Monday, February 2, 2009

What I’ve Learned about Writing and Publishing

© Kim Smith 2009 all rights reserved

Murder By 4 is thrilled to honor one of our own, Kim Smith, as she begins her February 2009, virtual book tour to promote her debut book, Avenging Angels.

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When Marta asked me to write something for this article, I had to think, and think hard. I really wanted to say something that would matter to you as a reader or a writer.

Since embarking on the journey as a published author, I’ve learned so much about myself! For example, although I am a pretty meek and mild kinda gal, I can take the bull by the horns and wrestle with him a ways. I can face adversity and stand tall. That’s a great thing to find out about yourself, in case you wondered.

It took a while but I finally learned that no matter if life throws you a passel of lemons, there is a tall glass of lemonade waiting down the road somewhere. You can turn any situation into a positive experience if you really want to. It’s only when you let struggles swamp you that you lose sight of the prize.

And it’s perfectly okay if a piece of writing lives out its life on its own terms. Whether it gets in print or not, whether it ever gets read by another soul or not, is not the vital part of the process. The important thing is to just do it. Write and be free. Let those ideas flow, who cares if it is not bestseller fodder? It’s your story and creative side wishing to be expressed.

You can’t say no to writing no matter what you think. It will come out while you are examining your husband’s torn long johns. It will come out while you are painting your toenails that ghastly green. As long as life happens, writers will be filled with the desire to write. So focus on the passion! Get busy and harness some of that desire into something that you can plant your name on and show someone!

How about this? You write a five hundred-word article just like I have here. Write it about a yard sale where you find something that you had sold at a yard sale a year ago and you sort of sorrowed over selling it, only now, you are glad to see it is moving on so someone else will have a chance to love it, too.

Now apply that story to your writing life, and you will understand how it feels to send a piece out into the world and then see it again in all of its glory on the page as a published piece.

The publishing industry teaches a writer hard lessons. What I’ve learned about it is that just because someone says “yes” doesn’t make you somebody, and just because someone says “no” doesn’t mean they meant it personally. That takes a lot of soul-searching to understand. Let me pave the way for the readers out there contemplating a publishing career right now. If you want to write – do it. If you want to be published – do it better than anyone else. Make it your goal to collect “yes” and not “no”.

If I could change any one thing, it would have to be that I wish I had started earlier. I think of all the stories I have written and trashed (never do this!!!), and the number of stories dancing in my head waiting to be written, and I realize a lifetime is not long enough.
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About the author:
Kim Smith was born in Memphis Tennessee, the youngest of four children. After a short stint in a Northwest Mississippi junior college, during the era of John Grisham’s rise as a lawyer, she gave up educational pursuits to marry and begin family life.
She has worked in many fields in her life, from fast food waitress to telephone sales. “I always got the seniors on the phone who were lonely and wanted someone to talk to. My boss couldn’t understand why in the world I spent so much time talking to them and not enough time selling. That was when I realized I love people and care deeply about their lives.”
Writing was a dream, hidden but not forgotten, and soon Kim began to talk again of trying her hand at it. She played with words, and wrote several poems, one of which was picked up for an anthology
One day in the early nineties her husband came home with a desktop computer and sat her in front of it. “Now you have no more excuses,” he said, and she realized the truth in his words. Procrastination, now no longer an option, she took off on the pursuit of penning her first book. Though that book, a young adult fantasy, was lost due to unforeseen circumstances, she kept going, writing a historical romance, and another YA.
When she decided to try out her hand at mystery writing, she discovered her true love and niche in the writing journey. She has since had four short stories, and her first mystery novel accepted for publication.
Kim is a member of Sisters in Crime, and is a Coffeetime Romance and More author member. She still lives in the Mid South region of the United States and is currently working on her second book in the Shannon
Submitted by: Marta Stephens, Author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series


Unknown said...

Kim sounds like a wonderful author and I would love to read one of her books.

Kim Smith said...

Thank you very much Connie! Writing is pretty solitary, but when readers come along and say nice things about you or your book, it makes it all worthwhile.


thewriterslife said...

Wonderful guest post as usual, Kim! Marta, thank you so much for taking part in Kim's virtual book tour!

Cheryl said...

Great article, Kim. I agree, never throw away anything. I still have a folder of stories I wrote as a teenager. If nothing else, they're fun to look at to see where I was then versus now.

Best of luck with your tour.


Cheryl said...

Posted a blurb and a link to this article at The Aspiring Author -


Kim Smith said...

Thanks so much Cheryl. I think throwing stuff away and then regretting it is one of the best lessons I have ever learned as a writer!

s.w. vaughn said...

That was when I realized I love people and care deeply about their lives.

This line from your bio is wonderful (not that the rest of this post isn't, too!). I think that's the essence of a writer, right there. That's why we suck at "real" jobs, are horrible salespeople, and spend so much time agonizing over make-believe people. We're trying to capture the essence of humanity in a story.

And now I must paint my toenails green! LOL

Kim Smith said...

Is it ghastly??? ROFL. thanks SW.

Ray said...

I like the blog. A couple of items struck me personally. I once had a temp job making calls for a mayoral campaign in another city for a candidate I wouldn't support. At the end of the day our supervisor asked how it went. I told her I couldn't come back because I didn't believe in what I was doing. I thought I would lose my job. Instead she asked the others what they thought. They all voiced the same opinion. So she told the campaign, "Sorry we can't help you."

Your comment about green toenails took me back to elementary school and assigned seats n the bus. I had to sit next to a high school girl who wore green lipstick and wore perfume that was strong enough to gag a maggot.

If your book is as interesting as the blog I have to read it.


Marta Stephens said...

All the best with your tour, Kim!

Kim Smith said...

Thanks Ray! The green toenails thing sort of came to me from my daughter. She always wears the weird stuff, and strangely enough she can pull it off! Good to have you on Mb4 today!

Marta, thank you for being such a great part of it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim!

There's probably never enough time for any good writer to write "every" story, but I'm glad you found a way to write and have a life too. It sounds like you have a very supportive husband which is very important.

I like what you said about finding out that you have some "chops" for the business end of writing. It's always good to discover an inner strength.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Kim! This was an insightful post. One of the lessons I've had to learn is time management. Being up to my ears in edits, I am realizing I am not quite as good at that as I once thought.

I remember my mammma used to tell me, it isn't how hard you fall, but the grace and style in how you pick yourself up.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yup, here, too - wish I'd have started earlier...let too many years slip by where my writing languished in a sea life-sh*t!

Unknown said...

I already feel like we're bosom buddies from our radio chat, but I enjoyed your post. I'll try and follow your blog because you are such an interesting and witty person. Your article definitely reminded me of myself in so many ways. I love the lemons and lemonade...I remind myself of that often. If you get a chance, check out my post today. I'm definitely fighting to hold onto to my positive side. *lol*

Kim Smith said...

Hey you guys! How wonderful to see you here. Ginger I feel exactly the same way! It's funny how we get to "know" someone we've never met but it's the same as though we have. I will come by the blog in just a bit. Kathryn (love how you spell that!) everytime I think of the stories that slipped through my fingers, it makes me glad I didn't keep doing that! Moira, I am SO going to put your Mama's adage on my quote page for writers. Lord, how insightful!!!

Ron Adams said...

Miss Kim,

Let your passion be your guide is such good advice for so many aspects of life itself. Believe in your self, and in the intoxicating power of the dream, and strive to make it come true. What better words for the writer and the reader. I'd love to add to it, but I can't. I'll just stand back here nodding and smiling.

All the very best,

Rebecca said...

Thanks Kim, for the inspiration and motivation to write and be published. Good luck on your tour.

Maryannwrites said...

Nice article, Kim. Always fun to find out a little more about an author and the backstory of their books.

Good luck with the rest of your tour. Will try to keep up with it best I can.

Kim Smith said...

Thanks for stopping in everyone! Maryann, I will look forward to seeing you! Rebecca, keep the faith, dear. RW- it's your turn now! I am waiting anxiously!

Nancy, writing is like birthing a child. You sometimes wish you could hang onto it forever, but you know once you deliver, the whole world will look a little brighter.

Barbara Romo said...

Great article, Kim. It took me a long time, too, to realize that the need to write was stronger than the need for someone else to tell me its okay to write. I still worry too much about what other people think - but I'm working on it. Thanks for the inspiration to keep going!

Kim Smith said...

Isn't it amazing? I swear if I had taken up watercolors I would not have had any inhibitions, I think. Thanks for stopping by Barbara~!

Deb Hockenberry said...

This was a great article, Kim! It had some great advice too: never throw anything you've wriiten away!

Kim Smith said...

Indeed, Deb. And let me go on to say, BACKUP your work often!! Thanks for stopping by :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good article Marta! I think when we lose sight of the joy of writing, it shows. there are many things we write that may never land in someone's hand as a book and that's ok.

I love your idea of following through on your dream. Write, whether it's an article, poem, or book, write.

thanks for sharing this.

Angela said...

GREAT post, Kim!

I truly appreciated how you vocalized the writing life. The stories never cease. They are always there, churning beneath the surface. We have to forge the time to write these down and share them with the world.


Kim Smith said...

Thanks Sia :) and may the joy of writing be with us all for a looong time :)

Yes, indeed Angela. And if they are not, THEN we need to worry!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Wonderful piece, Kim. Since we've done a radio show together, I hear your sweet southern voice in your words here. Great insight and advice for writers. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kim, you certainly hit the nail on the head. Lemonade it is.
Jo Ann Hernandez

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kim, you certainly hit the nail on the head. Lemonade it is.
Jo Ann Hernandez

Kim Smith said...

Jo Ann, and you know everyone LOVES lemonade!!

thanks Aaron, darn that old accent of mine! it oozes into your head like mud around the mississippi river and just stays there, doesnt it?

Suko said...

I thought I'd stop by and see how this virtual tour works. Great post!

Kim Smith said...

Hey Suko! Thanks for stopping by... this has been the most fun ever!

Mayra Calvani said...

Great post, Kim! The important thing is to keep writing and to enjoy the process!

Kim Smith said...

Thanks Mayra! Yes, KEEP WRITING!!

Anonymous said...

This is a very inspiring post dear. Thanks for sharing this. Whenever I feel lazy to do my research paper jobs from my clients, I stop and tell myself "hey, just keep writing and keep believing in your writing skills, keep inspiring other people, even those people who will try to put you down" and suddenly, I will have the motivation to work. Writing takes time and effort but it is indeed self satisfying.

Kim Smith said...

That's it, Essay. Keep going!