Friday, April 21, 2017

Expanding On Publish A Lot / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-Apr-2017

Lastly, for the third week in a row, my simple advice for writers:
Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Publish a lot.

Let's dive into the third axiom: publish a lot.

I need to clarify and expand on "publish."  It should really be publish/submit.  If you send a story off to an anthology, a contest, a small or medium press, or one of the big publishing houses--or in any case where you are passing along your story for publishing consideration, then you are moving the story along the path of publication.  That is submitting.

If you decide to indie publish, it's a matter of uploading the document and hitting publish--okay, okay, there's a bit more to it than that, but in a nutshell that's all there is to it.

Where is the editing process?  The cover art?  The formatting?  For now, don't worry about it.  We're keeping it simple.  One can find themselves stuck in the weeds when it comes to writing/publishing advice.  Now, I'm not a major bestselling author (so what do I know, right?), but I have been indie publishing since April 2012.  If you take into accounts the other aspects of publishing, from writing (and finishing) novels/short stories and sending them off to agents, we're talking a timeline of 1994 when I completed my first novel.  I studied query letters and agents, and did that whole ball of wax.

The bottom line is that I kept the stories moving.  Not all of them, mind you.  There are stories that have sat in the virtual trunk, and even novels that hadn't been looked at for decades.  But, by and large, I kept working.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Expanding On Write A Lot / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-Apr-2017

Again, here's my simple advice for writers:
Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Publish a lot.

Let's dive into the second axiom: write a lot.

How much is a lot?  That depends largely on the writer themselves.  Five hundred words for you in a day may be the max, while someone like Brandon Sanderson or Dean Wesley Smith can crank out several thousand.  Even Stephen King had, in his definitive book On Writing, said he wrote two thousand words a day, everyday.

Do you have to write two thousand words?  Can it be less?  Or more?

Again, it depends on you.

My suggestion is to keep track.  Either on a piece of paper or on a spreadsheet, write down the number of words you write in a day.  One can even use a calendar, then at the end of the week add up the total words in the week.

Keep in mind, each writer is different.  Are there days you'll write zero?  Of course.  Will there be days where you'll crank out two . . . three . . . or even four thousand?  Or more?  Yes.  For me, when I'm on a roll, the words gush out like a tidal wave.

The key to all this is to write as much as you can.  I'm a father of three and a husband to a former cancer patient.  A lot is on my shoulders.  But I still carve out a few minutes here and there to write.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Expanding On Read A Lot / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-Apr-2017

First, let's begin with the full text of my simple advice for writers:
Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Publish a lot.

Let's dive into the first axiom: read a lot.

What do I mean by it?

Well, as writers, we must read.  Musicians listen to music and architects study buildings.  Now, I remember listening to a podcast once with Brandon Sanderson, who said that his reading time goes down when he's in the middle of working on a big project, but that doesn't mean that prior to his publishing success that he didn't read.  He read a ton.  Hence his great success.

I'm at a point in my life where I feel like I'm behind the eight ball when it comes to reading certain books, be it classics of science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, etc.  But I read.  I do read a lot.  I sometimes read multiple books at once.  But I'm a slow reader.  I had purchased the five-ebook box set of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series years ago, and it honestly took me roughly a year and a half to get through it.  Now, I was reading other books between, but it still took me a while.  I also read across various genres and story lengths.

But one could expand the "read a lot" into movies and TV shows as well.  As a writer, I can watch a TV show (or series) and figure out what the story is doing at any given point in time.  I then incorporate it into my own writing.

The point of all this is to simply state that one can absorb the elements of storytelling in ways other than reading (or listening to) a book.  TV shows and movies can also fill this role.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedom - A Huge Plus As An Indie Author / Happenings In The Outhouse 31-Mar-2017

The other day, I contemplated how much freedom I had as an indie author.  I could write what I want, when I want.  Everything is self-imposed.  Deadlines are typically what I set for myself, to push myself along.

This can be scary for some, as they navigate the publishing waters.  There is more than enough information to make one's head spin over and over again like Regan from The Exorcist.

Last week, Dean Wesley Smith posted the following two articles, in regards to freedom--as you may note, I commented on the first one.  Now, I can't say that my comment led to his writing the second one, but it wouldn't surprise me.

The Normal Nature of Being Behind In This New World.

Freedom In This New Publishing World

As a side note, if you aren't reading Dean's blog--he blogs daily, and has been for one heck of a long time--you should.

This past weekend, I was messaging with another indie author who was asking for my advice.  She had a completed suspense romance book (cool, huh?) with a summer release, and she had information overload when it came to indie publishing.

I won't dispense what advise I gave her here, because it was a private conversation and the circumstances were largely based on one's personal situation.

My advise to all would be: read a lot, write a lot, publish a lot.  I may expand on these in the future, but this is the axiom that I live by.

The best writing advise--keeping it simple, in other words--can be summed up nicely in what is called Heinlein's rules of writingHere is another link of the same rules, summarized by another author.

Remember, through it all, as indie authors, we have freedom.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Stats on 2nd Book in Shadowkill Trilogy / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Mar-2017

On Sunday March 19th, 2017, I finished Homeland Defense, the second novel in the Shadowkill trilogy.

Also on March 19th, I started the third book, Storming The Hill.  This will close out the trilogy.  Will there be future books in the universe I had created?  I honestly do not know.  There are so many other books/series I want to write, but one never knows when I get a spark of a new idea that I can use in the Shadowkill universe.

I started writing Homeland Defense on 1/9/2017, which brings the total days I worked on it at 70.  This is just the first draft.  When I finish Storming The Hill, I will go back and edit both at the same time.  I'm still shooting for a summer release of both novels, which will include a box set of all three, so I'll be a busy beaver.

Homeland Defense runs at 59,543 words.  I averaged 851 words a day, but when I factor in the 11 days that had zero writing--I even had a day I wrote only 25 words, but that still counted as a writing day--the average jumps up to 1,009 in the 59 actual writing days.

I am currently around the 5,000 word mark in Storming The Hill.  It's a good click so far, and it's been fun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Worst Critics Are Writers (AKA What's Wrong With Prim's Goat?) / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Mar-2017

For a number of years, I've been listening to writing podcasts where other writers would criticize The Hunger Games and the scene often referred to as "Prim's goat."

Last year, my oldest daughter, who was thirteen at the time, read the book and I made a comment about the scene to her.  I was under the impression this scene of Prim's goat was an entire chapter and stuck out like a sore thumb.  She frowned and told me she couldn't even remember that scene.  So she looked it up.  She eventually found it, shrugged, and asked, "And?  What's wrong with it?"

I didn't know.

Recently, I listened to the entire Hunger Games trilogy on audiobook.  When I got to the scene where Katniss talked about Prim's goat . . . I was disappointed that other writers would take it to heart with such vileness.  In audio form, it was not even five minutes--in page form, um, maybe 2-3 pages tops.

What the hell!  I thought the scene was perfect and fit in the story nicely.

The worst critics seem to be, in fact, other writers.  We are taught to write in a certain way and to do things in a certain way, and when other stories fly in the face of it, writers (not all, mind you, but they are vocal) get their panties up in a bunch.

Honestly, I think they're jealous of others' success when theirs isn't as . . . successful.

I am probably the least panty buncher of them all.  It doesn't take much to entertain me--yes, I was a cheap date during my "dating" years (thank God I don't have to deal with that crap now, as I've been married almost nineteen years).  This past weekend, I rented the new Ghostbusters movie from the library--yes, the one that got all the negative reviews from die hard Ghostbusters fans.  Guess what?  I loved it.  Oh, sure, there were spots that I criticized and thought they could've done a better job or if they didn't work at being clever, but by and large it was a good movie.  My youngest daughter, who is ten, laughed all the way through it.

If you have a beta readers, it may be best for them NOT to be a writer.  Not to say that writers can't offer tips on your story, but find someone who loves to read.  You may be surprised at what you'll hear.  Aside from my writers' group, none of my beta readers are writers.  All are avid readers, and do a wonderful job of pointing out any mistakes I make.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Where you can be found - investing in your career - making it easy to find you / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Mar-2017

Last week, a guy I work with had just returned from vacation.  He knew I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and asked me if I knew a certain author.  Apparently, while on vacation, he met the family of this particular author.

The name sounded familiar, but, after a while, names tend to blend.  So I did what anyone nowadays would do: I Googled the author.

I didn't find much.  Oh, sure, this author had a Wordpress website (with wordpress in the web address, which means it's the free version--come on, people, if you're gonna do that, just pay for the darn thing; otherwise, just go with a BlogSpot blog).  The author had a Facebook page, which hadn't been updated since 2013.  This author may or may not have even been on Twitter.

I will call the author a "he" since a saw a picture of him.  He had a smattering of short stories, and even had novels published by Tor--okay, I'm impressed by that bit.

Honestly, though, it still wasn't much.  I was surprised.  He had been publishing for quite a number of years.

Google my name: Mark S. R. Peterson.  Since I have a common enough name, you get other hits too, but for the most part it all leads back to me.

And, again, I suck at marketing.

It doesn't take much to start building an online presence.  A blog post here and there, even publishing here and there, it doesn't take much.  And this particular author had been publishing for years.  Much longer than me.

The point is that if you find someone who wants to know more about you or your books, be mindful of what many people will do nowadays.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your career.  But if you treat your career like an investment, adding to it bit by bit over time, your presence will grow.