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Posted in Blog, Writing Process

Ho Ho No

The holidays! Oh what a splendid time to catch up with family, be kind and generous and, of course, eat. I enjoy them, I really do!

Except, I also don’t. Now, before you call me a heathen and commit me to a mental facility, hear me out.

The holidays are busy. Even if you don’t think they’re going to be busy (and, if you don’t, you’re nuts), they are an insanely busy time. I’m talking “Crap, I was so busy I forgot to put on pants” busy. And, for me, this starts right around late September.

Because, for me, Halloween counts as one of “The Holidays.” So, at that moment, my thoughts generally become active around whatever holiday is coming up. Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving plans, Christmas shopping, not remembering what happened on New Years…you know, the usual.

And, because my thoughts become generally consumed by the festivities and related planning, my writing and creativity tends to suffer a bit. To say that my output is anemic during this time is to say the Death Star was just some mobile home. But imagine the yard flamingos!

It gets frustrating, though, because I love to write–It’s my getaway. But, during this time and for quite some time after, it becomesĀ work. This means that I am more liable to find an excuse NOT to write and, instead, skip it and waste my time pursuing other activities. And “other activities” DON’T WRITE BOOKS!

And my brain continues inventing new ideas but my fingers aren’t keeping up. It’s like being on an assembly line, building widgets, but I have to go to the bathroom. No, wait…maybe not like that.

Anyway, it’s going to be rough for a while–in all areas, most likely. This is when I have to make sure to stay on task. “Descent Into Madness” isn’t going to write itself!

Not yet, anyway. Once a book can write itself, I’m out of my hobby. šŸ˜¦

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Posted in Blog, The Forgotten Years, Writing Process

The Eve of the Storm

I confess myself nervous.

Not the “I’ve robbed a bank and the cops are going to find me” nervous.

Also not the “I can’t sleep because Christmas!” nervous.

I’m somewhere in between.

Tomorrow, November 8th, my second book will be sent out into the wild. The Coming Storm will officially becomeĀ real. I mean, real for everyone else. But that also makes it very real for me.

It’s worse this time around.

First of all, November 8th (tomorrow) marks The Call of Chaos’ first birthday, which I hadn’t even realized when I scheduled The Coming Storm’s release. So let’s show TCoC a little love!

With TCoC, there was no pressure. I wrote it, I released it, and I got a largely favorable reaction, for which I am eternally grateful.

So now, the second book. There’s expectation, no matter how small. It’s true, I don’t have thousands of reader fans. Shocking, I know. šŸ™‚ However, readersĀ have read TCoC and will read TCS. With that, there is a certain standard that has been established–a baseline–and I really REALLY want to exceed those expectations.

Am I confident that TCS will leave readers happy and wanting more? Yes.

And no.

I mean, what the Hell doĀ I know? AmĀ I happy with it? Oh Hell yes. I love it. I think it’s TCoC plus about a billion. The only way The Coming Storm could be better would be if it was on fire. And I always write forĀ me first. But, make no mistake, I don’t want to produce a shitty product, and the “what ifs” creep in quickly.

So, on the eve of release, I sit and stew, waiting for readers to hopefully snag a few copies and rake the book over the coals where it will come out on the other side, still shining like a diamond that had been swallowed by a vindictive hellcat and pooped out onto an orc’s dinner plate.

Or not. That wasn’t a really great description. But, I mean, what the Hell do you think I am? A writer?

(Please enjoy The Coming Storm, releasing on November 8th!)

Posted in Blog, Writing Process

My First Book Signing

This weekend, I had the pleasure of being part of the local library’s Local Author Open House. I’m still very new at the whole author game, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The TL:DR version is, I met some really nice people (both authors and readers), and I learned some things about personal appearances.

I had both friends and family stop by to get an early copy of The Coming Storm. I was very happy to see them, and I thank them for supporting my author endeavors.

I did not, however, sell any books to anyone else. Is this a bad thing? No. Well, financially, it’s not great, but I didn’t go into this thinking “Oh man, I’m going to sell out of all my books and this will be fantastic!”

You see, people don’t go to libraries toĀ buy books. At least, not on the spot. Several authors sold one or two copies but, mostly, we talked with readers, gave them our business cards, and hoped they were interested enough in us to look us up later.

I watched other authors and took mental notes, hoping to learn some things about personal appearances–which I did. I used the opportunity as a practice run of sorts–a way to get my feet wet and figure out what works and what doesn’t work for me.

It’s going to forever be a work in progress and I will continuously learn from each event.Ā I’m looking forward to next year’s event as well as any other events in which I participate!

At the very least, I had plenty of practice with my damned elevator pitch!

Posted in Blog, The Forgotten Years, Writing Process

3am Musings

For some reason, I’m awake at 3am, That might be because I went to bed at 8:30. Don’t judge me!

It has occurred to me that The Coming Storm’s early release (at the Local Author Open House) is justĀ six days away. In six days, my second baby will be sent out into the world for hungry readers to enjoy. After that, on November 8th,Ā everyone gets to read it.

And, now, I vividly recall the paralyzing terror that came along with The Call of Chaos’ release. I’m proud of what I’ve written, but I also had my entire lifetime to write The Call of Chaos. I wrote The Coming Storm in less than two years.

What if it doesn’t live up to expectations?

Worse yet, what if it’s even better? The pressure that puts on Descent Into Madness becomes that much more.

It’s never-ending and, truth be told, it’s like eating a bowl ofĀ  Boo Berry cereal–so tasty, yet it tears up your mouth. Agony and ecstacy, hot and cold, Empire Strikes Back and The Phantom Menace…wait, I’m getting off-track, here.

To be honest, I can do nothing about it, now. The paperback copies await their moment in the sun, and the Kindle edition is on pre-order. I’ve never been all that adept at sitting back and waiting, though.

I do hope that everyone enjoys it.

Posted in Blog, Writing Process

Here’s What You Should Do…

Writing advice. It’s everywhere. Literally,Ā  you could wake up, roll over, and find yourself sinking in a quagmire of do’s and don’ts. You stumble, bleary-eyed, to the fridge and open it. It’s full of writing advice. What’s on the TV? The news, and it’s all terrible. But, after that, writing advice. How do all of these people know what you should do to be a great writer?

They don’t.

“To be a great writer, you have to read a lot.”

“You should always write 3,521 words a day.”

“You have to experience everything and travel and pet lots of dogs!”

Alright, I mean, petting dogsĀ is pretty neat, and they love it. But you don’t need to pet dogs to be a writer. Although, if you’re writing about petting dogs, it couldn’t hurt, right?

So, here’s the deal. You know how I always say that peoples’ reading tastes are as diverse and frustrating as pizza toppings? Well, if you don’t…I say it a lot. I say it so much that I constantly crave pizza. Like, with tons of cheese and thick pepperoni and…crap, okay, I’m off track.

As varied as readers’ preferences are so, too, are writers’ habits and methods. You can’t expect to conform to one thing simply because someone says so. And, yes, maybe it’s Stephen King or J.K. Rowling saying it. What worked for them just might not work for you.

This is probably going to draw a lot of squinty eyes and “What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis”es, but here goes. I…don’t read as much as most people. I love to read. But I also love to run, and play video games, and I have a job, and I have a wife and two daughters and, obviously, I love to WRITE. Yes, IĀ do read, but I read in spurts and I’m picky about what I read. Am I a really awesome author? I have absolutely no idea. I think I spin a decent yarn. could reading more possibly help my craft? Yes? No? Possibly.

Do I force myself to write EVERY DAY like some authors suggest? No. Do I set deadlines and word counts? Nope. Why not, you ask? Because none of those things works for me. I write exactly as I intend, and itĀ works. Am I going to start telling other writers that they should do as I do?

Nope.

I really try not to give advice. Instead, I explain my methods. If those work for someone else, great. If they don’t, then no harm done.

Paramount in all of this, however, is keeping an open mind. That might be theĀ only piece of advice that I will give 100% of the time. Don’t feel that youĀ must take writing advice, but don’t discount it. Let ideas in. Maybe try them. If they don’t work, move on. But don’t force a square peg into a round hole. Learn from others’ experience but blaze your own trail and, above all, do what is right forĀ you.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to seek out some pizza.

Posted in Blog, Writing Process

NanoWri…Mo or Less

This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I’m not a huge fan of NanoWriMo. I don’tĀ dislike it, but I’m close. I will most likely never participate in it, and I’m going to try to explain myself. Understand that I speak for nobody but myself, and I am certainly not disparaging those who enjoy the experience.

You see, IĀ love writing. Writing, to me, is that “I love what I do so my job isn’t ‘work'” feeling. If someone said “Hey, if you let us cut off your toes, we’ll pay you to write the rest of your life,” I’d be all like “Cool beans! I don’t need those ungrateful toe bastards anyway! Saw away, friend!”

So you’d think that NaNoWriMo would be perfect for me, right? Well, yes…and no. For me, writing is done onĀ my time. It’s an activity that provides an escape and a bit of solace that I can’t get doing really anything else (except maybe running). I don’t give myself word count or time deadlines. I write however much or little flows from my noggin, through my fingers, and onto the keyboard.

Forcing myself to hammer out a novel in a month would be like forcing myself to run as long and as far as I can until I drop dead. I don’t want to force the creativity out of me, beating it with a whip and calling it bad names until it’s crying in the corner, rocking itself in the fetal position.

I don’t want to look at the time of day and think “Holy crapballs, I need to pound out X number of words still today or this week or this month!” No thanks. I’ll pass.

I know that some writers thrive on this. NaNoWriMo gives them a chance to branch out and write something they otherwise wouldn’t commit to. They come up with new ideas and concepts, and they pound them out until their fingers fall off and they love it! And that’s great, but it’s not for me.

Writing isĀ me time. It’s the few hours of the week that I have nowhere to go and nothing to do but write, and write whatĀ I want to write. The moment that feeling stops is the moment I will give up writing. And I’m not planning on giving up writing anytime soon.

So, writers, prep for NaNoWriMo and have loads of fun during the month of November. I will not be writing with you, but I will certainly be cheering you on from the sidelines…still, sadly, with all of my toes intact.

Posted in Blog, Writing Process

The Hype Machine

I amĀ terrible at naming things in books. I agonize for a long time until I come up with something passable. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about something I’mĀ even worse at than naming things: Marketing/self-promotion.

Seriously. Trying to get myself and my book out there is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort, and it’s often expensive. Even worse–I’m thoroughly awful at it. Imagine diving into a lake to save a drowning puppy but, instead of helping, you accidentally drown the puppy instead. Also, you somehow set the lake on fire.

That’s about how skilled I am at self-promotion, except I can’t even find the lake in the first place. Part of this problem stems from avoidance. I’m a writer, not a marketer (dammit, Jim!), and not only are my feeble attempts bad, but there is a lot out there I just don’t know about. I don’t have a marketing budget, and my employer would really like it if I showed up for work five days a week.

But I’m getting my feet wet. I traditionally move slowly with endeavors like this, but I am dipping my toe in the water, even if there is a grimace on my face. Months ago, I signed up for a Mailchimp account but did nothing with it. I figure, maybe five people would care. However, now, I’m determined toĀ make people care and will, at some point in the near future, start up a mailing list. And, trust me, it’s going to be pretty damned spiffy. Bee’s knees, cat’s pajama’s, giraffe’s…um…bar tab.

That’s the first step. I am making a concerted effort to seek out other avenues and get this thing going. I GUARANTEE THAT I WILL MAKE OPRAH NOTICE MY BOOK!!! šŸ™‚ (Not a guarantee.)