1st story

A reblog from my About A Stepdad Blog. 🙂  But hey, it’s about writing.

First tooth.

First tooth.

I’ve missed a lot of kid ‘firsts’.

First steps. First tooth. First use of the f-bomb.

But this one I’ve managed to see. Last week, The-Youngest wrote his first story.

He didn’t do it by choice, however. He didn’t sit down and think, my goodness, I need to write a story about an evil brother who constantly tries to scare the bejesus out of his gentle, younger brother. No. He was forced to do it by his arch enemy. The school system.

I remember writing my first story at 9, the same age as The-Youngest. It was called The Invasion of the Mole People –  Blue construction-paper cover, twenty handwritten pages (Jam smears on a few of them), eleven illustrations (all bad).

My parents loved it.  My teachers loved it.  My friends loved it.  I knew, then, that I wanted to be a writer.

Throughout my school years, I continued to write, and by the end of high school, I even attempted my first novel, Starborn, a story about a hunter of rogue androids who doesn’t realize he’s an android.

I received an A in English class and a stack of rejection letters.

Sadly, out of high school, I did not pursue a writing career in any shape or form.  Instead, I chose the very exciting field of accounting.  Oh, the glory, the challenges, the excitement!  But I still kept on writing.

So I was super excited to help The-Youngest out. I mean, damn, this is what I’m trying to do: Write.

Surely he would want my input or want to make use of my vast experience, right?

Wrong.

That moment before you write

That moment before you write

He’d worked himself into a quick tizzy about doing it, and only wanted The-prettiest-girl-in-the-world (AKA his mom) to help him out.

That was heartbreaking. I so wanted to help him out. But he wouldn’t have any of it.

Here’s how the conversation went…

“I can’t write a story.”

Prettiest-girl-in-the-world: “Sure you can, honey, you just have to sit down and start.”

“I can’t, I don’t know what I’m going to write. I’m not a writer.”

“Sure you are. You just have to start at the beginning. What story do you want to tell?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Ok, hold on. Wait. That was the conversation she has with me every time I start to write a story. But The-Youngest’s conversation went pretty much the same way.  Like any writer, he was terrified of that first page. Of no ideas coming forth. Of not being able to tell a story.

But unlike me when I wrote my first story, the schools have done an amazing job in teaching the kids HOW to actually write a story. And he had his mom.

I’ll detail the amazing cool (and super simple ideas the school had for creating a good story) in the next blog, but for now, here’s why the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world is such a great mom.

Her: So what if we tell a minecraft story? About two boys named jinga-jinag and goobermunday.

Mom! What? You can’t have names like that.

Her: No? What should their names be?

*Thinks* Floyd and Florence.

Her: Good names. And what’s happened to them?

I dunno.

Her: What would be the WORST thing to happen to them in minecraft?

The worst?

Her: Yup

Someone stole all their stuff.

Her: Oh, like what?

Diamonds and stuff.

Nothing like a good minecraft story

Nothing like a good minecraft story

Her: Why would someone do that?

They’re bad guys. They like destroying things.

Her: That’s pretty terrible. What are Floyd and Florence going to do?

Then the ideas came fast and furious. They came so fast he couldn’t write them down so she did, scribbling while his mind went this way then that way, then flipped around and raced in a totally new direction. Not once did she say an idea was wrong or silly. She just kept him talking.

Then, like magic, they had a ton of writing on sticky notes and a good story.

The-Youngest got out his laptop and began to type. He typed until he finished the story. In one burst. Like he eats a bag of chips.

Then he proudly printed it out.

I was so excited to read it. It had been so cool to watch the creative story-birthing process, and listen to how the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world help brainstorm the best story possible.

He was proud of himself, too. You could tell.

He’d done what all writer’s do in the end.

He wrote.

All he needed was a muse and despite the fact I hate it couldn’t have been me, The-prettiest-girl-in-the-world did incredibly well.

Next up, a quick peak into how the schools are teaching kids to write.

Snoopy advice

Joe’s Post #166

Super busy week for me so just a few fun things for the writers out there who are struggling…

There are fewer wiser dogs than Snoopy

There are fewer wiser dogs than Snoopy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I got one like Snoopy did.

I think I got one like Snoopy did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

medium_Peanuts_Writing_Comic

It was a dark and story night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope everyone is well and writing up a storm. Even a dark and stormy storm.

 

Cheers

Joe

 

Targeting genre

Joe’s Post #158

cs lakinToday, I want to repost an article by one of our followers. C.S. Lakin.

Actually, I could probably repost about 10 of hers as she is one hell of a blogger. No. Seriously. She rocks.

Now, this is a bit ahead of where we 5/5/5 are at currently, but I love reading about what to do when we reach the publishing stage. It’s like chocolate for the soul. Keeps me thinking about the future and not the past.

If you want, please check out her other articles here on Linkedin. Or here on facebook.

cs lakin bookOr, check out her website. It’s amazingly well done. I am super envious of her abilities. She won the 2015 award for being one of the top 10 blogs for writers, and one look at her site or her posts and you’ll see why. She’s good. Very, very good.

She also has a newsletter that’s worth signing up for and a few pretty cool books, even, dare I say it, quite a few novels.

Anyway, here is the article.

Targeting Genre Using the KDSPY Chrome Tool

I always wondered just how much genre had to do with a novel’s success, and when I did my “experiment” a couple of years ago by writing in a genre that purportedly “sold itself,” I proved to myself (and perhaps to many others) that genre really matters. (If you didn’t read my blog post on The Book Designer that went viral in the writing world, take a look at it here. )

My aim was to write a novel that carefully fit a big-selling genre and see if it would sell with little effort on my part. I used a pen name, and although I did a little bit of marketing—similar to what a new author would do—I was astounded by the sales I saw. Way more than all the sales I got from my other half dozen self-published novels.

Whether You’re in It for the Money or Not

You might not care about making money off your books. But some of us have families to support and bills to pay. I felt guilty for years writing novel after novel that didn’t sell, “wasting precious time” (my assessment) when I could have been working at Wal-Mart for minimum wage and at least bringing some money in.

Before throwing in the towel and giving up what I loved most—writing novels—I decided to give this writing life one last-ditch desperate effort. I promised myself that if this new book I planned to write did not make me any money, I would never write another novel again (believe me, this wasn’t the first time I vowed this, but I really meant it this time!).

You may be in a situation to write whatever you want, regardless of market potential. You may not need the money. You may, like me, love experimenting and mixing genres and fleshing out those crazy ideas and structures you know probably won’t turn into best sellers.

For you, maybe it’s not about the money. Maybe you want the recognition. You want lots of super fans and for your peers to acknowledge what a great writer you are. Most of us want this, regardless of profession. We want to be recognized for our talents and abilities. We want to feel successful, that all our hard work shows. I don’t believe there is anything at all wrong with this. We need validation and to be encouraged by results. We don’t want to feel like failures.

So regardless of the reason, you might want to achieve some success with your book sales. And targeting genre is a great way to do it.

The Difficulty in Researching Hot Genres

In the aftermath of my viral post on targeting genre, a lot of writers contacted me and asked me how they could figure out which subgenres sold the best. I knew basically that some general genres sold well on Kindle: romance, mysteries, suspense, fantasy. But those are very general categories, and the niche I targeted was a very specific subgenre.

I asked experts in marketing what their thoughts were on this, and basically, after all my research, I came up with a blank. The bottom line is it would take a lot of participating in K-Boards and Goodreads discussions to find the threads that showed readers decrying a lack of novels in their subgenre.

This implies greater demand than supply. Which is a factor in big sales, to me. If there are a gazillion readers clamoring for books in a certain subgenre, and there aren’t all that many books being released, those few authors are cashing in. This is what I see in the sweet Western Historical Romance subgenre (although now the competition is growing—probably the result of my blog post!).

The Best Tool I’ve Seen for Authors

So imagine the thrill I felt when I learned about KDSPY. It was exactly the app I needed to uncover all the info—accurate data, not guesses—on which subgenres sold well and why.

Called “The Ultimate Kindle Spy Tool,” KDSPY is probably one of the most valuable tools an indie author can utilize. This unique software application essentially reverse engineers the Kindle marketplace and shows you which niches sell well, which have much or little competition, and how much revenue the top-selling books in that niche have made in the last thirty days.

There are so many features that I love with this app:

  • It’s easy (and inexpensive!) to load and use, and integrates into your browser for easy access.
  • It gives you gobs of pertinent info that will help you determine what niches are selling.
  • It allows you to look at any author’s page and see her actual book sales and rankings for every book she has on Kindle for the last thirty days.
  • It shows you the main keywords used by the author for a particular book (which is also broken down by use in title and in description).
  • In seconds, sometimes with just one click, you can see a wide landscape regarding genre and revenue, helping you make marketing decisions for your book. Or helping you decide what your next book will be.

And, once you’ve gathered data for the category you’re interested in, you can click on the keyword button that will give you a word cloud that shows all the words that the best-selling books use in their titles and descriptions.

Why is this great? Because this data can help you tailor what you write, or market what you’ve already written, by giving you proof (not claims) of what’s already working for other Kindle publishers. KDSPY shows you the best-selling niches to go after, and even shows you the words to use in your book titles.

One Way This App Helped Me

Here’s just one example of how this tool helped me make a decision. I write historical Western romances. I spent time researching using KDSPY checking the best-selling titles and their keywords, wondering just which keywords and categories would be best for my books.

Since my books could go in the inspirational romance category (because my characters do express their faith, attend church, and pray), I wondered if I should choose that as one of my two categories on Kindle. When I peeked at the best-selling titles and authors in my subgenre and compared the general market sales and competition to the inspirational market sales and competition, there was a huge difference. Overall, the inspirational market monthly sales revenue for a best-selling book was about one-tenth of the general market. I decided not to use that category, since it was clear the market I’d be targeting was smaller and afforded less opportunity for big sales.

Other Perks

Another thing I found very helpful with KDSPY were the short video tutorials on the site that showed me exactly how I could effectively use this tool. There are so many other ways you can benefit. For example, you can use the book-tracking feature to tag certain books and track their sales via a daily sales rank and revenue chart.

You can imagine how useful this is when looking at your competition. You can track your own books as well to examine the results of your marketing efforts, or to see if your sales go up and down when you change your keywords.

I am continually shocked to see how few sales many best-selling authors are currently experiencing, or how only one book in their arsenal is making a killing, whereas their other book sales are flat. In contrast, some first-time authors are making big five-figure sales per month per book. I wanted to know why and how. This app gives me insights into their success.

Of course this is only showing you Kindle sales and not print sales, or sales from any other online venues. But Kindle accounts for most authors’ sales these days, and for me, this is the data I need, that will most help me in my book sales.

KDSPY is a Chrome browser extension that is compatible with PC and Macs. Firefox supports this app as well, but at this time, these are the only two browsers you can use. All the data is exportable so you can put the results in a folder to refer to.

This app is great for both fiction and nonfiction books, and while it’s not useable in every country, KDSPY has now been opened up to allow results to be pulled from the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. The customer support is excellent, which means a lot to me.

The cost at the time of this post for this app is only $47 US. I feel it’s one of the best investments for authors, worth way more than this. I’ve never promoted a product on my website, so that should tell you something about how valuable I think this tool is. GET YOURS HERE! and start benefitting from this amazing tool. And I’d love to hear how it’s helping you sell more books!

*********

Pretty cool stuff, right?

Here’s a quick bio for her.

About

Me and Coaltrane

I’m a novelist, a copyeditor, a writing coach, a mom, a backpacker, and a whole bunch of other things.

I write novels in various genres and help writers at my blog www.livewritethrive.com

I teach workshops on the writing craft at writers’ conferences and retreats. If your writers’ group would like to have me teach,drop me a line. I live in California, near San Francisco, just so you know how far away I am from you and your writer friends. I also enjoy guest blogging, so contact me if you’d like me to write a post on writing, editing, or Labrador retrievers (just threw that in there; I’m not an expert but I love them). I am, however, quite the expert on pygmy goats. I ran a commercial pygmy goat farm for ten years and delivered a lot of kids! So, if you need some goat advice, I’m your gal.

*****

Writing exercise

Joe’s Post #156 —

Germany's Irina Mikitenko runs on her way to winning the women's London Marathon April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN SPORT ATHLETICS IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXEE9V

Germany’s Irina Mikitenko runs on her way to winning the women’s London Marathon April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN SPORT ATHLETICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Ok, so this post may not be what you think.

It’s not a quick post about a writing exercise. You know, ‘write a story with the word blueberry in the first sentence’ or ‘write your plot as a haiku while hanging upside down from a chandelier.’

No, this post was sparked by something I read in the Atlantic. La-de-dah, right?

Well, to be honest, I’m not normally an Atlantic reader, but this link came from Publisher’s Weekly, which I do read. So there.

It said, of all things, that writers like to run.

At first I thought, what the f***? I know like a hundred writers and maybe 3 of them run, and one of them is usually running to chase bad guys. So, how could this be true?

If I was to run – something I did way back when I was young (and actually enjoyed it, though they called it playing soccer) – anyway, if I was to run, I’d be too worried about how I looked, how much of me jiggled like a bowl full of jello, and why my running shorts were constantly pinching my crotch.

Plus I’d be huffing and puffing like an out-of-breath elephant and scaring children that saw me. I’d be a magnet for 911 calls.

So, yeah, not a good way to get out of my head and think about story or character or plot problems. But that’s me.

Read the article and find out for yourself.

But it got me thinking, cuz that’s what highfalutin magazines do.

What exercises do you do?

Sophia-chaser-zombie-760Me, I’m a walker. No, not a zombie walker, though if you see me before I’ve had my cup of coffee, then you might mistake me for one.

Walking, like running for some, helps me clear my head. It gets me out of my writing space which, oddly enough, sometimes inhibits the creative process, despite my collection of star wars collectible figures and inspirational writing books. As well, the fresh air helps me get in touch with my senses, again. Smell. Sound. Sights.

All good things for a writer.

I know my 5/5/5 buddies have their own writing exercises. If you read their posts, you might see the odd tennis game, gym membership or active gardening.

But I don’t think what you do matters.

What matters is that we writers get out of our basements, out of our offices, or get released from the mental institute for an hour or so. It’s way too easy to simply sit there and write, think about writing, research a new word for fornication or get lost in a google search that began with “what’s the best way to smother someone?”

Simply put, we cannot live only in our heads. We need fresh air. We need to be in the world, if only for a few hours.

It makes us better writers.

Right?

*****

Page count:  Not much over 100 pages now. I’m not proud of myself.

Queries Sent:  4.

Rejections:  Holding at 1. So far.

Blogs Written Since Last Post:  1 (not a lot new at Just A Stepdad.)

Exercise:  5 days straight.

Movies Seen:  Missed seeing Specter today because of parenting commitments.

Book I’m Reading:  Looking at David Sedaris.

 

 

Synopsis struggles

writingJoe’s Post #155 — Okay, everyone seems to agree: writing a synopsis-thingee is hard. It’s harder than writing a novel in many ways.

I learned this first by trying to write one, then by looking up how to write ‘a damn synopsis’ on the internet. The internet wouldn’t lie and the general consensus is it’s difficult to distill a 400-1000 page novel into a few paragraphs.

So, why am I doing one?

I’ve decided to get a few more of my stories out there. And while some agents or editors just want a query and a few pages or a query and a ton of pages, every so often you’ll find one that challenges you with the words “and include a 1 page synopsis.”

They may as well have written “and stick your head in a blender and send me the results”. It can be as messy.

So, for some, if you can’t do one, you will get rejected. Bang. Just like that.

How’s that for stakes?

Well, that just made me all the more determined to make sure I sent out my best synopsis, so I wanted to see what advice there might be.

Jane Friedman had a great blog about it, and my take-away was that we have to make readers care. I have a hard time making my dog care, so making my readers care may be something beyond my reach.

How to Write A Synopsis on Pub Crawl had some great worksheet stuff that might help you organize your thoughts. Me, I love worksheets. They give you step-by-step direction to what goes where. Like an Ikea manual.

Chuck Sambuchino had some great advice for queries, synopsisesess and first pages. My take-away from him, expand your query rather than trying to contract your novel.

So, armed with lots of information, I went back to write the damn thing.

And failed.

I knew it the moment I’d finished.

Despite my best intentions and all the warnings, I wrote out a ton of “and this happens, then this happens”. Then the book ends.

Sigh.

Now what?

Now you phone a friend.

It took a bit of doing, but we worked through the problems. Or at least both agreed that my first attempt sucked hairy monkey balls.

In the end, I produced something that I hope grabs the attention of an agent or an editor. Who knows if it’s awesome, all I can tell you is it doesn’t completely blow.

******

Page count:  90ish still

5/5/5 Word count. I don’t think I got past 22,000

Words that will get thrown out: The way I feel today, all of them

Blogs Written Since Last Post: 6 (a burst of 5 at Just A Stepdad.)

Exercise days: Did my very first one today. At a gym. With gym equipment. I’m sore. A 90 year old granny kicked my ass on the rowing machine. I think she told me to man up, and stop crying.

Movies Seen: None, but first two Walking Dead episodes were the best TV I’ve seen in a while.

Book I’m Reading: None at the moment. Kinda sad, I know.

Rejections: 1 – it came fast.

A challenge to my writing friends

Joe’s Post #152

A Call Out To Writers

So it looks like we have 7 writers now committed to getting a novel done in 5 months.

Silk – Writing a great story set in Texas

Karalee – 5 short stories in 5 months. I’d personally find it easier to write a novel in that time.

Helga – Not sure what she’ll go with at this point, but it’ll be high concept and probably amazing.

Me – Writing a WW2 mystery set in Holland

Paula – Writing a mystery set in Hawaii that I’d love to steal

Richelle – Working on a sequel to her published book, Saints and Strangers.

Sue – A mystery? With all that’s going on in your life, a good murder may be in order.

we want youThat’s awesome. I can’t tell you how cool it is to have 2 more writers trying to get that novel done. Welcome!

But, as I look at our readers, I think to myself, self, why not more?

What do you have to lose?

It’s not the NoMoWobat or whatever the novel in a month is, it’s a novel in 5 months. Look at the math Silk did.

So, I officially issue a challenge to my writing friends. Oct 5th. Start a novel. Completion date – March 5th. Elena, write the sequel to your steamy mystery romance. I know you want to. Sheila, you’ve got a great fantasy story started, why not complete it (though for you, I would suggest starting the challenge after your black belt test.) Bev? Got another novel in you? Elizabeth? JM? Soffer? Luraos? Eugina?

Come on in. The water’s warm.

So, here’s what you need to know

  • If you leave it all to the last month, you will likely fail. This I base on my own experiences. It’s super hard to write a novel in a month, especially since life seems to throw all kinds of curve balls at you when deadlines loom. Start on day 1 if you can, or day 10, if you’ve got commitments, but start as soon as you can and keep at it every day.
  • You are NOT ALONE. Text other writers. Email us. Post on the comments of our blog. Even post on our blog. Stay connected with other writers. Meet them for coffee. Plumbers won’t understand your pain, your struggles. Accountants won’t get it. Only other writers can really empathize.
  • You will hit a wall. We all hit it. The middle sucks. My minor characters have taken over. I don’t know where to take the story next. I have overused the word penis. Whatever. Writer’s block, in whatever Gollum form it takes will eventually visit and pour poison in your ear. My advice, take a day off. Have a massage. Binge-watch Game Of Thrones. And call or text a writing friend who’ll understand, give you support, then tell you to get back to it the next day.
  • Do something to honor each milestone. Outline done. Maybe some new shoes? First 10 pages done. Maybe buy yourself a nice bottle of scotch, the writer’s drink of choice. First 30. Play a day of Candy Crush. First 100 pages. A wonderful dinner with waiters who will refill your wine without you asking.
  • You may not feel elated when you finish the novel. You may feel exhausted. You may feel like you’d rather read Twilight novels over and over and over, again, than take on another task like this. You may feel like you need a drink. Or a box of chocolate. Or a weekend in Vegas with Tatum Channing. That’s all normal. But if I may offer my last piece of advice… when you’re done, celebrate. Not everyone can get a novel done let alone done in 5 months.

So, if you take on the 5/5/5 challenge, would you also like to post on this blog? Let us know and we’ll sort something out. We’d LOVE to hear about your journey, your challenges, your successes, your thoughts.

We are all in this together.

*****

As for me.

30 pages done on my novel.

5 blogs written (see my journeys here.)

10 reasons why blogging is better than novel writing

Joe’s Post #149

So this week, wrote a short story and sent it off. A good market if it gets picked up, but I’m new at this short story stuff. Blogging, though….

10 reasons why blogging is better than novel writing

  • Instant feedback. Or at least near instant. Instead of having to wait a week for a friend to give you feedback, or a few months for an agent, or a few years for the public, blogging will have people telling you suck within hours. How cool is that?
  • There aren’t any character arcs to worry about. No plots to plot. Nothing fancy about a blog. It’s a blog. Sort of like the difference between having 200 cats or one dog.
  • They are usually done in a few hours. You complete something. In. A. Few. Hours. It takes weeks or months or years to finish a damn novel. And it still may suck.
  • readersThey are easily read. Like reader’s-digest-bathroom-reading easy. A good book can be devoured in a day, but a good blog is done by the time you finish peeing.
  • They can start some conversations. Not too many people will talk about how amazingly I wrote a fight scene in The Darkest Desert, but they sure will when I make fun of Surrey.
  • I need no brainstorming help with blogging. I do need A LOT of brainstorming help from my friends to make my novel work. I tried calling Stephen King to help with my last book, but apparently he’s busy.
  • No critique group savages your baby. Oh, the trolls may savage your ideas on a blog, but they’re, well, trolls and don’t count for much. Luckily I have a good group, but the stories I’ve heard about bad ones would make your doubt your soul.
  • More people read the blogs than my books, which, granted isn’t a saying a lot. With the exception of my dog, my family and my few friends, not many have read my novel.
  • This is me pandering to my audience. Magic Mike eye-candy.

    This is me pandering to my audience. Magic Mike eye-candy.

    I get to put pictures in a blog. I wish I could put pictures in my books, too. Oh, and music, that would be super cool. But no, at the moment, no music or pix in my books.

  • It’s fun. Not that novel writing can’t be fun, but this is more fun.

And, is it just me, or is it harder to write in the summer?

Anyone else have any thoughts on blogging?

 

James Scott Bell on 7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel

JSBJoe’s Post #147 (though it shouldn’t count as a Joe’s Post) — Every so often, I take a few moments to read some of my most favourite inspirational writers. My mentors, if you like. Yesterday, I re-read something that really struck me by James Scott Bell (via Writer’s Digest.) Please check out his entire article as he tends not to be all blah-blah-blah preachy, but does what all good writers do. He entertains us. Plus, you can pick up a free download on how to write a novel). So, without further boring-Joe commentary, here’s James Scott Bell’s 7 things not to do, and my thoughts. Enjoy.

7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel (and How to Avoid Them)

By: | June 5, 2012 – Writer’s Digest

inspirationOh, my goodness, this is a hard one for me not to do. I honestly think it’s the difference between pro writers and wannabes. Pros get it done, day in and day out. Like taking fish oil every day. Or eating kale.

Simply put, they make inspiration happen by sheer force of will. Or they will find a way to get inspired. For me, that way is often by reading, but I need to readjust my thinking on the whole ‘waiting for inspiration’ thing.

2. Look over your shoulder.

Bell writes about the inner critic here and that inner critic is born from fear. Of all the things I have to overcome, this one is the most difficult. I love writing, but hate rejection. It’s like a hockey goalie loving to be a goalie but hating to get pucks in the face.

To be a writer these days, we need to be like the old school goalies, like Gump Worsley one_worsley03who never wore a mask and took a lot of pucks in the face for something he loved to do.

Insane? Maybe. But aren’t writers, by definition, insane?

So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to put up his picture and look at it every time I get all ‘fraidy cat about sending out a query. I mean, he took pucks in the face and his mom had named him Gump.

3. Ignore the craft.

I don’t do this. It’s not one of my issues. I read about it, have a critique group and constantly look at other writers to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

4. Keep a chip on your shoulder.

voodooEver have one of those friends who call you on your bullsh*t? You kinda hate it at the time. You may even get mad at them and threaten to pee on their petunias or make a voodoo doll of them and stick that doll with a million needles, then light it on fire, then toss it in a tub of acid while screaming at it, “I hate you, I hate you.”

Everyone does that, right?

But Bell’s right. I have to let go of the chip on my shoulder. So what if agents don’t get back to me? Why should that stop me from getting another query out? (Hint – the answer is this is really masking fear, again.)

5. Write for the market only

I’ve only done this once. And I did it this year. For an open call from TOR. Otherwise, I’m like an anti-market writer. I don’t write to the latest trend. I’m not even sure what that would be, to be honest. I write what I write.

But Bell also talks about voice and that’s something I’ve worked hard on. But here’s the odd thing. I think I have several voices.

Ok, stop looking at me like that. We all hear different voices in our heads, right? Right?

I love my noir voice that I used for my Lou Rains novel and my WW2 mystery set in the Netherlands. I love my goofy-Joe voice that I use for blogs. I even love my YA voice, but I seem to be the only one who does.

See, for me, voice comes a lot from character and genre. Part of the fun is playing around with voices, seeing what I can do. Like trying on a different style of underwear to see what fits. Bikini briefs, not so much. Boxy boxers, nah. But a nice pair of boxer-briefs, yah, I don’t put those back after trying them on.

But of all of all my voices, the goofy-Joe blog voice may very well be my most authentic.

6. Take as many shortcuts as possible.

This really applies to self-publishing, a route we 5/5/5 may be taking soon. Read up on what Bell says. It’s gold.

7. Quit

never quitAlthough some days, the days I look at my stack of rejections and think, hey, maybe I just don’t have the skill to be a writer, I admit, I do think about quitting.

But I don’t. I’m really not sure why. Overwhelming evidence seems to suggest that I’ll never be able to make a career at this. So why continue?

I write because I need to write. It’s a part of me. Like Gump needed to be a goalie and probably would have been happy to play even if he was never picked up by the NHL. So, if I continue to write, continue to persevere, continue to improve and combat all the how-not-to-succeed things inside my head, maybe one day I’ll make it.

*****

megan foxAnyway, that’s it from me, today. Going to take down that picture of Megan Fox fixing her car and put up Gumpers. Going to finish off my 30 pages for submission to my writing group. Going to get in the headspace of a successful writer and write me some writing.

For anyone interested, here are a few awesome links to writing guru’s you should check out. Other than Mr. Bell.

Donald Maass (on character)

Hallie Ephron (supporting characters)

Nancy Kress (writing flashbacks)

These are all short, fun articles. Easy to digest. But you can also follow-up on those writers a bit more and see what other bits of advice they have to offer.

Also, if anyone would like to post their comments on what JSB had to say, let me know.

Hugs.

 

 

 

Getting back to work

Joe’s Post #143

Getting back from a writing retreat or a workshop, or even a conference, is a lot like coming back from a vacation with a bad case of the runs. It’s not like you don’t want to get on with life, but sh*t just keeps cropping up.

orange is the new blackBack at home, there’s all sorts of distractions, from Orange is the New Black to a regular life full of ball hockey practices, dishes and yelling at the dog for barking at the cat who’s hissing at the frogs, to bills and fights with Canada Revenue Services.

So while it’s easy to find time to write when you’re on a retreat, or at a workshop, it’s hard to keep that momentum going.

In the last week, I wrote 30 pages. Better than most weeks in 2015, that’s for sure, but far below what I should be doing. And that got me thinking.

How do you keep up the momentum?

Thoughts?

For me, it routine is still my best hope, but I can write for 2 hours a day in the morning and produce 2 hours of crap. So that may not be everything.

keyFinding inspiration is the key. I mean, that’s what those other events are for, right?

Can you find it from other writers? Sure. So you need to be part of a group. A fun group that loves to write.

Can you find it from books on writing? Maybe, but it’s just as easy to get bogged down in editorial mode and that could mean you’ll be writing and rewriting and rewriting the same 30 pages over and over.

Can you find it from novels? Ah, that’s the ticket. At least for me. Nothing inspires like a good book.

Can you find it alone? Hmmm. Maybe, but inspiring myself is kind of like trying to cut my own hair. It usually ends in tears and a trip to the doctor to reattach an ear.

So how do you stay motivated?

talents

What I learned from the writer’s retreat

Joe’s Post #142

Or how you can make it better.

writing quotes

  • The energy of writing is always there. Even if someone’s off having a walk, eating salmon omelettes at Molly’s or taking a snooze, there’s usually someone writing. It’s hard not to write when someone else is writing.
  • There needs to be a place for everyone to retreat to for naps, quiet time, looking at shoeporn, whatever. It’s hard to write for a whole day. Not impossible, but for me, I needed a place to recharge my brain.
  • Going from 0 pages a day to 30 is hard, if not impossible. Going from writing 0 hours to 8-14… same thing. It’s hard. Practice ahead of time. Like you would for a marathon or a binging 3 seasons of game of thrones.
  • Don’t forget to take breaks. Oh, it’s easy to get lost in the writing, to sit and write, write and sit, but breaks allowed me to clear my mind. Exercise helps. I worked out plot problems while walking in downtown Gibsons. I worked on character while wandering the beach. I reworked dialogue while looking for chocolates to buy my cutie.
  • When you’re in a house with writers, you can talk writerly stuff. Like how do I make an opening scene better, or what’s not working here? No more asking yourself those questions in your own head, you have other heads to help you out.
  • IMG_7017Get some sleep. Have coffee. Eat well. Sure they’re the basics of any life, but sometimes these things are easy to forget when you’re retreating.
  • Have some fun.

I think we 5/5/5 had a great success with our retreat. 4 writers broke out of their slump and began to write, again. I broke out of my ‘getting stories out into the marketplace’ phobia. We had a few laughs, brainstormed a few ideas, and had a chance to spend 3 wonderful days in sunny Gibsons.

So, if you get the chance, go on a retreat. It doesn’t have to be in Maui or on a cruise in the Mediterranean. It just has to be a group of writers getting together to write.

 

 

 

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