A chronicle of my quest to learn how to write fiction by writing a book based on the Harry Potter universe by J.K. Rowling. I'll move on to my own original work when I'm finished.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Rifters Is Now Free On Amazon

It's been a bittersweet week so far.  On the bright side, Mary Pax's latest book, The Rifters, is available for free on Amazon.  Be sure to drop by and pick it up.

On the down side, we've just found out that our 18 month old cat, my wife's favorite, is sick, almost certainly due to one of those feline viruses that has no cure.  Wish us luck!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Links -- volume 43

Another week gone.  Another week closer to the start of school. And my kids are panicking. :)  To be honest, I suspect that getting some structure back into their lives, and more contact time with their friends, will be good for them.  The downside, of course, is the homework, but that's not my problem. (At least not until they come to me asking for help.)

On the writing front, I signed up for my first writing workshop.  See Wednesday's post.  It's a small step, but somehow it makes me feel like more of a writer.

Have a great weekend!


And now for the links...............

How Do You Get Reviews for Your FIRST Book?

Book Marketing With Visual Content. 7 Ways To Stand Out With Images.

One Road at The Pen and Muse: How to Trim Words From Your Manuscript

Goodreads Giveaways: Don’t Do What You’re Told

Interesting Characters: You are what you eat

Are Pre-Orders Right For You?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taking the Plunge – My First Writers Workshop

I did it.

After spending the last six years learning how to write fiction, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a writer’s workshop in October. Signing up for a workshop may seem like no big deal to some of you veterans out there, but for me this was a major step forward.

I’ve toyed with the idea of attending writer’s conferences over the past few years, but never felt I could justify the time and expense this would entail, especially since I thought my writing skills were still too raw to properly benefit from the experience. This workshop, however, seemed to fit the bill. It’s an intensive two day course (Friday and Saturday), so I only have to miss one day of work. It’s only five hours away by car. And it’s run by David Farland, whose blog I follow religiously.

As it turned out, the decision was a bit more difficult than I expected. After consulting with my wife to make sure she was on board with this the idea (she’s very supportive, BTW), I decided I would sign up for the course the next day. Unfortunately, the next day turned out to be one of those down days that strike writers every so often. I’d gone back to one of my earlier chapters for some light editing and was horrified to discover how sophomoric the words sounded. And try as I might, I couldn’t think of any way to improve the wording. I know I’ll never be great with words—I’m just not wired for it—but I’d thought my writing had progressed beyond what was staring me in the face. And to top it off, I read the first chapter from another author’s book and was blown away by how smoothly the words flowed. And it was her debut book! Arggg! Suddenly, I began to wonder if this whole writing thing was just a silly pipedream.

So when I sat down in front of the computer that evening to sign up for the course, I got cold feet and walked away. Up to now I’ve treated writing as something approaching a hobby—one I’ve worked very hard on, mind you—but still a hobby. If I never became a published author, my life wouldn’t be over. I’d still have my day job. I’d still have made lots of writer friends. And I could still dream about what might have been. But spending money on a writing workshop meant I was officially branding my writing as more than just a hobby. It’s not as though I haven’t spent money on craft books and SCBWI memberships, but this would be ratcheting my commitment up a notch. And if turned out that this was a pipe dream after all, that my writing skills would never progress to the required levels, then spending money on this workshop would be like throwing it away.

So I crept off to a quiet spot in the house and pondered how my MC would handle the situation. About thirty minutes later, I marched back to the computer and signed up for the course.

Ha! Take that, muse! The ball’s in your court now.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Links -- Volume 42

Did a little of everything this week.  Finished beta-reading a book for one author and am halfway through another book for a different author.  Read one of my chapters to my local crit group and received some great feedback.  And I forced myself to go back to some of my earlier chapters and make some hard decisions about scenes that I've been putting off for a year (or more).

Hope your week was just as productive.  Have a great weekend!


15 Must-Have Website Essentials

Blurbs that Bore, Blurbs that Blare

The Art of Writing Back Copy: Boiling Your Book to its Essence

Why Should Anyone Help Your Protagonist?

5 Keys to Book Cover Success

Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It

How to Find Your Character’s Breaking Point

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Knowing When To Move On When You're Stuck On A Chapter

Whenever I run into problems during a scene or chapter, I have an unfortunate tendency to stubbornly slog away at the offending words, often for weeks at a time, until I grow so sick of staring at the pages I force myself to move on to another part of the manuscript, if only to maintain my sanity. Hardly what one might consider an efficient use of time.  A month or two ago, I resolved that I would no longer go this route, promising myself I would only work on a scene or chapter up until the point where my muse became antsy or bored and then move on to something else. And so far, the results have been encouraging.

My productivity has increased, and I’m a much happier camper these days. Yesterday, for example, after pounding away on a first draft of a chapter for a couple of hours, (first drafts are like wading through molasses for me), I rewarded myself by putting that chapter aside, jumping to an earlier, more polished chapter, and doing a light edit. Quite refreshing. Of course I do have to be careful. There’s always the danger I’ll misuse this technique to avoid working on challenging chapters, but I'm optimistic this won’t happen.

Some of you may be uncomfortable with the idea of jumping around so much, but this technique seems to fit my style perfectly. I’ve always been a multitasker, never happy to work on only one project at a time. I typically read six to ten books simultaneously, choosing to read whichever suits me at the moment. (I will admit this can be a real problem when trying to review books in a timely manner.) This multitasking behavior even influences my writing style. My best scenes come when I have multiple threads occurring at once. Some writers can write an entire chapter around one event. Not me. If I don’t have several subplots in a scene, the words just don’t seem to want to come.

So for now, I’m going to stick with method. By the end of the year I should know whether or not it’s a keeper.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Links -- volume 41

After spending last week relaxing (supposedly) on a vacation in northern Michigan, a trip that mostly kept me out of reach of the Internet, I came home to find my inbox overflowing with emails.  Took over a day just to clean up that mess.  Still, it's good to be back, even if my schedule is a bit hectic these days.  I'm beta-reading two different manuscripts, doing a structural edit on a third, helping my wife set up Excel spreadsheets for her new pet sitting business, finished a book review, and still made good progress on my own manuscript.  I even commented a couple of times on Facebook--something I'm trying to get better at doing.  All in all, a good week by any standard.

Anyway, I'm glad the weekend is almost here.  I wouldn't mind sleeping late tomorrow.

Many of this week's links have to do marketing, self-publishing, and  formating ebooks on your own.  Am I noticing a trend here?

Have a great weekend!

How Bad Can One Page Be? The Hidden Dangers in Short-Form Contracts

Author Entrepreneur. How To Sell Books And Products Direct To Customers

Author Entrepreneur. Go Direct And Sell To Your Customers With Jim Kukral

Clean Up Your Ebook Files With HTML

Writing Basics: Formatting Your Manuscript for Submission

Are Facebook “Promoted Posts” Ever Worth It for Authors?

C’mon, Book Marketing Isn’t That Hard