Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call them, here’s the monthly feature back for the rest of the year! Have a great Sunday!

12 Reminders You Probably Need Today Because Let’s Be Honest We’re All Struggling

Some much-needed reminders for you, just in case.

1 All writers start out writing things that aren’t very good.

2. Even experienced writers sometimes still write awful stuff.

3. The only way to get better is to keep practicing. No matter how long it takes.

4. You don’t have to do everything.

5. Sometimes, doing your best means not doing very well.

6. Everyone goofs.

7. Other people’s opinions don’t determine how skilled you are. You do.

8. Every rejection is a step closer to success, even if it’s the 10th one in a row.

9. If you enjoy writing, then you should keep writing.

10. If it feels like you no longer enjoy it, there’s probably a reason unrelated to your actual writing.

11. No book, article, script, or writer is perfect. You don’t have to try to be.

12. You can keep writing. And it’s something you’ll never regret.

Meg Dowell

The work doesn’t need your confidence.

The work just needs the work.

What I mean is, if you can manage, push through. Recognize that we all have those days where we don’t believe in the thing we’re writing, but all it takes is to persevere and continue the effort. Your faith in it is invisible and illusory — words on a page are not ensorcelled by how much you believe in it. It’s not a fragile little sprite, it doesn’t require your clapping to come to life. Now, the caveat here is sometimes you still have to take a break and walk away — and that’s okay, too. Don’t walk away too long, but a short, non-permanent vacation from the work is super-cool, and sometimes essential. But then come back to it. Come back to the narrative and renew your effort.

(…)

We are often the worst judges of our own work. Especially as we’re eyeballs deep in it. It’s like trying to figure out if you’re going to die while lost in the woods. You are or you aren’t; worrying about it isn’t gonna fix your problem. What will fix your problem is picking a direction and moving in it.

Just like writing.

Chuck Wendig

“If you think you understand what you’re doing, you’re not learning anything.”

Wow does this apply to writing. Writing, as many have learned in the workshops, is an art that the more you learn, the more you realize you have to learn. I love that part of it and always chase the next level up, constantly learning.

Dean Wesley Smith

I figured I might lose a fan or two with some of the character choices I made. Someone could be angry that a certain character lived or died, or that someone else was hiding a major secret. So be it. I was happy with it. That’s because my primary approach was that of a fan. I am indeed a fan of my own work! And why not? I WROTE IT. IT’S MINE. I should like it. If I didn’t like it, I’d change it or just stop writing it.

So that, to me, is the simple-yet-infinitely-complex solution to serving your audience and writing for fans – be a fan of your own work. Make the decision to change the narrative based on the story you want to tell, because you’ve lived with the story and those characters more than anybody else on the planet could. If you want to write something comforting, then by all means, go for it. If you want to blow shit up, have at it!

Not everyone will like it. But it’s the most honest way to go.

Michael J. Martinez

You’re taking risks just by being a writer. You are, in this modern era, as much of an entrepreneur as the folks who started Chef’d or MoviePass. The difference between them and most writers it that the folks who start big businesses like that know they’re taking huge risks.

You need to understand that as well, and act in the same way.

Many of you who read this weekly blog aren’t writer/gamers. You tried the systems and moved on or you didn’t try at all, just doing your writing and publishing and watching from afar. Good for you. You’re building sustainable businesses.

But you also need to acknowledge the risks of what you’re doing. It’s hard to build a business, whether that’s a restaurant or a retail store or a writing business. It takes day-to-day massaging, and a focus on making financial decisions while nurturing your creative side. Because without the creative side, you won’t have a business that you want…ten years down the road. You’ll be on some hamster wheel. And that’s not what any of us want.

Kris Rusch

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


And welcome to post number… two. Five. Zero. Zero. Yes! TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED posts on this blog since 2009! 🙂 Gone from daily posts to weekly posts, and even though blogging is no longer a thing, I’ll keep going for a little longer.

The writing is still slow (less than 2K again) because I spent a lot of time editing and formatting and making covers last week, and this week I have guests and some traveling to do. Hopefully next week I’ll catch up, but for now I’m at 220K for the year, so I’m not complaining.

I saw the warning about changed on BundleRabbit and now I’m starting to see what it’s becoming. It’s not fully ready yet, so I’ll post about it next week, when I’ll head there to set up the next curated anthology for Sci-fi July. It has changed (moan) but has added some very interesting features I hope to use in the future (yay!).

For you KU authors, there’s a wake-up call. The ever-changing landscape of indie publishing is going through another shift, maybe not this year, but it’s coming. I have only certain Italian titles in KU (and Lisa’s Odyssey), so it won’t affect me much.

Although I haven’t really built an audience elsewhere, but you can find me on Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and DriveThru already. Probably more in the future, especially if some of the above features pan out. I hope eventually to be able to sell from my own website, but it won’t be in the next couple of years.

I enrolled all my books in the Smashwords July Summer/Winter sale – everything 50% off from tomorrow and until the end of July, except for 99c titles and the new one coming next week (or possibly earlier, since I’ll be traveling soon).

Now back to prepping those new titles! And since I skipped a month or three, I’ll add some Words of Wisdom/Writers on Writing/what-have-you below! Have a great week! 🙂

***

Kill your darlings.

It is, as with all pieces of writing advice, good advice.

Until it’s not.

Meaning, no one single piece of writing advice is a one-size-fits-all unitasker. Nearly all pieces of writing advice — with maybe the exception of FINISH YOUR SHIT — can easily be Judo-flipped onto its back. Nearly every piece of writing advice and its opposite is true, at some point, for many writers. And it’s vital we not be rigorous with what we feel are these chestnuts of writing advice. These chestnuts must, in fact, be roasted time and time again to bring out their nuttiest, most delectable flavor.

(…)

And as I said above, it’s good advice, until it’s not.

More to the point, Kill Your Darlings (besides from being a great band name) is 101-class writing advice. It’s entry-level, as are most of the authorial platitudes. Show Don’t Tell? Sure, great, until the time comes when you need to tell the reader something. Write What You Know? Go for it, until you realize you don’t know a whole lotta shit, and if you take that advice too literally you’ll never write a goddamn thing that isn’t you sitting at the keyboard writing about writing about writing. Never Use Adverbs, For They Are Wizard Prisons! Great, great advice, perfectly golden always and forever, oh, except the words “always” and “forever” are motherfucking adverbsWriters Write Every Day — except until they don’t, and some write every week, or every month, some write 2000 words a day, some write 15000 words once a month, some write for a couple hours, or four, or eight, some write to music, some write to the screams of the people they have trapped under their floorboards. Open With An Action Sequence, except action sequences don’t always give the proper context, and also, what if you’re not writing action?

Chuck Wendig

The fact is, I don’t know where my ideas come from. Nor does any writer. The only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn’t collapse wen you beat your head against it.

– Douglas Adams

12 Strategies to Help You Deal With the Stressors Blocking You From Writing

Life is stressful. You can write anyway.

1. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking (usually) doesn’t work.

2. Break big scary tasks into small less scary pieces. Tackle one piece at a time.

3. Prioritize the things that need to get done today. Finish those first.

4. Don’t forget to breathe.

5. Write something that makes you feel good — no “strings” attached.

6. Treat writing as a reward, not an item to check off your list.

7. Speaking of lists … try making shorter ones. Just TRY.

8. Remember that it’s sometimes better not to write than to write poorly. Sometimes.

9. Take a few days off from writing if you have to — but only a few!

10. Or, alternate between writing days and writing “off” days.

11. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t write. It’s OK to have a bad day.

12. Give yourself a pat on the back for every good writing day. Cherish those moments. Smile.

Meg Dowell

TAKE CHANCES, DON’T JUST PLAY THE MARKET

I need to write what I’m passionate about. If I don’t, the reader knows. Understanding the market is fine, and I’m not saying it’s entirely without influence, but writing is a labor of love. I need to be able to sustain that love over the course of the boring bits, right? Not every scene can be a character returning from the dead or a car chase or a shower scene.

KD Edward

What are the rules of Writer Club? Well, since you asked…

1. The First Rule of Writer Club is that long-term success is always about building readership.
2. The Second Rule of Writer Club is that any success you have in achieving the first rule does nothing to hurt the chances of mine.
3. The Third Rule of Writer Club is that it’s okay to talk about Writer Club.

Ron Collins

That blaming of the writer, and that emphasis on the words is reflexive. It’s what we were taught in school.

However, this craft we call “writing” isn’t about words. It’s about telling stories. And there is no secret scale that makes one story better than another.

It’s all about taste.

So it’s time, writers, to stop blaming your colleagues when one of their books doesn’t satisfy you. Maybe the book isn’t to your taste. Maybe you don’t like that sort of story. Maybe the writer didn’t tell the story the way you would have told the story.

All valuable ways of looking at fiction. But you as a writer have to stop using that invisible scale inculcated in us when we were children—in a different world, one run by a handful of people who had a stranglehold on publishing. That scale does not exist. It never existed. There is no perfect novel. Nor is there—from a writer of Nora’s caliber—“merely adequately readable prose.”

If you start admitting that a book isn’t to your taste, you free yourself up to read—and write—things that take risks. You can write books that don’t belong on that imaginary scale. You can drop the chains that force you to struggle with that scale, and start writing things that interest you.

You can find the freedom to write what you love. But only if you stop blaming other writers.

It’s all taste, folks. And your taste is as valid as mine. It’s just different. And that’s okay.

Kris Rusch

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, more writers’ quotes than ever! Happy Sunday!

I am more and more aware of this dichotomy in the indie community. There is a pervasive focus on vanity metrics like sales ranking or number of books sold over profit and money in the bank.

Many consider it ‘better’ to reach number one on Amazon in a category where they have paid for a ton of advertising than bulk sell thousands of books that no one will ever know about but have thousands of dollars extra in the bank.

As Orna Ross noted in the Blockchain for Books white paper,

“Many authors crave attention more than money and overvalue their work emotionally while undervaluing it commercially.”

Orna is a literary fiction and creative non-fiction author, poet and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, and told me that the biggest challenge for authors is “to understand that you are in business and what that means, as well as knowing the value of what you create.”

Orna has challenged herself to understand her ‘comps,’ or comparison titles, and to dig deep into the micro-genres around her books. She also stressed the importance of looking outside the publishing world for ideas – definitely something I felt coming out of the fair. I think we have more in common with the tech community than the publishing world most of the time.

Joanna Penn

 

And here you might be saying, WHOA WHOA WHOA, WHY ARE YOU NOT TELLING ME TO CONSIDER MY CAREER, OR THE MARKET, OR TO CONSULT THE ORACLES OF PUBLISHING.

Listen, you can care about that stuff.

Maybe you even should, I dunno. It’s certainly not the worst idea to try to imagine what things might sell and what things might not. But… the reality is, nobody actually knows anything? I’ve made this point before but it demands a return visit: nobody knows anything inside publishing. They can make guesses. Many can make educated guesses based off insight and experience. But there’s no answer. And by the time you actually write the thing that might serve the market, the market will have changed. As I’ve said before, you’re aiming your spaceship at a star that has already burned out — the light from it just hasn’t caught up yet. The market is an unknowable entity. It is a lightless, doom-filled eye whose only language is chaos. It’s Sauron, it’s the Death Star, it’s Kanye West’s Twitter account. My advice is to stay away from it.

Chuck Wendig

 

After innumerable rounds of revisions, when the stress of ‘will it sell or will it die?’ had disappeared, I finally began to chip away at a new idea. And you know what?

I wrote another book. Sometimes I wrote for eighteen hours on both Saturday and Sunday, every weekend for a month. And sometimes I didn’t even open the document for four weeks. But eventually, it became a book shaped thing, and I realized that I didn’t have to write every single day to be a writer. I have to write when the ideas won’t simmer anymore and come to a boil. I have to write when I’m able to devote my thought processes to the project at hand, and not the one that hasn’t sold, or the one that I need to revise. I have to write when my job or my kids or my yard work or any of the other responsibilities I have aren’t dragging at my thoughts. Sometimes that happens every day, and sometimes it doesn’t happen for a month, but the fact is, just because my life gets in the way sometimes does not mean that I’m not a writer. If book shaped things eventually come out of my brain, then I am, by definition, a writer.

Stacey Filak

 

Leave your creative voice alone, folks.

Change to positive. And how do you do that with so much training in the other way? Actually, simply do three things…

1… Stop caring so much about the final product, just do the best you can.

2… Write one draft, clean with cycling in creative voice, and release with a promise to yourself you won’t touch it again.

3… Have fun. Make writing fun again. Make it play.

Then stand back because you will be writing stories you never expected to write and having a blast doing it.

Dean Wesley Smith

 

It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

– Ernest Hemingway

 

But as a writer, you most likely will begin to tire of writing the same kind of thing over and over. As we age, our tastes tend to change. The lighthearted stories of wonder that we told when we were young might not become as interesting as other genres, and so many authors will want to explore—much to the dismay of their fans, who will feel disappointed and betrayed.

And so the mounting pressures from fans, publishers, agents, and spouses all combine to a point where the author just says, “Screw all of you!” and has to walk away for a while.

But here is the thing: If you’re an artist, it is not a lifestyle that you can choose. The truth is, those creative fires keep burning within you, and you have to come back. You will be different, will have grown and evolved, but you’re still a creative.

I believe that you will find that your inner joy is still tied to the arts. So the old band gets back together, minus a player or two, with a couple of new faces. Or the painter picks up his brush and begins a new work, or the writers wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get a dream out of his head until it transforms into a story.

The thing that I want to say is this: In life, we undergo creative highs and lows. At the highest points, we might sit and write for sixteen hours a day and it feels as if the book is merely “writing itself” while all that we do is type. At a low point, we might wonder if we will ever be able to write again.

David Farland

 

If you think of stories as conversation—gone after the words are uttered—you won’t be as tempted to go back and tweak. Just let the words represent that past moment. Move forward. Move on.

Realize that there are lot more important things in the world right now than some perceived literary transgression.

And because we’re all stressed and terrified and grieving, we need fiction. A lot of it. Some people want entertainment that they call mindless. (I don’t think any entertainment is mindless.) Others want an incredible challenge. And still others want to have their buttons pushed in fiction, so their buttons don’t get pushed in real life.

Our job is to provide all of that. Write. Write a lot. Give the stressed and grieving a different world, something else to think about, a different preoccupation, if only for a few hours.

There’s value in that. A lot more value than we writers usually give credence to.

So write the tough topics. Write the easy topics.

Just write.

Because that’s what we do.

Kris Rusch

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it a monthly feature of this blog! 🙂 Here go the writers’ quotes!

I don’t believe in a zero-sum game for books. I believe EVERYONE should write a book, because every person who writes a book will buy and read far more books than they could ever produce, and in that way, we are a self-sustaining industry.

So there should be no competition among writers. It should be co-opetition, co-operating, co-marketing with people in your genre. We are stronger together.

This is certainly the way I have always run my creative business. It’s why I interview other writers on my podcast, feature them on my blog, tweet them on social media, and promote their books to my email lists.

But paid ads have changed things because we ARE now competing with each other. Pay-per-click ads are all about competing for keywords, upping a bid until you win, and then doing it again and again. Prices go up, your return gets sliced, and in the end, the advertisers come out on top.

Joanna Penn

Because, as a friend of mine once said, becoming a professional writer is easy (relatively speaking). Remaining one is hard.

Your job is to have a writing career, not to publish a single book. So be careful who you partner with over the years. Make sure that person, that company, the conglomerate is trustworthy. And if you can’t make sure of that, then guard yourself as best you can.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Because, in truth, that’s the only way to survive the traditional publishing jungle. Even now. Even as the stories are starting to come out.

Because the change is just beginning. We have a whole lot of reckoning to go through yet. And I’m not sure we, as a culture, are ready for all of it, no matter how much I hope we are.

Just be honest with yourself as you move forward.

And good luck.

Kris Rusch

Bear with me here a sec. I promise this is going to get someplace that’s about the workshop eventually, all right? But let me start this bit by saying that a lot of writers seem to join critique groups because they want people to tell them what’s wrong with their work. That’s an understandable, but—in my probably not particularly humble opinion—deeply flawed approach.

The whole idea is just wrong-minded to begin with.

I mean, you can find beta readers to do that without being required to reciprocate by spending time cutting into someone else’s work, right? So, no, joining a critique group so you can have someone tear into your work is the wrong way to go. There is only one reason to be in a critique group as far as learning is concerned, and that reason is so you can get your hands on and break down as many raw manuscripts as you can. That’s right: The ability to deconstruct stories is the real reason to be in a group. That’s it. Sure, there are social values, and its nice to have people you can lean on when things are down. But when done right the real learning of a critique group is in deconstructing other writer’s stories so you can get better at deconstructing your own.

Ron Collins

When I was 16, I wrote to my favorite author, whose books are still a source of inspiration for me. Stephen R. Donaldson was kind enough to write me back. He gave me the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever gotten, although it took me almost 30 years to apply it. His advice was to apply the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair and write.

I’ve learned that writing consistently not only gets the job done but that the act of writing makes you a better writer, just like practicing dance makes you a better dancer. You can’t expect to be a good writer if you only practice once or twice a year or when you feel like it. Writing every day (or as close as you can manage) hones your writing muscles. It teaches you that the blank page is not an obstacle. It teaches you that you can write when you’re mildly sick, when you’re not in the best mood, and when the muses are giving you nothing but drivel. You sit and write like you go to work every day. It’s a job, and some days are better than others. Thankfully, with writing, you usually get at least one chance to go back and polish or even redo it, but you can’t do that until you get it on the page to begin with.

J. Elizabeth Vincent

If I thought about my brand I’d never write anything.

Second, it bears mentioning that I no longer write my ideas down. I used to. I used to hoard them like jewels until I realize they weren’t gems — they were bits of aquarium gravel. They’re dross, they’re dribble, they’re just a building material like dirt or concrete. Not valueless! But also not precious. Ideas ping my brain daily the way we’re all pelted by solar radiation. I submit ideas to Idea Thunderdome, and only those ideas that emerge victorious — by which I mean, they are persistent, like carpenter bees thumping against the window-glass — get to stay. And even then, I don’t write them down. If the idea is good, it will continue to percolate. It will bother me. It will live with me, lingering in my head like a beautiful or traumatic memory.

I usually have four or five of these ideas swirling around my head at any given time. Fireflies in a fucking jar. So, when it comes time to figure out what I want to write — I look at these effulgent little weirdos to see if there’s anything there, and if there is, I pluck it out, smash its glowy butt, and smear the bioluminescent innards onto my face like phosphorescent war paint.

Chuck Wendig

Sunday Surprise


A signal boost in case you didn’t get enough books for Christmas. My story, Olympia Nights, is in The Phantom Games. Helios of Sparta, the full novella, will come out some time next year. Happy Holidays.

Available Now! The Rest of the Excalibur Books Catalog …

The Dimensions Unknown series –

Mind-bending journeys into tomorrows that never were, and yesterdays that are yet to be …

Go here for Volume One

Go here for Volume Two

Go here for Volume Three

Shipwrecked and alone in haunted Japan … Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts, by Charles Kowalski

Alien science meets ancient Japanese mythology in this epic battle across time and space …

the Sword Mirror Jewel trilogy, by John Paul Catton.

Go here for Book One

Go here for Book Two

Go here for Book Three 

Hina Takamichi was a girl of two worlds … but only one would survive …Zero Sum Game, by Cody Martin

The Nihon Gothic series – a set of standalone supernatural thrillers set in Japan, by Zoe Drake

Book 1: The Mists of Osorezan
In Venice, in London, in the deep Japanese countryside … the sleepers are awaking …

Book 2: Dead Hand Clapping
A bizarre serial killer is stalking Tokyo’s sleazy underworld …

Book 3: Dark Lanterns
A collection of 15 chilling Tokyo ghost stories featuring the Yokai – grotesque creatures from Japanese folklore and mythology …

Until next time, keep healthy – and keep the faith!

Sunday Surprise


And it’s the last words of wisdom or writers on writing of the year! Next “episode” in 2021, hoping these wise words don’t become obsolete by the time I publish them… Have a great Sunday! 🙂

Being an entrepreneurial author gives me the freedom to write what I want, to work the hours I choose, and to say yes to the partnerships and opportunities I want to while graciously declining the rest. There are no gatekeepers that get to judge my work or tell me its not commercial enough to attract advertisers, and no investors that want me to push their agendas. It’s just me, writing what I want, sharing it with the world the best I can, and empowering my readers to think, dream, and live differently.  And that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Doing these things while writing your books and building your author brand will give you higher levels of joy, happiness, and fulfillment along the way. Happy writing!

Sheri Fink

Six stories in six weeks clears the head.

It’s simple. Straightforward. It cuts the noise by giving a writer who is flailing something to focus on. I know this is true because that’s where I was when I came to me second Anthology Workshop. I knew what I wanted. I knew I wasn’t getting there. There were so many moving parts going on around me, so many things to think about. Six deadlines in six weeks settled me out.

Looking back, I realized I needed those deadlines to get myself into a healthier headspace. Focus, remember? Production Writing is about focus, not wordcount.

And once I got there, I came to the workshop fully prepared for the whole learning experience–an experience that, since I was ready, I can probably say went a very long way toward changing my life.

Ron Collins

Write. Write. Write. So many people come to me wanting to talk about how to break into publishing, and my first question is always the same—how many books have you written? Inevitably, they are still working on their first, which is fabulous, but they aren’t ready to talk about publishing. They need to be focused exclusively on honing their craft and making their books as good as they can possibly be to give them the best chance of finding readers who have thousands of authors to choose from. If you get them to read your book, you want to keep them, and the only way you will do that is to continue to write great books that keep them coming back for every new release. There’s no shortcut, get-rich-quick scheme or weekend workshop that will make that process “easier.” It just takes time and perseverance to get your books to the point where readers are clamoring for them.

Marie Force

The amateur continuously rates himself in relation to others, becoming self-inflated if his fortunes rise, and desperately anxious if his star should fall. The amateur craves third-party validation.

– Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

Advocacy is what you are truly chasing, rather than those reader eyeballs or even dollars – an army of superfans who do the selling for you.

David Gaughran

Start by realizing that you can only compare yourself to who you were as a writer last year. We are all at different points on the writer’s journey and we only ever hear the highlights in the media.

We don’t know what happened to that suddenly-famous debut author before their breakout book and we might be mistakenly comparing ourselves to someone who has been ghostwriting under another name for ten years, or have five novels that were rejected before the one that hit big.

(…)

You could even turn what you learn into a blog post or journal entry or add items to your To Do list.

If I read a book by an author I have been jealous of and I like it, I’ll always promote it to my own audience in the ultimate reversal of jealousy.

Celebrate the success of other authors and it will make you a happier writer, plus it will build your network over time.

Joanna Penn

Stop looking at what other people are doing and look at what you’re achieving. Stop looking sideways, look at where you’re going.

– Jocelyn Glei, Manage your Day to Day

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! And since she’s in all three of the Nightly Bites anthologies, you get three covers! But this particular interview refers to the newest anthology, Volume 3! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Joleene Naylor!

1. What is it about vampires that draws you to them? 

The variety. The stories can be gothic, contemporary, historic, futuristic. It can be scary, funny, romantic. Anything you feel like doing. As to why the vampires themselves are appealing, it’s the immortality, isn’t it? If I could live forever, I’m pretty sure I’d jump at the chance. So much time to get to do all the things you want to do.

2. What is your story in the anthology about? 

Jamie: Blood of Betrayal is the origin story for Jamie. A rebel in Scotland, Jamie is wounded and nearly dies in battle. He manages to return home, sick with fever, only to wake fully healed. He isn’t the only thing changed. In his absence, his wife died, and his father was murdered by the British, who then turned the lands and title over to his brother-in-law.

3. What inspired your story? 

My mother, actually. Jamie is one of her favorite characters so I told her if she wanted to make his past up for me, I’d use it. She did quite a bit of research, so it seemed a shame to waste it. Plus, you meet both Jamie and his master in one of the novels (Masque of the Vampire) so it seemed like a good idea to introduce readers to exactly what their story was.

4. Do you always write about vampires? If not, what do you write about? 

I can write about other things, though I haven’t been just because of the branding. I’m a lot slower than some prolific writers I know *cough*Barb*cough* . But most of my writing has a darkness to it. I find it very hard to write cheerful, happy things. I once started a poem about a bunny. I won’t go into details, but by the end I made myself cry.

5. What should readers know about you? 
I’m not trying to teach you anything in my books or stories. I’m not trying to expand your worldview, or make you question your beliefs, or the way our society works. I’m just trying to entertain you.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’d like to say thanks to Barb for having me! Other than the anthology, I’m not really promoting any releases – I’d need to get the book finished first (Did I mention I’m slow?).

Last minute addition: we now have also a Nightly Bites bundle, that includes another of Joleene’s stories! Check it out!

Sunday Surprise


Well, instead of monthly it looks like it’s bi-monthly… anyway, here goes writers on writing, words of wisdom or whatever you want to call them! Have a great Sunday!

You see, literature professors who study writing usually don’t write. They’re too busy teaching to get much writing done. Many of them have some odd notions that they perpetuate. For example, they talk about “waiting upon the muse.” A real writer doesn’t wait for his muse. If she doesn’t show up, the writer might have to grab a rifle and go hunt her, sneak into her lair, roust her out of bed, and pull her kicking and screaming into the daylight. (We do it by researching and brainstorming.) Or if the muse doesn’t show up, we’ll go ahead and keep writing anyway, just go it alone for the day.

You see, a real writer learns to manage his or her creative state, to fall into it when needed.

David Farland

“It’s not self-loathing,” I finally said, then went on to say that these writers aren’t hating themselves, or even hating their work. Not really. Instead, they’re just worried. Being a writer often means you’re working without a net, and without feedback. If you’re an engineer, you know that open loop systems are dangerously unstable, and that’s what’s happening here. “Sometimes writers get to the point where they don’t know if they’re good enough,” I said. “and they’re alone, and all they see out in the world is this big sucky vat of sucking darkness that’s draining their soul without giving them an ounce of feedback to let them ground themselves.”

In cases like this, a writer can get so caught up in themselves that they just flail around and then find themselves stagnating.

Ron Collins

Make stuff that no one else will make. Part of the reason I do what I do is because I’m the only one who can do it.

And there it is, that thing, that truth. I don’t believe most of us think about that much. We’re trying to get our stories on the page. But in reality, they’re our stories, not someone else’s. We write from who we are. We can’t help it. If we allow ourselves to be ourselves in our work, then our work will feel original. If we try to emulate others, it won’t. (Vonn says the worst advice she ever got was to try to be like someone else.)

Kris Rusch

Publishing today bears no resemblance whatsoever to the business I entered ten years ago when there was only one way to get to readers—through traditional publishers. I read a quote from an editor somewhere that said publishing has changed more in the last ten years than in the previous fifty years combined, and I agree with that. Now there are endless opportunities for authors who have great stories to share with readers. If your story doesn’t fit the needs of a traditional publisher, you can self-publish it and find success. We’ve found that there is an audience for just about every story, and what would never fly with a publisher can be hugely popular with niche readers. In my workshops, I tell other authors that this is the best time in the history of the written word to be an author. It’s a very exciting time to be in this business. That said, however, it’s still a tough business to break into. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. I tell newer authors to put all their focus on their books. If there is a “magic” wand that leads to success in this business, it’s in the books.

Marie Force

Making a career in creativity is itself a hugely creative act. It doesn’t just spontaneously happen. You have to build it, step by step, just as you do the individual creations themselves. It’s time plus dedication plus skill – whether innate or cultivated, ideally both.

So… how? Who the hell would put themselves through something like that? More particularly, why, when there are easier ways to make a living, with more guarantees.

Because of the joy of it.

It doesn’t matter how exhausted I am, how idea-dead, how burned out I might be on the very idea of writing one more word – the cure is almost always one thing: writing one more word (or a thousand.) When I start creating, I feel a surge of uplift deep inside. Sometimes it’s a whisper, sometimes it’s a roar, but it’s always there, and it’s always been there, even during the years when no one cared.

I know many people come to this site for thoughts on how to become professional writers, and I think that’s one of my biggest pieces of advice. Listen to yourself, find the joy in just, simply… making things up. Now, if you can’t hear it, ever… well, I think that’s telling, and you should listen to that too. But if the joy is there, you should find ways to cultivate it, to access it when you need it, because it’ll be there for you when nothing else is. A life in creativity all begins there, to my mind – not a desire for money or fame (fleeting if they happen at all.) Joy is a reward in and of itself, and if you find it, you don’t need anything else.

Creativity is a fire that feeds itself. The output is incidental; the smoke from that fire.

Why do you sit by a fire? Not because of the smoke.

Charles Soule

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! I was on his blog a couple of weeks ago and now he’s here! People, welcome J. Scott Coatsworth! 🙂

Where do you live and write from?

My husband Mark and I live in Sacramento. We’ve been here for seventeen years – we lived in the Bay Area for a long time, but I grew up in Tucson. Literally, though, I write at my desk in our shared office with a view of an ivy-covered wall and my container vegetable garden.

Why do you write?

Because I have to. I’m a writer, and I have so many stories in my head just begging to be told. I’m happiest when I am writing regularly – it’s an itch that demands to be scratched.

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first short story in fifth grade for a University of Arizona elementary school writing contest. It was strongly inspired by the Jetsons (flying car and all) and illustrated by the author in crayon. It won the contest (I don’t remember if it took first place or was one of the winners) and was placed in the UofA library in Tucson. It might still be there. 😛

I started writing seriously in my last few years of high school, and submitted my first novel at 25. It was roundly rejected, and we will never speak of it again.

What genre(s) do you write?

Sci fi, fantasy, and magical realism, mostly. I’ve dabbled in mm (male-male) romance, but my heart was always in sci fi. My mom got me started on Lord of the Rings in third grade, and I read McCaffrey, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Piper, Brin, and many others by the time I reached junior high.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I get up around 5:30 every morning and try to do an hour to an hour-and-a-half each morning before starting work (with varying levels of success LOL). It’s important to have a regular schedule, and starting early means my mind is at its most sharp.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I’m great at writing epic tales and weaving together multiple plot and character threads. I see my writing as cinematic, playing out over a large canvass. I also excel at worldbuilding (if I don’t say so myself 😉 ) I build detailed, immersive worlds that you won’t want to leave.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

LOL those are two very different questions. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places. Some opf my short stories are inspired by single words – Pareidolia, Eventide – and large parts of the Liminal Sky series were influenced by that word – liminal” – that I first heard from one pf our pastors at church. Still others come from short story fragments I started ages ago but never finished, or things that pop into my head (often in the middle of the night – I got the idea for Across the Transom after midnight and got up and wrote it whole.

And yeah, probably? I think there’s a little of me in each story I write. How could there not be? Each character draws on things I have seen or read or heard or done, so it’s inevitable that I leave a little “me” behind.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Again the trick double-question! 🙂

A bit of both. I used to be a total improviser/pantser, which explains the hordes of unfinished stories on my hard drive. Now I start out with a rough outline (plotter) and improvise along the way, allowing myself to change it as needed. It serves as a roadmap for where I want to go.

And I’m pretty fast, when I stick to it – I can complete a couple novels and a number of short stories in a year.

Tell us about your latest book

I’m in the midst of self publishing my two sci fi trilogies – The Ariadne Cycle and The Oberon Cycle. As of this writing, book one of Oberon – Skythane – has just been rereleased. The Oberon Cycle was inspired by the Giants series by James Hogan in that it’s like an onion, with new layers being peeled back in each new book. In the first one, we meet Xander and Jameson, two men thrown together by fate as the end of Oberon approaches. Oberon is a unique half-world – literally a half sphere, and much of the plot revolves around this central fact.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Oooh, tricksy. I started out on the traditional publishing side. In 2018 I self published my first book – “The River City Chronicles” – and was soon doing so regularly with novellas and short stories. Now I am republishing my old Dreamspinner books, and soon plan to publish more new works.

But I am also trying to land a big publisher through agent submissions, which I hope will eventually be fruitful. Cross your fingers!

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Oh yeah. There’s Dropnauts, my Liminal Sky spin-off that looks at what happened back on Earth. That’s out to agents currently.

I am working on a new trilogy set on Tharassas, the world of The Last Run.

And I have six other short stories in various states of submission on the spec fic magazine circuit.

I also have a number of other stories to rerelease this next year.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

To reach as wide an audience as I can’ I am writing writing writing, and also trying to level up to a big NYC publisher. I’d love to see the books done as a TV series or film someday. 🙂 So I submit, submit, submit!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t stop. We writers are almost all afflicted with imposter syndrome – that internal critic who tells you your writing sucks, you’re just not good enough, and you should pack it up and go home. I let mine stop me from writing for twenty years after that first stinging rejection. I wish I had kept going. You can’d sell what you don’t write!

_________________________

Find Scott online:

Website

Facebook: Author Page

Twitter: Author Page

Instagram: Author Page

Dreamspinner Press: Author Page

Goodreads: Author Page

QueeRomance Ink: Author Page

Amazon: Author Page

BookBub: Author Page

Buy Skythane

Sunday Surprise


Well, then it looks as if I skipped the summer! Last entry like this one was back in June, yikes! Anyhow, here we go again. Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call them, enjoy these quotes and have a great Sunday!

As I was saying, you should listen to me because I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. Which is really the point of all this: the further I’ve gone down this path, the one thing I know with great resoluteness is that I know less than I did when I began. My certainties are far less certain. My knowledge has faded, and in its place has grown —

*mouth opens, rainbows and ravens shoot out*

WISDOM.

Or something like it.

Chuck Wendig

 

Career authors write a lot of books. One or two books is a great start, but to go the distance in this business, you need inventory, which means lots and lots of books! I find that many authors can write five or ten books, but can they write fifty or a hundred books? Inventory is where the rubber meets the road and makes the difference when it comes to longevity in a very competitive business. I encourage indie authors to keep their focus on producing new books and getting them out to readers as fast as they possibly can without sacrificing quality.

Marie Force

 

Editors do not write your book. You write your book. The idea is yours, the characters are yours, the setting is yours, the plot is yours, the voice is yours—unless you paid one of these “editors” to “fix” your manuscript, which considering how inexperienced most of these idiots are, consists of removing every trace of originality from your prose.

Even then, shades of your voice and your perspective remain.

Your book is yours, not theirs. Readers aren’t reading your book because Annoying Person took a red pencil to your prose. Readers are reading your book because you’re a hell of a storyteller, and they like the stories you’re telling.

Have some confidence, folks. Stop giving these egotistical editors so much credit. They’re people you hire, people whose advice you can (and should) ignore if they don’t understand your work or your voice.

Kris Rusch

 

Keep writing

I still feel the self-doubt, but it’s not crippling anymore, it’s just something that I acknowledge. I let it sit with me, and put my work out anyway because there’s a part of us inside, as writers, where if we don’t write, we’re going to cripple ourselves in other ways.

We’re going to be unhappy. We’re going to feel blocked.

You need to get your words out into the world.

You need to break through that self-doubt because your words are important.

We need to hear your voice. You don’t know whose life you could change with your story, or your non-fiction book, or the words, the wisdom you have.

As an introvert, the thought of the videos I share going out into the world and people seeing them is difficult enough. But we embrace it anyway as part of the process.

And that’s how we write, and create, put our words in the world, and change peoples’ lives.

Joanna Penn

 

WRITE IT BADLY. Write it badly, write it badly, write it badly, write it badly. Stop what you’re doing, open a Word document, put a pencil on some paper, just get the idea out of your head. Let it be good later. Write it down now. Otherwise it will die in there.

— Brandon Sanderson on overcoming writer’s block to create a first draft as a professional author

 

The fact is that no matter who you are, it’s almost guaranteed that your work is probably not where you want it to be. This could be because you don’t know what your work is (a writer is always a suspect judge of their own work), it could be that your work is actually flawed (your craft hasn’t been honed), or it could be any one of a hundred different things.

For new writers in particular, though, writing six stories in six weeks gives you the opportunity understand an important truth: the best way to learn how to tell stories is to tell a lot of stories.

To understand what I mean by that, let me state the counter rule: The slowest way to learn is to keep working on the same story over and over and over.

Ron Collins

P.S. on Wednesday I mis-scheduled the post… if you missed it, scroll down below! Sorry about that! 😊

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