Category Archives: Weekly Update
I’ve been busy. By busy I mean I’ve written 15,000 words in the past 10 days. I’m pounding through the next season of Golden West (you did see that the season finale posted, right? Follow the link to get caught up!) I’m very happy with the end of the season and how everything turned out. Mike and I ran into some bumps along the way, but it all came together. In the coming days I’ll be putting together Golden West to drop onto podiobooks and I’m sure Mike will do the same with Boyscouts of the Apocalypse.
As for how Golden West Season 2 is coming along, let’s just say now that all the introductory material is in place, the story will really start jumping along. I’ve already got the end of season two figured out and I have an idea where season 3 will end the run. I’ve known the story as a whole all along, it’s just how all the little pieces tied together.
Another notice, Mike and I will be taking a break so we can get ahead in the writing of the next season of the Action Pack Podcast. As I mentioned, I’m already 15,000 words in. I’ll be writing the entire thing this time instead of trying to write it month to month. This will hopefully prevent delays.
I’m also working on plotting out the next four books for Supernatural Learning. I will be writing these next (all in one shot). This will be me through the start of next year on this series. I will then continue on with the first two books of Asteroid Bunnies. Both these titles are middle grade and will weigh in around 20,000-25,000 words. They’ll be fun romps. Not too serious, but just enough to make the story interesting. I’m having a blast writing both of these (I did write Asteroid Bunnies once. I’ll be throwing that away and writing it all over again).
After those are complete, I’ll finally get back on track with Astel book 2. This was the first self-published work I did and I really want to get back into that universe. I will most likely write the second and third books in one shot. This will conclude that series as well.
THEN I will see what I want/need to write next. As I’ve said time and again, I’ve got so many books I want to write. It’s just a matter of sitting, typing, and getting the stories out there. Next year will see 4 more Supernatural Learning books (that I’ll need to write), Billy Barbarian 2, V&A Shipping 3, Of Gnomes and Dwarves 2, and who knows what else I’ll drop into the mix. I’m insane and I know it!
Oh, you were probably wondering what I meant by “Free is coming!” in the title. Well, next week I’ll be giving away Paradise Palms: A murder mystery in a time-traveling trailer park as well as the Supernatural Learning: Omnibus 1 (8th Grade). That’s right! Something for the grown ups, something for the younger ones. I’ll post more about this next week, but fear not! Free books will be yours next week! I’m excited to see what happens with the give away.
So I guess you’re wondering where I’m at. I said I was going to publish 28 books in 24 months, right? Well, here’s what we’ve got done, here’s what’s coming up.
1) My Teacher is a Zombie (published)
2)My Teacher is a Werewolf (published)
3) V&A Shipping (published)
4) Murdockian Tales (published)
5) My Teacher is a Vampire (published)
6) Paradise Palms (published)
7) Supernatural Learning Omnibus 8th Grade (published)
8) Billy Barbarian (coming in June!)
9) Golden West: Season 1 (coming in June!)
10) My Teacher is a Witch (coming in July!)
11) Of Gnomes and Dwarves: Chance Encounters (coming in August!)
12) V&A Shipping II (coming in September!)
13 My Teacher is a Ghost (Coming in October)
14) Astel: Chosen – rerelease (coming in December)
15) Asteroid Bunnies 1: Zanahoria (coming in December)
That gets us more than half way to 28. That’s 15 books in 12 months already laid out. I’ve already written all but two of these books. I have many more planned. I may be able to write additional books that I’m not planning on releasing this year, but next year (like my Giant Robot story, To Fall From the Sky, Life of Lists). These are all books I pulled from the schedule due to life eating up a lot of time I would have spent writing. Fear not. I write very fast and these may come back to the schedule. I do want to write them. I don’t want to just leave them drift off my mind. I also have a number of short stories I’d like to write.
Speaking of short stories, I have a bunch floating around on submission to various places and racking up rejections. I may be letting those all come back to me by the end of this year and release Murdockian Tales 2. We’ll see what happens. I’d need to write a few more to make that a worthwhile book.
Also, I need to work on getting a blog tour in order. I’ve already had a couple of invites after my discussion with Mike over on Get Published. I’ll be sending out a bundle of emails. I’ll also be trying to get on a few podcasts as well. We’ll see how it goes. To be honest, I don’t want to slow my writing output too much right now. Even if I write 1000 words a day from here on out, I’ll hit my target easily. I’m fully capable of writing a lot more than that so as I said, I may include more titles. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
So watch for a post next week to get free ebooks! If you’re a reviewer and you’d like any of the titles you see, ask. I’ll be more than happy to email you a copy. If you’re a reviewer and require a print book, send me an email and we’ll talk. If you’d like to give me a review on amazon, I’ll send you any one of my other books free! for each review you leave (even if you didn’t like the book). If you already have all my titles, we may be able to get you an advanced copy of one of my upcoming titles! How’s that sound?
Alright, I’ve blabbered enough. 2013 is now laid out before you. I had though of doing 13 books in 2013 and 14 books in 2014. Just to be silly. I ditched that idea and just want to get books out and more books out and even more books out. I’m covering most every genre I write in with all the selections coming out. If you’d like a recommendation of my writing, email what you like, I’ll recommend a title of mine I might even send it to you for free!
I’ve got to get at it!
Until Next time!
Life has been crazy busy as of late. I’m sorry for the lack of updates. I plan on doing a little revamping of the site in the coming weeks. I need to make things a little cleaner and easier to navigate. Right now it’s not so easy to find a book. I need to correct that.
Speaking of books, if you listened to the latest Get Published podcast, you’ll have heard the announcement I made. My rather insane announcement that I plan on publishing (myself) 28 books in 24 months. That’s my grand plan. Guess what. I’m currently on target. That’s huge! As of this writing I currently have put out six books. This month may see another, or next month will see Three. It all depends on covers and editing. That will put me at nine for the year. For the rest of the year, here’s what I have scheduled:
My Teacher is a Witch
My Teacher is a Ghost
Asteroid Bunnies: Zanahoria
Billy Barbarian: Sethopolis
V&A Shipping II
Golden West: Season 1
Supernatural Learning: 8th grade (this will collect My Teacher is a Zombie, Werewolf, and Vampire)
Of Gnomes and Dwarves: Book 1: Chance Encounters
Astel: Chosen (re-release)
That’s right. Nine more books. That will put me at 15 on the year. That’s if I don’t decide to drop something else in the mean time. I did pull two books I had scheduled just because I wanted to make sure I committed more time to the projects I’ve already laid out. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself with all I have currently going on.
Speaking of all that’s going on, life have been busy these past two months. Writing time has been extremely sparse. By that I mean I’ve only written about 20,000 words in the past two months. I’m 45,000 words behind schedule. That means I pulled the giant robot story I was writing. I also pulled To Fall From the Sky. Should I get back on track, I will add these books back into the mix, but for now they’re off the schedule until I can get back to them. I don’t want to rush any of the stories I’m currently working on. Just because I plan on releasing a large number of books doesn’t mean I’m going to skimp or cheat or put out a poor quality product just to get it out the door.
Now, in order to achieve my goal I will be cheating a little. How? Quite simple. I’ve already written nearly all the books that will be put out this year. The ones I haven’t written yet are only 20,000-25,000 words in length (middle grade books). I will be writing those once I finish with Golden West: Season 2 (I’ll talk about Season 1 in a bit). I plan to write the next few books in the Supernatural Learning series in one shot so they’re all ready to go long before their release dates. I hae two for this year and four for next year (completing 9th grade and going into 10th grade). I’ll then work on the first two or three in the Asteroid Bunnies series. That will complete all the shorter works for 2014 that will need to be written. Yes, I’m self publishing and I could just drop them at any given time, but I want to release these on a schedule so the series will have time to grow an audience.
Yes, I realize that I’m dropping a LOT of book out in a short time, but why not just drop everything once it’s completely written? Quite simple, if you were to see my schedule, each book I’m writing is in a series (except for a few stand alone books) and I plan to drop only one in a series in a given year. Honestly. I am working on books that will be released next year and I have a schedule for this year. I want to make sure that the books are ht best I can make them and by doing a majority of the work on my own, I need to make sure I put out the best product I can.
Back to the writing. I said I’ve only written 20,000 words in two months and I’m way behind. Those 20,000 words that I did write were written over a four day span and a two day span. I write very fast. I always have. If I were more consistent with the number of days I spent actually writing, I’d have a lot more accomplished at this point. I’m only shooting for an average of 1000 words per day. Not a lofty goal, but I need to hit that goal in order to have all the books for next year written and ready to release.
Work slowed to the point where it won’t invade on my personal time as much as it has. Yes, last year was a busy year and between writing and blogging I wrote 490,000 words. I didn’t write nearly as much new fiction as I would have liked and that’s what I changed for this year. I’m focusing only on words of new fiction written. Not these blog posts. I know I can beat my 365,000 word goal. I plan to blow it out of the water. I’ll be spending some time doing that today. I’ll write at least 4,000 words today. I’d like to actually finish writing Golden West by the end of next week. I’m currently sitting on 8000 words and I need to get to somewhere between 55,000 and 60,000 words. Yes, I need to write a lot today, tomorrow, and during the week to hit that goal. I think I can do it. This will put me in great shape both with the podcast and with my writing schedule.
Speaking of the podcast. My writing partner just dropped his episode and I’ll be getting that up this weekend. So very VERY sorry for the delay in the final episode. Once we have it complete we’ll be dropping them into podiobooks so people can get their fix that didn’t want to wait a month between episodes. I won’t put it out there until the ebook and print book are available.
There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, but now you’re up to date on all the writing stuff. I’m glad you’re with me on this journey.
Until Next Time!
Some days I feel like an idiot. The rest of the days just help confirm that fact.
So I’ve been doing my spreadsheet for some time. I went through and started scheduling the titles I’d like to release and gave them each a ‘window’. In this case a month window when I’d like to release them. This is an ambitious thing I want to do because I have a lot of books I’ve already written and a LOT more I’d like to write. Most of these are in a series so I wanted to put out one in each series each year. I write fast. I can do that, right? After all, I’m only shooting for 80,000-90,000 for the bigger titles and 20,000-25,000 for the middle grade books.
Then I started looking at all the series I have. I did this before, but it’s fun to do it again. Plus I’ve added a new series. I’ve shown the series and potential length of each book.
V&A Shipping (80,000)
Giant Robot Planetary Competition(80,00)
Golden West (60,000)
Of Gnomes and Dwarves (80,000)
Supernatural Learning (20,000)
Now in order to write just the ones on this list, I would need to write around 600,000 words a year. Not an insurmountable feat. I’m sure I probably could write that much. The trouble is I also need to edit, layout, get cover art, re-write certain pieces (like trashing 25,000 words and starting over with GRPC). There’s a lot going. Plus I still have a full-time job, a kid that goes to school, plays volleyball, a wife, other family. I would LOVE to write enough to put out one of each in these series each year, but sadly, it’s just not going to happen. Well, unless I start selling thousands of copies of my titles a day and I can support myself, my family, and my lifestyle solely on my writing.
So what’s needing to happen here? I’m going to schedule everything right now. In order to write the books I want to write in the next two years, I need to write (over 24 months) around 770,000 words (all the series titles plus a few stand alone titles). That’s just shy of 400,000 words a year. My current target is 365,000 words of new fiction a year. Now watch as I close my eyes and do math again. This is dangerous, please don’t try this at home. 730,000 words is my current target. Now if you REALLY look at my release schedule (not included here) I’ll be publishing over 1,000,000 words over the next 24 months (from Jan 1st of this year to Jan 1st 2015). I’ve already published a number of those books as well as completed a number of those books. Many others are currently either plotted, being written, or needing editing.
Actually, let me edit here. I need to write 1,500,000 words for all the titles I WANT to release. I’ve written 750,000 of those words. So I’m half way there. (Sorry, Jay keeps typing, looking at his spreadsheet, typing more, making mistakes. I’ll have him flogged later for his lack of cohesive though before writing a blog post).
So over the next two years, just to stay on schedule, I need to write around 750,000 words. Can I do it? Maybe. There’s so much I’d like to throw in there like short stories, blog posts, emails to friends, etc. I’d also like to get outside once in a while. Perhaps watch a TV Show.
Okay, all kidding aside. I’m going to try. If I can stick to my schedule I have a shot of getting 28 novels out in 24 months. THEN I can slow down. A little. The trouble is, I have 690,000 schedule to produce in 2015. Now that might be a little more difficult. That’s when I’ll need to step back and reassess my release schedule. Take a look at what titles are doing well, which are not. Perhaps one title will get pushed back in the release schedule. There are some close to my heart, but if they’re not performing and bringing in money, then they’ll have to take a back seat while I produce titles that are succeeding.
This is known as the shotgun approach. Fire out a bunch of titles, see what sticks, and run with one. I’m not sad that one will have to wait. I’ve scheduled out ten years of titles I’d like to write. There’s a LOT of room in those last five years, and not so much in the first five. I’m going to give myself ten years to be a success. I’ll figure out where I’m at after each year to determine if I’m heading in the right direction. Am I being ambitious? Hell yes! Have I stretched myself a little thin? Perhaps. But remember, I’ve got a lot written and so much more that I want to write. It’s just a matter of making the time.
One thing I’ll make note of here and now. I have done no advertising of my books. I’ve mailed out a couple review copies. I’ve had a couple of contests. I’ve done one free giveaway. You may ask what I plan on doing. Well, nothing. I plan on writing a lot at the moment. Once I have a number of titles out and in people’s hands, THEN I’ll get out there and I’m sure many will be surprised to see what I’ve produced. That’s kind of my plan at the moment. Sneakily release titles until people are shocked that I’ve been as busy as I’ve been. I want to do something that gets people talking about me rather than me having to talk about myself. By putting out 1,500,000 words of fiction across 28 titles in 24 months will get people talking (or so I hope).
So what can you do to help with all this? Well, tell a friend. Actually. Hold off for right now. I don’t have a lot available (only 5 titles) and if you’re excited about one title in particular, hop onto your favorite book review site and drop me a review. I should be everywhere and if you don’t see me somewhere, let me know and I’ll try to get there.
Well, like I said, there are a lot of words to write and I’ve got to go write them. Well, I need to do the day job first, but THEN I’ll do some writing!
Until Next Time!
You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now. I have written 14 novels, a hundred plus short stories, and been at this for quite some time. Then I make a mistake and feel like a rookie all over again.
So I was cruising away writing my giant robot story. I was having fun, things were moving along. I had plotted before hand. I was excited. I’d nailed down 25,000 words. I was rocking and rolling.
Then, of course, life happens and I took a short break from the story. I was able to spend time reading and what did I pick? Oliver Twist. A story of an abused orphan boy. His life sucks and really doesn’t get any better (at least as far as I’ve read.) He’s got challenges that he’s ill equipped to deal with.
I looked at my story and my main character was suffering from ‘Mary Sue’ syndrome. His life was simple. No challenge. Everything handed to him. Here’s a giant robot, now go fight. That’s where I’d intended for the conflict to take place, but it was weak. Sure I’d have giant robots fighting to the death, but there was little personal threat. He had nothing involved. So little at stake. He was even expected to lose, but they’d hope he’d do better. Everyone was nice to him.
blah blah blah
Yeah, that’s 25,000 words that no one will ever read. I had tried to justify it to myself explaining that I was world building. The action would come later. The personal struggle would come later. It would all come later. No, I was going the wrong way and Oliver Twist showed me why.
Ravi, the main character, needs to struggle. He can’t just have things handed to him like his privileged. This can’t be something that people aspire to do, this needs to be something that his life is at stake. There’s needs to be a very real chance that he’ll die. People need to look at him like something lesser and he needs to prove himself and overcome. A whole different sequence of events needs to take place.
I’ve spent time going over and over in my head the new direction. Yes, this book will be darker. Yes, this story will be stronger. Yes, this will be the story I should have waited to write instead of getting all excited about giant robots and just bashing away on the keyboard. I should have taken the time to allow the story to gel in my brain before putting pen to paper. Rather than jumping in feet first, I should have plotted and let it sit for a couple weeks.
Like I said, I’ve played this game before. I’ve written books and usually when I’m all excited, I’m heading in the wrong direction. I did that this time, but I know that the story will be better for the re-write. I could just keep going from the point I’m at, but the entire tone of the novel is going to change and there will be so many differences from this point forward that I just need to scrap the whole thing and start over. It’s for the best.
Do I feel bad? Oh heck no. I’ve written a lot of words that will never see the light of day. This is just 25,000 words. It’s not like scraping an entire novel and starting over (that’s called a re-write). Yes, I’ve done that multiple times. So this doesn’t break my heart because it’s all part of the process.
Speaking of the process…
Until Next Time!
Good Morning! If it’s not morning where you are or when you’re reading this, well, pretend. Imagination is a wonderful thing like that.
Much has been going on, but I’ve been so crazy busy that I haven’t had time to write or blog or nothing. I hate when that happens.
Half of the time off has been voluntary. The other half has been pain, headaches, work, stress, etc. I missed my Lent goal, but I did get just over half of my goal. I came in just shy of the 88,000 I wanted to write during Lent. I guess that’s got to be good enough. During March I wrote 29,088 words and I didn’t even write half the days of the month. I feel good about the number, but I’m capable of writing so much more. Between family obligations and everything else, there just wasn’t more time to write. When I did eventually sit and get words written I would get a lot out (one day nearly 6,000 words). It’s just frustrating to look back and see all those holes in my word count spread sheet.
I keep waiting for the days to free up and give me a nice block of writing time (like right now while I write this blog post) but it’s not happening.
So what’s on my plate coming up?
1) Paradise Palms release and blog. I had planned on doing this under a pen name, but decided not to. This has a bit more grown up content than most of my work and I will note that in the novel description and on each blog post.
2) Billy Barbarian release and blog. I’m excited to get Billy out into the world. I’ve had a lot of great feedback on this book and I can’t wait to jump into book 2
3) My Teacher is a Vampire release. This will be the third in the Super Natural Learning series. I’m having a great time with these characters and I can’t wait to jump into the next book!
4) Astel re-release. I’ll be re-editing this book and putting out a cleaner version. I also can’t wait to write the sequel to this book.
5) Finish my giant robot book. I’m currently 22,000 words into this book and chugging along. I will probably end up higher than the 80,000 words I’ve projected for the novel and I’m good with that. I’ve done extensive world building (galaxy building?) that I hadn’t done in the V&A Shipping universe. This makes a great addition to collection and I’m already excited to work on the sequel.
6) WRITE MOAR! I don’t feel like I’m getting words out fast enough. I’m feeling a little pressure, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s forcing me to keep on a tight timeline and not get distracted. I’ve got dates plotted and set up and I’m attempting to hit all my targets. I’m confident and as long as I can find a little more free time to write I’ll have no trouble hitting those goals.
7) Short Stories have been getting rejected all over the place, BUT, I’m getting much better rejections with wording like “After reading and discussing it, and then holding onto it through several rounds of further consideration…”. Yes, still a rejection, but so much closer to an acceptance to a PRO market. Yes, PRO market. Everything I’ve had published to date has been semi-pro, but I’m trying to step up my game.
There is so much going on that I’m doing my best to keep everything straight. Hopefully I’ll have news later.
OH! I almost forgot. Between my two goodreads giveaways I have over 1000 entrants. I call that quite a success and I can’t wait to get the books in the mail (tomorrow?).
There’s a lot going on and I’ve got a lot of words to write.
Until Next Time!
Wow! When was the last time I was in here posting about what’s going on with all that’s going on?
1) Sputtery Truck: Yes, it was sputtery truck again. Dag nab it. But the Millican helped me figger it out once more and after replacing a bad coil (remember that I replaced all of those?) sputtery truck stopped with all the suptteriness and once again is happy. One day I hope it’ll stop acting up and demanding attention from me, but he, who knows what that’ll happen.
2) Moving: This might be something in my very near future. I will keep you posted. This isn’t a bad thing. This is a good thing. Jay might have an office one day soon! WOO WOO!
3) Writing: Last week I suffered from work. It ate up my brain and made it extremely difficult to get anything done. Well, that and a large number of personal things (see #2) that kept me coming and going and losing track of time all together. My hope is that next week will afford me at least some time to sit down and make the keys go clickety-clack and get further ahead with my latest project. Writing about Giant Robots is AWESOME! I wish I had this idea before, but hey, the stars aligned, my brain fired the right synapi, and POW! I’ve now got Giant Robots living in my brain along with all the other characters.
If I keep pace, and stay on schedule for this year and next, J.R. Murdock will be putting out a glut of books in 24 months. Already I’ve got 4 out, and another 7 on the way (all completely written and in various stages of edits/getting covers/etc). But I have many more in my head screaming to get out. To give you a quick idea, the Supernatural Learning series will see 3 more titles this year and 4 next year. Those are short and I can write them quickly, and I have a blast writing them. I also have an idea for another such series that will be intended for younger readers that will be around the same length (20,000-25,000 words) and I’ve got 5 I want to write in that series over the next two years. And, of course, I’ve got Billy II, Of Gnomes and Dwarves II, Life of Lists, Almost-Super Heroes, V&A III, To Fall From the Sky, Golden West Season 2. I’ve got so many ideas and my spreadsheet is bursting at the seams!
Yes, my PLAN is to write at least 365,000 words a year. I know I can keep up the output. It’s just a matter of not getting distracted. I hope to write even more than that, but we’ll have to see how it goes. On a good day I’m sitting and putting out 5,000 words. On a bad day I’ll only get out 1,000. Then I’ve had a series of missed days that are hurting me more than you can possibly know. Obviously writing these blog posts slows me down, but I feel the need to empty my brain of all these thoughts just to help keep them straight.
4) Submitting: Yes, I’m going to self-pub everything. I’m going to blog as much as I can. But I’m submitting short stories to major magazines for exposure. To try and get my name out there and get people talking about me. I want to try and generate some word of mouth about my works.
The bad news, no new acceptances. The good news? I’ve gotten better rejections. I’ve also had stories held for a lot longer than your standard rejection. What do I mean by longer? Meaning at least twice as long as a standard rejection (I’ve done my own tracking over the years and I have also checked the Grinder to see what others are averaging). What do I mean by ‘better rejections’? I mean that I’m getting different form letters. One actually said “After being reviewed and held for additional consideration…” This tells me that I was damned close to getting that one published. I, of course, re-read it and sent it right back out.
Suddenly I’ve found myself in a strange land where I don’t have any ideas for short stories. Everything I want to write is novel (or novella). I also can’t think of any good shorts I’d like to write, but I know when those ideas come, I’ll write them up and get them into the submission wheel.
5) RSS Reader: gReader has been my feed reader for some time. I was sad to see that Google decided to stop supporting it (coming June or July). I moved over to Feedly after much research and trying out other readers. This wasn’t something I wanted to stop and spend time to perform, but I needed to make sure I took care of this before I didn’t have the ability to take care of it.
6) Keyboard search 2013: I’m a tech geek. What can I say. I’m love me some technology. I’ll write up a much longer post much like I did with my mouse search. I need a keyboard that can stand up to endless hours of typing and bashing out words. I also want one that’s got programmable buttons, back lighting would be nice. Something that’s not obscenely large. I don’t mind weird looking (you’ve seen my mouse, right?). I’ve also like it to be mechanical. Yes, I know that means it’ll be a little louder than what I currently use, but that also means it’ll last longer. Like I said, I’ll write all those up later and get it posted with pictures and my thoughts about the whole process. Should be fun.
7) My Favorite Daughter: The kid is playing volleyball and still having a great time of it. She’s off next week fro Spring Break and we’ll be taking a trip up to Lemoore to visit family for Easter. Should be a great time. We haven’t been up there since June and it’ll be fun to take a long drive. Now that Sputtery Truck is cooperating I feel better about the drive.
8) Work: Yes, work has been eating my brain. The good news, much of what I’ve been toiling away at is going to a head and will be going out soon enough. It’s been beat up, wrung out, and stomped on enough to make my head spin and it seems that each time I sit down, my instant messenger is going off. If I try to get up, my instant messenger is going off. I’ll have a steady flood of email. I’ll be working on a defect. Trying to get things under control only to have more dumped on my plate. Thankfully things are starting to slow back down to a normal pace and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
That being said, yes, I work for AT&T. I’ve said this before. Sadly, the West did not ratify a contract so I’m on alert should a strike happen. If a strike happens I could be called out at a moment’s notice to fill the spot of a union member who’s out. That’s part of the job and I need to be ready. Needless to say, it puts me a little on edge being that I’d like to go out of town next week. We’ll see how that goes. Both sides are at the bargaining table trying to hammer out a deal.
I think that gets you up to speed on all that I’ve been up to. Whew. I need to stop letting so much time pass by between posts. Oh, I also need to post a movie review of the Groods. That was a fun movie.
Until Next Week!
Yeah yeah yeah, this is my third installment of my weekly update this week, but I’ve got things to say. I won’t mention that Sputtery Truck is all Sputtery once again. I’ll do that in my fourth installment of the Weekly Update. Or I’ll just fix the darn thing and shut up about it.
I’ve noticed lately (okay, I’ve always noticed) that there are a lot of writers talking about writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s about how to write a book or a short story, how to write a synopsis, how to write a query letter, how to find an agent, how to self-publish your book (OMG search on ebook pricing and watch the results. Good Gravy!). One thing I know for sure is that there is an abundance of information that others have written and called advice. Yes, I’ve been guilty of it as well. On more than one occasion, one more than one podcast, on more than one blog.
What is it with writers writing about writing?
Mike Stackpole said it best that writing about writing and (more often that not) talking about writing is sometimes more fun that actually writing. Writing is a lonely thing to do and many writers, given the chance, will talk about what they do ad nauseum. Yes, again I’m guilty. But I’ve always wondered, even as I look back at my own writing advice, what was the point?
Sure, there’s the chance to teach someone else about writing. There’s the opportunity to interact with other writers who may like your wit or your turn of a phrase. There may even be a chance to interact with other writers that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to interact with had you not written something about writing.
But overall, what’s the point?
I ask this for two reasons. Let me start out with #1: Other authors most likely won’t buy your book. Sure there will be those close friends that will pick up your book out of support. There will be some that may actually read it. But for the most part, other authors (and mostly wannabe authors) will read your advice and you’ll never even hear from them. It’s a painful cycle that less than 10% of those who hear or read your words of advice will ever interact with you. Trust me. I see my numbers on my Unorthodox Writing Tips. I know who’s engaged me in conversation. I’ve talked to other podcasters with writing advice podcasts. I know some of their numbers compared to their amount of feedback. It’s severe.
Why did I stop posting Unorthodox Writing Tips? Because it wasn’t accomplishing what I had intended to accomplish. It was words I wrote that served no purpose. (Well hey! Why am I writing this post?). Pfft, procrastination, most likely. I guess just making an observation. An evolution from writing advice to writers to writing articles for fans. This one is somewhere in the middle I hope.
Now I’m going to say something that will either come off as profound or just annoy everyone I know. All writing advice is crap. All writing advice is worth your time.
It just depends on who you are and where you’re at with your writing. Honestly. Almost all the writing, editing, pricing, etc, advice that I read isn’t important to me. I’ve been involved with the writing community, reading writing advice, trying things out, doing things and failing, doing things and succeeding, for going on 20 years now. I say that and it scares me a little bit. Now much of that 20 years is on again and off again, but I’ve been wanting to be a writer for very long time. It’s just recently that I’ve gotten serious about applying everything that I’ve read, said, and learned. It’s been a very long road to get to where I’m at and I’ve taken my lumps along the way. I won’t lie. It’s been really hard and I don’t expect it to get any easier any time soon.
Will this stop anyone from offering up advice? Probably not. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone doing something that makes them feel good when it comes to writing. Like I said, it’s tough, it’s lonely, and camaraderie is a good thing. If you can surround yourself with a great bunch of writers than more power to you! Keep at it for as long as you feel you need to. Build great friendships. Interact and learn! Don’t just interact. Expand your thought process beyond just reading of listening to that advice. Engage with people. Get out of your comfort zone. Give feedback to those that give you that advice.
I posted an unorthodox writing tip that was rather ironic. When to say when. When to stop taking advice and just write. There’s also a point, I feel, where a writer needs to stop giving advice and just write. That’s where I’m at these days.
Yes, last year I wrote a lot. I blogged a lot. I wrote a bunch of writing advice even. I took some of that advice to heart. That’s why I’m not writing advice any more. It wasn’t getting me what I was hoping for and that was to attract fans. Yes, there are a couple writers that are fans of my work, but for the most part, those who read my work aren’t writers.
Then there’s point #2 (you thought I forgot about point #2 and was just going to keep rambling, didn’t you? Sure you did. Don’t lie. I know I almost forgot about point #2). Writers are a needy lot. Needy like “please give me validation! Please publish my work! Please help me be a better writer! Please help me fix this story!”
Okay, stop it! Just stop right there (I almost said write there, LOL). Once you’ve stopped I want you to do something. Assess where you are as a writer. Are you just starting out? Have you been writing for 30 years?Are you unpublished? Have you been published multiple times? One thing that you’ll understand is there are different levels of need when it comes to being a writer.
One level is those just starting out. They are desperately seeking validation. They want to know what they’re doing is good enough. They want someone to pat them on the bum and say “good writer, have a cookie”. They want to get their work out into the world and have everyone rave about how good it is.
Sorry starting writer. Your writing is crap. It’ll be crap for a long time to come. Trust me on this one. No matter how badly you want validation, you’re not there. You just aren’t. You won’t make 100% of your free throws your first time on the court. You won’t run a 4 minute mile your first time and the track. You won’t write a best seller the first time you sit down at the keyboard. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a learning curve and for some people it’s steep and will take years to over come. Others will run up a little hill and be on their way. It doesn’t matter. You will need time to learn your process and no one on this Earth can learn it for you.
That being said… quit asking. I’m about to unsubscribe to a dozen writing forums because there are SO many needy writers out there asking the most basic of questions. I’m pretty sure most of them are looking for a magic bullet to make them a better writer. I know I was on that quest for years. What did I do? Did I ask and ask and ask and ignore ignore ignore?
I read and read and read. I read in my genre, I read out of my genre, I read novels, I read short stories, I read magazine articles, I read books on writing, I read on websites, I read in forums. I did this for a few years before even participating in the discussion. I wanted to have a certain level of knowledge that I knew wasn’t going to be bestowed upon me by the great writing fairy in the sky.
I also wrote. I wrote bad fiction with a crazy, wild-eyed need! I had a desire to get stories out of my head to get the voices to stop talking to me. I had ups, I had downs. I finished a lot of stories, I didn’t finish twice as many as I finished. I wrote, I submitted, I got rejected time and again. I let it get to me and stopped writing. I picked myself back up and tried again.
What am I trying to say? I’m saying that no one just handed me the ability to write a novel and to complete what I started. I worked very hard to be able to write the stories I write. Some are good, some a terrible, but overall I enjoy my own writing enough to keep at it. You may not like what I write. Others may think I’m totally nuts writing the dog poo that I put on a page. Hey, art is subjective. (someone once said about my writing : Wow! That’s a lot of dialogue) . None of that matters (well, except people liking my work. That’s the point of this whole post is to find an audience.
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of authors have stopped giving you advice. J.A. Konrath blogs only lightly compared to when he started. Mike Stackpole hasn’t put out an issue of the Secrets in months. Jake Bible has stopped podcasting (an giving away his fiction). Of course there are many more, I’m just listing a few that have changed their tactics. There will always be someone to fill the void. There will always be a lot of advice out there.
My point is to not ask, but do you due diligence first. Do your home work. Don’t just ask and wait for someone to do it for you. If you want to write you cannot be lazy about this. You need to put in the hours, the days, weeks, months, years to actually improve your craft. You need to finish a story, book, collection of books. Only then will you realize what those stories are lacking and be able to either truck that novel, rewrite that novel from the start, or chop it into pieces and try again. Do the work needed to get better. Don’t expect someone to tell you how to get there. This is an individual path and you must take it yourself.
Wow. That’s long. Isn’t it? Where I’m going with all this is that there is advice out there if you look for it. There are some great books on writing if you look for them. This advice will never get bad or grow stale. It’ll come from published authors and unpublished authors alike. Some will still doling out advice, others have moved on. Writers will always write about writing just like they will always talk about writing. Why? It feels good.
Until Next Time!
Let me start by saying that yesterday would have been my father’s 70th birthday. I still miss him.
In lighter news (okay, maybe not lighter, but not as sad as losing your father news), today I cancelled my magazine subscriptions. I did this for a variety of reasons. I won’t tell you which magazines I was subscribed to or which issues I had with which magazines. If you take away anything from this, understand that this is a general frustration.
The most common writing advice you see ALL OVER is ‘show don’t tell’. I mean, it’s all over the place. Honestly, do a search. You’ll see reference after reference. From Stephen King to Michael Stackpole to me. You’ll see it in writing forums. You’ll see examples of what to do and what not to do. Mostly it’ll explain why not to tell, or, in other words, explain.
Trust me, this isn’t going to be writing 101, I’ll get to the point in just a minute, keep with me here.
When you write a short story, you have a limited number of words to get a story across. It’s very easy to explain what’s happening in your story. Very easy. So easy that many writers will do this (yet still complain about writing a synopsis of a novel which is basically explaining your story). So when someone starts a story out explaining the history of the world they’re about to throw me into, and then spend the rest of the story explaining events that happen, and then spend half the story still explaining things to me, and throw in one line of dialogue, and then go back to explaining the story to me, I get bored.
Now I know you’re asking yourself, why did I subscribe to these magazines in the first place?
Well, it was an investment. I figured if I wanted to get printed in these PRO level magazines, I needed to read and see what kind of stories they were accepting. They accept a wide range of stories and I write a wide range of stories. I’ve been rejected time and again. I could have kept banging my head against a wall or I could have figured out why I was getting rejected. So I subscribed to a number of magazines.
Now, in their defense, there are a few gems out there. Not many, but there are gems. There are stories that actually have a story, not an explanation of a story. What I felt is that these stories were so far and few between, I could no longer justify keeping my subscriptions. I didn’t want to keep reading stories that bored me to tears where I kept thinking “I wrote like this when I first started writing and got rejected because I was explaining a story”.
I could rant on the show don’t tell business for a long time, but there’s another reason I cancelled. The way the magazines work on the Kindle. Sure they were only a couple bucks a month (each) and that wasn’t a big investment. The deal breaker for me was that if I was reading a novella in one of the magazines and wanted to come back to it later, it would never remember my place. Maybe i could have hassled with setting a bookmark, but when I’m in a novel it REMEMBERS my place for me. This is a frustration I’ve suffered more than once and I know what I could do about it, it’s just the fact that I shouldn’t have to do it.
So, sadly, I’ve decided to cancel my magazine subscriptions. I have a better idea of what they publish and don’t think I need to keep looking. What I have concluded is that they publish what they want and what they prefer. The sad fact will remain that I want to write stories that actually reveal a story to the reader, not read like a synopsis of a half-way decent book. I don’t want a story explained to me. I don’t want a story told to me. I want to experience a story and sadly the magazines I was reading (again, all professional level magazines) aren’t delivering.
It’s with a heavy heart that I logged into my kindle account, and hit cancel.
What are your experience with some short story magazines? Good? Bad? Indifferent? I’ve love to hear from you.
Until Next Week!
Last week I did a giveaway on Murdockian Tales (you can still buy a copy for $2.99 or a print copy for $7.99). It’s a short story collection and I’m happy with the stories I chose to put in there. They give a good representation of my work to-date even if I’ve done a lot of writing since these stories were written. Most of those are on submission and therefore not included in the collection.
So the big question I’m sure will be on everyone’s mind will be “So what did you learn through the process?” Well, let me tell you first off that I’ll be learning from this for some time. That’s just the way it goes. But I did learn a lot during the process. Here’s what I learned.
I learned that people like getting things for free. Well, okay, I already knew that, but I didn’t realize just how much. Over the course of the freebie deal I gave away 339 copies of Murdockian Tales making it my most widely distributed book so far.
I learned that free doesn’t always equate to sales. I did, however, sell two copies of V&A Shipping (both people told me they picked it up because they found me from the Free deal. I also sold a print copy of Murdockian Tales. So out of the 339 copies I gave away, I sold 3. I was hoping for a slightly better return, but at least I know people are out there with copies of my short story anthology. If they like what they read, hopefully they’ll be back. At the front and the back of the collection I have my URLs. Hopefully that will drive some traffic to the blog and generate more sales.
I learned that during the giveaway I did not encounter more traffic than normal. I did get one person that found me by doing a google search on Murdockian. I can only assume that person came from the freebie deal.
Now that the free is over, hopefully people will read it. I’m confident that most won’t. Most probably picked it up just because it was free. I did this 100% for exposure. To get my name out there. Nothing more. If I pick up a couple new readers, then it was worth it. If I don’t, it was a learning experience. I’ll learn from it and try again with another title at another time. I’ve got a lot of books to get out into the world and this helped move a lot of books only people’s kindle devices.
I have noticed that Kobo, Smashwords, and Nook result in nearly no sales for me. I find this sad. I like these devices and their reading apps. Well, Kobo and Nook. I cannot get into iBookstore because I don’t have a mac (and won’t be buying one any time soon). I wish Apple would fix that and allow anyone one to upload their books. I won’t see any sales increase in those sites as I released Murdockian Tales through KDP Select (amazon only). But I’m hopeful that my name will start to spread from this.
All in all it was a good experience. I had a lot of people retweet me on twitter, like me on facebook, join me on google plus, and social media really helped propel this book up the charts. Yes, it was a free book, but I was still excited to see it peak out at #5 on SciFi short stories and #55 on Free SciFi. As I said, during the week I gave away 339 copies. I’m astonished. I honestly didn’t expect to give away quite so many copies. I would have been happy with 100. I actually think I would have been happy giving away 50. But 339? I’m overjoyed. I think this is outstanding. I couldn’t ask for more.
I kept a level head through all of this. I understand the ‘Amazon Rush’ concept of having as many people buy your book on release day to try and give it an extra push. I understand getting your name out there and trying to get as many people as possible to buy your book. I also understand the need for social media to accomplish these. I did all of that and wow did it work.
I’ve got a podcast to edit and get produced. I’ve got recording to do. I’ve got words to write (I finished My Teacher is a Vampire and started a giant-robot story that will be set in the V&A Shipping universe). I’ve got editing to do (I’ve got 4 completed books to go through and do rewrites and 2 to apply edits to). I’ve got so many words I want to get done this year and a lot of books I’d like to release this year. It’s an exciting time! Watch for more!
Until Next Time!