Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Writer's Life - What to Do With Horrible Reviews

Somewhere out there somebody hates you - not just your writing, but it's personal - you.

At least that's the way it comes across.

After you put your heart and soul and lots of work into writing a book, gotten it published either by a major or minor house or self published, the worst (as you see it) has happened. Your writing received a truly horrible review. One so horrible and vicious that it feels very personal and it really, really hurts.

One so bad that to take the sting out you want to retaliate.

My advice? Don't.

The fact a writer (or an actor or any public figure for that matter) must face is that someday, somebody, somewhere is going to think your work is the absolute worse.

Sorry, it's going to happen. And that person, delightful soul that he or she is, is going to say it very loudly and very publicly -- you're a bad writer, your writing stinks, you, as a writer stink..

Look, I have my suspicions that pretty much every writer that was ever born has a deep dark secret - that his or her writing really isn't any good. In fact, that his or her writing is really, really bad, just as accused.

So, don't read the reviews.

Really, don't.

Well, you could make an exception for a 4 or 5 star review if you really need a little something to pump you up. But do not, I repeat, do not read the other reviews.

One nasty review can have you fuming for a day or longer or even paralyze you to the point of not writing. That bad review of your writing can have a strong impact. It can cause you to change yourself just because you read it. To please one single slimeball having a bad life, who went out of their way to trash you and your writing you might change yourself.  If you do you're an idiot.

Sorry, blunt, but well, you are.

Look, you've chosen to be a writer.  You've chosen to take risks. It would be nice if life were all lollipops and roses and people were nice to each other all the time, but unfortunately that isn't the truth. There are the jerks mentioned above and there are also the run of the mill 'reviewers' who may not be out to get you (or, well, they might) and give what is in their opinion an 'honest review' that just happens to shred your work. Don't read those; simply not worth the angst.

The risk you take being a writer exposes you and you can take a hit.

Too bad.

Get over it.

Move on. 

Don't read any more.

Think about your fans, the people who really, really like your writing. Those are the people you need to please, to encourage to come back and read again. Those are the ones you write to, not the big negative.

The hits are out there, they're going to happen. If you can't handle them perhaps you need to chose another direction for your writing career. You could do commercial writing or newsletters or grants and not risk 'bad reviews' or 'poison emails'.

So you can avoid reading the reviews of your writing, but what about the one who really makes it personal and sends you that nasty Email that trashes everything you've ever written?

You don't have to read that either. When you get spam in your in box you know it after a few words, right? Same applies here. When you recognize an attach on you and your writing, don't read it. You might want to make a folder to keep these tucked away so you have an email address to back track just in case (that's another whole ball of wax and another article for another day). Call it something like "jerks", "idiots" or whatever suits your fancy and chuck it into that folder as soon as you know you  have a bad one. It's their problem not yours. Think of them spewing on each other in the tight confines of that little folder and not on you and what you write. Don't read it, and really (I mean really) don't answer it. You  might put a block on that particular address as well.

So what's the message here?  Protect the fire in your gut that drives you to write, improve your writing always - with your actual fans in mind - and avoid the negative; it has power to harm you only if  you let it.

Face it. As a writer you are dependent on yourself. Not everyone will like everything you write. Enjoy about half the wonderful things people say about you and what you've written (I say half because they're not always right either!) and dump the negative altogether.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Book For Writers - Out Of Thin Air Updated and Revised

It's big news - after weeks of work, revising text, adding great new web links of free stuff for writers and other sites of interest and help for writers I've launched a new version of Out Of Thin Air. Come checkout the Kindle edition!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Story Starters

A bit hard to come up with an idea at times? Need a little kickstart?  The Story Starter is a fun site that kicks out random story starters. Over 2 billion of them!  Surely there's an idea in there somewhere that'll get the creative juices flowing.  Wander over and check  it out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writers Story Mistakes

Every writer, whether new or old makes mistakes - stumbles, creates glitches and otherwise does/writes things that are, well, mistakes. Some are small, grammatical or details. Others are really big, and still others simply happen and get lost in the shuffle when a writer is really into his/her zone and doesn't catch it on the first go-round.

After all, we writers know what we're talking about when we get the words down on paper so every one else should as well, right? 



I could write an endless post on the many things that can go wrong with a story, but that would be a long read so I think I'll tackle just one here today.

I believe one of the first rules writers should observe is Never Annoy Your Readers.

Yep, I know it's not your intent to do so, but there are times when reading books when I know the author is withholding information to tease or create suspense. But I'm here to tell you (and if you put your reader cap on you'll have to no doubt agree) that when you hold something back, when you don't give your reader what he or she is anticipating, it doesn't create any eager anticipation or mind-warping suspense.  Nope, instead it causes frustration, irritation and (horrors) dissatisfaction with your story.

Bad news.

You don't want to be predictable in how/what you deliver to your readers, but you do want to fulfill their expectations with something that will keep them reading.

Exactly what am I talking about? Well for one thing, don't leave your protagonist in the middle of an action scene. For example, if your character has been running from assassins, careens around a corner and drives off a cliff, your readers are going to turn the page wanting/expecting to find out if that character is dead, unconscious, hanging from the side of the cliff as the car plummets into the sea---something!

Because if you leave your reader hanging and start the next chapter perhaps with that character's significant other puttering around in her flower shop in Carmel your readers are going to be frustrated and impatient. Mostly they are eager to know if that first character who was sent over the cliff is breaking fingernails clawing  his way back up the cliff or in a hospital; if the assassins are still hot on his tail or missed the car going over the cliff completely. They don't want the action broken by a flower shop interlude, then come back to their primary concern a chapter later.

If you create an environment where your reader (and as a reader as well as a writer I know you've been here) wants to skip over a part of the story to get to the part they really want to read, you need to fix that part of your book.

Of course there are times when you might want to break this little rule, but you better have a very good reason and hone your writing well. 

Consider what your readers want as you write your book, consider what you as a reader want when you read a book. Put those expectations in the context of the moment of that story. 
Then fulfill those expectations - or better yet, give your readers something even more than they expect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

M Pax and The Backworlds Interview

This week I’m talking with Science Fiction Author M Pax

I’ve just recently read her novella Semper Audacia (a mere .99 at Amazon) in which not only did she do a fantastic job creating a detailed and intriguing world, but gave her readers a plot that was fast-paced and engrossing
So, when I heard her new Backworlds series was coming out, I had to read it as well, the first in the series being free, The Backworlds.
The story centers around Craze, a poor, bio-engineered, far-future human who just wants to be the owner/operator of a bar. Simple goal, no? But from the beginning all of damned creation seems to be hell bent on thwarting his ambition. We’ll have to wait and see how many cool new worlds and harrowing situations M Pax can come up with.
The second in the series, Stopover At The Backworld's Edge is just about to be released so let’s connect with M Pax here, chat a bit and see where all this is heading!
PB:  Hi M Pax.  Good to talk with you today. The Backworlds is a fascinating concept. Can you tell us, is the seed for the idea strictly from your imagination or did something spark it?
M Pax:  Craze and his bar came to me first. The television series Firefly sparked several aspects of the story -- the anti-hero and the frontier setting. I've always been drawn to the anti-hero and Firefly did it very well. Other inspiration comes from where I live. The high desert is very dusty. A history show on coffee sparked the idea of how I use chocolate in the series, and I just generally like weird. A comic book of strange tales I read as a kid added in a sprinkle of creative spark, too.
PB:   Would you tell us something about your goals for this gripping series? Do you have a number of books you intend to create in mind or is it more open ended?
It is open-ended for now. The Backworlds, the first, is a free sample. Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge, Book 2, is out July 23rd. However, if you look for it, you might find it sitting and waiting on some ebook sites. Boomtown Craze will be the 3rd book. I hope to have it out in early 2013, and I came up with an offshoot series telling stories from the Foreworlds. Earth Hereafter will be the first in the side series. More will come. I just don't know what they are yet.
PB:  Wow, I love the scope of your undertaking.  This is going to be a world your fans can wander in for a long time to come. You seem to write quickly and juggle many things - how do you manage along with your 'stargazing' at the observatory?
MP:  I don't write quickly at all. I don't think. I strive for 1,000 words a day on each project I'm working on, including reshaping/revising. I do a lot of that.

Maybe because I'm easily bored is why I usually work on at least two projects. If one needs more attention, I'll drop the other to give the problem child or project under deadline my full focus. I have pretty strict time schedules which is how I squeeze things in. I still feel as if things get away from me. And, they do sometimes.

The observatory is open in the summer -- end of May through end of September. I work Friday and Saturday nights. It does get my schedule out of whack as I adjust back and forth between astronomer's hours and my usual routine. Sundays and Mondays are rough for me. Naps on Friday and Saturday afternoons are a must.

Taking time for some frivolity is also a must. It's important to recharge our batteries and frivolity often provides fodder for future work. The observatory has had a hand in sparking ideas in everything I've written so far.
PB:  Now that we know a bit about what makes your fiction world tick, tell us a bit of what you like to do for fun, that recharging frivolity you mentioned.
M Pax:  My favorite things to do outside of writing, besides working as a star guide at the observatory, are exploring Oregon with the Husband Unit, and meeting up with my writer friends. I love taking photos, so it takes Husband and I 5x longer to get anywhere than most people. I stop about every 5 miles to take photos

PB:  So between this great new series, exploring and stargazing ~ have anything new out beyond the fringe?
M Pax:  My next release in the fall is for a new series about a gal named Hetty Locklear. It's a deviation from space opera incorporating my love of strange, Jane Austen, contemporary fantasy, and science fiction. If you've read Plantgirl (a free read available through her website), it's in that same sort of vein.
PB:  Sounds good and I encourage all my readers to visit M Pax’s website check out her writing and enjoy. Follow her on Twitter to see what she's up to or join her on Facebook. And this author enjoys connecting with her readers so make contact if you like. 
Get M Pax's new Ebook, Stopover At  The Backworld's Edge in several locations: 
iTunes and Kobo are coming soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Create A Character

Oh, this is way too cool and too fun for writers.  You can go to Monoface and create the characters you can see in your mind's eye, one you never thought of, or you can check out other faces folks before you have created.

Give yourself something you can focus on for descriptions and just have a lot of fun. Another great internet toy to help you out ~ and of course waste some time. Click on the eyes, the nose, the chin, the hair and see what you can come up with. 

Tell me what you think! I'd love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writers Writers Everywhere

Have you, as a writer yourself, given much thought to writers - who they are, what they do - the broad scope of where writers are needed and writing?

You probably immediately think of novels or perhaps short stories or maybe even screenplays when the words "writer" or "author" come to mind.

But there's a whole lot more to the writing field than fiction of one sort of another. Okay, okay, I hear the rising storm of voices coming my way, something to the effect of, "yeah, but fiction is my thing, creating stories, building worlds - I'm not into any of that other writing, boring dull stuff."


A. Not necessarily true on the boring, dull stuff evaluation

B. If you're creating but not making money writing you'll have to make it some other way until you can make enough to live on just writing stories and by the way, the odds are very high you won't get there (I don't want to depress you, but those are the facts).  

So, have you considered, instead of branching out into some field that's at odd angles to your writing goals, perhaps writing in different areas in order to supplement your income?

It's a great time for a writer to be writing. There are all sorts of places to get your writing out there and to be paid for it. Writing articles (there are tons of magazines and online sites), instruction books, advertising copy (you can get some basic training for this and some helpful books), website copy, blog posts, even tweets for people who don't have time and want to promote can provide opportunities for you to keep on writing and maybe bring in some cash doing it.

There are also other online opportunities - places that pay you a tiny percentage of profits for each view your article gets (and I do mean tiny, but it's a start).  Beware of getting caught in the 'mill' where 'employers' want to pay you $40 to write 100 articles.  They abound all over the web and you can find them at many of the 'hire a writer' sites. If you're desperate for a 'paid to write' credit, well, that's up to you, otherwise I can't imagine the number of hours you'd be required to put in for chicken feed if you were to stick with that particular outlet. I'm not giving links here because they're easy to find - just do a google search and watch them pop up. Generally I'm not impressed, but they do have their uses.

Check Craig's list online for your area or others where they're open to telecommuting. Check writer's newsletters and perhaps join LinkedIn and check out writing jobs that surface there. Most are low-pay, but occasionally the gem appears. Low pay is okay to get your foot in the door - but you do have to move up.

And don't limit yourself to the web.  Check locally.  Some business may need someone to write copy for their website, a newsletter, brochures, or short video. You could unearth a journalistic opportunity with a local newspaper or magazine. 

Stop and think for a moment, where are there no writers? We're needed everywhere.

Doesn't it just make sense to use your creativity, your imagination, to seek out opportunities that run parallel to your writing goals instead of away from them? Doesn't it make sense as well, that you, as writer, can turn your talents to creating advertising copy with punch, or brochure text with color, or a blog that keeps a reader's attention? Wouldn't you rather be crafting words, honing your writing abilities on whatever project than working in retail, an office, or some other place to support your writing?

I'm not saying this doesn't take effort of it's own and that will take away from your 'creative' writing at times, but its a great way to get your name out three as a writer, a wordsmith.

In my career I've published 16 novels, paperbacks, hardcover, audio books, Ebooks, domestically and overseas. I've optioned screen scripts in the US and internationally. 

And I've also written articles, short promotion pieces, newsletters and ghostwritten, all for pay.

Not for pay, but to help other writers, I maintain this blog and also tweet about writing contests, author interviews, quotes, tips and more.

If you become a great writing success ala J. K. Rowling you can set aside the extras, unless you enjoy some of them, and dedicate yourself to your world creating and novel writing.  

But, if you need to cultivate another source of income, consider ~ writing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Edit Your Own Galaxy

Galaxiki is a fun site - yep, we're all about fun!  And this is a fictional galaxy anyone is welcome to edit. Love SciFi? Tour it, get  your own solar system, read SciFi and have fun.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Writers Terrors - Public Speaking, Oh My!

You're a writer.

You write.

But, by now it should have occurred to you that you do much more than simply write, in fact, you must do much more.  You can't just write a book, then sit back, hide in your office and wait for the money to come pouring in in adulation of your wonderful written work.

Doesn't work like that.


Okay, so here it is, the plain fact of the matter is, introvert or not, shy or not, positively phobic about public appearance or not, there'll come a time when you, as writer, will have to face the public.  It could be a speaking engagement, attending a conference, a book signing, or even perhaps leading a writer's workshop of some sort.

All of that entails public speaking, nervousness and the elephant in the room.

What's the elephant?

Simple, your extreme aversion to public speaking. Perhaps even terrors you experience when torn from your writer's desk to fact the public.

How to conquer your elephant?  Well, it takes determination, patience with yourself as you practice and a bit of sense of humor helps.

Remember those people you're going to interact with, whether in a small group, a large one, or one-on-one, actually WANT to talk to you, to hear what you have to say.  You're a writer, they think that's cool.

Think of it this way. You won't die because you speak in public, nobody is going to fling gorilla poo at you. Godzilla isn't going to storm the room/convention/college/library/whatever and start throwing people around like paper dolls. And, as a writer, this part of your job.

Be positive with yourself - and ultimately with your 'audience'.  Know what you're going to talk about, what makes you comfortable. Not by rote or word for word, but in a general, friendly sense. When you're in your writing zone what makes you really comfortable?

Talk to friends to get ready, talk to yourself in the mirror to get a sense of how you appear and perhaps how you can drop your shoulders or smile more to appear more relaxed. The kicked-back writer. Don't be hyper-critical of yourself, just give yourself a few easy notes that will help smooth things along and make the public speaking thing a bit easier for the writer you are.

If you're really nervous and it's your first time, you might even let people know that.  Make light of it, tell them you're a writer not a speaker and promise you won't stammer too much and if you do anyway they'll forgive you.

Stretch yourself, throw yourself into what is not your comfort zone and make it such. Practice really will help. I promise there's no tiger hiding in the tall grass, no gorilla waiting to rip your head off.

Most people are kind to public speakrers, well aware of how little they, themselves would like to be up there while looking forward to what the writer they've come to see has to say.

As for the ones who aren't so kind, politely ignore them. They could be having a bad day, they could be envious,they could just be jerks. Regardless, they don't really matter.

You've written your book - a staggering accomplishment all by itself. Now's the time to get the word out.

Go ahead, you can do it and you can even come to enjoy it.

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