Feeding Frenzy Launched at Bakka-Phoenix

Feeding Frenzy Launched at Bakka-Phoenix

Yesterday, Feeding Frenzy launched at my favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy book store. Bakka is one of the most unique book stores in North America, family-owned and delightfully supportive of SF&F writers. I was invited, along with seven other  authors, to take part in the store’s first Indie Literary Market.

I was a bit nervous, since my throat was very sore that morning and I didn’t want to lose my voice before it was my time to read. In my haste to get boxes of books and my sign packed up, I forgot to gargle with salt water. As my time to present approached, I imagined dire scenarios where disappointed listeners who couldn’t hear would try to be kind about the fiasco. “Well, she held the book professionally…”

Fortunately, after an emergency dose of salty French onion soup from the cafe next door, the reading went well. People laughed in the right places but, because of my throat, I shortened my talk on the fly. Here’s part of the story attendees missed.

Autographing Maaja Wentz, Feeding Frenzy Launched March 2018
Autographing Feeding Frenzy

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. The first story she wrote in school started, “that was the day the barn burned down.” She didn’t know it yet, but that was when her mother suspected she might become a writer. Later, this little girl’s very first book report was rejected by the teacher, because it was based on a science fiction comic book she had written, illustrated, and stapled together herself.

You could say my first attempt at self-publishing wasn’t much appreciated!

Maaja Wentz, Feeding Frenzy Launched March 2018
Feeding Frenzy Launched at Bakka-Phoenix

Award-Winning Serial Fiction

As a kid, I read mystery novels and science fiction and fantasy novels of all kinds. In University, I studied literature in English and in French, while devouring everything written by writers like William Gibson.

In my twenties, I kept my love of books, but lost my nerve. Despite winning a prize in a short story contest at University of Toronto, I was afraid to become a writer without income.

After a Masters degree in comparative literature, I left grad school to get a teaching degree. After that, life streaked by in a blur. Teaching at a private school, marriage, teaching at a tough inner-city school, motherhood, teaching ESL, French, Library, and finally, taking up writing again.

Sandra Kasturi at the reading Maaja Wentz, Feeding Frenzy Launched March 2018
Sandra Kasturi (standing, right) at Bakka

I joined critique groups, and wrote lots of short stories, but didn’t submit them. They were never perfect enough. Or, if I had a story I liked, I would send it to one market or one contest and if it didn’t win, that was it. I retired the story and wrote a new one. My audience was the critique groups which were great for making friends, and improving , but I wasn’t getting much published.

Meanwhile, I was getting older. Time was running out. I was going to die with filing cabinets of stories and novels that would never be read!

I was suffering from fear of submission. (The literary kind!)

An Artistic Dare

Out of desperation, I made an artistic dare with myself. I would write 2000 words a day and draft a new novel in a month. At the same time, I would polish one chapter a week and post it on Wattpad. If anything could get me over fear of submission, this should do it. Once something’s out on the internet, you can’t take it back.

The Prologue went up on Halloween, 2015, with chapters dropping weekly until the story was finished. It never occurred to me Feeding Frenzy would catch on with readers. Wattpad was just supposed to help me over my psychological block, and make it  easier to submit short stories to magazines.

It worked, by the way. I’m delighted to say, “Inside of a Dog,” will be published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. This is a life goal for me, since I’m a longtime fan of Ellery Queen.

Maaja Wentz, Feeding Frenzy Launched March 2018
Maaja Wentz signing Feeding Frenzy at Bakka-Phoenix, Toronto

Dare and Do

Perhaps the moral of the story is to dare. Don’t worry that it’s too late, or that you’re too old. Don’t worry that your thing isn’t yet perfect. You can make it better when you know better. Don’t worry about being rejected and having to try again. Dare and do. The world of creativity–and life–belongs to the doers. It feels great to have finally joined them.

It took a lot of editing to make Feeding Frenzy good enough for me to publish. Winning a Watty award and accumulating 141 000 reads on Wattpad convinced me the story had legs, but that was just the beginning of a long and fruitful editing process. I’m grateful to brilliant editor, Sandra Kasturi, for agreeing to take on the project and help me make it shine.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy life! I wish you courage to overcome perfectionism, make mistakes, and learn from them in all your pursuits.

Make a Chapbook or Booklet – DIY Video

Getting Started with Chapbooks and Brochures

Give your students recognition for their excellent creative writing by publishing a short story anthology, or connect school and home with a booklet of favorite family recipes, or a homework guide for parents. From poetry chapbooks to collections of cartoons, publishing little books helps generate excitement for literacy. When you arrange a book launch for student authors and their families, their pride is palpable. I will never forget when one of my student’s poems was accepted into a school board anthology. It was gratifying to see her get recognized for her originality. You can create the same kind of emotion in your school, library or classroom.

Chapbooks are a well-respected form among poets, including professionals. Making a chapbook can be as easy as printing out a manuscript and photocopying. A simple chapbook can be formatted using software such as Word or Publisher. Once you have printed out the booklet, fold the paper in half to make your book. For added panache, add a separate cover using heavy stock before you staple it together.

To find simple instructions for designing a booklet, I searched the internet for templates. Unfortunately, a lot of the available templates are for tri-fold brochures or one-page flyers. In the spirit of DIY, here is a quick instructional video to get you started making chapbooks using Word for Windows 8. My version has a cover, an automatically generated table of contents, and odd and even page numbers. Click the link to watch the video: DIY Chapbook Video

I also found online instructions for making a chapbook using Windows 2002 as well as a YouTube video for using previous versions of Windows to make a booklet.