and your community why they should listen and show them how to do it. You know it’s free an easy…they don’t.

To inspire you, I’m doing my roundup of the 5 podcasts I’m talking about this month. These are the ones I’ll be sharing with my peeps, and in the interest of staying away from self-promotion, they are not my shows. (Although, of course, you’re welcome to share those, too.)

The History Chicks. Days when these ladies release a new episode are my favorite days. The History Chicks is historical girl talk. Every episode they pick a woman in history, everyone from Queen Nzinga to Marie Antoinette to Hattie McDaniel (first African-American to win an Oscar.) The two hosts research the women separately (their research is excellent,) and then come together to tell the story. They’ve been doing it for years and their back catalog is phenomenal.

How to Be a Girl. This is one of my favorite parenting podcasts. It’s on break right now so it’s a great time to get caught up. Independent producer Marlo Mack tells you what it’s like to single parent her transgender daughter. What I love about this is that she’s not perfect, she’s a mom like any of us just trying to figure out how in the world to navigate this. She is on a journey and you get to go with her and you’ll be surprised how ordinary her parenting journey is. How to Be a Girl is part of a podcast collective called The Heard, be sure to also check out First Day Back.

XX Will Travel. In my 20s, I was a traveler. I worked in summer camps across the U.S., spent six months in New Zealand, and spent most of those years having a quasi-nomadic existence where I would work like a grown-up for awhile and take off. When I discovered this show I thought it would be more nostalgia for me than anything else…obviously life is much different now…but these ladies do an awesome job of speaking to a traveler wherever you are on the journey. Whether you are about to take that big round-the-word trip or you just need to plan your next girls’ weekend or road trip, these ladies will help you get there, and I love the women solo traveler angle they bring to it.

Art Curious. I slept through art history in college (the room was warm,) but I do love good storytelling and that’s what Art Curious is. The host tells the stories behind great artists and works of art, and like all good storytelling it’s a little history, a little mystery, and a little ridiculous. You don’t have to be someone who spends every weekend in a museum to appreciate this show.

German Genealogy Girl. I wasn’t going to recommend any brand-new shows…I’ve been burned by that before and she’s literally one episode in. But I am also one-quarter German, love genealogy, and have struggled with the research on this part of my family so I’m super excited that this exists and want to give her a boost.

Five shows that are subscribed to in my phone. And all hosted by women, who get neither the press nor the respect in this space. What are you listening to? What are you sharing? Tell us, and use the hashtag #trypod in social media all month long.

Happy sharing!

Kris

My DIY Nanowrimo

I’m a huge fan of National Novel Writing Month. The origin story of this podcast starts with Nanowrimo, and if I haven’t yet shared that story on this blog I will sometime soon. I’ve participated at least four times and won at least twice, it’s hard to keep track. And I knew I just wasn’t going to be able to this year.

It’s become harder to do the intense writing and long hours Nanowrimo requires since I became a mom. The first time I attempted it post-baby, in 2014, my then 6 month old went on a major sleep regression and basically didn’t sleep the rest of the month. Any time he slept, I slept, period, and my novel, such as it was, fell completely apart.

It’s also hard to do when you have other obligations, like, I don’t know, running a podcast. Add to that the fact that I start a new part-time job in November AND will spend almost a week out of town, and I knew this wasn’t going to be the year for me. That made sense. But it didn’t mean it didn’t suck to think about not participating.

I like the camaraderie of Nanowrimo. I like popping into the forums now and then to see what everyone else is up to and what the chatter is about. I like seeing people’s word counts come up on Facebook and Twitter. I like going to the occasional write-in or virtual write-in. And while I don’t participate every year (after the 2014 fiasco, I didn’t even ATTEMPT it last November,) I was kind of looking forward to it. But it wasn’t meant to be.

And then, on October 5th, I got blindsided by an idea.

This isn’t entirely true. The seed of this idea has been with me for awhile. I had some idea of this character and the story I wanted to build. But on October 5th, from of all things a facebook post, I got the inspiration that tied the whole thing together and I knew the story I had to tell.

So I did something very uncharacteristic of me: I just started writing.

I’m an outliner. In the world of Nanowrimo, this makes me a Plotter (as opposed to a Pantster, as in fly by the seat of your.) The reason for this is simple: without outlines I don’t make it to the end. Believe me. I cleaned my office today. Where half-finished manuscripts go to die. Found four or five more of them. But this time…I don’t know…I just sat down and started writing. No outline, no notes, I just picked up a pencil (yeah, I know, old school) and wrote down some words.

In the ten days since then, I’ve been writing like a maniac. Scared of losing this idea, I just kept going. I couldn’t sleep one morning so was up at 5 a.m. writing. My house is a mess, I write. The toddler sleeps for half an hour, I write. I even turned off the baseball playoffs. It’s inspiring. It’s manic. It’s…Nanowrimoish.

So, apparently this year October is my National Novel Writing Month. I’ll still miss the camaraderie. I won’t be in the forums or at the write-ins and this won’t count for a win or anything. But I just might end October with the draft of a novel. Or something. At ten days, I’m 11,000 words in, so it won’t be nothing. And I’m happy. Because it may not be November, but the spirit of Nanowrimo stays with me and I’m very grateful to them for all the inspiration. I hope if you’ve never sat down to frantically pound out the draft of a novel, you’ll give it a try. Maybe this November. It’s an exhilaration that can’t be explained.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to do.

Happy writing,

Kris

Inspiration and Timing: My International Podcast Day Story

September 30 is International Podcast Day. It’s been fun to watch this day unfold as one of the Pod People, reading the tweets and seeing how different ‘casters are choosing to commemorate the day. All day I’ve been thinking that I should write my own blog post on International Podcast Day, as it’s been a very long time since I did a podcast round-up and sang the praises of some of my favorite shows. Podcaster I may be, but I was a podcast listener first.

But today just wasn’t that day for me.

Today was one of those glorious days that fall sends, with the crisp leaves and sunshine with that little chill in the air. It was a day for yummy smells in the kitchen to make you feel warm when the heat kicks on for the first time in months. So I celebrated my International Podcast Day with some of my favorite shows running in the background while I made apple/pear sauce. It’s delicious. Freezer be damned, I’m totally gonna eat that whole pot.

Making applesauce is one of those tasks that is tailor-made for authors, because it forces your brain into kind of a zen mode. Coring and cutting 15 lb. of apples into cubes is work that gives your brain space for other things, and mine started mulling over this book I’ve been wanting to write but am not sure the world has a slot for.

I got burned again by some Christian fiction this summer. As a genre, this one just perplexes me. It seems to require the breaking of the rules of good writing.

Let me explain. I picked a book out of a Little Free Library this summer while on vacation. It looked like fun, kind of light chick lit, the kind of book you would take to the beach. Summer romance stuff, nothing overly heavy or steamy.

I started reading it and the first chapter was fun. Likeable character, good voice. Then I got to the second chapter and I found myself flipping to the back of the title page to see the publisher. Christian fiction.

I don’t go into a lot of personal stuff on this blog generally, but I’m okay saying I’m a Christian. I’m a member of a Lutheran church and I’m not ashamed of my faith. I don’t require others in my life to share that faith, but it is important to me. I don’t have a problem with a story being Christian in nature. This doesn’t offend me or make me want to put a book down. But I don’t read Christian fiction and I took the book back. Why? Because it was annoying!

I feel like contemporary Christian fiction tells a story and then has these “now is the part where we talk about God” interludes. Suddenly the rules of writing, like show don’t tell, don’t apply. Suddenly I get the annoying diversion of a detailed description of this character’s inner monologue dumped into the middle of the story. This has happened to me so much that I don’t read contemporary Christian fiction anymore.

Not all faith-based literature has to be this way. Anne of Green Gables, one of my favorite books of all time, was written as a serial in a Sunday school paper. It’s not uncommon for classic literature to feature characters who lean on their faith, prayer, and the Bible in times of crisis. The difference is that the storytelling stays intact.

This brings me to the book I’ve been wanting to write. I’ve had this story kicking around in my head lately that is GLTBQ Christian fiction for teens. This may seem like an oxymoron, but I see it as an untapped market. “Christian” and “gay” are not mutually exclusive terms and as more and more Protestant denominations are openly embracing GLTBQ members and clergy I think there are more and more GLTBQ Christians who aren’t seeing themselves represented in fiction.

So this is the book I want to write, and I have the story in my head and have worked on some outlines and character sketches and even a preliminary draft of a few chapters. But it is a struggle because I’m just not sure where it would fit. I doubt most Christian publishers would touch it because it clearly doesn’t fit what seems to be their formula, as outlined above, and I just don’t know if mainstream publishers would touch something so faith based.

So back to International Podcast Day. As I’m working on my applesauce and mulling this over, I’m listening to one of my current favorite podcasts, Write Your Own Story with Autumn Beam, and she is interviewing a Christian romance writer who is talking about this same thing. All the problems with contemporary Christian fiction. How hard it is to fit within the typical framework. Christian fiction is boxed in, she says. There are too many boundaries and rules about how these stories are structured. Characters interact with their faith, rather than with God. I stopped chopping apples and started talking to her. Yes! Someone else gets this problem!

That’s the power of podcasting. The conversation. The conversation that host was having with her guest and the conversation I was having with them as that audio was playing for me. Blogs are awesome, message boards have a purpose, but no other medium does it in quite that way. And that was my International Podcast Day.

I’m still not sure how to answer that question about the book that wants to be written. But for today, I’m okay just not being alone, with knowing someone else sees what I see. What to do next will be tomorrow’s problem, so I hope you’ll stay tuned.

For today, give a new podcast or two a try. I think you’ll like the conversation.

Happy listening,

Kris

That Particular Sort of Conceit

What is it about us as writers that makes us not only want to record our stories, but want people to read them, share them, and tell us how much they loved them?

It’s a kind of conceit, when you think about it. What is it about my writing that makes me feel it is worth another’s time to read?

I don’t think everyone has this. I know lots of people who keep diaries they never share or fill sketchbooks not even their spouses get to look at. What is it that separates them from those of us who strive for publication, readership, and following?

It takes a certain amount of stubbornness. You have to believe that your story is deserving of someone else’s attention, is somehow better than average. You have to have confidence in your ability. And a thick skin.

I got some criticism of my work this week. No big deal, it happens, and as criticism goes it was so mild it isn’t even worth my time and energy. It wasn’t mean, and it really doesn’t matter. It comes with putting yourself out there, and one of the big reasons I launched No Extra Words in the first place is because it forced me to be out there, forced me to put my work into the world and not hide my light, so to speak.

It did give me pause, though. It did make me stop and think,  why me? Why do I think I have the talent to put work into the world? Why not leave content creation to others, those who are better at it than me, those with more experience, better production abilities, stronger plot lines, and so on?

The answer is because I must. Because the particular conceit of the writer forces me to keep banging my head against the wall, keep trying. Bruised ego? Sure, but it can’t stop me. Because somehow there is something in me that tells me the world needs my voice in it.

Where will that stubbornness take you today?

Happy writing,

Kris

A Bouquet of Freshly Sharpened Pencils

“[Fall] makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” –Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail

One of the great things about not working in schools anymore is that I get to reclaim my excitement about this time of year. Not that teachers don’t get excited about fall…they do. But there’s something about getting to run through falling leaves and enjoying sweaters and boots and leggings and scarves and making chili and cornbread without it meaning that I have to decorate bulletin boards.

Of course, the weatherman here in Seattle is predicting a hot September, so I shouldn’t get too excited yet.

We’ve had a lovely summer here at No Extra Words. We began June by releasing our 50th episode and then spent the summer on a reduced production schedule, but I am still proud of the awesome episodes we put out. I upped the amount of writing I did on this blog, including doing a summer series of Mini-Blogs to answer the questions I get most. I got to vacation with my family, do some writing, and take some writing risks, as well as spend some time planning for the future. I feel like I am starting September refreshed and ready to take this podcast project in new directions. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you what is ahead for No Extra Words.

  • Beginning September 6, we are back to a weekly production schedule, with new episodes arriving every Tuesday. We have a full production calendar through the end of October but are still reading submissions for end of the year slots in November and December.
  • We are currently looking for podcasters to participate in a special storytelling episode of No Extra Words due to be released in November, so keep your eyes open for that.
  • A Christmas Serial is coming back to No Extra Words this holiday season alongside some brand-new content.
  • We are looking to repeat Contributor Appreciation Month and our celebration of National Poetry Month and also hope to present to you a Young Author’s Month in 2017.

Exciting stuff! I also have some personal projects underway and they are keeping me plenty busy. I am wrapping up the first draft of my work in progress hopefully this weekend, so after a small hiatus from that, I will be in full-on editing mode. I am also preparing to launch a third podcast this holiday season, something totally different from either of my existing shows and I hope to be able to share that with all of you.

Whew! Busy times here. Downtime is overrated, no? Hang on to your hats, folks, and I hope you’ll keep following along with everything going on around these parts. In the meantime, the school supply sales are calling!

Happy project season,

Kris

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