Monday, August 31, 2009
It's Monday, I have my work schedule in front of me (one I created, so I have no room to whine) and I'm tripping right along. Already did several items on my list and now it's down to posting to my blog (which I'm doing right here), some time promoting my Ebook, Out Of Thin Air, and some time to be spent working on my romance novel.
I really want to be working on my newly revised/old screen script idea, but I didn't put that on my list, and if I'm not careful I can get pretty scattered.
It's amazing what we do as writers that we don't feel like doing. I mean, don't most folks think writers are free to sit around all day and write whatever comes into their heads? Well, at least a goodly number of them do.
So, as I ramble here a bit I'm actually planning in my head what promotion items I'm going to tackle today. I try to do at least one and usually two or three small things a day to promote a book that's already 'out there'. I have a website for my Ebook, I'm selling it through Booklocker as well. I've promoted locally and through some newsletters on the web.
There are free book listing sites on the web as well. Some better than others, but I'm going to list with a number of them. I've already listed with the Goodreads Author Program and I have a page at Amazon's Author Central which I will have on a list to update soon.
Today I think I'll send out a press release regarding the release of Out Of Thin Air - most likely to Open PR as it is a free press release site and a good place to start.
And all that's just for the Out of Thin Air, the Ebook geared to helping new and young writers. I'll be doing some work to tie in some of my other releases such as Stormrider and To Hell and Back, both Ebook releases with Fictionworks, and The Eye of The Hawk, a Hardcover release by Five Star Publishing. (if you scroll further down this blog you'll see photos of the fabulous covers so no need to stick them in here again). Wait, I take it back, here's To Hell and Back cover.
Now all of this is a general pain in the neck (and other places), granted, but for today's author, a necessity. So grouse and grumble all you like, but remember to make time for promotion when you're a writer - and not just for one day, but as a steady, scheduled necessity.
And now that I've gotten you on the right track, time for me to actually do the work.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The young writer can sometimes be the butt of a lot of abuse. "What do YOU have to write about?" they may be asked. "You haven't experienced life!" another states officiously. "Why don't you worry about that later - just go out and have fun now, you're only young once. The Writing can wait."
Your answers are, in order, you have plenty to write about, if you're alive you're experiencing life, and if you're a writer THAT IS fun - oh, and BTW, thank heavens you're only young once!
See, now you're armed.
I began writing when I was about 12 and I just sort of skipped the short stuff and went right into novel mode. I sold my first book when I was 21 (back in the prehistoric typewriter days) and it was published by Doubleday when I was 22 (a western novel titled Night Of The Flaming Guns - oh, and I wrote it in the first person as a middle aged man). There was a healthy blob of luck in that scenario, but there was also a lot of writing. I had a Godmother who read my work, critiqued and criticized. My advice to the new young writer is to find someone like that. Could be a family friend, a trusted teacher, a relative, someone to whom you give free rein to criticize your writing and who you trust enough to actually listen to.
Being a young writer today, you have a leg up on me when I was young. Back then there was no web (ahhhhhh, run screaming into the night in horror!). There were a lot of visits to libraries (where I borrowed most of my books for research or reading as I was broke), visits to bookstores, to see what was new on shelves (and to make an occasional paperback purchase back when they cost 50 cents), and getting lucky and meeting an author or two along the way.
Avenues to publication were limited as well - pretty much ink on paper or nothing. Now you can blog (like I'm doing here) Tweet (like I'm doing there at www.twitter.com)
You can even download a toolbar from StumbleUpon that can send you in all sorts of interesting directions on the web. for inspiration. There are still the print outlets, there are Ebooks and Ezines. You can easily create your own Ezine or newsletter and distribute it. There are sites where you can post your writing and have it critiqued, or just read. Heck, you can just blog some of your fiction for folks to read and invite comments - then get the word out that it's there. Stone Soup is still on the web as well, a place for young artists and writers. Want to find some markets where young writers have a better shot? You might try the free newsletter at Writer Kid.
What I'm trying to get across here is if you're a writer of any age write (did I mention you have to read too? - comes with the territory). If you're young, don't let yourself be discouraged by someone telling you you aren't ready. You don't have to have a major tragedy or traumatic even in your life to prepare you to be a writer. You simply have to live. If you've fallen off a bike or had a stomach ache you've experienced pain. If your dog died you've experienced grief. If you wonder what makes things go or gaze up at the sky in stupefied amazement you have curiosity. Use those things. Expand. Give those experiences to your characters and your writing will bloom.
Keep writing and eventually you'll reach your goals. Is it a lot of work? Yep? Fun? Mostly. Will you become famous? (hahahaha - well, maybe - not many writers become famous and aside from the desire to sell a whole lot of books and be appreciated, not many I know want a whole lot of fame, just a whole lot of time to write).
The main thing to understand is 'rejection' is a major part of a working writer's life, one who freelances and submits fiction for publication. Don't get discouraged and don't let the naysayers get to you. Think of rejection as a learning opportunity (or if you're in a bad mood, that some jerk didn't know what the heck he or she was doing).
Rewrite and revision are also both a huge part of a writer's life so get used to it. No professional writer got to where he or she is today without lots of rewriting and revision - and lots of rejection.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I've been thinking lately, about what really makes a writer. Well, for starters, one person, whether or not a writer him or her self, cannot judge whether another is a writer. It's a stippery devil, defining that. And you never now what motivates another or what goes on in another's head.
There are, however, some realities that can provide some perspective for this issue.
First, almost all writers write while they do something else. Hold down a job, chase their kids, whatever. Only a tiny percentage of writers go to their computers and sit down to write without worrying about the bills or where the next writing gig will come from. Unfortunate but true.
Hmm, not what you wanted to hear? Me either really, but there it is. One can fret over it, curse the fates, rail against it, but all that doesn't do a whole lot of good.
And the question is, what makes a writer? I mean there's the person who's written since he or she was ten; has written stacks of short stories, kept journals filled with poetry and story notes, had worked on that first novel for years...Okay, yes, that person writes but is that person a writer by 'artistic' standards or by 'professional' standards?
Different contests, local art commissions and arts agencies define a writer differently, but in general it is a "professional artist producing work of high artistic quality. Individuals are considered to be professional if they earn at least part of their annual income in their artistic work (writing), consider their artistic endeavors as a career, maintain a high level of artistic quality, and make a significant time investment in their writing. A professional writer has some writing income appearing on a tax return, maintains a calender noting regular work or training undertaken as a writer. A working writer also has receipts for expenses." The previous quote is a conglomeration of several definitions of a writer. All of them apply. And as far as the government and taxes are concerned, the writer must be striving to earn money from his or her endeavors, it cannot be a hobby.
Along with all of this the writer must be developing his or her own style, developing his or her own voice. When something is written can it be picked up and identified as the style of a particular writer? Does the writer do more than slap words across a computer screen? Will the writer produce more than one piece of work or be a one shot wonder?
Worth thinking about if you really plan to be a writer.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Yep, that's what I'm doing, musing. Should be writing, but I'm using, well, musing AND writing, just not fiction.
Was sitting down to work on my most current novel (a romance this time) when I said to my self, "Self - why am I doing this?" There are many reasons I might ask myself this question, most are personal, and I've been writing a very long time so I do ask that question of myself periodically.
Now, I don't know about YOUR self, but MY self has a lot to say about pretty much everything. So, self says to me, "You're a writer, you write, you've written since you were 12 years old, it's all you've wanted to do, you've done a good job, published a whole bunch of books, written optioned screenplays and a whole bunch of other stuff, you're good. Get busy."
Hmmm, I respond, "I don't know, I'm really sort of not in the mood, want to do other stuff."
Self gives an inward sigh. "You're at your desk to write. Sit down, shut up and write."
"I am writing."
"Yeah, sure you are -- you're blogging, that's not writing. Well it is, but.... you're rambling."
I do a good job of rambling, that's why I can write books. Works a bit against me when I write a screeplay.
I try again, attempting to reason with myself.
"Can't I take the day off this time? I'll work twice as hard tomorrow."
"So you say now, but then tomorrow will come and there you'll be, making excuses again. It's pretty much what you do...it's what most writers do. Okay, go ahead, take the day off."
"This isn't writer's block or some strange off-shoot is it, 'cause I don't think I can deal with that right now."
"No. I have to write. It's the time I've set aside and I have to write."
"Okay, so why have you done that, set the time aside?"
"Because I want to write, I've always written stories and I write. It's what I do."
"Then sit down, shut up...."
"...and write, yes, I know. Am I procrastinating again?"
"No, yes, well maybe - I can't be sure."
"Time to get to work."
"At last we agree."
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Here's the thing. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and I'm about ready to sit down and get to work on writing more pages of my newest novel. So, I checked my email, did a bit of surfing and settled in.
Then I began ruminating on publication. Will the new book I'm working on see the light of day? Who knows? It's a giant leap of faith just to be doing it.
Hold on now some may say, you've already published multiple times and optioned screen scripts - how could you be worried about getting a book published?
Well, as Sarah Willis, an award-winning novelist said, "By the time I sold my first novel I had learned it was impossible to do so." Bright woman Sarah, amusing and right on.
The publishing industry has always been a dilly and now it's in the throes of technological evolution. My story is a bit of a long one, but suffice to say I was forced to take a break from writing for several years due to family emergencies and unless you're Stephen King or maybe Dean Koontz, or Orson Scott Card, a break like that means you begin almost from scratch when you begin to claw your way back. If you're not wholly present, people forget and I can't say it isn't the same in most businesses. So it takes times to remind them all over again.
So, my next book is out there in the vapors, being created, but its a question of where and when it might be finished and ultimately published. Meanwhile, my thoughts on the matters of writing and publishing will no doubt splash through here as I make decisions on what to write next; manuscript or screen script? Article or blog post?
Things, they've been a'changin' over the past few years. There are many new opportunities for writers at any stage of their careers. There's the steadfast publishing industry with lots of outlets as usual. Writing scripts for Hollywood or even your local advertising venue offers a lot of opportunities.
And there's also the net with many opportunities of its own in place and more evolving. There's even POD now should a writer choose that route. And while some may frown on one avenue or another the fact of the matter is, writers are becoming successful in all of them.
Meanwhile I've just received confirmation that my Ebook for writers, Out of Thin Air, is available through Booklocker.com .
Interesting how things happen these days. Hmmm, think I'll play with the dog for a bit - he needs the break.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
print by Linda Hunsaker
I agree many that there are lots of advantages to EBooks. I don't see the demise of print books, nor would I want to see that on the horizon, but as an author who's been published extensively in traditional print, I welcome the arrival of Ebooks. How easy Ebook readers make it to carry many books with you when traveling and at the same time be able to download more books, magazines and other materials while on the move.
I've been interested in the emergence of Ebooks for years and contracted to have some of my original print books who's rights reverted to me, reissued as Ebooks. Some are at The Fictionworks online where I have a couple of westerns and a fantasy listed and my husband has his book Tales of Caer Alban (a book for young readers) listed. I've also created a non-fiction book, Out of Thin Air, which I distribute as an Ebook from a website Out of Thin Air is loaded, in its second half, with links to great websites for writers. And that brings us to another great feature of Ebooks - the writer can add live links to far more information than is in his or her book alone. The only downside of links in Ebooks is the obvious fact that some become outdated, links broken, etc. over time.
Perhaps one day soon we'll be able to purchase a 'book binder' kit for home use that could be used to bind books purchased as Ebooks which, for one reason or another, the purchaser would like to have in hard copy as well.
One application could be kids' books. Books and kids are a great pairing, but a physical book is better for a little kid than a reader. With a binder If the kid tears up the book, simply reprint it. (of course that's after kids books actually get on Ebook readers with their illustrations – and I see that coming).
I've purchased Ebooks online for info and for pleasure. Some I've printed, some I haven't. I'm contemplating a reader as soon as I know they have the features I need and the price point drops a bit more. At the moment I can't see spending between $250 and $300 for a reader when I just got a new laptop with all the bells and whistles for $450 - but that's me.
The future of writing, publishing and reading is approaching rapidly and I think it'll be not only interesting but fantastic.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
All right, Writers, listen up. We're all procrastinators (remember I mentioned that in an earlier post). We love to find things to do other than the writing we've assigned ourselves (or have contracted to do).
So, I'm organizing my writing time and I'm going to tell you how I'm doing it. I don't actually have a stopwatch (I'm not that crazy or obsessive) but I do have a small clock on my desk and I'm not afraid to use it!
My time for writing the strongest is usually the morning so that time needs to be write time. So, from now on I check my Email first thing for something important - not a sales flyer or fun posting, but important to my writing. And I'll do a quick skim to dump trash email in a hurry. This should only be allowed 10 - 15 minutes tops. Do a quick Twitter post-usually containing some bit of helpful info for new or established freelance writers I've stumbled across somewhere and from that point on the focus in on the actual writing.
After several hours of that with only a couple of short breaks like when the dogs exploded barking or I dumped my tea dangerously close to the keyboard I'm about wiped out. Time for lunch.
I may do some writing after lunch, but I already know it won't be my strongest. So later is a good time for some promotion work and posting to social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn. It's also a good time to do a bit of research and take some time to ponder what my next project might be. Working out what the next creative project is while working on one has always been my M.O. The idea may be totally junked once that point is reached, but it helps keep the mental muscles moving, churning out new ideas.
The idea in general for me is to have time blocked out for certain aspects of my 'author world'. It's far too easy to churn through the days and accomplish nothing if I don't stick fairly close to it. And over time books like Blown To Hell and Stormrider or some screenplay with great potential would never come to be. A few pages a day will get me or you there. Don't blow it.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I mean a real hobby. Something you enjoy, something that distracts, ideally something you can grab a few minutes away from your computer and do right at your desk - though other hobbies like taking a long walk in nature or something to get you away from your writing desk (mine happens to be jewelry making) are excellent as well.
However, if you need to just have a short break, if you like gardening you might try having a few potted plants to tend near your desk.
Knitting? A small project in a tote near you is a good idea.
Doodling is one of the best - just a blank book close to hand offers a good release. It helps the brain to rotate attention a bit -- left brain, right brain, left brain, right brain. Doesn't hurt to get the eyes away from the computer screen for a while either.
So think about it writers, get yourself a hobby.
Friday, August 7, 2009
As writers we're so often asked/advised, "Are you sure that piece of writing is ready to be seen?" This inquiry expands to have you read and re-read, edited and revised until your eyes are crossed? Well of course it's ready if you have and don't let those naysayers put doubts in your mind about your own work.
Now I'm not saying there isn't a lot of work involved in writing. Someone once said, and I can't remember where I heard this (sorry) that writing a novel is something like being handed a paring knife and sent out into the woods to whittle a mansion. That's not too far off.
But here's the thing. I'm getting kind of tired of reading articles or posts or hearing from someone -- "Are you SURE it's ready to send out?"
There comes a point where the thing is being beaten to death. There comes a point when the writer has to say, hell yes it's ready to send out! The reality is you can change your writing forever. You can edit, nit-pick, go around for the 1000th time and still find something to change. But there is a point where you must stop, get it together and send it out. Whether it is a query, an article, a script or a manuscript. Find that place, stop questioning and get your work out there.
Are you going to be rejected? It'll be some kind of a miracle if you aren't, repeatedly. And of course you'll be sending out your best work, I think that message has been gotten out loud and clear, but you must send it out if you hope to have it published.
I wouldn't have had Eye of The Hawk published if I hadn't sent it out. Stormrider wouldn't have seen the light of day if I hadn't decided it was ready. My recently published Ebook for young and new writers, Out of Thin Air, would still be in a drawer if I hadn't had the confidence to launch it.
Sometimes it can be hard to dredge that self-confidence up from your gut. Many writers suffer from the desire to get their work published conflicting with the fear of putting it out there. Confront that fear and hesitation. Understand that the people who read what you write are pretty much like you. Publishers, editors, agents are people just like you. They have their likes and dislikes, their bad days and their good.
Over the years I've learned that all of that factors into what they choose to promote, publish, whatever. And, I've learned to find that place where I've done the best work I can do and it is time to put that writing out there. Will there be revisions and edits after that? Undoubtedly. But there must be a beginning point and as writers we have to figure out where that is and move forward.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
First, as promised in my title for this post, I have a short story to share with you. Titled "Skykicker" it's garnered a couple of awards over the past couple of years. Click on the title and you can go on over. The preview button will open it right up for you. Hope you enjoy.
Looks like I've edged past my rough spot in my newest novel. I'm not moving forward as fast as I'd like, but I am moving forward again. Meanwhile, to feed the procrastination monster a bit I've tweaked my homepage.
Then back to writing like a good serious writer. And speaking of which, have you stumbled across this great article from the UK about a most prolific book borrower? A wonderful inspiration to writers across the world.
Meanwhile interest in my Ebook, Out of Thin Air, holds steady. I've gotten some really nice comments on it and am pleased. Thanks to the folks who have taken the time to comment.
And I can't get back to work without mentioning a fun site for writers. Can you tell your story in 6 words? Check out Six-Word Memoirs and find out how well you can do.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Okay, here I sit. I'm supposed to be writing, I tell myself I am, actually, I'm writing this! But, well, as writers we all know about procrastination. I'm supposed to be working on my newest romance novel. I don't have a publisher's deadline, but I have my own and I usually stick pretty close to them.
But, today, the procrastination but has bitten. I've hit a rough spot in writing the latest chapter and I'm a bit bored with myself - not good sign. It's more like I just don't wanna!
Will I get back to it? Yes, shortly actually, after I have my little rant at myself here. This is happening at a stage about 2/3 of the way through the book. It's a fantasy romance. I need to plunge on through to the end so I can begin the editing and rewrite process (and so I can move on to other projects). But there's this little stumbling block - a place where things just aren't working.
So, I surf the web, I chat with folks, I post helpful links for writers at my twitter page (http://www.twittter.com/PeggyBechko) I need to write a new article for my Ehow page as well. Don't want to leave the folks there who read my articles on writing just hanging. But, well, there's this rough spot in my romance novel and...
So many times writers tell new writers you have to apply the seat of your pants to your chair and write. You do, it's true. 99% of writing is sitting there and doing it. Probably partly why when I'm procrastinating I'm still writing - like here. It limbers you up and gets the brain to fall in line and get busy. At least that's my theory. It's worked for me for years so I know it works for someone.
Time to get back to it. I'll probably only get a page or two written today, but tomorrow will be better - probably more like 5 - 10 pages.
It's good to have goals.