Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

The Posting Pit


I’ve been a busy, busy bee these past two weeks.  Determined to build up my publishing credits, I’ve been polishing posts that I felt were worthy of submission to literary magazines. I spent time carefully editing them and sending them out to be considered.

I followed all the submission guidelines: the format of the manuscript is carefully followed, the spacing adhered to and the short bio or blurb carefully constructed.  I check the spelling of the editor’s name three times and finally e-mail my submission.

The other day, an awful thought popped into my head.  The stories I had submitted had all previously been posted on my blog site.  Since some of the publishers I submitted to requested unpublished works, does that mean that my stories are automatically refused?  They didn’t ask if I had a blog site, but it would be easy enough to find me out there in the cyberworld and find those stories.

I searched the Internet hoping that publishers didn’t consider Blog posts as published works.  Well, my friends, I’m sorry to say…they do!  Well, poopy-do and all that!  Now, I had submitted a total of three stories to an online magazine that accepts pre-published works, but there are not that many of them out there.  (All three got accepted, I’m happy to say!)

So, what’s a blogger to do?  We beta test our stories by sending them out to our readers on the site.  They either ignore them or make comments that convince you that it is worthy to be read by the general public or is of no interest at all to the everyday reader.  Their response usually tells you if you’ve got a good story going.

I guess that I will no longer be able to post my fiction/non-fiction/memoir stories on my site if I feel that I may want to submit them to publishers at a later date.  That sucks…but I guess it’s the only way not to have my story thrown into the Posting Pit.

If any published writers out there have found more information than I could about the legality of claiming a post as a unpublished work…let me know!  Otherwise, all the stories I wrote for my readers here are never going to go any further than this site.  And, again, that sucks.

But, it is what it is.  For those of you who are just gathering up the nerve to send in some of your work to a literary magazine, you might want to learn from my experience and follow the comments (if I get any) before you e-mail those stories that you once posted on your site.

I just thought I’d warn you about walking into the Posting Pit.



Authors note:  I did submit a piece that was on my site to one of the publishers, before I realized that posts would be considered pre-published works.  I have the ability to withdraw it from consideration…but I haven’t done so yet.  Looking for more information before I drag it back home to die.


Swimming In Dangerous Waters


The day I had feared had finally arrived.  The day had come when Danny, my SO, asked to read a few chapters of my novel.  Why did that request make my knees shake, my hands tremble and my stomach drop to the floor?

Because, my friends, when I started writing an outline for the novel, my characters were chosen based on people in my life.  I knew that I would be swimming in some very dangerous waters. Danny is all over the first chapters of the novel and he reappears in future chapters.  Although I changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent man in my life, no-one who knows Danny will have a problem recognizing him.

I knew the risk of using people around me as characters in my book.  They might not be able to take a joke, or appreciate the fact that I took their individual quirks and put them into print.  Some of my characters are a mix of different people.  I’ve taken a little creative license with their personalities and made them into the type of characters I needed to make my novel work.

But, how else does a writer find the characters necessary to make their novel interesting?  We can put all the events into place, but if the reader doesn’t like the characters, you’ve got nothing.  Readers need someone they want to cheer on or sympathize with.  The characters make the book; the events are their playground to strut their stuff.  And the best source of finding these characters is right in your own backyard.

So, yes, writing characters that use or resemble the people around you might have you swimming in dangerous waters.  But, it’s worth the risk because you know these people and can use them to your advantage.  Just be sure to change the names!

Danny read the first two chapters, chuckled in a few places and handed the pages back to me.  “Did you like it?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I’m not grouchy,” he replied, smiling.  Yeah, right!  Whatever!


Fact or Fiction?


Yesterday, I picked up the phone and called my son at work.

“Thank you for calling Hungry Howie’s Pizza” I heard my son say.

“Hi, John.  Guess what?”

“Um, I’m really busy now, Mom.  Can it wait?”  I couldn’t hear noise in the background, so I imagine he just thought this was another annoying call from his mom.

“I just wanted to let you know that one of the articles that I sent out last month got accepted by a magazine.  But, yeah, call me back when you have time.”

“No, wait.  Really?  Which article?”  I knew I had him hooked.

“The one I wrote about quitting smoking.” I replied.

“Mom, you smoke two packs a day.”  he said.

“Yeah, but I wrote that during the four months I did stop smoking.  What’s it matter if I smoke or not anyway?”

“So, you’re selling the article as Fiction?”

“Why are you being such a jerk?  Of course not, it’s got a sidebar and everything, with tips on how to give up smoking.” I said, with a tinge of anger creeping into my voice.

“But you didn’t quit!”

“So, you think I’m wrong for letting them print it.  Should I just send this check for $1,000 back to them?”


“Mom, you rock!”

I hung up after saying good-bye.  I brought my lit cigarette to my mouth, took a puff and smiled.


The above conversation never happened.  I haven’t sold an article to a magazine.  I did write an article while I was going out of my mind trying to quit smoking and I did send it to one magazine for consideration.  That’s when I learned that they don’t send out letters rejecting your work, they use a lousy postcard to say “Thanks, but no thanks!”

Now, if I had to jam this piece in a specific genre, I would have to classify it as “Creative Writing.”  Creative Writing, I have found, is a good fit for me.  I can take fact and fiction and stir them together to get a more interesting article or scene.  And, it’s fun!

I like taking an actual event and changing it up.  I love the freedom of not being stuck in one genre and it makes me happy to put my spin on events or conversations or scenes while I am writing about life.

Do I have to tell my readers when my piece contains creative writing?  I don’t think so, as long as you don’t mislead them on actual facts.  If they enjoy the piece, then so be it!

The definition of Creative Writing is literature that is outside the norm of established genres of writing.  And I love anything that is outside the norm.  Now, if you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you might now wonder if some of that writing was fiction or non-fiction. Well, you can calm down, I have yet to hone my creative writing skills yet, so what you read is all true.

But, as I dive deeper into the realm of creative writing, I cannot guarantee that some of my posts won’t be in the creative writing genre.  Will I tell you when this happens?

Maybe yes..and maybe no. I hope you’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride and let me worry about the genre!


Why Am I Fighting With Fiction?


I love fiction. I’ve read fictional novels and short stories all my life. Fiction has occupied 90% of what I have read in my lifetime. So, why the hell do I have to fight to produce a piece of this genre?

What holds me back from diving into writing a fictional piece? It’s not that I haven’t studied the ins and outs of character development, plotting and settings. I’ve taken classes, I’ve certainly read enough manuals on the subject and I’ve followed a large number of the great fiction writers, past and present. So, what’s my problem?

Is it a lack of imagination? Maybe, but then why am I able to lose myself in a good book that is set in Hogwarts, or one that is populated by vampires? Why do I shiver with fear when reading a spooky story? Why would I cheer on the heroes or heroines and watch their struggles and triumphs? Why do I stay up all night reading a great “who done it?” It must take imagination to lose myself in the writer’s world, so I doubt that’s the reason.

Could the reason be that I don’t feel I can come up with an original novel or story, one that would interest the readers in the plot? Maybe, but all of today’s writers of fiction face that challenge, and I do so love a challenge. I know that I can take a story from a fairy tale, such as Hansel and Gretel and give it a new twist. I could write about two orphans struggling with a new stepmother, a scary principal of a boarding school, and add in a mysterious disappearance or two throughout their school year and probably do all right. So, I don’t think that’s a major roadblock.

You might ask me if I’ve ever really tried to write a work of fiction. Yes, I have and although the pieces turned out all right,  I didn’t really enjoy writing them.

Wait a minute. Stop the presses. I just read that last sentence and realized what my problem is!

All writers must go with what they love to write about, and my love happens to be for the world around me. I believe that if you have to force yourself to write in a certain genre, your struggle will be obvious to your readers.  I’m happy in this world and I feel I produce some pretty good stories…at least some of my readers think so. When I’m writing about my views, thoughts or experiences in life, I’m happy as a clam.

So, I bow to all of you past, present and future fiction writers. Forge on with your stories and take me away into your own world. I’m ready!

Now, have I given up on ever writing a piece of fiction? Nope, as I said, this grandma loves a challenge. But, at least I now know why I write in the genre that I do. I have a talent for it and I love it, and that’s enough for me!


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