The population keeps on growing, and it keeps getting easier to be one in a million at something. Or does it? One of the most startling things about being an author has been realizing the number of people out there who want to be authors. It’s a little mind-blowing. There are numbers on the internet that I never would have believed before, saying that somewhere between eighty and ninety percent of Americans want to write a book.
Having been published for a few years, I believe it now.
According to the numbers, wanting to write a book is not enough to make you one in a million. Viewed mathematically, it is enough to make you what could roughly be estimated as one in one. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write Bonus Post – One in a Million?”
We’ll start this with my usual disclaimer. I’m not calling myself on expert on any of this author stuff, or anything silly like that. There are so many levels and layers of learning to writing and publishing, I know I’ll never put down my metaphorical pen and say, “okay, I’m done”. To whatever degree that might aggravate some folks who aren’t in love with the process, it delights those of us that are. We’re the writers least likely to notice when the books are or aren’t selling, and most likely to keep writing either way. I’m an expert only on knowing that this is what I was born to do, and experienced enough to know that the only thing between me and knowledge is more learning.
Hey, I can do that. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #021 – Building a World”
Well, you know what this is. You’re reading one right now. The weekly blog can serve a variety of purposes; we’ll only go into a few here. There’s no reason to write a weekly blog unless you have a reason to write a weekly blog. There, I said it. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it didn’t to me. I tried to go weekly for awhile there, in the beginning. It was way too much for me, and it wasn’t doing much to represent me or my books. I pulled back, and narrowed my focus to get the ‘Walking Between Worlds’ trilogy written. The blog went out monthly for awhile, and the books came out in a timely manner.
Then came ‘The Year of the Zombie’. It brought with it some helpful tools like a writing program and a strict writing schedule, which combined nicely with the experience my first four books had given me. Finally, I had time to write a blog every week. Also, I had something I wanted to say. One is as important as the other, in my opinion. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write Bonus Post – A Weekly Blog”
One of the best things about life is all the characters you get to meet along the way. It’s also a great reason to write books. As many authors will attest, characters in stories are not creations; they are people, with minds of their own. The fact that they don’t have bodies in our world is not relevant at all; some of my favorite people don’t have bodies in our world. What they do have is personality, and a startling amount of free will. They don’t always agree with how the story is going in your outline or in your head, and failing to listen to them can result in the most dire of consequences. They can turn from your best hope of a champion to your most clear antagonist with a swift act or comment. A good character will almost always take the author by surprise at some point.
You know, like people do. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #020 – The Characters”
When it comes time to impress someone with how much goes into writing a book, it’s easy to start listing endless complicated steps. When it’s time to really break it down for the writer on the way to becoming an author, it’s just as easy to take heart. My habit of pointing out that Today’s Writer has it easier than ever may delight some, and annoy others; nowhere is this more true than in the realm of research.
There used to be a lot more know-it-alls in the world, if you don’t remember. Google almost single-handedly put them all out of business, except in the most remote or web-controlled areas. They still talk their shit, of course; but we can point out that it is indeed shit they are talking now. It’s pretty wonderful, except for all those out of work know-it-alls. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #019 – The Research”
For awhile there I had a newsletter and didn’t even know it. When I started listening to author interviews and reading more current news on writing, I told Dawn I needed a newsletter. She told me I already had one. She had put it together awhile ago, and tried to keep folks abreast of what was going on with me through it. I told her that I needed to be messaging these people directly, consistently. She reminded me that she had brought that up many times; I had brushed it aside, and said nobody cared. Well, of course nobody cared. I wasn’t doing anything with it.
I apologized, again, and asked her to help me get it figured out. We already had a handful of subscribers, and she showed me the list. It was pretty much her, my mom and me. There were a few others, and bless them; but you get the point. It was time to let people know who I was, and what I stand for, and that I was ready to take my subscriber list seriously. Hmmm…how do I do that, again? Continue reading “Why I Love To Write Bonus Post – The Newsletter”
It took a lot of living before I figured out that I needed a clear plan and a logical trajectory if I wanted to get anywhere deliberately. It’s hard to say what kind of life I would be living if I hadn’t gone through so many purposeful changes, or if I wasn’t still pursuing the next purposeful change. Setting up a system for self-improvement is a good way to learn to write an outline, it turns out.
When I wrote my first book, I did not use an outline. The next undertaking required that I employ one, for a number of reasons. This is a point I would like to stress before some writers drift away: the need for an outline is more determined by the story than it is by the author. The second point is that any author can benefit from outlining, as can any story. The only reasons to not use an outline is because the author doesn’t feel like using one, or doesn’t know how. They’re not good reasons, but they are reasons. Now let’s look at some of the reasons why outlines benefit the author, especially the author who is or may become interested in taking things to the next level. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #018 – The Outline”
I love to talk about how good writers have it these days. We’re super lucky in so many ways, simply to have the calling that we do. Some authors may feel like they chose to write books; many of us feel that writing chose us, or that there was no choice. There’s a part of us that has to write, to get those stories or ideas out there in the best way we can, and not stop no matter how many times we type ‘The End’. It’s nice to realize that the thing that chose you has so much flexibility and longevity built into it, and that those things are getting better every day.
Did you ever dream of being an athlete? I didn’t. I knew back then what they’re finally telling us now: the most rewarding sports are the most dangerous, and success still means minimal brain damage and constant pain for the long period of your life where you can no longer compete with others. One season of football in junior high taught me that smacking into someone or something full speed gave me headaches and an inability to focus. That’s American football, by the way. There was no organized futbal (uh, soccer?) going on in high school when I was a kid, and even those guys retire awful young; so I withdrew back into drawing and reading. Like public school programming, I realized pretty early on that eager participation would result in the loss of some precious part of me that I would need later, so I withdrew for the most part from both. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #017 – In It For The Long Haul”
This is a post that really hits home on what this series is all about. Initially, I considered writing this as a letter to myself and sharing it with you in that form. Instead, I’ll write it as though I am addressing the new or soon to be author. That’s the version of me I would have tried to send that letter back to, had I written it. He was not at all familiar with humility. For a long time I thought I was the only one that suffered from this problem; now that I’ve met more aspiring authors in the last couple years than in my whole life till then, I recognize that the problem is actually quite common.
I thought my first book would turn my whole life around, that it would get sales right away without me even trying, and that it would thrust me all by itself from one career to another. Even when I sent it off to a couple of traditional publishers back then, I was totally arrogant about it. I wrote cover letters that violated every rule, and only hit up publishing houses that clearly stated on their websites that they did not publish first-time authors. It didn’t matter what the rules were; I knew my book was brilliant, and worth breaking them all. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write Bonus Post – Author, Be Humble”
I’m a big fan of meeting readers. I think it’s important for authors to figure out just who will love their books, and do their best to introduce them to each other. There are a variety of ways to do this, and I’m only barely getting started. However, as I pointed out before, I am here to help the writer who is where I was a few years ago. When I need advice, I look for folks one or two levels up from me. I know that trying to do things like someone five levels up will not work at my level. If you don’t understand levels, think deeply on this subject if you want to get anywhere but where you are. If you deny the existence of levels, or think they aren’t fair to point out, I heartily encourage you to get the hell off my page.
For the rest of us, a good understanding of levels is essential. For authors, a good understanding of their readers is equally important. Some research can be done at home, and it can be done easily once you slap a few labels on your book. Find your genre, and your sub-genre, and then find out what your key demographic is. You can reverse engineer this if you want to write with the reader in mind; pick your audience, and then write what they read. It’s one of the ideas we’ll explore later, when we talk about where authors go for stories. That’s not the kind of writing we’re discussing here, though; we’re talking about that first book, and it is often written for the author more than the reader. It’s also not always the easiest sell. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #016 – Who’s Reading, Anyway?”