Self-Promotion – Thanks, but I’d Rather Staple My Head to the Floor…

What’s the hardest thing about writing? A lot of people I talk to say the actual writing is the most difficult part. They’re terrified of being confronted by a blank page, of creating the perfect first sentence, and then having the discipline to leave that sentence alone and move on to the next one. When I tell people I love writing, I get a lot of you must be a masochist comments (we’re using the most general definition here, folks, so don’t go too crazy on that one).

But I honestly love creating new stories. Learning about new characters. Coming up with backstory. The endless possibilities of an empty page. These are all reasons that I write.

No, in the world of writing, what really scares me, like, makes me slightly nauseous, worse-than-a-herd-of-tent caterpillars, is, SELF-PROMOTION!

I recently found out that two of my short stories were accepted to two different anthologies, and I was crazy excited. But then the realization hit – if I want people to read these stories, and the stories of my fellow anthologists, I have to admit confe tell people about the book.

It may seem like a contradiction to a lot of you – after all, doesn’t a writer write stories so others can read them? Yes, we do. But we don’t always want readers to know it’s US who wrote that particular story. There are several reasons for this. There’s the factor of privacy, especially when we have families or other careers. Or, we might write for different levels of readers, and may not want to scare our younger readers by introducing them to body decomposition too early in their childhood (should they stumble upon our other work). So some of us use ***spoiler alert***a pen name, which can make promoting work, especially physically, quite difficult.

Then, there’s some authors who really have no interest in letting the world know them beyond their writing. When I asked the other authors from the Love is Love anthology about it, DJ Tyrer, author of Desert Roads, confessed he’s much more comfortable presenting himself in a way that’s removed from directly interacting with other people. He admitted that this probably stems from a general shyness about his writing, something that Crystal Reavis, author of the novel Areal and publicist at Breaking Rules Publishing, also relates to. She explained that while she has no issue helping other writers promote their work and loves to talk about writing in general, when it comes to her own work, she’s extremely shy.

Both Crystal and DJ are skilled and accomplished writers and have absolutely no reason to be soft-spoken about their craft. So why are so many of us hesitant to promote our work? I think one of the main issues is we’ve become a society where we almost need to be apologetic about any success. We aren’t supposed to be openly proud of things we accomplish.

Alicia Graybill, author of Dragon Dances, shared her own struggles with this. Alicia told me that, while she knows her work is good and people will enjoy reading it, she has a hard time getting over the culturally ingrained notion that, “I need to be modest and humble.” Take That Chance author Tricia Ridinger McKee said she feels pushy when letting people know about her upcoming publications, and she’s even been told to ‘tone down’ her enthusiasm for her accomplishments. Both these women are talented story-tellers and have every right to be proud of what they’ve achieved. So again, why are we struggling so much with this whole self-promotion thing?

The answer may come from a writer’s obsession with words and our tendency to over-think a word’s meaning. According to the Oxford dictionary, self-promotion is “the action of promotion or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way. Wait – what? We don’t want to be forceful or in someone’s face. We just want them to check out our book. Maybe we just need a different word – let’s check out synonyms for self-promotion: boasting, bragging, self-flattery, self-glorification, bluster, showing off, vanity….the list does not improve. No wonder this is such a difficult thing for writers (or anyone) to wrap their mind around. There’s so much negativity around the meaning and idea of self-promotion.

So let’s ditch the whole idea of self-promotion and go with something that doesn’t have such a negative implication. We could create a new term for it, like sharatizing. Or maybe, adversharing. Of course, we’ll have to educate people on what those mean. So how about something that’s already out there, but that has a more positive meaning. Like, self-advocate.

Oxford defines self-advocacy as “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.” Doesn’t that sound better? Brainline.org goes even further and states: “Self-advocacy is understanding your strengths and weaknesses, developing personal goals, being assertive (meaning standing up for yourself), and making decisions.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t mind representing myself and sharing my views and interests with other people. I also have no problem standing up for myself and for things I believe in. So yeah, I think I could extend my self-advocating to my writing much easier than self-promoting it. Let’s give it a shot…

My name is Morgan Currier (sometimes Francis Currier), I’m an author, and I’m advocating for our book, Love is Love, published by Breaking Rules Publishing. This is the first book I’ve ever taken part in and I’m very proud of what we accomplished! Please check it out at https://www.breakingrulespublishing.com/store/p181/Love_Is_Love_Anthology_-_Feb_2020_Issue.html and support the amazing authors who contributed to the anthology, and the wonderful publishing house that believes in us!

So for all you writers, artists, and whoever you are out there who are trying to let people know about what you do or create, the next time someone accuses you of showing off or boasting about your work, tell them you’re self-advocating. And for those of you who still think we’re just bragging – bugger off.

Originally published February 11, 2020 on FrancisCurrier.com. The post has been modified from the original publication.

Picking the Perfect Funeral Home…

I’ve been researching funeral homes. Specifically New Hampshire funeral homes because buildings in New Hampshire have a very New Englandy look to them and when I’m describing the funeral home in my book, I want locals to say, ‘huh, I wonder if she’s talking about the old Jameson place?’ – or whatever the building’s name might be. It might seem like a simple thing to do – to pick a funeral home – but it really isn’t. Some funeral homes look like they were once a privately owned home so they look just like a house.

This is Bennett Funeral home in Concord and I think it looks like a nice family home:

This one is Roberge Funeral Home in Somersworth – I don’t know the history on this place but I’m guessing it’s not around anymore. It again has the feel of a home:

Then, some funeral homes look very commercial. I don’t favor this type but it really depends on what you’re going for. They look very nice and well run, which isn’t the feel I’m going for with my funeral home.

This is Phaneuf Funeral Home and Crematorium in Manchester:

This is Edgerly Funeral Home in Sanbornville:

I’m fond of the in-between funeral homes. Something that looks grand and old, and looks like it could easily be a business.

Connor-Healy Funeral Home in Manchester:

My favorite – Perkins & Pollard Funeral Home in Pittsfield:

The family run funeral home in my story was originally a fairly grand place, so I’m looking for something that has a nice, rundown feel. Something that says prior success, current desperation, and lots of murders!

Originally published October 11, 2016 on FrancisCurrier.com. The post has been modified from original publication.

Ooops…

Here’s a horrifying reality – It’s been exactly one year since I updated this site. I didn’t even realize it until I read the last thing I posted and found the date on it. 30 September 2020. Dear God, where has the year gone!

It would actually be worse if I hadn’t written anything in a year and thankfully that isn’t the case. I did manage to publish another book in late May (check out Pulling Down the Moon on Amazon), and that was an amazing project in itself (and one I should really write about). I also just finished a 1000-word short about twenty minutes ago.

So yay – accomplishments But, as I was looking at this website and what I was reading and working on a year ago, I was a little startled to see I’m once again reading the same book (Mistress of the Art of Death) for the same reason I read it last time. Because I’m back to working on the same story.

What’s the saying about the definition of insanity??

Running With Inspiration

I went for my first post-surgery run last week. My last run was about seven weeks ago, so it’s been a longish break. I could have started running again after ten days, but I didn’t feel ready. So I waited.

My cousin Sam Bailey was my inspiration. She posted an awesome picture from one of her runs where the runners also picked up garbage, and she mentioned how she’s been running a ton since the start of COVID. Suddenly my brain said, “Hey, we should start again. And train for a marathon!” But not just any marathon. For years my goal has been to run the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon in the Warner Parks of Nashville, TN. A wonderfully, quirky, grueling, non-qualifying course that may not even be a full marathon. My kind of course.

I haven’t done long-distance in quite a few years, although I used to run between five and seven miles several times a week. So, if I have any hope of running a full 26.2 miles I’ll need to slowly build myself back up to long-distance running. The first run was just two miles. A couple of days later I did another run – again, just a two-mile jaunt. Two days after that I added a half mile. November 2021. 26.2 miles. I’ll get there – a half-mile at a time.

And that got me to thinking about my writing, because it’s something else I’ve fallen behind on. After I finished And Justice Will Be Done I started working on several different projects but couldn’t settle on one. And then I wasn’t writing anything because I was sleeping, healing, and then back to real-world work. Let’s face it, we create hundreds of reasons why we don’t do things. Like running (or anything, really), once you stop it’s difficult to start again. So, I’ve decided to approach writing like I do running. Doing a small amount at a time. 500 words a day. It’s not a lot, but it will move things forward. And for now, that’s enough.

I’m Pretty Sure It’s Perfect…

There’s a lot of romanticism when it comes to writing. The struggling author, sitting in the dark, wrestling with inner demons as he laboriously pours his soul onto paper. And once the novel is finally written, the euphoria that comes with that completion. I always envision the opening of Romancing the Stone (1984), where Kathleen Turner’s character Joan Wilder is finishing up her latest romance novel. In the scene, Joan triumphantly types the final sentences, tears streaming down her face while wearing an emotional smile. Exhausted but ecstatic, she opens a bottle of champagne and celebrates the completion of her book.

See Joan? Doesn’t she look happy? Don’t you want to be like Joan? Well, they never show Joan as she deals with the seventh revision and endless rounds of edits. If they had, this is what Joan would look like…

Appalled and crying because of the realization she’s used the word pretty (pretty sure, pretty often, pretty quiet) 500 times in a 70,000 word book.

Don’t let the romance of writing fool you, kids. The first, third, and maybe even fifth version is not perfect. And that’s ok.

Hello. What’s Your Name?

Of all the things I imagined myself agonizing over when writing a book, my author name was definitely not at the top of the list. And yet, since deciding to write under the pen name Francis Currier (about four years ago), I’ve done a lot of second guessing, researching, and discussing the pros and cons of taking a pseudonym.

Why has this been such a big deal? I honestly don’t know. Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that authors were supposed to write under pen names. The appeal is it allows some privacy, some mystery, some secrecy… And all of these are true. But I also found it provided a lot of opportunities for name mix-ups, confusion, potential legal problems, and promotion difficulties.

So, in an effort to make things a bit easier, I’ve decided to scrap the whole persona thing and stick with my actual name. Hello folks. My name is Morgan Currier, and I’m a writer.