Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun
January 24th, 2012

Olivia Boler gets a 7×7 Link Award nomination. Yay!

The 7×7 Link Award

I am happy to tell you, fellow bloggers, that my little blog that could has been nominated for a 7×7 Link Award (apparently not related to 7×7 Magazine). Thank you, The Flying Yenta, for this exciting nomination!  And I love your blog, too!

So, there are three requirements of the award, and here they are along with my fulfillment of them:

I. Share something about yourself that others don’t know.

Man, this is hard. I have so many personal secrets…just kidding. Not really. Um, something you don’t know that I’m not too embarrassed to share. Well, if you know me, you know that I am half-Chinese. If you don’t know me, then you think I’m “Mediterranean” or Latina or Jewish or Native American, etc. But no, I’m Chinese. My father’s Caucasian genes (mostly Austrian and maybe Italian with some English, Irish, and French) just really dominate. And here’s a bonus share: Even though it’s so uncool to do in my PC San Francisco community of foodies, etc., I sometimes take my kids to McDonald’s. Gasp! What can I say? I love me some french fries!

II. Link seven posts from your blog that you think are worthy.

1. The Scary Next Step

2. Can you feel the excitement???

3. The nit and grit of indie publishing—edit, draw, format, shoot

4. Getting down to the funky business of writing

5. Reading your stories aloud is a good thing

6. So, Olivia, what do you write?

7. Flower Bowl Spell cover revealed!

III. Nominate seven other bloggers that deserve the award and haven’t received it yet.

(Note: I’m not sure if these blogs have or haven’t been nominated. If they have, then they are surely deserving of a repeat nomination.)

1. Kana’s Chronicles —  Kana Tyler is “a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon (“bookworm” doesn’t cover it), a raconteur, a minister, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a cartographer, a joyful wife, a mom (and Granny), an island-girl at heart… A list-maker! :)” And she’s generous with her freelance writing tips. Thank you!

2. Olivia Everett — The blog of Karla Mouncey-Jaggers who is writing a series about Olivia Everett, “as she fights her way tooth and nail through the vampire politics that saturate London.” What fun!

3. Peter DentonPete is a writer chronicling his creative writing progress, which is so inspiring!

4. Making Baby Grand, the Novel — The blog of Dina Santorelli, who gives us regular writing tips as well as super-duper helpful and fun debut novelist interviews. I love it.

5. Sue Healy — She had loads of success with her writing in 2011, and she has writing advice and wisdom we can all use. Excellent stuff.

6. The Bird Sisters — The blog of author Rebecca Rasmussen, whose debut novel, The Bird Sisters is a soaring achievement (pardon the pun!). Read it!

7. Siobhan Fallon — Of course I have to include Siobhan Fallon, one of my bestest writing friends (and just plain old friends) whose debut short story collection You Know When the Men Are Gone, published by Amy Einhorn Books (of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help fame) is taking the critical world by storm making major “Best of 2011″ lists left and right. So go buy it now!

Yay, recognition! It’s good to know I’m not writing into a black hole. Thank you, blogging community!

August 6th, 2011

It’s no fiction contest

Since my early twenties, I’ve spent lots of money entering my short stories in contests. These contests are usually sponsored by literary magazines or universities with lit mags, and the entry fee is on average $15 to $20. I keep a little notebook recording my efforts under four columns: Date Sent, Story Sent, Forum Sent To, Answer. The Answer column is mainly filled with one word: NO. Sometimes, there’s a triumphant, YES!

None of the yeses come from contests. The notebooks contain records of submissions to agents or magazines and organizations that have called for stories. I’ve only ever been paid for one story, and that was a few dollars from St. Mary’s College for my short story, Unlit. Please read it!

I gave up on contests for many years (I can only take so much rejection, people!), but recently, inspired by my good friend Siobhan Fallon, who for some reason is one of my biggest cheerleaders and for every good reason is one of my biggest inspirations, tried again. I entered Crab Orchard Review‘s contest, one that Siobhan has won, with a short story my writing group and Siobhan both loved. I would be over the moon if I were a finalist or even in the honorable mentions. Well, guess what happened? Nothing. I recorded another NO in my notebook. A sensitive soul, I always take these disappointments hard in some way, either swooning, muttering bitterly, or with a glass of the house white. I’m thinking of giving up again.

But I am intrigued by Amazon.com‘s Kindle Singles, which are brief pieces (5,000 to 30,000 words) like essays, novellas, and short stories that are pretty inexpensive for Kindle users ($0.99 to $4.99). Yes, in addition to an iPad, I have a Kindle, which I L-O-V-E (so light to hold! no eye strain! built-in dictionary! note taking! stores thousands of books!), but it’s not perfect (can’t read it in the dark, can only read things downloaded from Amazon, can’t access library books with it) Admittedly, I haven’t purchased any Singles yet, but I wonder if this might be a good way to get some of my orphaned stories out there. There’s still a submission process that’s a bit more selective apparently than Amazon’s direct publishing requirements for book-length work. So, in my grand tradition, I’m not completely ruling out the rejection experience.

What do you think, dear bloggers? Is this a good avenue to explore? What’s your experience?

August 4th, 2011

OK, traditional publishing, I’ll give you one more try

So, I’ve been obsessing about this whole e-book phenomenon, and it’s no wonder as I plow through the first Sookie Stackhouse novel (yes, I’m one of those True Blood fans who’s finally found her way to the source material) on my iPad. The app that truly legitimizes this basically rather expensive toy, although my kids would argue accessing Disney movies and Angry Birds is reason enough, is OverDrive Media, which I highly recommend to anyone who is an advocate of library usage. Through OverDrive, you can “check out” e-books and audible books (i.e. books on tape) for free. You get the file for 3 weeks and then it disappears. No late fees! Pretty awesome. Oh, and the app is free.

Anyway, e-books haven’t completely replaced real books in my personal library. An author I admire can’t sign my e-book, can she? I recently scooted down to a wonderful local bookstore, Bookshop West Portal, because I knew one of my favorite authors Ann Patchett had done a signing there for her new book, State of Wonder, and I’d be able to get a lovely autographed copy. Granted, I have yet to read her book (but it’s going to be good! It’s getting excellent reviews) because the e-books I requested keep rolling in from the library, and I have to accept them or they disappear from my “hold shelf.” But I’ll get to Ms. Patchett’s book soon. Don’t you worry! And for now, I can admire the lovely cover.

Of course, there are e-book publishers out there that specialize in digital books, and because this whole indie e-book publishing thing is kind of daunting (just found out, for example, that hiring an editor is going to cost mucho dinero), I might give one of these publishers a try. Yes, give them a chance to reject my beloved book one more time, then head off on my own, as Planned B. Let’s see…if I send out my manuscript by tomorrow to the editors, it could take three to four months before I hear back from them.

What say you, dear readers. Should I do it? Should I invite more rejection into my house?

July 31st, 2011

So, Olivia, what do you write?

Funny you should ask.

I got my MA in Creative Writing at UC Davis, and the professors there were rather anti-genre. Either you wrote literary fiction, or you were a hack. At least, that’s how it seemed. So, I dutifully churned out a coming-of-age novel about a young women trying to find herself. Also, because I received my degree in 1996, I was reading a lot of popular stuff of that time, and it absolutely influenced my style as I tried to figure out my VOICE.

Because my first novel was a little bit sad, I next tried something more lighthearted. Bridget Jones’s Diary was white hot at the time, and it was such a relief to be able to read something that was laugh-out-loud funny, that addressed light issues like weight, relationships, and gawkiness (as opposed to drug addiction, serial killings, and child abuse) that was getting positive press. (I guess “chick lit” still struggles for cred). Until then, I felt like I had to read all these smart but dark authors like Brad Easton Ellis and Jayne Anne Phillips to be considered literary and cool. I wanted to be literary, cool, and funny. Anne Lamott was, so why not me?

Another popular book at the time was The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, and it introduced me to the concept of a novel-in-stories. I had been writing short stories in grad school and one of my cohort had once said to me, “Why are you writing a novel? You seem like a short story writer.” But every time I’d get a story critiqued in workshop, at least one person would say it felt like a longer story—like a novel! Still, I tried my hand at a novel-in-stories. Both my chick lit novel and the NIS made the rounds with the agents and small presses. No one wanted them in the end.

So I decided to write my witch novel. If JK Rowling could write an amazing, rich saga that appealed to kids and adults, maybe I could write something for adults that would also appeal to teens (that’s called “crossover” people). In the meantime, I wrote some stories with a magical bent as well. Magical realism! That’s another literary, respectable genre. Like Water for Chocolate, and that ilk. One of my stories got published on an e-zine but that e-zine no longer exists. I guess I could reprint it here on my blog. I’ll just have to find the file.

Anyway, I guess I write whatever suits my fancy. My favorite author of all time in Jane Austen. My favorite contemporary author is Ann Patchett. My favorite YA author is Suzanne Collins. I wish I could harness all their talents to become a mega-superstar writer.

Oh well. In my next life, maybe, although I hope to come back as a scientist or something useful like that. Struggling writer? Not that useful.

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