Almost Done Editing My Fiction Collection Crushes

This week, I’ve been really focused on getting my book edited for the paperback release. That’s why my blog posts have been short and simple this week. I’d say I’m sorry about it, but I’m actually not. I’m almost done with the book proofing I think. Just a little more to go, and little more waiting around with a copy to make sure I don’t notice anything else for a week or so.

Also, my strategy that I shared yesterday about getting the Audible copy of The Goldfinch has really paid off. I listened to the equivalent of around one hundred pages yesterday between my time in the office and at home, which is way more than I could’ve read. Having a fulltime job really drains the time away from reading and writing. I know this isn’t a groundbreaking realization. But, at least I can still get out on my lunch and get a nice latte every day.

Also, I was going to share some fiction on my blog that I had written, but everything I’ve written this week has been too long and not polished enough. What started out as weird semi-autobiographical-but-still-fiction has morphed into definitely-fiction. I’m still writing about those same characters, which again, is unusual for me.

This is a quick post again, but maybe not as quick a the last few. So, hopefully that’s better. I still like blogging every day, even if they’re not all the greatest things out there.

Anyway, leave me a comment below and let me know how your Friday is going.

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I Carry My Manuscripts Around With Me

I do this weird thing when I’m working on a book. I carry the manuscript around with me everywhere I go. Or, in the case of my fiction collection Crushes, I carry the paperback proof copy around with me everywhere I go. I can’t remember who gave this advice to me initially, or if I read about it somewhere, but I heard it and realized that I was doing it and so I just sort of kept on doing it.

Why I Carry My Manuscripts Everywhere

I like carrying my manuscripts and books around with me for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps me at least to think about the book while I’m doing other things. I’m very busy. I’m in grad school, I work full time at an office in Downtown Louisville, I’m editing a literary magazine again, and I blog on my personal website (this thing you’re reading right now) every day. Now there’s also this book that I’m working on, not to mention the other fiction I’m writing now as well.

If I just leave this book that I need to finish proofing on my desk, I might get to it one day. However, if I carry it with me throughout the day to the coffee shop or to the office, I’ll at least be thinking about it some. And, usually, I’ll open it up and look at it at least once a day, which is better than once a week or once a month. This also works with early drafts my manuscripts, before they are in book form.

The other reason I carry my manuscripts around with me is to initiate conversation. Yes, it’s fun to brag that I’m writing a book. In addition to it being fun, it’s also useful for me when people ask me about my work. When people ask me a question like “what’s your book about?” I usually have to answer them. And, when it’s a fiction collection, the answer can be tricky. I didn’t actually have a good title for the book at first. I didn’t until I realized through a conversation with someone that my short stories were all about sexuality and relationships. By the end of the conversation, I was saying, “So actually I guess it’s about crushes.” It also helped me with the description on the back of the book.

It Might Look Funny

I carried my manuscripts around with me in college during my undergrad years a lot, too. People looked at me funny, but it helped me stay creative and productive. I think people thought I was a little stuck-up or snobby because of it. Maybe I was, I don’t know. I was also a very strict workshopper in writing workshop groups. Not sorry. The point is, it worked. I ended up with enough short stories to publish a fiction collection.

I’m definitely not a pro at this book thing yet, but I do enjoy it and I’m learning a lot about it as I go. If you’re a writer, do you carry your manuscripts around with you everywhere? Do you think it’s embarrassing? Comment below. Does this also work with other forms of art? For instance, if you had a giant painting that you were working on and you wanted to carry it with you to coffee shop, would it help? If anyone tries it, let me know. If you’re not in a creative mood at the moment, what are you up to today?

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I carry my manuscripts and book-proofs around with me everywhere so that I increase the odds of opening them up and looking at them every day.
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Is There A Novel In Me?

Is there a novel in me? The answer might not exactly be yes, but I have been writing about the same characters for a hot minute. It makes me wonder how far I can take them. I’m at novellete length with them now. If I can cross over into novella length, maybe we’ll start talking novel.

As I’ve mentioned, I mostly stick with writing short stories instead of writing novels. I like writing about moments, and in that process, I explore characters. Usually, after I’ve worked on one story for a while and I get it good enough, I move on to other characters and start a new story. But, I never really considered what would happen if I kept writing short stories with the same characters in them. It seems that may be a good way to trick my brain into writing a novel. I guess that’s what’s going on now. This is all theoretical, and hasn’t been proven yet. Only time will tell.

I’m getting further along in edits for the paperback version of Crushes. It’s almost done, I promise.

Just a short blog post again today. Busy. Follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

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Remembering Miss French Press

I wrote a different short story last night, but it was actually kinda good so I decided to save it to rewrite it a hundred times and submit to literary journals. I wrote a different story for today. It’s called Remembering Miss French Press. Enjoy this first draft.

Fiction – Remembering Miss French Press

I dried my hands on my apron and clicked my pen a few times while I watched her come in. Her dress was brown. She wore a dark red sash around it that matched her lipstick. Her brown hair was not moving in the wind. I looked to Ronald. He turned his head away from me and grabbed the broom and dustpan. I sighed. She stood near the host counter.

“Good morning. Booth or table?” I asked. She pointed at a booth. When she sat down, I handed her a menu. She looked it over and then pointed to the coffee and then to the eggs and toast. I marked my ticket. I took my ticket to the kitchen counter. Fred watched his empty pans.

“Miss French Press?” Fred asked. He dribbled oil from a spoon over one of the cast iron skillets.

“Miss French Press?” I asked. Fred pointed to a small French press behind the coffee pot. It had molded coffee grounds in it. I banged them into the trash and washed it at the sink. I washed and sanitized the French press in the sinks. I washed my hands with soap and wiped them on my apron. I could still smell the mold. Fred called over Ronald. Ronald propped the broom up behind the wall to the prep area and stood by me. Fred showed us the French press. After dumping some coffee grounds inside, we filled it halfway with water, poured hot water in, and waited two minutes. Ronald watched with his hand over his mouth. After two minutes, we filled it with more water. Ronald watched me as I pressed the filter down. When I turned around, Miss French Press stared.

I smiled. I brought her some creams. She didn’t use them. Fred moved the French press back behind the coffee pot. Ronald took a father and son that had walked in. He sat them at a booth in the back. Fred handed me my eggs. I walked them over. I bumped Ronald. A small amount of coffee splashed into his apron. He touched his face. I walked around him. I set the eggs down. Ronald handed me a roll of silverware before taking his ticket to Fred. Miss French Press curled and her middle and index fingers on each hand and brought them together. She pointed behind the counter. Ronald stood by the coffee pot.

 “More coffee?” I asked. She pointed at the coffee pot, pulled her index and thumb away from her face, and then pointed at me. I brought the French press over and refilled her coffee. She ate. I cashed her out. She left her coffee and a three-dollar tip. Ronald stood behind me and watched her walk away. He cleaned my table for me.

Short Story Notes

If I like this one in a few months I’ll rewrite it and stuff. There are things I don’t like about it, but there were things I found useful from it. I like Miss French Press. I don’t like it for the title, but I like her. But it was all I could come up with for now. Also, needs more tension.

Thanks for reading and as always, comment below about whatever. Typo hunters welcome. Admiration of me is also encouraged. As always, thank you all for reading, and I hope you like my stories, or at least like watching me struggle with them. After a while, sometimes my stories graduate to my stories section of my website.

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Eric Shay Howard selfie
Me, my lunchtime latte, and my proof copy of my fiction collection, Crushes.
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