Friday, December 30, 2016

Reading Habits

I hope you all had a very Happy Holidays and that the new year doesn't contain as many horrors as the last. This last blog post of the year I want to focus on something that I love. Reading books.

First I do have a couple of announcements:
  1. Night Reads will be resuming with Season 2 that will comprise 7 episodes. If you are an author or know of one looking to promote a piece of fiction, submissions are open. There are currently 5 slots available! More information can be found here:
  2. I will be hosting a Twitter chat about writing and pop culture on Wednesday 1/4/17 at 8 PM EST (5 PM PST). Join us at the hashtag #SiWriChat at that time. This week's theme will be Star Wars. I will host this chat every other Wednesday and will post a schedule of the upcoming events soon.

Now time for some serious shenanigans. Reading has been one of my favorite things to do for a very long time. My mother took me to libraries when I was young where I poured through whatever looked interesting. I remember loving every Choose Your Own Adventure book I could get my hands on and flipping back and forth to go through every choice. I remember reading Sherlock Holmes before I was old enough to really get into such stories. I remember thinking how the author took one tiny detail that was glossed over or wasn't fully revealed and made that the crux of the detective's argument when solving the murder. This angered me more than displayed the brilliance of Holmes. I wanted to morph into Godzilla and terrorize the setting in the story. I spent a lot of time going back and rereading one story and becoming more frustrated rather than getting lost in the suspense of it all. I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlotte's Web. The Cask of Amontillado was one of my favorite stories we read in class. I remember Robert Frost visiting my Elementary School and how much his breath stank when he got close enough for me to smell it. Tip to authors who visit schools: Brush your teeth and stay away from the coffee while you are there!

Then I became lost in the shuffle of school, sports, and video games. I used to love video games and spent too much time playing them. I decided that I wanted to make video games when I was too young to make such decisions. It took me a long time to realize that what I really loved was the stories behind the video games. I began to write my own fiction during this time after a teacher exposed me to the wonders of a chain story, and I have an unnatural love for chain stories to this day. I would lose interest and come back to these stories here and there, but never finish them.

When college came around a friend of mine let me borrow Jurassic Park and I discovered my love for the written word all over again. I fell in love with Crichton's fast pace techno-thrillers then spread out to other genres. I discovered Clancy, Robert Jordan, and (of course) Stephen King. These wonderful authors created worlds that I tore through as fast as I could. Sometimes I would stay up until 3, 4, 5 AM, or later because I could not force myself to put down the book. I had an English teacher who always gave us a creative option for our papers which I always went with. I wrote about the character Forrest Gump becoming a professional wrestler and I wrote about a surgeon who wore an afro with a chinstrap. Both silly tales in the mold of Ace Ventura. I took a creative writing class that challenged me in ways I had never thought about before. It taught me to consider each word carefully before setting it on fire.

Many years after college I finally realized that I loved to write. Why shouldn't I try to write my own novels? I looked into publishing and then self-publishing through Amazon. I had stories that I wrote on the side for myself, but most of them were never finished or far too short to be considered a novel. I posted things on Wattpad and worked on my novel.

I read books from some of my indie writing heroes Lindsay Buroker and Hugh Howey. Each word giving inspiration and satisfying a need. Today I typically read at least 3 fiction books, 1 audio book (listen instead of read?), and 1 instructional book. One book is for lunch breaks at work, one is for the bathroom (I am old shut up), an audio book for trips more than 10 minutes, and an e-book for nighttime reading before sleep (don't need the lights on for this!)

Lately books I could not put down have been hiding from me. I miss the techno-thrillers of Crichton, the Harry Potter series, the first two books of The Hunger Games and Divergent series, Angels and Demons, and other books that sucked me into their worlds. Then I ran into one that I felt I must share. I posted a link to my review of the novel here on the blog. A review of a book is one of the best gifts you can give to an author (ranks up there with coffee and chocolate), so please review the books you read.

In 2016 I did not finish many novels. I think I only have 6 or 7 that I finished for the year. I want to at least double that for 2017, but I need help. If you have any novels that you recommend or could not put down then please share them here or message me on social media with them. I am always looking for books that grab you with Hellraiser type hooks and won't let go until the book is satisfied with your page turning. Give me all of those... and puppies.

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Writing Progress Updates

Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 25,185
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 4 of 47

Monday, December 12, 2016

Measuring Stick

We put so much pressure on ourselves to succeed in what we are doing. As an author we all want to be best selling authors on the NYT, USA Today, or on Amazon. Just being on the list can give you a nice boost on sales that you didn't have before. Not everyone is going to make that list in spite of writing something great. This is why I want to talk about the measuring stick. This is the standard that you use to measure your success. You can use it to measure other things, but Godzilla may look at you funny then set you on fire.

Set Your Goals

You can't be the underpants gnomes from South Park and expect to be successful without a plan. Of course you have the larger goals that you want to reach like being on the best seller list, making enough money off your writing to support yourself, or own all the Twinkies in the world. How do you make that happen though? You need smaller manageable goals that you KNOW you can accomplish. Small steps you can take that will lead up to the larger goals.

These are the smaller goals that I work the living crap out of. If you don't squeeze all the innards out of these then there is a chance of infection. Trust me, you don't want your dreams to become infected. Unrealistic goals can poison your whole outlook on what you are doing. It can push your spirits down and force you to quit. You know how the saying goes. Quitters never win, and winners go to Disney Land. Well? Do you wanna go to Disney Land with me?

Manage Expectations

I did a little digging and found that there are very few debut novels that make the NYT bestseller list in any given year. The Girl On The Train is the only one I can think of in recent times that made #1 although there may be another one this past year. Now that self publishing is somewhat mainstream there are thousands of books published every year. Think about that. The chance of being a NYT bestseller on your debut novel is better than winning the lottery, but worse than your chance of being chased by a murderous clown or shot by a toddler.

Don't use someone else's stick to measure your level of success! The quickest way to hit the quit button is by trying to measure your level of success against the Stephen Kings, Tom Clancys, or Chuck Tingles of the world. You are not them and you never will be. It's comparing apples to oranges with the expectation of them both tasting like chocolate. Don't do that, it's like slapping yourself across the face repeatedly and saying you should stop but you keep going anyway. That's never fun and should only be done on Tuesdays. Everyone knows that!


I have reached several of the goals set from the beginning. Here is a short list of the goals I have accomplished thus far. I finished my first novel, formatted it myself, sold my first book, someone has read and enjoyed it, and the latest goal I accomplished yesterday was to sell enough books to make the money back for the stock copies purchased. The only goals set that haven't been reached yet are for getting reviews and selling enough stock copies to require another order. I expect to reach every goal set and have been surprised at the amount of support thus far (all of the <3 for that! :) That is my measuring stick for success for the debut novel. No you can't use it. Why would you want to? You don't know where it's been, or where I have been, or where those snuggling Care Bears have been... Wait, where have YOU been? *runs away screaming something about Nutella*

Get my blog posts sent directly to your email or Godzilla will sadface in your general direction!


Writing Progress Updates

Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 18,049

The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 4 of 47

Monday, December 5, 2016

When the Muse Calls

It has been almost 2 weeks now since I released my first novel and I must say that this isn't how I imagined things starting out. Not that things have been bad. Everything has been positive so far. What I am talking about is all of the unexpected things that have been happening lately. The biggest one is the call of the muse. Before we get into that I want to talk about a couple of the other things. The ones that go bump in the night.

I have gotten many requests from people asking me to provide a link to purchase an autographed copy of my novel online. Boom! It is done. I now have a link for that in the right sidebar. Now whoever kidnapped the fluffy bunny, please let it go!

I also decided to try participating in NaNoWriMo last month which I did not win. I have much respect for those of you who did. For me it was simply a case of trying to take on too many things at once. If you are thinking about doing it then I suggest you clear your calendar. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get 50,000 words written in one month. I did learn a lot in the process. You have to go in with a plan and budget your time and word count to ensure that you finish. Setting word count goals for each day is important. If you can't write as much one day then you have to figure out how you can make up that time. It's so easy to get behind bit by bit. You know what else is easy? Getting stomped by Godzilla.

The Muse

The muse is whatever it is that inspires you to make your awesome. It is your sunset. It is your lover. It is your plastic bag floating in the wind. Anything and everything that speaks to you. The muse for me more often than anything is a dream. I have more story ideas based off dreams than anything else. When you read my works it really was all a dream, but I did not read "Word Up" magazine.

I do get ideas based off of other people's stories, but most of those feel fake or second rate. It feels cheapened because I am taking someone's idea and molding it into my vision of what it should be. That story has already been told. Those ideas don't excite me, only chains and whips do that.

Lately I have been getting called by the muse to work on the sequel to my novel. What I have found is that when the muse calls it is not always friendly. While I should be working on promotional stuff and building on what I have started the muse has been laughing at me. The call the muse is putting out is like a violent grabbing and twisting of the ear. It wants me to type the words that give life to my dreams and it will not let go. This is fine although the timing of it has not been helpful. The muse waits for no one and you must listen when it calls. You never know when or if it will call again.

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Writing Progress Updates

Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 18,049

The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 2 of 47