Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing to start the year well. Enjoy.

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of defining your accomplishments by what other people did better. Someone climbed Mt Everest before you did, but by God, if you climb Mt Everest, you deserve a cookie. And “better” doesn’t mean “first”. “Better” may not even be what you think it is. Is it sales? Or critical acclaim? What? Go you and do what you need to do with your art because you need to do it.

Don’t get caught in the trap of believing you need to be first in line to be noticed. Who cares who drew the first comic on an iPad? Does anyone even remember? Of course not. Because that turns art into artifacts, and you’re not creating artifacts, you don’t need to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Comic Book Pages Drawn While Hanging Upside Down Like a Bat.

You’re trying to connect with your readers by telling stories that have meaning to you and to them. Believe in what you are doing and the rest will follow…or not.

And if you never get that acclaim or those big sales, well, you did something real. And artificially trying to make yourself a Special Snowflake forever because you did it FIRST isn’t real.

Just tell your story…Climb Mt Everest. It doesn’t matter if someone else got there first. It’s your journey.

Colleen Doran

“Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want. Anything at all… as long as you tell the truth… Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work… What you know makes you unique in some other way. Be brave.”

Stephen King

Write books, authors. Write stories. Channel your emotions, your fears, your vulnerabilities into your work. Swallow the hurt and give voice to a song. In your books, which is what you are here for in the first place. Everywhere else? Post about cats and beards and the cupcake you had instead of dinner. Better to be banal than a bitch. Because readers will flock to the cats and the cupcakes and possibly bring you baked goods and collars with your cover art as collars to singings. But they’ll get a front row seat to watch the bitch go down.

Every. Single. Time.

Heidi Culliman

You can focus on social media and platform-building and brand-making, and it will yield you SOME return, sure. But… drum roll please…

It won’t yield you nearly as much as just concentrating on writing as many awesome books as you can for invested, functional publishers.

When a publisher asks you, “What’s your platform?” consider turning that question around and asking the publisher about THEIRS.

(…)

Be the best writer you can be. Online, be the best version of yourself. Have fun, be kind, work hard, have empathy, and hope for luck.

If you’re building a platform to sell books, don’t. If you’re altering yourself to fit a brand, dont. (Unless you’re an asshole, I guess.)

This is also not to say writers shouldn’t promote their own books! You shoul! I follow writers and *want* to hear about new releases!

(But I aldo don’t want those writers to pummel me in the crotch with ceaseless sales pitches, either.)

Anyway. Yeah. Platforms and brands are not magical solutions, so do not make them your focus, Okay? Okay.

NOW LET’S ALL GET DRUNK.

Chuck Wendig

In a recent yoga class, my teacher talked about the difference between having fun and enjoying yourself. Fun, she said, was an activity you do to escape your routines. However, enjoyment is the act of finding happiness in your routines and responsibilities. Therefore, another element of a good hobby is that it becomes a part of your daily or weekly habits, instead of something you use to run away from your writing (or life). This is why drinking, drugs, gambling and social media are so dangerous. They can provide fun via instant gratification, but long-run they don’t bring us joy. Better then to focus on habits and hobbies that help us be more plugged in to our lives–ones that allow us to enjoy ourselves.

Jaye Wells

Sunday Surprise


And it’s another guest! Don’t we have a December full of gifts? 😉 Lots of new authors for you to discover – because you’re gifting books for Xmas, right? Anyhow, I’m happy to introduce you this young lady! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Nat Kennedy!

Where do you live and write from?

I am from central Washington, in the high scrub desert. It’s dry and either hot or cold, and sometimes that offers months of staying inside, writing away at stories.

Why do you write?

I love writing. This, I am sure, is a typical answer. I mainly write what I write, gay erotic fantasy, because I can’t find enough of it to read. So, I write what I want to read. The characters are usually up beat, usually heroic, and though there’s angst, it’s rarely relationship angst. I want my lovers to love.

When did you start writing?

At a very young age… Seriously, I started writing in the early 2000s (I cut my teeth on fanfiction.)

2016-01-002-edge-of-desperation-ebook-coverWhat genre(s) do you write?

Fantasy, of the gay and sometimes erotic variety. All types, urban, to high fantasy, and I’ve some dark fantasy planned as well.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I get up at 5 am to write before work. I tend to work very well with deadlines. I am a NaNo Guru. Sometimes, if I’m rough drafting, I write in every scrap of time I can fine. But if I’m editing, I need larger chunks of time to work with.

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

My characters come across as real, relatable people. And my worlds jump from the pages, enough that readers feel immersed in them. I remember, years ago, reading a story and finally ‘seeing’ how the author made the details flow seamlessly into the narrative. No info dump. Important information evolved through the story. I then worked to emulate that. And I am doing okay, though there is always room for growth.

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

Mainly I find my inspiration from the holes in other stories I wish the author had written. I want to know about some background character. Or a hinted gay love story… why wasn’t that developed! So, I then think of the feelings that story invoked and sometimes steal that and plop it into my own world. I am inspired by negative space.

I don’t put myself in my stories. I’m far too boring.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Outline and plot it all, darling! And I am fast at rough drafts, slow at the edits depending on how good my outline was. I have improvised in the past, in fact my current novel I’m editing was improvised, and it needs so much work. I have vowed to outline always from now on.

Though, if a story does take me right, when the outline takes me left, I’m not afraid to go off outline.

2016-01-002-center-of-deception-ebook-coverTell us about your latest book

My latest book is the second in the Wielder World series, Center of Deception.

Though it’s the second in the series, I’d written books 1 and 2 (novella length) to be able to read in either order. The Wielder World is a series of gay urban fantasy. People have the power to Wield the Nerve of the World and do some amazing feats of ‘magic’. Women can do so with no repercussions. Men, however, pay a price for their power.

It’s the events in Book 1 from August’s point of view. How he got wrapped up in the male Wielder Cult. How he meets Kyle and Reggie from Book 1, and sets the seeds for future romance and hints at a greater threat to men in the Wielder World.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Wielder World is self-published because I like the power self-publishing gives me, also it’s a much faster process. Traditional routes take years. I also enjoy the self-publishing community and am honored to be a part of it.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I am editing Wielder World 3, the follow up novel called Afflicted to the Core, and I just finished a rough draft for a new high fantasy novel, the first in the World of Two Moons series.

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

Eventually, I would like to take writing full time. I’d like to build a fan base, have people excited for my next novel, and maybe, hopefully, get some fan fiction written about it. That would be quite the delight.

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

Read good books. Study them… why you liked them, how they did that thing you thought was awesome. And write often, if not every day, several times a week. Never give up. Learn to accept rejection. And write what you love, because even if people don’t buy it, at least you’ll enjoy reading it! 😉

_________________________________
About Nat and where to find her

Nat Kennedy grew up living in a poorly populated desert landscape. With no neighbors in a 1 mile radius, she had to make up her own fun.

Nat strives to create plotty and imaginative fantasy worlds, with the added benefit of gay and non-mainstream romance–steamy to tame. From couples to threesomes, including fantasy hermaphroditic races, love abounds.

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Random Friday


For lack of other randomness, I shall let random writers dispense random writerly wisdom… Enjoy these writers on writing! And publishing! And… all the best to all the writers out there!

I do not believe in the assumption in this business that feedback from anyone can really help you. That’s not how a writer learns, folks.

So going to a beginning writer workshop and listening to other beginners tell you what you did wrong is like going to a person who does your hair who never finished high school and ask them for legal advice. You would never do that, right?

So why ask other uninformed and ill-informed and beginning writers what is wrong with your story? The only answer you can possibly get is dangerous, likely wrong, and usually destructive to your belief in yourself and your art.

Just say no, as Nancy used to say.

Set up a networking group and learn craft from major professional writers and keep writing. Trust your own art. Believe in yourself.

A ton more fun that way.

Dean Wesley Smith

 

And that’s what I’ve been having the most trouble with these past two weeks. Once again, my brain has difficulty wrapping itself around the idea that there is more than one path to success in this new world.

I’m aware of it: Hell, I preach it here on the blog almost every week. But apparently, deep down, I’m still stuck in the (almost literal) ruts of my “upbringing” in traditional publishing. When I default for myself, I default to the One True Path idea—and I default hard.

So, this blog is really not for you. It’s for me. It’s a reminder that in this modern world there is no longer One True Path. There are as many new paths as there are writers. The internet has opened the world to all of us, and we can pursue the careers we want—or at least, the parts of the career we can manage.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

 

The main question I’ve been asking myself is this: What do I have control over? Or at least, what do I have the most control over? Where do I have choices, and how do those choices affect my success? Basically, the idea is that there are four main areas that a writer has the most control over that directly affect his or her success, each of these being a leg of the table:

  1. What you write
  2. How much you write
  3. How much you learn
  4. How you market

Rather than abstract terms like “content” and “productivity,” I prefer concrete words that are more actionable — which, of course, is a fairly abstract word, but we’ll let that pass for now. There are so many ways for a writer working today to spend his or her time that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. These four legs are what I think constitutes a very sturdy table. If you are negligent in any of the legs, well, it can make your table pretty shaky after a while. A lot of writing with a poor marketing strategy often results in lackluster sales. A lot of learning without actually producing much — like the workshop junkie who goes to lots of classes but doesn’t actually write unless compelled to do so by a teacher — is equally out of whack.

Scott William Carter

 

I’ve decided that the next time a writer asks me for that one piece of advice I’d like to give every writer, I’m going to tell them this:

Buy a hat.

No, not because I have some milliner friends who need the support. But because writers, and particularly brand new beginning writers, need to understand the separation of church and state.

Your writing is not the same as your writing business.

These two things have some links between them, but I’ll say it again:

Your writing is not the same as your writing business.

When you have finished your book and it’s time to release it into the world, you must, must, must at that time take off your writing hat and put on your publishing or business hat.

Perhaps you have a pair of steampunk welding goggles instead. Or a leather workman’s apron.

Whatever metaphor or physical object works for you. For some writers, I actually would recommend that they go get a hat or something that reminds them of the difference.

I am not speaking to just indie writers here. Traditionally published writers need to make this same separation.

Writing isn’t the same as business.

Leah Cutter

 

When you’re just starting out, your craft is poor, and it’s endless frustration. You have amazing ideas that are never as good on paper as they are in your head.

Then, as you develop, you eventually get to the point where you can execute your ideas on paper about as well as you can see them in your head–and at that point, you start to feel pretty good about yourself.

But if you keep going, and keep improving your craft, you’ll eventually get to the point where the stuff that comes out on paper is SO much better than what it started out as in your head that you never *quite* believe that it came from you–and you can still improve from there.

That’s really what, for me, makes writing a total kick in the head.

– Stephen J. Cannell

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! She’s Author of the Month at Smaswords Authors group on Goodreads, so feel free to drop by over there and ask more questions!And even if she doesn’t mention it in the interview, she has Some Brief Advice  for Indie Authors! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sharon E. Cathcart!

25908261Where do you live and write from?
San Jose, California

Why do you write?
Honestly, there are stories in my head that won’t shut up. I write because I have to.

When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I made up stories and plays with one of my best friends starting in elementary school, and started writing short stories in junior high school. I’ve never really stopped.

What genre(s) do you write?
Primarily historical fiction, which is my favorite genre. I’ve also done a couple of steampunk tales that will be in an anthology next year, as well as one dark comedy.

What does your writing routine consist of?
I wish I had the discipline to call it a routine! One of the challenges I face is that I live with an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease. The primary effect of it is utter exhaustion (the disease kills your thyroid). So, some days all of the energy I have goes to managing my day-to-day life (including the proverbial day job). I write when I can, and for as long as I can.
25357892Because my preferred genre is historical fiction, I also spend time doing research (primary sources whenever possible). I want to make sure the details are right, and I’ll halt production if I’m not happy with how things are going.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I think one of my greatest strengths is putting atypical characters into my stories. My protagonists are not perfect people. In my Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series, for example, my heroine is approaching 30 years of age and is not a virgin … which is not what you typically see in historical fiction. I have people in my books who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, physical deformities, etc. In the case of my newest work-in-progress, Bayou Fire, one person lives with Hashimoto’s disease.

31432511Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I have found inspiration in a variety of places. The inspiration for His Beloved Infidel came from reading a memoir by the first social worker in Iran, for example.
I don’t put myself in my books, but my characters sometimes know things I know. For example, Claire Delacroix (the aforementioned heroine) is an equestrian. At the time I wrote the book, I was still an equestrian athlete myself and so I was able to put my knowledge onto the page.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Improviser, for sure. I have a general idea of where I want the book to go, but I find that sometimes the characters have different plans. There is a character in the Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series, Gilbert Rochambeau, who made it very clear that he was not, in fact, going to be the minor character I had initially planned for him to be. His role became very important indeed.
I tend to be a slow writer just because of my preferred genre. I am meticulous about my research and that adds time to the process.

Tell us about your latest book
I’m currently working on my first historical paranormal. This is the blurb:

Diana Corbett’s childhood was plagued by unceasing dreams of smoke and flames. The nightmares went away, until the noted travel writer’s first night on assignment in Louisiana … when they returned with a vengeance. Could the handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, be the key to unlocking the secret of BAYOU FIRE?
Award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart presents her first full-length historical paranormal tale, set against the backdrops of modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.

What’s unusual about this book is that it contains elements of reincarnation. So, I had to study both modern-day and historic New Orleans, as well as the bayou country, Creole plantation life, and more. I just returned from my second research trip this year.

31432417Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
I’m hybrid published these days. I have stories in three traditionally published anthologies. The rights to my three traditionally-published full-length works have reverted and I’ve released them again myself. I like having control over every aspect, from the interior design to the cover. I have even discovered some design talents I didn’t know I had!

Any other projects in the pipeline?
I am going to redesign, re-title, and re-issue my music business memoir. That will come out early in 2017.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
For years, my goal was to publish a novel. Then, it was to win an award. I’ve accomplished both of those a few times over. So, I’m focusing on continuing to meet and greet my fans, get new work out, and hopefully delight my readers!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s the same one I was given years ago: Even if it’s shit, get it on the page. Editing is for later.
author-head-shotThank you for the opportunity to participate on your blog! Readers may find me on social media here:

Blog: sharonecathcart.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharon.e.cathcart

Twitter; @sharoncathcart

Website: http://sharonecathcart.weebly.com

Sunday Surprise


Since I skipped October, I might do double ration of writers on writing and words of wisdom this month! In the meantime, here’s today’s quotes! Have a great Sunday!

Even if authors did the imagination bit for free – it is gloriously exhilarating, I do love writing – there’s still the task of making it readable, and the grind of snagging all the typos. And there’s the admin around publishing  or indy publishing, and the complexities of being self-employed. If we were paid just for editing and admin, most of us would still get a pretty lousy hourly rate. We don’t want pity – we choose to pursue our vocations – but, just like microbrewers, craft bakers, chefs, musicians and anybody else trying to professionalise a passion – we do want to be treated fairly by those we serve.

M Harold Page

Those choices are personal. They’re about the kinds of careers we want. Some of us do want to sell just one book to a traditional publisher. As long as we’re honest about the reasons for it, then it’s a good choice. Some of us want to make a fortune at our writing. As long as we are willing to work hard at it, it’s a good choice. Some of us just want our work read by as many people as possible. As long as we’re willing to continually improve our storytelling craft, that’s a good choice too.
There are no bad choices—as long as we approach what we do with confidence and education. Know what you’re giving up to go traditional. Know how much work you’re taking on when you go indie.
Don’t accept someone else’s opinion as gospel (even [shudder!] mine). Make your own opinion.
And most important of all, don’t waste time living someone else’s dream. Live yours.
In order to do that, you need to know what your dream is. But once you’ve figured that out, believe in it. Work toward it. And own it.
It’s yours.
It may not be mine. It might not be your family’s. It’s yours.
Be proud of your dream. Be proud of the work you do. Be proud of your choices.
As long as you believe in yourself, the shamers can’t control you.
Be yourself—and I guarantee you that no matter what you choose to do, you will eventually succeed at it. Because you’re not doing it to impress someone else. You’re doing it for love.
And that’s the key to everything.
Kris Rusch

And, luckily, we have options today.
Very good options. Options where we can control everything that happens to us (within the limits of anyone’s ability to determine what happens to us in anything that resembles an artistic endeavor, anyway). We do not need to sign a deal that puts our creative control in someone else’s hands. And, to be blunt, any deal that stops a person from in good faith making the art they want to make is a dangerous deal, indeed.
Ron Collins

Some people might disagree with me, but I don’t think you have to write every day to be a writer. I don’t think it’s necessary to finish or publish every story you write. It’s okay to experiment. It’s okay to scrap a project that isn’t working out. It’s okay to write just for the fun of it. And it’s okay to take breaks.
As writers, we’re often our harshest critiques. That is certainly the case for me. I’m much harder on myself than I would ever be on someone else. For now, I’m going to take it one day at a time. I’m going to work on being kinder to myself. And I’m going to try to enjoy the process of writing instead of being so focused on the end result.
Tricia Drammeh

We’re all trespassers, and you know how we get away with it? Just by doing it! By committing. By hunkering down. By making it happen with effort and thought and by shuttling off our myriad neuroses and anxieties for some other day, some other situation, some other problem. Oh, you didn’t get that publishing deal you wanted? Or the agent? That sucks. It does! And it also doesn’t matter because that’s how this business goes, that’s how life is, that is is the cost of existing. Did you think every day would offer an eager line of people serving you up your wishes on shiny platters? Or did you expect that — gasp — it would take work and improvement and effort and iteration and reiteration? Because it does. It does require that. All things require that. Writing isn’t a hula hoop — you don’t just pick it up and give a couple hip-shimmies to get that motherfucker spinning. Writing is a complex act. It takes time and failure and more failure and a little success and a little luck and more failure and then REAL success and then hey oops more failure again.
Chuck Wendig

Random Friday


And since I’ve been busy writing, reading, editing, publishing and whatnot, I didn’t have time to do much else, therefore I shall leave you with these words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call themm for the weekend! Enjoy!

When things get tough, what can you do?

Focus on the positive feedback you’ve gotten in emails, in blog comments, on Facebook, and through other avenues.  Reminding yourself that people out there do like your work can really help you get through the rough patches of bad reviews and lack of sales.  If you have some writer friends you can talk to about the ups and downs of the business, you’ll remind yourself you’re not alone.  Sometimes it helps to know you’re not the only person going through the downside of this business.

Ultimately, though, it all boils down to whether you (as the writer) like the book?  Would you write the book again if given the chance?  If you enjoy the book, that book was worth writing, and it has value.

Ruth Ann Nordin

Living in Edinburgh, I know a fair few writers to talk to, and most of them are pretty ordinary middle aged folk who spend a lot of time at a screen. Some of us belong to weird-to-outsiders sub cultures – gamers, sword folk, bikers, tech-heads – but then we’re weird because of the subculture, not our writing. Like most vocations, ours requires drive and self-discipline, so there’s not really much room for scotch-bottle-wielding craziness in our day-to-day routine. And if our conversation is sometimes… specialised, it’s no different than if you listened in to some microbrewers talking shop… and our specialism is where the books come from, the books people read, which leads us to…

By definition, professional authors can’t possibly be all that weird because people read us. If books with minimal connection to modern reality were what sold, then Sumerian creation myths would top the charts.

M Harold Page

What do you love about the writing life?
I love the freedom of the lifestyle. On almost any given day, my schedule is my own. Being able to do what I do on my own time is hugely liberating.

More substantively, I love writing. It’s great to be able to do what I love. My definition of success is finding something you love so much you would pay to do it; and if you can get someone else to pay you for it, that’s success.

Barry Eisler

That’s what will happen with traditional publishing. It’s already happening. Blog after blog after blog appears at nearly the rate of one per week by writers who started indie and who went to traditional and who are now returning to indie for the control. Even more blogs appear from traditional writers who have become fed up with their treatment from their traditional publishing “partners” and are moving to indie.

Within the next five years, or maybe ten, as the word gets out (writers are slow on the uptake), traditional publishing will find itself in the same position as the Big 4 TV networks. The Big 5 traditional publishers will get the clueless and the one-shot wonders.

Writers who have actually learned business, writers who want money, control, and yes, eyeballs, will go indie (or start their own small press). It’s already happening, and it’s starting to speed up.

The publishing industry is probably where TV was in 2005.

Here’s the future, folks: The traditional publishers aren’t going away. But they are becoming irrelevant to anyone who cares about doing their very best work and getting paid the most for it.

And those eyeballs—well, they will find you. Just not in the first month.

We’re going back to word of mouth, which is always the best way to sell anything.

Kris Rusch

For those who are not writing all the time, who let their critical voice into their offices, who let what others say about their work into their offices, writing is a painful thing at times. So it is easier to focus on promotion of what you already have done.

I have seen a lot of writers in the last four years get all caught up in promotion and almost stop writing.

The one thing you really should have in your office on your wall if this is your problem is “Your Next Book Is Your Best Promotion.”

Very few people after the learning curve time get lost in production.

But wow can the focus get lost in promotion.

Dean Wesley Smith

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, writerly quotes, call them as you wish. Have a great Sunday!

Getting a book accepted for publication is, I’m sorry to say, the second easiest part of this business (the easiest part is writing the book. Sorry!). The truth is that an acceptance is just the first step in your career. To stay in the game you need to make smart business decisions, weigh your choices, partner with the right agent(s) and editor(s) for your work, and get business savvy. That means reading, understanding, and pushing back on your contracts.
These are the worlds and characters you built. Ensure they are doing what they need to do to power your career, instead of constraining it.
Kameron Hurley

One of the best reasons to write is because you have a story you’re dying to read that hasn’t been done yet.  But, you might find opposition when you decide to pursue writing this story.  (Even if you have a backlist already, people in your circle might not be supportive of the story you have in mind.  My family still won’t touch my romances.)  I would advise you to write the story anyway.  No one but you can write your story.  You will bring your own unique voice and twists to it that no one else can do.  That’s one of the beauties of working in a creative field.  Your story is as unique as your fingerprint.
Ruth Ann Nordin

We have very little data in this new world. Very little.
But we do have the reality that the audience for all of our books will renew every decade or so as new readers poor in.
And the niches and genres will shift and people’s tastes will change and fads will drive some books to the top and pull down others.
I know thinking about the renewal of your audience takes a long-term mindset. And most indie writers, because of the suddenness of this new world, don’t think long-term or even try.
But as this new world matures, some of us are thinking long-term.
So maybe if a book doesn’t sell well at the moment, maybe it will sell better in ten years as tastes and the audience renews.
Or maybe it will just sell a few hundred copies a year on average and in ten years have sold thousands total.
Audience renews.
I love this new world. Have I said that before?
Dean Wesley Smith

A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words.

– Orhan Panmuk

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Writer Wednesday


Welcome to Writer Wednesday, where I dispense my weekly writer’s wisdom… not! 🙂 I don’t have real wisdom to pass on, but since I was asked something that really grates on my nerves, I thought I’d give the long answer here. Warning: YMMV or each and everyone of us has a different answer to this.

It all started on Goodreads:

GRquestion

Now, the long answer – and my advice to young writers – is: if you write to the market or to make money, if that’s success to you, you’re in the wrong business. If you want a career as a writer, you must write what you love.

And, by the way, a career happens while you’re busy living. You can work towards it by setting realistic goals – which means something you can control. Your writing output, you can control it. Selling a million copies? That’s beyond your control. It’s a dream, not a goal.

Sure, dream big, but set realistic goals to reach that dream. Decide early on what’s success to you: finishing a story? Putting it out there (trad, self or indie)? Buying yourself a coffee with the first royalty check from a retailer? Writing all the stories that come to mind? Make those darn characters in your head shut up?

I was lucky to grow up before the internet, I guess. I’ve been writing for almost 40 years (my first story dates back to Summer 1978) and of course more than half of it sucks and will never be published, but at least I have a routine, I have fun and have no critical voice because nobody ever told me I was supposed to do this or that to write a literary masterpiece. I was a one-draft-writer for almost twenty-five years! 😉

So now, even when I “rewrite”, it’s to adjust plot holes or change the ending or a scene because I came up with a better one. It’s definitely not polishing, which means I’m still fairly prolific. I write the story, I reread it, correct it, send it to proofreader and out it goes into the wild.

How do I measure my success? By the fact that 5 years into my indie publishing life

  1. sales are very slow, but growing
  2. I’m still writing what I want to read
  3. I even stopped “recycling” old stories because I have so many new ideas!
  4. I’m still learning craft and business
  5. I’m still having fun writing new stories

In another ten years I’ll look back and go “Wow, look at my career!” So, if you want to be a professional writer with a career, you can’t

  1. write to the market
  2. hope to strike the jackpot with a couple of books
  3. quit after 1 or 10 books

Quitting is the end of your career along with unrealistic goals.

Now go and have some online workshops on craft and business either at David Farland’s or Dean Wesley Smith’s. I’m currently finishing Teams in Fiction and it gave me an idea for a series I might write when I’m done with the current Silvery Earth and Star Minds stories (all brand new) and inbetween the Vampires Through the Centuries books (that come out 2 a year, 1 novel + 1 novella).

And by the way, it’s okay to change in course during your writing life. I’m another writer who writes during major holidays because people are too busy with their life and their family to bother me, so beyond the customary lunch or dinner with aging parents, I’m free to do as I please! 😉

Now I better go back to Norman Blood… Then some Kaylyn’s rewrites will be in order to adjust it to the other story! Have a great week! 😀

 

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, food for thought, whatever you want to call it, for your long hot summer! Enjoy!

But every morning I got up at 5am, sat in a coffee shop and wrote until I had to go to work (this routine changed over the course of 20 years, but that was what I did between 2004 when my son was born and 2013 when I quit). I wrote screenplays and books. Most will never be published or produced because they suck or they’re irrelevant now. I couldn’t get an agent. I couldn’t get a meeting. I couldn’t get a publisher to send a rejection in an SASE. I couldn’t get anyone to read even a few chapters.
But still, I plowed on. I tried to quit, but I’m stubborn like that.
I’m not mad about the years I spent trying to shake the literary tree. I’m pretty happy about them (in hindsight). We all come into this business armed with something. Rich spouse, years blogging, great contacts, a sharp eye for trends – whatever it is, we all have tools we can lean on.
I came armed with so much rejection that nothing any motherfucker said was going to get me to quit. I came with so much practice that I knew my process. I knew my strengths and my weaknesses inside and out.
Without those years of struggle, I probably would have quit publishing in 2012 when my mysteries started tanking. Instead, I reinvented myself again.
CD Reiss

Social media is PUSHING.
And today’s reader doesn’t buy things because the author pushed them.
As a reader, I want a book to pull me.
When I see a book’s name pop up again and again among people I trust, I want to read it.
When the cover is beautiful and the hook is compelling, I want to read it.
When I meet the author and they are gracious and kind and insightful, I want to read it.
When I listen in on a panel and like what I hear, I want to read it.
When I chat with someone on Twitter, and they make me laugh and add value to my life, I start to think that their book might add value, too.
None of those things are pushy.
None of them happen *to* me, uninvited.
I don’t want to be the object that is acted upon. I want to be the subject that makes a conscious decision, that feels a twinge of curiosity and discovers something amazing. I want to be the person who acts, not the person who is acted upon. I don’t want to be badgered and nagged and wheedled and urged and threatened and cajoled and whined at.
Delilah S. Dawson

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”
Sara Henderson

If your books aren’t selling, there is only one piece of advice that is true, I’d say:
Keep writing. (…)
Survival is the most vital success an author can engineer for herself. Simply staying in the game — emotionally, mentally, productively — is huge. It counts for a lot and it is the way to a stable writing career. Again: this is a career of peaks and valleys. A lot of writers love the peaks but can’t hack the valleys. Learn to love the valleys for their ability to let you rethink and reframe your careers and give you a new peak to which you can look forward.
(…)
At the end of the day, the most fundamental advice is the same as it is for anybody: don’t get mired in drama, do your best work, sell it for what it’s worth, and try to improve with every iteration. Do not base that improvement purely on sales or reviews, because both of those are the result of a thousand wildly spinning compasses. Sometimes it’s on you, sometimes it’s on the publisher, sometimes it’s on the fates themselves. You control what you can control, which is the work. Write. Edit. Publish. Repeat. Survive. Look to a career that is not just the few books and the few years you’ve invested but is an ongoing carousel of the weird wonder that is a writing career.
Chuck Wendig

Every time you hear yourself whining, stop and step back. Remember that whining is not a business model.
Figure out if the solution is easy or hard.
Easy might simply mean that you have to stand up for yourself.
Hard might mean that what you want isn’t possible the way the industry stands now. The question then becomes do you fight to change the industry or do something different?
Indie publishing has made it possible to step out of the traditional system and be creative without all the strictures that traditional demands. The new world of publishing is freeing, but hard in its own way.
The new world of publishing is as brutal as any capitalistic system is. The people who succeed are those who keep fighting, not those who sit around whining. Yeah, the fight might take years.
If the fight is worthwhile, then do it.
And yeah, it’s okay to whine. In the confines of your own house, to your closest friends, but not on social media.
But when you step into the business arena, do so with confidence. Stand strong. Believe in yourself and all you can do.
If that sounds like it’s impossible, then maybe this business isn’t for you.
Kris Rusch

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, call them what you want. Enjoy and have a happy Sunday.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
William Faulkner

Here’s what I want: for writers to keep talking. To each other.
For writers to stop shouting their wares and start walking over to admire someone else’s cart.
For writers to RT ten other peoples’ articles and buy links before they pimp their own.
For writers to stop begging for reviews and start looking for books to review, or at least read and tweet about.
For writers at a con to stop building Fort MyBooks on the panel table and start actively engaging with the audience and each other, never beginning a single sentence with, “Well, in MY book…”
For writers to get a query rejection, file it away, forget about it, send out another query, close Twitter, and start writing the next book instead of chewing on that rejection for a week and letting it connect in any way with their own talent and self-worth.
For writers to take the money they were going to pay to enter a contest or buy Likes or print expensive swag and put it toward a writing conference where they’ll connect with other writers and receive constructive feedback about how to improve their writing or pitch.
For writers to take joy in the hungry, friendly, curious community around them and start looking for ways to give back, to lift others, to give the compliment that’s going to make someone else’s week.
The thing is, we shout the most and the hardest when we feel alone and unheard.
And you are not alone and unheard.
Stop shouting and start talking.
Listen, and you’ll be heard.
Delilah S. Dawson

We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories… And those that carry us forward, are dreams.
H.G. Wells

So I think I’m ending up with a prediction after all. 2016 will be the Year of the Writer.
Not because writers will suddenly become the darlings of the culture. (Wouldn’t that be weird?) But because the writers who have survived all the changes and have worked hard to publish in whatever way is best for them are now returning their attention to the very thing that got them started in the first place:
Telling stories.
What a great thing. Because…speaking as a reader now…that means we’ll have all kinds of marvelous, new, exciting books by 2017. Things writers have longed to write and either hadn’t had the time to write, the energy to write, or the courage to write.
It does take courage to write what you want. To follow your own creativity and see where it will lead you. To walk down a path that doesn’t exist yet.
So maybe I should modify my conclusion and call 2016 the Year of the Courageous Writer. Because we’ll be seeing a lot of courage in print this year.
And we’ll all benefit from it.
Kris Rusch

But as with any “overnight success” story, there is a lot more to it.
I think one of the hardest things for newbies to nail down is the right mentality. It’s part of the weird dichotomy that is our lot. We have to have incredible self-belief to write something and show it to other people in the first place, but we also have to have enough overarching self-doubt to hone our craft and polish our stories until they are ready for prime time.
Dave Gaughran

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