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

 

Fuggetaboudit

Joe’s Post #162

Happy New Year everyone! It's time to clear the deck and start again.

Happy New Year everyone! It’s time to clear the deck and start again.

Shhh. I’ll let you in on a secret.

One of the great things about a new year is that you can put away all the things that you didn’t do last year and just fuggetaboudit. That’s right.

Fuggetaboudit.

Didn’t write enough? Didn’t lose weight? Didn’t succeed at any of your last year’s resolutions? Fuggetaboudit.

I got a fistful of rejections for my novella. Fuggetaboudit. I lost faith and didn’t get it out, again. Fuggetabuoudit.

Hey, it’s a new year. Make resolutions or not. Make plans, or not. Make goals, or not. It’s all ok. You have a fresh start. All of 2015 is in the past. 2016 awaits! The road is open and stretches out before you. Make the most of it.

For me, I think I should have written more, though I wrote more blog posts last year than any other. I should have gotten that novel done, though I did pound out a novella in a month. But that’s all in 2015, remember?

Fuggetaboudit.

It’s a new year.

Can you feel the power of it?

Do you feel freed by the arrival of Jan 1st 2016?

Can you smell what the Rock is cooking here?

It’s a way of letting go of that negativity that sometimes drags me (and maybe others) down. That anchor of regret over things not done, or of goals failed.

So I’m looking at 2016 as a fresh start. And I know just how to begin.

Silk wrote a great post about going listless. I could no more do such a thing than I could birth a book out of my nose. I need lists.

Everyone needs a book of grudges!

Everyone needs a book of grudges!

They are my attempt to stay sane in a disorganized and cruelly chaotic universe. So this year, like last year, I will attempt to remain in marginal control of my life with detailed and often cross-referenced lists.

The only difference this year will be that when the year is done, I won’t beat myself up over what I didn’t accomplish. Lists are simply too important, too vital, to be used for evil. They should help build you up, not tear you down.

So while a useful tool for me being all organized and stuff, once 2016 is past, it’ll be time to once again, fuggetaboudit.

So what will you fuggetaboud from last year?

(And if I didn’t make it clear enough, here’s Johnny Depp explaining the many other meanings of forget about it.)

Why I write

Karalee’s Post #129

lake reflectionMy writing productivity has gone up and down with my life’s rhythm. I don’t consider myself one of those born with a pen in hand, although my mother tells me that I was an insatiable talker from the moment I could form words. From that perspective, I’ve always had the need to express myself.

I was good in English at school and truly enjoyed reading and writing stories. I never thought of it as a passion or my life’s calling since my absolute goal after high school was to go to university and move out of the small town I grew up in. The big city excitement was an irresistible magnet and an expression of my independence.

Becoming a writer or storyteller didn’t suit those early expectations of mine. I enrolled in the science faculty which later lead to the medical faculty and a degree in Rehabilitation Medicine. I started my own physiotherapy practice and worked myself into exhaustion in the service industry.

It took a decade and I was burnt out.

Fortunately my husband and I were in a financial position that I could sell and take care of our three children. It was once the weight of being self-employed was lifted along with all the responsibilities it entailed that I took a deep breath. Almost instantly I knew it was time for me to write.

Where did that come from?

It didn’t surprise me in the least. It simply felt right.

So I set out to explore this new internal drive that seemed to be seeking me out. With the luxury of my children all in school I felt like I was in HEAVEN! Words tumbled out and my inner editor could hardly keep pace.

It was the closest I’d ever felt to euphoria.

Then that same year my husband, David, sold his software business. It sent my new and exciting routine into a completely unexpected direction as we decided to go on a family adventure on a sailboat in the Mediterranean. We planned to be away for one year.

One slid into two. The Mediterranean is a huge place with amazing history and people. Why rush back to Canada?

Did I continue to write?

Not at first.

ferry and windThe first year home schooling and traveling on our sailboat took every waking hour and many sleeping ones too as we made overnight passages. On a smallish scale map the Mediterranean can be covered by a mere thumb. On a sailboat it takes more than 24 hours to travel from the boot of Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Three hour shifts while crossing the Adriatic Sea were more grueling and disrupting than midnight and early morning feedings with my three children when they were newborns. Falling asleep breastfeeding on a recliner didn’t have the same repercussions as falling asleep while under sail on a sea riddled with freighters and fishing boats.

At this time writing was not on my books so-to-speak.

Storms at sea followed by finding food on land to feed our family took all of our energy and was often overwhelming. Add in daily home-schooling and the thought of writing didn’t come to light for many months.

Don’t get me wrong, the experience was amazing for the family and we still reap the benefits of getting along and working together today. Although I had no energy to put words down, stories and my imagine were working away. Thank goodness for all the books on board as they were my sanity check and I read in short spurts before conking out at night.

The first year David taught Grade 5 and 7 to our two older children while I taught Grade 1 to our youngest. The second year we decided to share the responsibilities with me teaching one week and David the next.

On my “off” week the activity I craved to do was write. The calling was strong again and I had all day to write without any interruptions.

Pure bliss with bursts of euphoria again when I got deep in the zone with my characters and story.

That is why I write.

My productivity has been up and down with life interventions and sometimes I berate myself for not doing as much as I “should.” That’s when it’s a good time to reflect on how much I have achieved. I have spent hours learning the craft, taking courses, reading, going to conventions, learning about stuff I want to write about (aka research) and always without fail I return to put fingers to my keyboard and create a story from my imagination.

I have written three novels and a couple of handfuls of short stories.

I am proud of that.

Best of all, being in the zone when I write is where I love being. It is what keeps me coming back to writing like a junkie to drugs. Imaginations don’t age like our bodies and I will be able to continue writing as long as my brain and fingers allow. The process is like magic.

How lucky I am to have found a passion that is always there for me.

___________________________________________________________________

Productivity: I have a third of my third story down on “paper.” It’s an emotional subject and I know it will pull me into the zone when I get writing this week.

Motivation:  I’m following The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Great book to put into perspective what productive people do to get and stay in rhythm.

Happy Moments: 

  • My family was together to celebrate my birthday.
  • Unconditional love from my dogs greet me every day as I come and go from the house
  • feeling safe in my community in this chaotic world.

____________________________________________________________________

Perspective Photos:

tree shadow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rope on post

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

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.

*****

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.

Putting it in writing

Karalee’s Post #123

I willI’ve missed a couple of weeks of blogging. Sometimes unexpected things happen in life that changes your perspective and stuff that seemed important really isn’t. These things change one’s perspective and even one’s view of the subject matter in one’s writing.

This has happened to me. I’m making adjustments in my writing too. My short stories may take on a completely different bent from my norm of mystery, especially murder mystery.

I’ve committed to 5 short stories in 5 months. Five in five. Sounds quick. Almost easy. Go ahead, say it. Five in five. It has a good ring to it. Sounds almost lyrical. Must be easy. Right?

It’s easy to write down. But, once it’s down, well, it’s in writing! Suddenly it’s a stronger commitment than a thought kept between the ears immersed deep in my grey matter where no one but oneself has a clue about it.

That got me thinking. Putting something in writing can easily be a one-liner (unless you’re a lawyer, and I believe that’s an impossibility). What that one-liner can represent though, can demand a HUGE amount of work behind the scenes. HUGE.

Here’s what I mean:

Things that are easy to jot down:

  1. I will write a novel in 5 months.
  2. I will write 5 short stories in 5 months.
  3. I will run a marathon.
  4. I will quit eating sugar.
  5. I will visit my mother for a week.

What those things really mean:

  1. I will sit at my computer for hours, HOURS, making stuff up; outlining; mind mapping; researching history, science, backstory, and character development; PLUS manage all the other aspects of my life like a job, cooking and eating and doing the dishes; PLUS actually writing 1000 words a day of good stuff that adds conflict and character development and moves the story forward.
  2. Ditto for 1 above x 5 minus the big word count.
  3. Starting 3 to 4 months before the marathon I will run 4 days a week building up time and distance slowly to a good 4 hour run 10 days before the race; work on interval and weight training the other days; eat properly which means more time shopping and cooking and doing dishes; and get a proper sleep every night. Oh, go to work every day too!
  4. This is a mind and body game that can drive a person mad. Substituting with salads and other good home-cooked meals means more shopping, cooking and dishes. Distracting oneself by writing, reading, gardening, watching TV, sitting on one’s hands, or training for a marathon to remove oneself from temptation can take hours of time.
  5. This one takes lots of prep. Phone calls, multiple times to arrange and remind said mother. Then there’s organizing my house affairs to leave, packing clothes and dogs, driving 14 hours, visiting and spending all day helping sort my mother’s house and garden, looking after the dogs, driving home again only to get my house back in order.

See what I mean? All these activities started out as a simple one-liner. Each represents an immense amount of work.

In conclusion I must say that the moral of this post is that when you put something down in writing, make sure you are a lawyer so you get paid for it!

______________________________________________

Short Story Progress:   I’m thinking of themes and am inclined to write outside my box.

Perspective Photos:

Vancouver fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

airplane landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing.

 

To go or not to go

Joe’s Post #153 —

headerThat is the question.

I’m talking about the Surrey Writer’s Conference. Oct 23rd -24th.

It’s a toss-up this year. Pros and cons.

So I did what I do when I can’t decide.

I make a list. And drink. Here’s the list.

the authors

My best writing buddies, The Five

Top 6 Reasons to Go

  1. I could pitch 2 books to an editor who’s interested in my genre.
  2. There are 3 agents there I could take to about my books.
  3. 9/10 times I get inspired.
  4. The food’s pretty good.
  5. I love to learn and there’s always something to learn.
  6. My best writing buddies are there.

 

Top 5 Reasons Not To Go

  1. don maassDon Maass is NOT there. See #3. He is my biggest inspirer.
  2. No Chuck Wendig, so that means I won’t spend 2 hours laughing my ass off and I do love to laugh my ass off.
  3. It costs a lot of money at a time that I don’t have that money.
  4. Most of the agents showing up don’t want to look at the books I write, or I’ve pitched to them and they’ve rejected my brilliant stories.
  5. I can’t find a full day of things I want to do. There’s a bit Friday and Saturday, but that’s a huge cost for basically 2 half days.
  6. My best writing buddies will not be there. Joe sad.

I tell ya, it’s a tough call. Not that there aren’t some great people there, not that there aren’t a few good workshops, and it’s always amazingly well organized, but this year, I may choose not to go. The weight of the list is clearly on the No side, but then there’s #1 on the Go side.

Is it worth it?

Thoughts?

 

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?

 

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