Another week has past and with it, time. For this weeks post, I wanted to talk about something that I think is relevant and possibly helpful to those writing. As writers, we are filled with ideas and it is our job to sort them out and put them to paper in a way that people will want to read them and hopefully have some sort of emotional reaction that ends with them liking the work. The problem a lot of writers that I know, myself included, is that the ideas can get jumbled up or out of order. What I mean by that is right now I am writing my fourth novel in The Dragon Riders of Arvain series while also editing book three in the same series. My mind is engrossed in the land of Arvain right now but yesterday a random thought came to my mind. An idea for a new book, if you will. With most ideas, I tend to follow them to see where they lead and if there is anything worth working on. Most of the ideas are cast to the side for later thought or to be ignored completely but this one stuck. I think it is a rather good idea and will be fun to write. Within about thirty minutes I had a plot, a setting, a theme, and characters. I had the most basic of storyboards in my head for how the book would go. All this is great and I could really get into the story, I already have to some extent, but the problem is I am in the middle of another project right now. What do I do?
This is something that I have seen happen to a lot of my friends and fellow writers. They will bring me chapters of their work to read and go over and then about a month or two later they will bring me more but it will be an entirely different story. I will ask what happened to the last story I was reading and they will shrug it off and say something to the effect of they had a new idea and wanted to follow it.
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer that can be said to every situation. As I stated above most of my ideas are garbage in my mind so I don’t follow through with them but the ones I like I do. Now, I am working on The Dragon Riders of Arvain and that is where my focus will stay until the series is finished. Mainly because I love the world but also because I hate it when I have been waiting years for a new book to come out and the author is messing around writing random stand-alone novels. Not cool authors, not cool. So what do I do with all these ideas? I do what any writer does and I write them down. I have dozens of notebooks in my office filled with ideas. The idea for the story I got yesterday I wrote down and I wrote a few pages of ideas for it. While the iron is hot you strike. Once I was finished I moved back to Arvain and continued on. Sometimes the ideas stay on a page or two while others have twenty or thirty pages of ideas for one story. Once TDRA is finished I will go through the notebooks and see what I want to write next.
Don’t push aside great ideas for your current work but you need to listen to your heart and to your readers. I love Arvain and so do my readers. So I will continue working on it until it is done. But I am not locking my self away from good ideas for future novels. Good luck out there, keep your pencils shard and notebooks handy.
The new year brings with it a few months of me scribbling out 2017 as I sign things. The Dream of Shadows, book three in The Dragon Riders of Arvain is coming along swimmingly. That is if I were swimming in lava filled with fire sharks. I detest editing and that is what I am taking my time doing. Going over each chapter to make sure that it is as close to perfect as can be before another’s eyes must gaze upon it.
School is coming to a temporary end as this is my final year before I am given my BA in Creative Writing. At which point I will continue my education and strive for my Master’s degree. School has given me time to sharpen my skills and hone my craft as a writer and content creator. At, least I hope so.
Other than that it is writing and working as usual.
Well, hello readers. I hope you are having a wonderful day today, I know I am. We are going to sit back and have a fun relaxing talk about your writing. That’s right, your writing, not mine. Now I should have mentioned that when you read that I would like you to read it with your best Bob Ross voice, it makes the writing that much more epic.
For those of you who don’t know, I am in my senior year of college for my BA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction and a double minor in English Literature and Professional Writing. I am getting my education on and the getting is good. In the last few years, I have gotten a chance to meet a few writers that were in the same genre as myself and we have gotten to talk and even work together on a few projects. This has given me a chance to have an outsider’s look at a writer in their natural habitat. Here is what I have learned.
1. Don’t be so focused on your work that you can’t see past it. You need to be able to take a step back and see it for what it is. I met a writer that wanted to work with me on a project he had. I was all for it, I love writing until he told me the idea. The idea was for a group of mystery-solving teens who get locked in an abandoned mansion that they think is haunted and have to figure out if it really is haunted and find a way out. When I saw the pitch I jokingly asked if the teens could have a dog with them and he said that was a great idea. See where I am going with this?
2. There is a fine line between giving what the readers want (selling out) and doing whatever it is you want (screw the readers, what do they know about writing?). It’s at the fine line that you want to live. You want your readers to enjoy your writing and inevitably buy your work and tell others about it. You also want to keep the integrity of your work in tacked so as not to write the next Twilight. When readers give you feedback listen to them, hear what they have to say and if you hear it a lot and from many different sources then maybe take it to heart. Some of the writers I met were so closed off to ideas and critique that the stories had obvious flaws that could have been fixed.
3. The final point, and might I add that all these are for myself as well, is have faith in your work and in your craft. Don’t be afraid to stand by it. I recently gave a copy of my books to a friend and I was nervous for him to read them when he told me the caliber of reading he did. He named off some greats and I threw my book in there. I spent the next 24 hours nervously awaiting his text that would tell me how horrible my writing was. Instead, he fell in love with the series and read straight few the first few chapters. If you are a writer and you put your heart and soul into your work, stand behind it.
Getting one’s life back in order is hard work and to be honest mine is far from in order. I am however able to take a break from the chaos and do a little work which feels great. Really great. I actually was forced to take yet another break from reading and writing sadly. This force was brought on by life. I already have a post about how life can sometimes suck, this is not one of those times, but man did it get close.
Enough about the dark times let us move on to the good times happening now and about to happen. School is going well but we are nearing the end of the journey, or at least the BA portion on the journey. Book three, The Dream of Shadows is coming to an end as well.
Whenever a book or novel comes to an end it is both an amazing feeling and a horrible feeling. It’s great to have worked on something for so long, dedicating so much thought and effort and frustration and joy into it. You love and hate the thing at times and you become invested in it. I hope that when it comes out it will be as well received as the others have been and I hope everyone enjoys it.
Well I finally got a second to sit down and take a break from the million other things I have to do to write this post out. I feel that I wright more posts that say something along the lines of I am sorry that I am not getting to posts more often than I do actually writing posts. Odd how that happens.
Anyways how is everyone doing? Great I hope. So let’s get right into today’s topic. Let’s get political, political. Bah Bah Bah. Not sure why that reminds me of that song but it does. But let us not stop there with the awkward topics that make people cringe, let’s throw religion in there as well.
Now I know what most of you are going to think, why are we talking about such serious and controversial topics? Well actually we aren’t. I want to talk about not talking about those topics. Not sure if you guys have ever noticed but I don’t talk about those topics here or in books, at all. The reason for that is my goal has always been and will always be creating escapes from reality. That’s what I do and that’s what I love. So when I go online and start reading an Indie story where the main characters must fight an evil overlord named Trump, didn’t even bother trying to change the name, it loses its magic. You break rent the veil between reality and imagination. I don’t care about your personal believes when I am reading your book, I care about your characters believe and the world they live in. If you want underline parts of the story with similarities to our world and things going on around us ok do it tastefully to where the reader says hey that reminds me of this or that. Don’t spell it out where it pulls the reader out of the world you have created and makes them go dang how did this get in here? I see so much junk about who is lying about this or that everywhere I look. One website says things are great while another says things are about to blow up. I see enough of that when I pick up a fantasy novel I shouldn’t see that exact same thing plastered on the pages with the same names. I feel like if you want to write about how you feel about these topics then write about that, start a blog about those topics that you find important. Don’t trick readers into thinking I am going to see knights fighting a dragon only to find out the dragon is being ridden by the 45 president.
I know I will get some slack for this post about how it’s their right as the author to express their feelings. I agree it is their right, I am not saying it’s not. All I am saying is that if you are going to write where it is that obvious you should not sell it as a completely original fantasy series. You shouldn’t put the disclaimer in the front that says any likeness to people alive or dead is completely blah blah blah. Not if your villain is described as someone we all know to a T and you didn’t even bother changing their name. It ruined the story for me, not because of how I feel about the current state of politics but because I wanted a made-up world with made up people and made up problems. That’s what I was promised when I read the bio, that’s what I wanted. I felt like I was cheated and it makes the writer look bad because it makes me doubt their ability as a fiction writer. It makes me wonder if they don’t have the talent to come up with their own ideas. If they do and they did this on purpose, then they should put it on the stupid cover or bio. Hey guys this is a fantasy world with a play on US. Politics as evil emperor Trump tries to build a wall around his castle to keep the peasants out. Then I would know what I am reading and I would know if I wanted to buy it or spend my time reading it. In a nut shell, properly label your genre and what your book is about, that is all.
This post we are kind of getting a little personal I know but that's ok, that's the point of the internet I guess. But what I wanted to talk about was does anyone else ever feel like giving up or quitting? In writing or in some other field. Not sure if you guys do but I know that I do, and sadly it comes fairly often.
Not sure if its just a human thing or just a me thing but there are a lot of trials and struggles, both in my writing and out of my writing. Sometimes it just feels like not only is the struggle real but that is all I seem to be doing, struggling. With a full time job, full time student and trying to get a writing career off the ground it leaves little time for my family and other activities such as church. Then when the pay out is less then glamorous or at least less then expected it can just add to the struggle and stress. Has anyone ever felt that? If so how do you personally beat it or overcome it? If you don't feel that way why do you think that is?
Now I know that this post seems a little down in the dumps, a little dark even but there are times when things get a little dark in our lives. In my experience its not always sunshine and rainbows, there has to be parts where the rollercoaster of life takes a plunge. What I do to help me is I focus and gravitate towards the good things in life. I don't get a lot of time where I can break away from my grind to smell the roses so when I do get those chances I try to enjoy it as much as possible. Then when I go back to the grind I hold on to those moments until others come by that I can grab on to. Its hard, there is no getting around that. Its a very hard life that takes a lot of work but its a good life and a very blessed life.
This is a question that I get from a lot of first time writers. They have a written book that they have worked over for some time and they are proud of it, as they should be, but they don't know what the next step is. To be honest I don't know the next step, at least not for everyone. Every writers journey is different. There will always be writers who don't make it, sorry but that's reality, and then there are writers who struggle some where in the middle of making it and not making it. Then there are those that defy normality and shoot to the top, passing even their own dreams and expectations. So when you finish your book there is a number of steps you could take.
I would suggest, as I learned the hard way, to go back over your book a few times. Clean it up and then let a few people read it and have them give you HONEST input. Don't hand it to someone who doesn't read your genre and expect a true review of the novel, they don't have the experience in the field to give you a good idea of the strengths and faults in your work. After that its all up to you. If you want to try the traditional publishing route their are outlets for that, finding an agent ect. ect. Its really easy to google that and find a list of agents who are looking for potential writers. I would recommend that if you decide to go that route do your homework. Figure out how to properly write a query letter and find agents who are looking for you. I have seen so many writers get discouraged because they get 20 rejection letters in the mail but they are sending their religious inspiration novel to agents who represent erotica. Of course they are going to reject you. Do your homework and go at it properly, you will only get out of it what you put in it.
If you are wanting to go the route of an indie writer or self publisher then that route branches off to hundreds of other routes because now the work that would be done by an entire team of professionals now has to be handled and done by you and you alone in most cases, unless you pay a couple of thousand dollars to have a similar team work on it. Again the key to success in that field is to do your homework. Put the time and effort into a website, a blog, the COVER of your book. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it.
There is so much more in this that I could write pages about this topic. If you have any direct questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will be sure to get back with you.
I have noticed in the writing world that there seems to be a sort of bad label on self publishing or Indie publishing. Whether it be a print on demand type of thing or a pay for publishing. I have been in the writing world for a few years now and I thought that by now the negativity would have died down but not so much.
Now I chose to self publish and there are several reasons for that. Number one was that I could not afford to do a pay to publish. From what I understand its not a bad deal if you can afford it and if you are serious about your writing. To be honest you shouldn't be considering publishing if you are not serious about your writing. I know the dream is to sit at a computer and hammer away at a book for a few months, send it off and then vacation for half a year while the publisher gets it ready. Then they send you half a million dollars and a copy of your book and say cant wait for the next one. Well while that does happen it usually does not happen on the first book. It usually takes years to get to that point.
Back to reasons I wanted to self publish, or at least choose to self publish. When I finished my first book I had no idea what to do next but luckily I had a close network of friends and family that helped me make the right decisions. I first sent letters out to publishers but I found that the publishers I was interested in required me to have an agent. So I went about finding an agent. I looked them up and realized that it was going to be hard to find an agent because they were hammered with letters.
I did get a few responses that seemed good to me but upon further inspection they were contracts that did not seem to have my best interest at heart. So I continued my search. Like most writers I got a ton of rejection letters. Then I started doing my research on publishers and agents and I found out just how few new writers they sign on. Its not impossible but with no experience and not knowing any one in the industry it was going to be nearly impossible. So I sat down and had a long talk with my self, no its not that weird, and I had to figure out what it was I wanted from writing. Did I want to get rich? Sure but that wasn't my main reason, I would be happy if I could just make a living. The biggest thing that I wanted out of writing was to entertain people. I wanted to help readers fall in love and get lost in the world of literature.
So more research was done and I thought that self publishing would be the best for me. I keep control over my books, I get to pick the covers the prices everything to do with my books. There is a huge down side to that though and that is that its a absolute crud ton of work. This is where the whole if your not serious about this don't do this comes in. It's a lot of work and that means that it takes a lot away from your actual writing. You have to work on your website, blogs, twitter, facebook, all that kind of stuff to let readers know you are out there and that all comes after the book is ready. You have to get it to a point where it is ready to be read. There is a lot of work that goes into it but man o man is it fun work. If your heart is in it you wont have a problem with it. The key is to find the path that works best with you and there is nothing wrong with not using a traditional publishing house.
Too many words is a thing? I don’t know about you guys out there but for me I like books regardless of their size. I don’t discriminate based on page or word count. With that said I am not scared of a book with a page count that has a comma in it in fact I enjoy challenges like that. I was unaware when I first started writing that publishers and agents looked at that sort of thing and it could sway their decision to publish or represent you. I actually had one agent turn me down because they felt that the book was too large and that I needed to cut it in half. This was odd to me because they told me this prior to reading my novel. Now that I am at on my third novel I do take into consideration the page count and overall size of the novel while I am planning it out.
For me, I want my readers to enjoy the adventure of the novel and not finish it in one three hour sitting. I want my novels to take a weekend or more to really keep your thoughts about the story floating and keep you thinking about it as you go about your daily life. At least I hope that’s how it happens.
The key to this is to find that perfect balance. To not cut out so much that your story no longer makes sense and also not to leave so much in there that the reader gets lost in the chapter and gets bored with the overall story. I don’t know if there is some fast easy way to accomplish this all I know to do is to take my time and follow the story as I go through my first draft and then during the editing stages I start trying to figure out what to cut and what to keep or add.
I know that the way I write won’t work for everyone and that’s great, if we all wrote the same then books would get boring and repetitive. I am just trying to get a few ideas out there as to how I do things to maybe help someone along their journey.
I know when we watch movies or read books we typically on see fear for short periods of time. The hero of the tale fears the upcoming battle only to dig down deep and remember something his/her father had told them when they was a child. Using that phrase the hero pushes past his/her fear and overcomes the battle winning the day and ending the story in cheers and victory. Must be nice. Doesn't work like that in real life.
At least not for me that is.
We are going to get a littler personal here, if that's ok with you guys reading this. If I could be honest with you I would have to tell you that I battle fear. Constantly in fact. Some of my fear, a lot of it actually involves my writing. Is it good enough, is it worth reading, worth printing. I argued with myself and my publisher for weeks because I wanted to charge the least amount possible for my novels because to myself, I wasn't sure if they were worth it. I fear that people will hate my work, and thusly come to hate me. Probably my biggest fear is that one day I will look back at my life and say that I wasted all this time, money and effort for nothing. That my family struggled because of me and my dream and it wasn't worth it. That is just a small portion of my fear but those are real fears that cross through my mind, day in and day out. Every time I turn on my pc or pick up a pen to write I have to tell myself that I am doing the right thing because fear tells me to stop, and back away.
Why am I talking about this? Because I have a feeling that there are others out there who are on the brink of perusing their dream but fear is keeping them back. It did that for me for years. There are probably people reading this right now that are feeling like they are not where they are supposed to be in life but they are scared to take the first step. I know what you are going through, and it sucks. There is no point in sugar coating it and telling you that the moment you take the first step things get better, it usually doesn't work like that. I have been writing now for close to eight years and it is still a struggle for me. What helps me through it though are those short, amazing milestones that you hit. The first time I finished a chapter. The first time I finished ten chapters. The first time I wrote The End. The first time someone read my story. The first time I held it in my hand, bound and finished. The first time I saw someone reading my story. Those little milestones help fortify me and my decisions to write and fight for my dream.
They will come to you too and when they do it will feel like you just plugged yourself into an outlet. It feels like you are alive and at that moment you know you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. It might take years to get to your end game and that's ok. You might see others reach their endgame first or pass you by and that's ok as well. Don't compare yourself to them, you are not held to the same standard they are, you are held to your own unique standard. Good luck in following your dreams.