Category Archives: Writing

Struggles Of A Published Author – AKA 1st World Problems

 

In writing this post I feel very much like someone at a Country Club complaining that my Arnold Palmer isn’t cold enough, right before I kick my feet up and look over the beautiful country side. You see the subject of this post is me complaining on how hard it is having a published series of books on Amazon, well not so much complaining about that but the expectations and work surrounding that.

A little over two years ago I published a book – After The Event. I had been writing all my life and wanted to finally have a physical book that I could place on my shelf. I had no expectations and while the book was the first of a series my thought was that I would publish one of so every few years while I worked on other things. As I have explained in other posts the book began by selling a few copies every day or so, and then for some strange reason blew up. At one time After The Event was the #1 selling Dystopian Fiction book on Amazon, and books 2, 3, & 4 were in the top 10. I would release a book and literally the next day I would have emails asking when the next book was coming out. As an inexperienced writer I freaked. I was writing as fast as I could meaning things such as blogging, reading and other enjoyable things were distractions that needed to be cut out. Needless to say the very thing I loved, writing, ended up being kind of a stressor.

After The Event

Again, I realize I am complaining about having a published book series that people actually enjoy, but please hang in there. When I published my first book my son was barely two years told, he is now four and I have a one year old daughter as well. Anyone with children, let along two children around these ages, knows the amount of time they can take up. So I struggled, and to some extent failed, to juggle being a good dad and a good author.

So has anything changed?

My mindset has.

I owe it to my children to be the best dad I can be. I owe it to my readers to be the best story-teller I can be. AND I owe it to my story to be the best writer I can be. Writing takes time. You think someone who didn’t publish a book until he was in his thirties would have already realized this, but I’m kinda slow. Rushing a book out in order to satisfy my readers does them and my story a disservice. It takes time, it takes care and it takes patience.

For my last book I took my time. Every time I would feel rushed or stressed I would step back and return to why I write. I would dive into a good book, or read over my old notes. That allowed me to return to the place I was before the first publication or first expectation was set. My readers ultimately decide the quality of my books but I can say for my last one I enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed writing the first two.

I am nowhere close to becoming a good author or knowledgeable writer but I’m more comfortable in my Author-skin then I have ever been. Writing is a journey, not a sprint and I will repeat that mantra every time I sit down and begin to type. Now excuse me while I get another Ma-Tai .

Landscapes-31

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Who Knows You’re A Writer?

Who knows that you’re a writer/author? 

I ask because I have been a self-published author for nearly 2 months now and the only family that is aware is my wife and little brother. None of my friends are aware that I even write.  The reasons are plentiful and some are even legitimate….some.

In regards to my friends I’m not even sure some of them know how to read. I have a handful that I consider close friends but writing has always been my secret passion and never something I felt like sharing.  If my friends found out I was a self-published author I wouldn’t try to hide it, in fact I would be very proud to show them what I have accomplished. So am I hiding this fact from them? I prefer to say they have never asked so I’ve never had a reason to tell them.

My family is a much easier answer.  My late mother and father were aware that I loved to write.  My mother in particular was aware of my dream to have a book published and was a big supporter. So if they were still around they would be the first to know. My little brother is the only family I have left and the first time I appeared in the top 100 of the Post-Apoc section of Amazon I shared the news. He’s been supportive but has never been much of a reader so he can only grasp so much.

Writing has always been something that was MINE. It was a tool to help me celebrate the good times or survive the bad. It has helped me grow as a person and has given me the ability to expand my horizons. It wasn’t until I set up this blog and got on twitter that I was truly able to find other people who understood writing like I do.

It’s not a hobby or a job.

It’s not something that you do from time to time. 

It’s a state of being. 

Whether our goal is to publish a book or to record our feelings, we are writers.

I don’t share that I’m a writer/author with other people in part because they wouldn’t understand. But you all do. This understanding is what helps me keep typing when my fingers hurt and my brain gets soggy. This understanding is what excites me and makes me realize there are others that feel the same passion I do.

So that’s who knows I’m a writer. What about you?

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What’s Your Favorite Opening Line Of A Book?

The opening line of a novel tends to set the mood for the entire story.  So I want to know what you’re favorite opening lines of a book are.  Here are a few of my faves

My mother died at the moment I was born, and so for my whole life there was nothing standing between me and eternity; at my back was always a bleak, black wind.”

– Xuela by Jamaica Kincaid

It happened for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon, a warm spring day in the flatlands near Hollywood, a light breeze moving east from the ocean and stirring the black eyed pansy petals newly planted in our flower boxes.

– The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.

– Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

What are some of your favorites?

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Are Book Trailers Effective?

I buy (and read) books for a couple of different reasons.  If I am a fan of an author then I’m willing to try anything they write even if it is in a genre I’m not a fan of.  I’ll also give a book a chance if it has an interesting premise.  With that said I know it can be hard to encapsulate the awesomeness of a book in a couple of paragraphs on the back cover.  There was an interesting article recently in The Writer that talked about how more people are creating book trailers to promote their books.  Below are a couple.

 

 

 

My question to you all is this, have you ever purchased a book because it had a good trailer?  Is it worth putting  in the time, $$, etc to create a book trailer?

 

 

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Recording My Ideas

 

During my “Idea Phase” I love to throw thousands of things to the wall and see what sticks.  The problem with doing this is that by the end of the process I have a notepad that looks like it has been through World War II.  I struggle to decipher my own handwriting and there isn’t really any kind of order or organization to what gets written where.  So when I attempt to go over my ideas I usually spend the majority of my time sifting through complete chaos.  With that said I have found a little program that I’m quite happy with.

If you’re like me then your ideas come at the strangest time.  Whether it be in the middle of the night, while your driving to work, using the restroom, or in the middle of a really good scene in a movie.  I don’t always have my notepad on me but one thing I do have is my Kindle Fire.  Now in their apps store I found a little program called Evernote.

This handy-dandy little program allows you to keep track of your ideas by either typing them in, recording a voice message, and even taking photos of whatever inspirational image you have just found.  Not only that but your information also exists in the cloud.  So you can access it through your mobile device, work computer, home computer, etc.  So far this thing has really helped me not only keep track of my different ideas but organize it in a way that doesn’t hurt my brain.

The program is free so if you struggle to organize your thoughts and/or your just tired of notepads I HIGHLY suggest it!

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A Change Of Plans

The story I have been working on for the last year is a pretty dark tale that examines things such as right vs wrong, fighting fire with fire, and to an extent what people would sacrifice in order to save someone (or something) they loved.  I’m around 60% finished with the story and still have a strong passion for it, but the problem is that I have to get my mind in a pretty dark place in order to re-enter that world.  As some of you know my wife & I just had our first child so its hard to enter a “dark place” when I am excited and loving the world!  So needless to say my dark WIP is going on the back-burner while I work on something new.

Now I plan on using this new-found love for the world to realize a story that I have had rolling around in my head for a while.  Some of the best books & movies I consumed as a child made me believe that anything was possible.  That the world was this giant place filled with wonder and beauty.  Now I still believe that is the case but once you lose those “innocence-glasses” it’s hard to see the world the same.  I want my son to have that same feeling of wonderment so I am going to tap into my inner-child and try to create something that will give him that same feeling.

I have another project I’m working on that I hope to make into a series of books.  This project is not inherently dark but does have some darker undertones.  Whenever I’m having a hard day or I’m just not in the kiddie writing mood I plan on developing and jumping into that world.

Just wanted to let you all know as your support and inspiration has continued to push me forward in my writing journey.  While I still haven’t nailed down a new writing routine having this little guy has provided me with plenty of inspiration.  Now if he’d only let me find a few hours a day to utilize it  🙂

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It’s All In The Details

My greatest weakness as a writer is being able to create and describe a setting.  In my prior work I would throw a few details at the reader giving them a general idea of where the characters were & then completely discard the setting to focus on what is happening.  Some of my favorite authors are able to not only properly describe the setting but make it seem as if it was another character in the story.  So in order to strengthen my setting weakness I began to ready Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle.

This is a part of the Write Great Fiction Series that also covers Plot Structure, Compelling Dialogue, and Revision.  Now the Description & Setting book is the first I have attempted so I can’t speak about how great the series is, BUT I am enjoying this one.  Part of the book includes exercises to help you improve your writing & the first one I tried was about capturing details.

The author challenges you to not only pay attention to normal sights but to look closer at the small little details.  For example you notice someone eating a hotdog, normally I would notice this and then ponder upon whether I wanted a hot dog 🙂   The book encourages you to notice how the person holds the hotdog -tight in an almost death-like grip, how they consume the hotdog -In large desperate bites as if the hotdog will suddenly & inexplicably vanish from existence, and what their body language is like -Head held high to show the world he has a hotdog and is proud of his ability to eat it.

I tried this at work the other day.  During a break I “noticed”, I say noticed because it sounds kind of creepy that I was watching them, one of my coworkers as they read a book.  Normally that is where I would leave it but I took a second to find the details.  I noticed he was situated in his chair so that he was facing away from everyone else towards a wall, just to confirm that he didn’t want to be bothered.  He gently swayed back & forth in the chair, so slowly you couldn’t tell unless you were paying attention.  I imagined he was reading something action packed and was involuntarily running and fighting with the main character.

I’m hoping that my new detail-capturing mind will help me discover things that will make my worlds & stories more believable.  What about yourselves, how do you come up with details to fill your stories?

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