All three of Helen M. Pugsley’s published works are available on Amazon.
Check Oblivious Luminescence for signed copies!
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited.
All three of Helen M. Pugsley’s published works are available on Amazon.
Check Oblivious Luminescence for signed copies!
Read for free with Kindle Unlimited.
My guy, you’ve just put a piece of yourself, bare, in front of the whole world. People need to be able to find you now. Some of the people want to be your friend, some of the people think you’re cool and want to silently watch your progress, some liked the one book of yours, and wanna see about getting more, some are even small town librarians, trying to invite every author in the state of Wyoming, to an event. *Ehem*
So I’m going to split this post in two. The point of view of someone who works in book world, and the point of view of someone who reads.
We’ll start with book world. I feel like it’s more straightforward. If I can’t find you on Google, I don’t really want to work with you. Simple as that. And I don’t mean that in a snobby way. I mean, I cannot find you to contact you. I don’t have time to rent a mule and trek up to your house. Look, I totally get it if you wanna live that J.D. Salinger life. Just vibe out in your hard to reach cabin in the mountains, and refuse to do interviews with the press. Buuuut you’re not going to get far in your career. These days, the modern author needs to invite the world into their office, make Tik Tok videos, and send thank you notes when the newspaper bothers to even look at you. You do need to be accessible, if you want to stay relevant.
Not only that, but if I’m the one hosting a giant author event, (not my M.O. these days, but you get the gist,) then you need to be able to tell people where to find your books when they get paid again. Are they on Amazon? Only on your website? Your publisher’s website? This proposes a unique challenge to authors who used vanity publishers. The kind of publisher where you buy 1,000 copies of your own book straight from a printing press, and then distribute them as you see fit. That’s a great option if you want to share, say, family recipes, and/or family history! My great grandmother did it with her auto-biography! It’s not going to go great if you want to share a fantasy novel with the world. By the way, if some snob tells you that that’s not “real published” smack them with your paperback. That wasn’t real assault!
Anyway, when you’re not using your books as weapons, where do you keep the mother cache? Can people access it without contacting you first? Some folks feel weird about that. Sincerely, publishing houses shouldn’t be doing the lion’s share of your of your advertising. Whether it’s traditional, self publishing, hybrid. That’s you. They need to do some of the advertising. Especially since with a traditional house, you’re getting, like 20% royalties, best case scenario! But it’s not right for you to lay back and wait for money to come either. It’s a partnership.
So secondly, as a reader: When I find your book in a trade-cache (like a Little Free Library) and it rips out my still beating heart, while I’m tipsy, after dinner, I wanna go nose around in everything else you’ve put out there! And let’s be honest, I will absolutely wine and prime books, especially if I’m still crying from reading the first one you wrote. Take advantage of stupid heads like me! Stupid heads like me want taken advantage of! Now if I have to email you for copies, even if they are free, because that’s what you want to give to the world, Immuna feel weird about it. What if I don’t like your work as much when I’m sober? What if you had a sophomore slump? Now you know where to find me, and you know I probably read your book. Feels weird, fam. Legit, Goodreads is your friend. Stupid heads like me can say “Wait, I’m mildly intoxicated. Maybe I shouldn’t buy thirty-two books of poetry by one human. I’ll just add it to my TBR, and maybe buy one a month.” I use Goodreads to keep me organized while I read. Even if you did use a janky vanity publisher (because most of them kinda suck for promotion) you can add your books, and yourself to Goodreads. I’ve had to do it with books I didn’t write so I can count them towards my 300 books in a year goal.
Anyway, this is me telling you to go get out there! Post some pictures to Instagram, click the toggles and send it to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr! Tell people about the dumb thing your cat did while he was jealous you were paying more attention to the laptop than him! I.e. Mine made me wear his tail as a mustache. Don’t worry about your social media presence, and hire me to do it for you! Post stupid updates about the book you’re not sure you’re ever going to finish before you freeze to death in one of these spring storms. Show us your wedding photos! People love wedding photos! Find a nice little start-up like Shepherd and put yourself out there even more! Make sure people can Google you!
So to recap: You need to be out there. At least a little. The more you’re out there, the more your books will be out there. The more your books are out there, the more your career will succeed. Go, fight, win!
If you’re enjoying this blog, please consider subscribing to my Patreon! You can feed me like a pet, and make sure I get to publish more books!
It’s my birthday. We’re talking about me. I don’t write everything everything by hand. These days it’s mostly just the novels I write by hand first. Also some poetry. Not often much you see on the internet, some of which you can see on Patreon. Let’s not forget ye olde daily journal entry. This blog post isn’t saying you should go to the dollar store and get you a super funk cool notebook. I’m saying, everyone enjoys reading about unknown author’s writing regimen.
It’s the way I was taught in school.
That’s right. I’m that old, and my school was that underfunded, I guess. I was born in the 90’s. I wasn’t allowed to approach a computer, much less it’s word processor, until I had the second draft of a report hammered out. That only changed when I hit high school. By that point in time, my father took our family laptop to work, so I preferred to write my reports, once in a notebook in pencil, then once on college rule, three hole punch, paper, in red ink, in cursive. It was a bear, and it was especially challenging because my hand writing is terrible. I remember there being tears on at least one occasion, because I had to rewrite a report, by hand, because my teacher said he couldn’t read it. He was trying to set me up for survival and success once I left high school. I don’t resent him. I was just frustrated. Anyway, I’ve been writing by hand, since I learned to write. Why stop now?
It’s free plagiarism protection.
None of ya’ll can read my hand writing, so you can’t read it over my shoulder when I work in public! Mahaha!!
…Every now and then one of you surprises me when I post an aesthetic pic from a café, on Insta. Then ya’ll walk up to me like “What happened to the princess once she left the castle?” Like, you were super in to the three sentences you got from translating it from some sort of elvish.
No one wants to steal a notebook.
Laptop? Boom. Gone.
Half used notebook? Can’t give it away, if you tried. It’s right up there with sweaty gym socks… That being said, please don’t steal my notebook just to prove me wrong. I too, am a spiteful creature. Still not cool, George!
People keep buying me really cool notebooks.
All the close homies know I write by hand. So all of them get me journals. Like, I’ve had a problem with “I need to take bullcrap notes, during Stupid Adult Time, where I Have To Learn Things™, and I don’t have a notebook I’m not emotionally attached to…” Like, I would be distraught if I lost one while it was empty, kinda notebooks. They’re also beautiful. Like “Nice journal!” “Thanks, it has pockets!” kinda beautiful, with the gold trim. I’ve remedied this by buying a pot load from the dollar store. Cash me rolling up with a rainbow kitty unicorn notebook, boi!
The notebooks are treasure.
“My wealth and treasures? If you want it, you can have it! Search for it! I left it all at that place!” – Gold Rodger, One Piece (2006)
Like I said, my friends buy me nice notebooks, and I’d be distraught if I lost one. They become even more valuable to me once they’re filled with my literal life’s work. I put them all in a little safe that holds up my dual VCR/DVD player.
They weigh a ton less than my laptop.
Even my heftiest notebook weighs less than my laptop.
Typing it up gives me time to take an unbiased look at it fresh eyes.
By the time I finish off a novel, and start transcribing it from paper, to digital madness, I’ve forgotten what I wrote. Now I get to see it as if it’s the first time. I can look at it like a fresh novel from a stranger, and if it’s trash, I can pop it with the .22 behind the gas shed. Usually I don’t, and just make a note the beginning sucks, and I was bored to tears reading it, thus I need to change it.
By the time I make it back to the end, I forgot how it ends! So if I’m running around my apartment screaming “NO! Zoey and Chloe were meant to be together!” I’m less married to the way I had it, and am willing to change it.
Pen feel good. Paper go scritch.
Dude. We gotta be real. There’s a weird tactile pleasure to this too. I also enjoy the ink stains on my hands when I’m finished.
I can take so many cool aesthetic pictures with my notebooks.
That one where I have them lined out on a fence, that one where I have them on my stairs in my apartment, those pictures of towering stacks of notebooks. Dope, and bangin’. I enjoy doing that, and you enjoy looking at it with your face. Not to mention, here’s the park over the edge of my book, here’s the café, here’s the library, here’s the ocean. All of it. Ya’ll have seen about every cool zoomed in angle of my laptop I can get.
I can see my notebook in the sunlight.
I can write outside and I don’t need an outlet. Nuff said.
It keeps me from taking myself too seriously.
In 2016, when I was writing full time, I got heavily into social media. Suddenly, it was like I had the voices of 1,000 strangers in my ear: “Are your characters diverse enough? Are you including people of color? Are your portrayals of people of color offensive? Are you including gay representation? Do your female characters have lives outside of your male characters? You write YA. Are you putting a child in a problematic situation? Do you really want your character to swear that much? Now, not swearing at all is unrealistic.” It was so much pressure.(Even though that vetting is necessary, just after the first draft!)
When I write in a notebook, I can convince myself no one is going to read it. When I’m ready to pull it out, and make sure my book meets all of those standards, I line it out on ye olde laptop.
Anyway, here’s the question no one asked answered. I hope you enjoyed the ride anyway. By the way, while we’re on the subject, Clive Barker writes all of his manuscripts out by hand, three times, before typing them out. I really hope there’s a handwritten copy of Kry Rising somewhere. My father and I are anxious to see it.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, and would like to get to know me and my work better, consider subscribing to my Patreon. Thank you! By the way, my birthday is actually the 14th.
 Once Piece, Gold Rodger. “Opening Narration.” One Piece Wiki, Wikipedia, 2006, https://onepiece.fandom.com/wiki/Opening_Narration#:~:text=Narrator%3A%20Wealth%2C%20fame%2C%20power,entered%20a%20Great%20Pirate%20Era!
You know what my favorite hobby has been lately? Cleaning. I don’t know why, but it’s like a compulsion. I start mopping, do the dishes, scrub the shower, start the laundry, vacuum. I don’t know why. I think it’s how I assert control over my environment. After coming home from a family emergency out of state [keeping in mind I write these months in advance], I find myself at wit’s end. I have a solid queen sized bed all to myself, I don’t have to listen for someone moving around so I can be up and ready to help, there’s not mountains of dishes and laundry, and I have this weird thing called privacy! I don’t know how to act!
Just so we’re clear, I don’t resent that time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was a privilege. However, if another one of you slides into my DMs with “Hi momma,” Imunna get stabby. No one calls me “mom” but my gang of street urchins. Athankyaverymuch!
You know what makes me feel like I’m flying? Writing. In my mind, I’m free, and I get the privilege of language, to share a magical land with you all. That is so special. I can send all of my emotions, screaming, into a poem. I can put my frustration in a short story and pack it off to Wattpad! Actually, I don’t have to share anything at all for it to bring me joy. I was told all my life this is how music should make me feel. Writing is much more my niche.
In all honesty, I only used one regularly scheduled, house-wide, naptime, to work on my newest YA novel The Knight Terror Rises. And I’m such a bad writer, I made memes about it on Facebook while I did it! You remember what I said about how you shouldn’t feel obligated to write during your most trying times in life? That too. So I also broke my “one sentence a day” goal.
I think, much like that little brunette girl who hid her eyes behind her bangs found shelter in reading, and this grown person just bought a book online like capitalism will save them, you should be able to hide in books. Even ones you’re making. Don’t put yourself down for that. I love to read too. I used to trade it for sleep, and I wonder if that’s how I became an insomniac. Just set the table for a lifetime of bad habits.
To me, reading feels like resting, and writing feels like flying. You should allow yourself to find your peace in both. Create, until you’re emptied out, and then you can rest again. Allow yourself to fall away into your work. Bury yourself deep, and find yourself again on the other side. Tell yourself a bed time story until you’re safe again, then go tell it to someone else.
If my blog posts have ever helped you, please consider donating to my Patreon. For as little as $3.50 a month you can gain access to tons of poetry, short stories, and every single blog post a week early! That’s less than what I just bought a Mary Downing Hahn for. If you’re not feeling that, following is always free. Both here and on Patreon.
Check out my interview with lovely Liis! This was one of the coolest ones I’ve done.♥
Helen and I bumped into each other on Twitter, at 1am, on a cold wintry night as 2022 was getting closer to being, well, done and dusted. Since we were well past midnight at that stage and there were no crossroads involved, I promise, the vibes are all good, we did not sign our souls away that night.
Welcome Helen! First things first, imagine that you’re introducing yourself to a whole new audience on another planet somewhere in the wide universe, what would you say? I heard you’re a bit of a nerd? We do like nerds around here. A lot!
Hello! I come in peace! …Ignore the fact I’m filled with the hereditary rage of one thousand grandmothers… Anyway, I’m Helen M. Pugsley, I hail from Wyoming. Grew up in an agricultural community working on the family ranch, but now I live in a very small city.
View original post 2,066 more words
Hey, I found an old interview. Neat, huh?
Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I am Helen M. Pugsley, and I’m a 20-something from the wild, wild, west.
Fiona: Where are you from?
A town of 20 in Eastern Wyoming
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My family has been running a ranch for the past 100+ years (I’m not exaggerating. We celebrated our centennial anniversary 2015). I turned around and surprised everyone when I started writing fantasy novels instead of westerns!
I’m a librarian at the county library and I love what I do!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
As soon as possible! We have manuscripts I wrote when I was four. I plagiarized song lyrics and drew pictures, my mother acted as my…
View original post 894 more words
So I work in History Land, rather than Library Land. Wild shift, but there you have it. Because I’m trying to keep up with the people I work with, I wind up doing a lot of reading. I have a goal to read one non-fiction book a week, because I have perfected the art of skimming text, and retaining important information… It will take me a month or more to read a novel. Shuddup.
Anyway, my coworker and I got on the subject of historians, and then broadened out to non-fiction writers in general who don’t do proper amounts of research, and fill in the gaps with fiction. They are annoying, and sometimes it’s an honest mistake. When it’s not, and someone bends the timeline to fit their narrative, that’s when it really makes my blood boil.
If you think your ears were burning, then I was ranting about you at work, because not only did you publish inaccurate information, you had the audacity to target one my friends in a public forum. You opened your mouth, and used your influence in your community to do permanent and irreparable damage to their life, and career(s, who has one job anymore?), because you were jealous they’re a better human being than you ever will be, and probably more talented. But hey, how can we find out if they’re too heartbroken to write? Congratulations, you’ve beat someone who wasn’t competing with you, but trying to work by your side. The only reason I haven’t stooped to your level and called you out by name, is because God reminded me I’m a Christian and revenge belongs to Him. Also, yeah. You need to check over your manuscript for the reprint. That’s not how it went down.
If you think your ears were burning because you did something awkward at that conference, where we were hanging out: Don’t worry about it, fam. I’m awkward too. I get two drinks in me and start taking selfies with people I just met. By the way, did I ever send that to you? Text me. Honestly, mistakes happen. Sometimes we make assumptions without having all the information, and then we have to change because we found new information. It’s chill, man. Just fix it for the reprint.
Anyway, the Nice Lady in the room, started giggling and asked “Helen, remind me what you write again?”
“Young adult fantasy, ma’am.”
“Ah. And in fantasy, I’m sure there’s not much research, because you’re making up everything, right?”
And unfortunately, I hit her with the “WeLl AcTuAlLy” and not in that tone, on purpose. I just know how I probably sound. And poor Nice Lady got trapped in a conversation about how I am so fricking frustrated with the intricacies of the Gishlan eco-system. Like I told her, “I don’t want a palm tree, just growing next to a cottonwood.” which, made her giggle, because of course, she’s nice, and was originally gently suggesting, maybe, just maybe, I should be nicer too. But I went on to explain “I had to make sure the soil would support cotton crops, because otherwise, everyone would have to wear leather.” The ecosystem mimics my homeland, Goshen County, with heavy spoonfuls of Oregon and California. Because a fourteen year old started this series for me, and she wrote a beautiful looking place that felt like home. I had family in all three places. Do you know how not impressive a redwood is to a four year old? Everything is big. What’s a big tree? Did you know we have cotton in the Bible Belt because of an iceberg that predated humanity deposited enough PH in the soil when it melted? The other part of the world where cotton grows easily is India. I had to learn that, so I could give us those nice princess dresses we all love so dearly.
I had to think about where they got wood to build furniture, where their rock quarries were, what kind of stone they had, I had to think about what kind of food they were able to grow, I had to look at the blue prints of multiple castles, to see how I wanted to build Slipsong Castle, which has housed 19 generations of Amethyst’s family, thus far. I just had to log in to an online database to tell you that. I had to build the Gishlan royals their own family tree, to keep them all straight. There is only so much land will support and I have to have approximate knowledge of these things so I don’t break science.
I didn’t tell the Nice Lady this because it was some sick own. It was just the truth. Yes, I can make up crap as I go along. But I wanna make up good crap, so I choose to research. I think she was actually interested, and curious, when I explained things like “If you have giant mushroom farmers, you need them to have an economy for mushrooms, an ecosystem that will support the mushrooms, a purpose for growing them, and you need to know how mushrooms work or the mycologists will come after you.” We can’t have the mushie farmers gathering their seeds in the fall. (Mushrooms don’t have seeds. They produce spores. So when you have that urge to kick shrooms in the field, it’s because that’s how they spread, and at one point, the instinct to kick the shroom probably kept some of your ancestors alive… Either that or the mushrooms are farming us for our delicious rotting corpses, and they told you to smack their sex organs to further their agenda. Cool right?!) Buy the t-shirt here.
So this is me telling you to go ahead and lose yourself in your research. Write what you know, but go forth and know more! The libraries, museums, and archives are here to help you do just that… The mushrooms on the other hand…
No one wants to see your character chase the bad guy through the house with a broadsword, and then get enlisted in the war, and go into battle with a cutlass. (Because I will die if I don’t over explain, everything, to everyone, all of the time: broadswords and claymores are supposed to be used in open spaces. Like fields. Battle fields. Cutlasses are smaller, and easy to maneuver around a confined space. Like your apartment. Which is why I sleep with one.) Guys, I’m telling you, if you’re a fantasy writer, get yourself a blacksmith. Here! Borrow mine! Lonnie is amazing and has spent hours teaching me about steel grades, knife types, general maintenance, and who else knows. I just absorb. One of these days, I will have him forge me a broadsword so I can practice acting out scenes before I put them on paper. Research! The one I have now, the balance is way off, and the pommel obviously isn’t doing anything.
Even when I was writing silly fanfiction for the The Road to El Dorado meme group, I took my happy self to the library, and asked for books about the Aztecs… In doing so, I found out I should’ve asked for Mayan! Either way, I wound up learning a lot about the culture, and the people. “You can’t write offensive content about a mermaid, because mermaids don’t exist.”–or so an indigenous woman sang to me on Tik Tok, to the tune of ‘Colors of The Wind’. If you have skin, and a culture, and you choose to write characters with different colored skin, and a different culture than yours, I strongly recommend you listen to people with that skin tone, and culture, talk about their experiences. Maybe even hire a sensitivity reader. There are plenty of content creators on social media, that will voice their frustrations with the entertainment industry, talk about their culture, and their experiences as a human with skin, that mushrooms will eventually eat. I don’t recommend you ask these content creators to work for you for free (you do that, you get what you deserve), but I recommend you actually consume their content and learn from it. Although the fic remains unfinished, I’m pretty fricking proud of what I made.
So yeah, that’s my advice for this month. Find what interests you, pull on a thread, then threaten your kidnappers with fan theories about ‘El Dorado’ and how it ties in to Mayan mythos. Google the domestication of cats, then have your characters ride large ones through your cotton fields! Write about how Alaska doesn’t really grow vegetables, but people still thrive there. Learn how to darn socks, and can fruit. Teach yourself folk magic, so you can borrow it for your wizards. Read old magazines from the 60’s, so you can get a handle on the fashion. Trap your entomologist friend with the sweet allure of coffee so you can try to understand how he’s trying to cure cancer with fly brains. After all, I was just picking my coworker’s brain about herbal remedies for colds, so I could give plants to my imaginary friends! Just go have some fun doing research! It’s still important, and kinda fun.
This the part of the blog where I beg for money. Feed me if you dare. It will keep this blog alive. Choose this link for a monthly subscription, or this link for a one time donation.
That’s right! I post weekly poems to my Patreon. Now, only my freshest work is up! I’d be honored if you checked it out.
Yo, not everything you write will be a straight banger. This month’s title was a line I nearly wrote down. Instead I wrote “Tension hung in the air like mist on the pond, curling into my lungs.” Normal cheese does not hang in the air, and it’s weird to think about it just floating there like “Hi, I’m symbolic of tension! Nice to meet you!” I do not advise eating the floating tension cheese. I would eat anything for love, but I won’t eat that.
There was another one of mine, that I did write down: “The people were like turtles.” I used to drink quite a bit, and I’d wake up with my face glued to freshly written pages, more often than I’d wake up with a real hangover. So I’m blaming addiction on that lil’ gold nugget. It took me forever to puzzle out what I meant. (Me, being Sober Helen. I’m mostly Sober Helen now, but not Cold Turkey Sober Helen.) Anyway, it finally came to me in this super annoying, yet funny viral video that was popular years ago. It was a hamster doing an impression of a turtle in his little hamster house. “They poke their heads out, then they put them back in… Then they poke their heads out, and they put them back in…” I did that in a boyfriend’s car until he broke up with me once. It took several hours. George, if you’re reading this, leave your wife for me. What we could’ve been was as beautiful as a red slider’s belly!
Actually, while we’re on the subject, I once got ghosted because I ate a fake mustache in a snapchat video. We only went on one date, so it wasn’t a huge loss.
Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is that sometimes you will write straight bangers and accumulate a small, but loyal fan base, that stays with you through several dry years, when you can’t find a publishing house you want to work with, and sometimes you will write so crappily it will scare off potential lovers. Sometimes you will write massive run-on sentences. Write anyway. You can always edit later. You cannot edit a blank page. Floating blocks of cheese do not exist, but you can make them cannon in your books if you’re bold enough, and if it’s done right. You cannot tell a story about a floating block of tense cheese, if you never start to write about a floating block of tense cheese. Embrace the cheese.
If you enjoy these posts, and I’ve helped you, please consider treating yourself to a subscription to my Patreon! Your contributions keep this blog free to the public, and this domain open! In exchange for your financial help, you get unlimited access to tons of posts, poetry you can’t find anywhere else on the internet, and short stories from the vault! Not to mention every single post that shows up on this blog, a week before everyone else!
Come join my Patreon and hang out with me, and other friendos. We can get rowdy, and I’ll post the really unhinged short stories. 😉
Have you ever wanted to peak over my shoulder, and see bits of my books before they’re published? Now you can!
Begin your journey through Gish’s Land with Chief Emerald today, and subscribe to my Patreon! Your monthly donations will keep this blog up and running, and all this information out from behind a pay wall.