Tag Archive | writer

What an Author Show is Like

Hey, everyone! Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. Things have been busy lately, but thankfully, Spring is here!

Yesterday, I had my first author show of the year. It was pretty busy (despite the cold weather), and I got to meet a lot of awesome people! This is my third time at this specific author show, and every year it seems like it gets better.

But what is an author show like? I can tell you from experience that each show is different. Some are successful, some aren’t, and some, well…it just depends on the day and who shows up. But after a few years of attending, there’s some things that I notice pretty regularly that happen…

1. Be prepared to network!

Some of the most helpful people I’ve met have been fellow authors who’ve attended these shows with me. Through these shows, I’ve gotten to make new friends, join author groups, and get a general feel for how the market is doing in other genres. Author shows are a great way to keep up with the times and meet new people, so don’t be afraid to say hello to the tables next to you!

2. You may be asked a lot of questions on how you became an author.

Yesterday was kind of funny. I hardly got any visitors who were readers! In fact, many of the people who said hello were inspiring authors themselves who were looking for advice on how to publish.

3. You might be disappointed if sales are low, but that doesn’t mean the show was a flop.

Every show is different. As said before, some shows do well while others don’t. But just because you might not sell well doesn’t mean the show isn’t a success. I once went to a show where I sold nothing, but I did get to meet a lady who liked my books…and eventually put me in a local magazine.

4. You might actually have fun.

Let the fans get to know you, but don’t be so worried about impressing people that you forget to have fun. Whether it’s through conversation, meeting new people, or posing your puppet parrot in different spots to see if they noticed (I might have done that yesterday), you can have a lot of fun!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

January Happenings

Greetings, fellow readers!

I’m so sorry that I’ve been slow on updating.  Things have been a bit busy lately.  Between my grandpa’s cancer surgery/treatment, extra hours working, and getting in a car accident (me + icy roads = hello, ditch), it’s been hard to even find time to write.  The good news is I have gotten some writing done, and I’m happy to say that Heir of Vengeance is over half-way through!

I’ll admit that writing it has been a bit bittersweet, though.  Both Captain Patty and The Ripple Affair are nearing their series’ ends.  (So far it’s one more book for the former and about two more books for the latter.)  It’s hard to believe that these two projects, started over a decade ago, are almost complete!  I’m happy to say that there are more stories (and series) on the way, though.  Once these two are complete, I’m hoping to get a Captain Patty spin-off story and a sequel series to The Ripple Affair.   I’m also planning some separate fiction that will involve different worlds, different characters, and even different planets (what can I say?  I like sci-fi), so I’m excited for the days to come!

I hope you all are doing well.  Keep watching the site for updates on Heir of Vengeance and any news on upcoming promos for my already-published books.

Have a happy week!

 

Weekly Update – You Mean Book Characters Aren’t Real???

Apologies for the late post, friends!  It was a busy weekend and I’m finally able to post!

A while back ago, I made the comment that I tended to know my book characters better than real people.  I meant it as a joke, of course, because as a writer, it’s part of my job creating, developing, and getting to know these characters from beginning to end.  But some of the reactions I got were quite comical, as some thought it meant I really, truly was being isolated from real people!

I had to explain that it was a writer joke, and we all had some good laughs over it, but the truth is there is a special bond that develops between a writer (or even a reader, in many cases) and a book character.  We see what’s inside their head, we learn what makes them happy or sad, we witness their proudest accomplishments and greatest defeats.  And though we know (deep down inside) that fiction book characters aren’t real (unless we’re dealing with historical fiction, lol), we still develop a great love, loyalty, and understanding between them, often similarly like we do with real people.

Though I can’t speak for others, I find myself rejoicing in the fact that I have such a great “relationship” with my characters.  Like real people, I learn about myself and others through my interactions with them.  And though I can’t replace real people with them (as much as I’d love to get a hug from Marcus Peterson, it’s just not going to happen…*cries*), I can still be swept away on incredible journeys and exciting escapes with every page.

I have fun with my friends and I have fun with my book characters, and I’m happy to say that both have made me into who I am today.  Who are some characters that have made a big impact on your life?

Weekly Update – For the Writers with a Second Job

I don’t know about you, but being a writer is hard work.

It’s even harder when you’re working another job on top of writing books.

Whether it’s volunteer or paid, working in other areas besides writing can make things difficult.  It’s hard to find time to write.  It’s hard to get a clear head primed for creativity when the day’s stressors aren’t over yet.  It’s hard to get as much done as you could have if you had more hours in the day.

And if you don’t meet your goals, it’s easy to feel guilty or feel like you’re not a good enough writer.

So what are some things one might keep in mind as they work other jobs and write?  Here are a few that help me:

  1. Realize you’re not alone.  There are plenty of other writers (and singers…and actors…and painters…and people in hundreds of other professions) who work multiple jobs, too.  The struggle is real, and we understand it.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up.  It’s not easy trying to juggle multiple tasks while getting things done on time.  Cut yourself some slack and don’t forget to practice self-care.  Be good to yourself because you’re worth it.
  3. Use your other experiences to help with your creativity.  You never know when you’ll be inspired.  Creativity can hit in the most unexpected places, and the experiences you build in areas outside of books will only help further your artistry.
  4. Enjoy your other line of work.  Even if it’s volunteering, there’s nothing wrong with having an interest outside of writing.  For me, it’s volunteering at my church.  For others, it may be helping rescue animals or serving the homeless or mentoring youth.  Whatever you do, learn to enjoy the moment.

Grant it, there are many more things that could be said, and many writers do go on to devoting their time fully to their art.  That’s certainly not a bad thing, and I’m sure many of us who work other jobs would hope to do the same someday.  But if you find yourself having to work as you write, don’t get discouraged.  Keep writing!  You never know – your hard work may just pay off!

 

Weekly Update – Odd Things About Being A Writer

When I first published, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect as an author – book signings, blog entries, late nights writing and editing.  All of these expectations were accurate and came with the job, but there were a few things (okay, maybe more than a few things) that I didn’t expect.

Chances are, if you’re an author or planning on becoming one, you may run into these oddities.  But don’t worry – just like doing any job, you’ll be able to weather any storm with patience and experience.  🙂

1. People will ask you to write their book.

One of the first conversations I had after announcing I was publishing The Ripple Affair was the simple question, “Will you write my book for me?”  Following said question was an explanation as to why this was a good idea to them: “I have so many great ideas, but not any talent to do it.  I can tell you what to write and then you can write it for me!”

No.  Just, no.

Writing a book is hard work.  It takes time, patience, and lots of dedication.  That being said, your story should be written by you.  Grant it, there is the subject of ghostwriting, but that topic aside, there’s something special about writing your own story.  It’s yours and no one else can claim it.  That, my friends, is something to be proud of.

As for having “talent”, rarely does a writer know everything there is about writing.  We’re learning just as much about our language and its syntax as any student.  Writing is more than just typing words on a paper – it’s a growth, one that never stops, even after the work is finished.

2. People will request to help you write your book.

A comment that makes me laugh (or cringe, depending) is when a person comes up to me and says, “You know, I’m not trying to tell you how to write your books, but I have this great idea for a character/story/setting, that I really think you should put in there.”

Again, no.

Trust me – you’ll quickly learn how to say, “Write your own story” in the most polite way possible.

3. You may not want to write on some days.

Writing is my life.  It has always been my life.  But some days, I just don’t feel like writing.

Between stress, volunteer work, family, health issues, and the temptation to drool over all those awesome Pinterest recipes, there are some days when the writing just isn’t flowing like it should.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  We all have days where the creativity takes a breather.  That doesn’t mean the writing will stop or you’re wasting your time.  Like any job, you just have to be persistent.  Don’t get down, and don’t give up!

4. Some people don’t take writing seriously.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to “get a real job”, I’d be a millionaire.

There’s an unfortunate stigma that being a writer somehow equals unemployment.  Grant it, writing doesn’t always bring the best pay (or any pay, for that matter), but writing is hard work, and mentally, it can be grueling.

Why?  Because writers today don’t just write, typically.  They also edit, format, illustrate, design web sites, run blogs, market their books, do research, attend conferences, teach…there’s an endless list of all the things writers do in order to publish a book and make it a success.  Being a writer is not a simple 9-5 job.  It’s a passion that lasts all day and all night, 365 days a year and 7 days a week.

Are there oddities about being a writer?  Certainly.  But despite the setbacks or inconveniences, the good tends to outweigh the bad.  Every moving plot, every good review, every connection you make with a reader through the words you write is worth all of it.

What are some oddities you’ve run into as a writer?

 

Weekly Update – Daydreaming Counts As Writing, Right?

I freely admit that I had trouble paying attention in school when I was a kid.

It had nothing to do with the teachers.  They were great people, always trying to make lessons fun and engaging so we kids could learn.  But despite however hard I tried, I just couldn’t keep focused sometimes.  My mind would wander, and I’d daydream almost throughout the day (unless I got to read out of a book, that is…)

Even during the summers, when I was playing basketball or riding around in circles with my bike in the driveway, I’d daydream.  I’d put myself in stories or I’d create new episodes in my head of TV shows I had watched.  

Daydreaming was a part of life, and it wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned that it could also be a sign of being a writer.

As I work on finishing my edits and getting the cover designed for Captain Patty and Veronica’s Vengeance, I find myself occasionally daydreaming, even as I write.  I think of possible routes my story can take or how I can shake up my characters’ lives. I think of how I might want my dialogue to sound or whether I want to expand on a side plot or not.  And even though I’m working on the new Captain Patty, I’m already dreaming about how I want The Ripple Affair to end and how I want its sequel series to begin.

Though I would never recommend daydreaming when you should be concentrating (focus on your school work, kids, or you’ll have to learn the hard way like I did and realize studying is actually a good thing, ha!), it’s always fun to take the time (when you can) to “write in your head.”  Daydreaming is a way that writers plan their work, a sort of pre-writing as many others have called it.  Daydreams allow you to see plots and characters and settings and learn if they could possibly work.  It’s a way to test the product before the product is produced.

As this week comes to an end and a new one begins, may you find joy and happiness no matter what sort of dreams you create.  Have a wonderful week!

The Truth About Publishing

I’ve talked to a lot of people lately- at craft shows, book signings, and online- and when I meet a fellow writer, I hear the same sentence over and over again:

“I love to write, but I’m afraid to publish.”

After listening to their experiences, I’ve come to learn that it’s not so much the process of publishing that scares them (they don’t mind the writing, editing, or marketing), it’s the thought of having their work out there.  In the public.  On the web.  Out and about where everyone in the world can now see.

Take it from someone who was once a non-published author before: putting your work out there is a scary task!

Because when you publish, you open yourself to critique, or better yet, troll-infused criticism.  You risk the possibility that your dream of living off of your book’s royalties may not come to pass.  You just might have to come to terms with the fact that even though your work is brilliant and great, there is a chance that it’ll get lost in the endless supply of books being published daily online, and only a select few will ever come to appreciate it.

Those are fears that are a reality to a lot of published authors, and it’s a reality that many people will never understand.

So I’ll be honest- publishing is scary.  The risk is high, the rewards are sometimes scanty, and even if you do have good sales the first time around, they aren’t guaranteed to last.

But I’d be lying if I said publishing still isn’t worth it.

Because the truth is, despite the trolls, despite the roller-coaster sales, despite the risk that your books may only ever be read by a few people on Goodreads who somehow found you, publishing is still worth it.  Amidst the trolls, there’s readers who will read your book and love it.  Despite the low sales and having to still work that nine to five job, you can say (unlike many others), that you’ve got to live your dream.  And even if your story gets lost in the shuffle, it’s still in that pile, and even if people don’t read it today, there’s always the chance that after a time of digging, they’ll read it tomorrow.

None of us know what the future holds.  It may be bad, it may be bland.  But there’s also a chance it can be good.  But unless we take that first step into the unknown and actually try, we’ll never know.

So if you’re unsure of whether to publish or not, I’ll tell you what I tell the other writers I talk to:

If you want to publish, then publish.  If you don’t, don’t.  Only you can make the decision on what to do with your writing, and you’re the one who knows best.  But if you’re still unsure, don’t let worry or fear get the best of you.  You’re a writer.  Whether you’ve got a book for sale on Kindle or a dusty old journal on your nightstand, you’re a writer.  And no matter what, as long as those words are on paper (or in digital space), you’ve already accomplished what most people could only dream of.

And that, my friend, is something to be proud of.

Ode to the Finished Book

It took much longer than expected, but I’m happy to announce that “Heart of Deceit” is finally finished!  (You can get the paperback here and the Kindle version here.)  My apologies that it took so long to complete.  The past few years have been full of hospitals, doctor visits, and caregiving, so needless to say family has been taking a higher priority at the moment.  But despite that, I didn’t forget about you, dear readers, and I’m still writing away!

In celebration of “Heart of Deceit” and its release, I decided to write a poem that will hopefully give you a good laugh as it did me.  Being a writer is full of twists and turns, and at the end of a story’s ride, you can’t help but be happy that it’s finally finished so that others can enjoy it.  🙂

Ode to the Finished Book

I set about to write a book

That’d grab my readers with a hook

With characters who laugh and cry

And plot lines that make them go, “Why?”

With pen and ink, my mission set,

I wrote until my eyes were wet.

Computer glare became my foe

And editing had caused me woe.

But in the end, my story worked!

I may have done a happy twerk.

This story took so long to write,

I thought I’d never see the light!

But hard work does a story good,

And without it, it never would.

My book is done and now complete!

I will now celebrate this feat.

But not too long!  My story waits.

The next book surely can’t be late!

Signs You May Be A Writer (Part 2)

  • When I first started my blog, I wrote a post listing 10 signs that show you may be a writer.  That was a long time ago, back when publishing and the world of being an author was a relatively new and exciting adventure.  Now that I’ve been at it for nearly two years, I’ve noticed a few more signs that may show we’re writers.

So here, for 2016, is the sequel to “Signs You May Be A Writer”:

  1. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you find grammar errors in professionally published books.  Because you’ve edited your own story so many times, you know commas and pronouns like the back of your hand.
  2. You have a soundtrack full of favorite scores and songs that you write to so you can feel like you’re in the moment.  Because nothing says “I’m sailing the seas!!!!!” like the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean.
  3. Your characters have a mind of their own because they always take your outline and throw it in the trash.  Yeah, I’m looking at you, book characters.  You never do what the writer tells you to do.  Never!
  4. You could earn a Ph.D. from all the research you’ve done.  Who knew one book could make you an expert on astrophysics, neurobiology, networking, and the personality traits of a poodle?
  5. You frequently mix up past, present, and future tense.  The struggle was real.  Or it is real.  Or it will be real.  Ah!
  6. You get excited over office supplies.  Nothing says bliss like the smell of a crisp, fresh notebook right out of the wrapping.
  7. You never leave home without a notepad or note-taking device.  Because you never know when inspiration may strike, like when you’re in a bathroom or meeting your grandparents for lunch (both have happened to me, by the way.)
  8. You critique every.  single.  story  you come across.  You can’t help it.  You really just can’t.  You try to be nice and understanding, but it’s so obvious that plot line just screams predictability!
  9. You learn that writing happens at all days and times.  Holidays?  Weekends?  When you’re supposed to sleep?  Writing has no regards for personal enjoyment sometimes.
  10. You are inspired.  Who knew that old dish rag and toothbrush would give you the idea for the greatest story ever?

What are some signs you notice in writers?

A Writer’s Guide to Negative Reviews

There are many perks to being a writer.  I’ll give you a hint, though: getting a negative review is not one of them.

Because as writers, we want to think that people like the words we offer them.  We want to encourage, entertain, and inspire.  We want to leave an impression that causes people to think and learn.  We want to give a piece of ourselves in every sentence and word, and we hope – pray, even – that our readers accept us and what we have to offer.

But let’s be realistic here.  Sometimes, no matter what you say or do, there are going to be critics.

Of course, critics come in all sorts of ways.  They can range from kind and generous souls who really want to see you improve in your craft, to rude, obnoxious trolls who are only looking for a fight and fame for themselves.  What we do with the criticisms they give?  Do we take it to heart?  Do we argue back and defend our honor?  Do we simply ignore it and go about our day?

The answer isn’t always so simple, and wisdom is certainly a must-have when dealing with it.  But despite the gray areas and the call to think before you write, there are a few common lessons that all writers can learn when dealing with negative reviews:

Negative reviews happen to everybody.

Go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s website and look up some of your favorite books.  Found them?  Now look at the reviews.  Are you surprised to see that there are negative ratings?  That there are criticisms that dare to insult what you consider the greatest story of all time?  Now look up your least favorite books and find the reviews.  Guess what?  There are criticisms there, too.

Good books and bad books have one thing in common: they always will have readers who despise them.  No matter how perfect you write, no matter how many fans you get, there will always be the select few who don’t like your book.  Don’t get mad.  Don’t get upset.  Don’t let it discourage you from ever writing again.  Negative reviews have been given to the greatest authors of all time, and if readers didn’t spare them, chances are they won’t spare you from criticisms, either.

Know when to listen to (and ignore) your critics.

Just like there are bad books and good books, there are also bad critics and good critics.  Bad critics insult without telling you what you did wrong.  Good critics provide constructive feedback that will help improve your writing.  Though it’s often easy to tell the difference between the two, don’t waste your energy treating them the same.  Trolls only seek to fight and discourage.   True critics seek to help and improve.

Though writers all differ on how they respond to critics, I have a general rule of staying silent.  I’ve seen too many writers get into unnecessary (and losing) fights simply because they felt like they had to defend themselves against a person’s insults.  Whether you respond to your critics is up to you – just remember to be wise and knowledgeable of any internet forum rules you may be posting in!

Understand that negative reviews can sometimes help.

I’ve gotten a few negative reviews since first publishing, and the odd thing is my sales and good reviews sometimes go up after that happens.  Why, I’m not sure, but I often wonder if it’s because that negative reviews can sometimes help.

Have you ever read the one or two star reviews of a book?  Chances are, most reviews will say the same thing.  The book is full of grammar errors.  The story isn’t realistic enough.  The characters are too flat and the plot is too long.  But then look at readers.  Some won’t mind grammar errors as long as the story is good.  Some prefer more fantasy to escape the realism of life.  Some enjoy plot over character while others thrive at a long story they can delve deep into.  Just like the old saying goes at garage sales, “One’s trash is another’s treasure,” what may be an awful book to one person may be gold to another.

I’ve heard many readers say this is how they choose what book to read next.  They don’t look at the five star reviews to see if they’re going to enjoy a story.  They look at the one star and two star reviews.  They’re looking to see if the book is really, genuinely bad or if people simply didn’t prefer it.  They’re looking to see if the book they’re looking to read is found in the negative reviews.

Also, having a few negative reviews adds authenticity to your book.  They can prove that you have unbiased readers reading your book (not just fans).  This adds credibility to the reviews you have, which in turns adds credibility to your book.

Though no writer likes to see his or her work criticized, it’s bound to happen sooner or later.  We can choose to ignore or listen, be discouraged or encouraged, falter or strengthen.  Be thankful for good reviews (because they really are awesome and fun to read), but don’t be discouraged or angry if you get a negative review.  Be confident and know who you are.  You’re a human being.  You’re an artist.  You’re a student always learning.

You’re a writer.