Blog Archives

Weekly Update: Why Are Writers Writing about Writing?

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?

NO!

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!

WOO WOO!

Advertisements

Weekly Update: Good Morning!

It’s been calm, smooth sailing around here lately. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

I’m just over half-way through My Teacher is a Vampire (it’ll weigh in around 20,000 words when I’m done). Hopefully all subsequent books will weigh in between 20,000-30,000. These are middle-grade/YA books and I want to keep them short for those with short attention spans. I’ve got big plans for this series and I’m having fun with it. I would like to write 3 of these a year and give the series time to grow that I know it’ll need.

Oh! And I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway! My Teacher is a Zombie GoodReads Giveaway! If you’ve got Facebook, you’ve got GoodReads. Check it out, sign up to get a copy.

That being said, I’m also doing a giveaway for V&A Shipping on GoodReads as well! Check this one out also.

Lastly, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m done with V&A Shipping II. One thing I’m looking for, if you enjoyed reading (or listening to) V&A Shipping and want to read V&A Shipping II before anyone else, head on over to Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes and Nobel, Smashwords, or anywhere you find the title and leave me a review! Send me a link to your review (twitter me, facebook me, email me, tape it to a rock and throw it through my window) and I’ll add you to a list. Once I’ve got the book through rewrites and edits, I’ll send you an advanced ecopy so you can laugh at all your friends that will have to wait until it’s out. This will be at least a month before it goes on sale later this year.

So that’s the news type stuff. A lot of personal things went on over the weekend and will likely keep going on this week. I will still try to hit my word count, but when a friend needs you, everything else is secondary. Words will happen when words happen. That’s all I have to say about that.

Speaking of words, even with all that’s going on, I’m still playing catch up on my annual word goal. Currently I’m 17,000 words behind schedule and slowly, ever so slowly, getting caught up. My Lent goal is 2000 words a day and with the bumps I’ve hit, I’m currently 4700 words behind on that goal and trying to catch that one as well. For those keeping score at home, that’s nearly 79% of the goal I set. I’m not too bad off, but I don’t want to let that number slip. I want to hit this goal this year and at the very least beat last year’s word count (I was off by 19115 words or 78.28% of my goal). I think I can do this as I’m in a better position this year and much more focused than I was at the start of last year. Of course losing the first month of the year put me at a disadvantage, but I know over all I’ll be able to get to my goal. Focus and dedication.

In reading news, I’ve signed up for a number of GoodReads giveaways and started rating a lot of books I’ve read over the years. I also picked up the Bundle of Holding (Thank you Mur!). There’s some great books on this list and part of your purchase goes to charity. So why not?

I’ll be heading over to http://stormwolf.com (author site for Mike Stackpole) and picking up his latest self-published work. He’s been an inspiration for me to self-publish my own works.

Finally Nathan Lowell is re-releasing his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series as self published works. I want to pick these up not because I don’t own them already, but because I really want to see Nathan Succeed. He’s got a number of sites, but this one should get you to everywhere you want to go.

So many words, so little time. There are a LOT of books I’ve bought that I’d love to read, but there are only so many hours in the day and I need to spend time watching videos of cats doing stupid things or demolition gone wrong. Speaking of which, I’m late on getting over to watch a video about dogs chasing their tails.

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: The ebook pricing debate

It seems that every couple of months (sometimes monthly) a battle will rage about the pricing of ebooks. Because of the Department of Justice stepping in claiming that the Big 6 are doing bad things, price fixing, the agency model, and so many other terms, the internet is abuzz with information right now. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is claiming that people want cheaper ebooks. People want to spend less money on books than what the Big 6 is charging. I keep hearing all this noise.

I’m subscribed to a lot of blogs and have done enough reading to formulate an opinion. I’ve even given myself time to digest all of this information to be able to form a coherent thought about all of this. Being that I’ve bought books for a good majority of my adult life (and enough of my teen life) I know enough about books and how much they cost. Do you want to know what I think about all of this?

People will pay what they’re going to pay.

It really is that simple. It doesn’t matter if an ebook is $14.99 or if it’s .99. It really doesn’t matter. People will pay what they’re going to pay. Let me explain

I’ve bought a lot of books. Boxes and boxes of books. I love to read. There are some authors (like Tad Williams) that I will buy the hardcover as soon as it is out and devour it. I’ve paid as much as $29.99 for a hard cover novel. It never bothered me. Other authors, let’s just take Piers Anthony as an example, I’ll pick up his books in trade paper back. The most I’ve paid for a Piers Anthony novel is around $6.99 or $7.99. The point is, the price isn’t what got me to make the purchase. The author is what got me to make the purchase.

But that’s physical books. Perhaps I’ve put more worth on having a physical copy, right? Well, let’s look at my buying as of late.

I’ve picked up a lot of free ebooks. I’ve read a couple. They’re alright. I’ve picked up a large number of .99 books. I’ve read a few. They’re also alright. I haven’t picked up a stinker of a .99 book yet because I’m picky. I’ve picked up a few stinker free ebooks and I can see why the person is giving them away. These make up less than half of what’s on my ereader at the moment. Most of what’s on my ereader? Samples and books over $4.99.

That’s right. I only have a few books in the $2.99 – $4.99 range. Why? I really like the authors and I wanted to get their novels. I will always buy a Stephen King novel. I love his writing even if Under the Dome left me underwhelmed with the ending. I still loved the characters, the incidents, the mystery. The ending just sucked but I still got my money’s worth. I’ve picked up 11.22.63 and the Wind Through the Keyhole. It doesn’t matter what the price it. I’ve got a few Mike Stackpole novels on there as well. Again, I’ll buy whatever he produces because I really enjoy his style of writing.

But let’s look at the samples. Do I only pick big 6 books? NO! I’ve got a lot of Nightshade books (bought some of them outright), I’ve got Apex books, Edge/Tesseracts, Pyr, and I do also have some Big 6 books. The publisher isn’t what’s driven me to purchase the books. It’s the author being out there, talking about their book. It’s me getting to know the person that wrote the novel, looking at the first few chapters in the sample and I’ll buy a copy. I’ve got Skalzi’s Redshirts on my reader. Fun stuff. I’ll be buying the book when it comes out. Doesn’t matter what the price is. I know I want to read this book. I’ve done this with many authors.

Beyond that, I’ve got Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds also. Why? I’ve read his blog. I enjoy his writing style. I will pick up the next book I know even though I haven’t read the first. It didn’t matter what the price was. I wanted the book, I bought it.

You may think, “Well you must have a lot of extra money to buy all these books.” Not really. I don’t spend as much on books as you might think. I’ve gotten some book that I was waiting on when they were suddenly free on the Kindle. I’ve won a couple in giveaways. Some were dropped to .99 and I couldn’t pass up on that deal. I’ve even gotten a couple free because I blog and every once in a while I’ll do a book review. Give me a free book, I’ll review it. It’s the least I can do.

But my point is I’ve only a few times in my life cringed at book prices. You want to charge me $21.99 for an ebook? That’s pushing the limit a little too far. Unless it’s an omnibus with three or four novels. Then I’ll pick it up. I bought the Stieg Larsson books for $29.99. Why not. That’s three books. They’re getting great reviews. They seem to be worth the price. I’ve also picked up a trilogy for $2.99 because the premise sounded interesting.

I’ve bought books from people I follow on twitter. Why? They seems like interesting people and I like to support interesting people.I’ve got a few Scott Roche books on my ereader and I do need to get through them and review them. Same with Justin Macumber and Zoe Winters.

So where do I think books should be priced? Well, I think that depends. If you’re an indie author who’s got one or two books out, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick them up for .99. If you’ve got several books out then I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at $2.99 as I would think you’ve got more books out, you’re good at this writing thing. If you’re doing this for a living and making money and you’ve got a proven track record, I’d be more than happy to pay $5.99 and up for one of your works.

My point is it’s not the price that’s important or at stake here. It’s the author. Price for me depends on how established you are. Do I like what you’re doing and I’ll be willing to pay $12.99 or more for your new novel (like the next Wheel of Time book) or are you a brand new author who I’m willing to take a chance on? It’s not a hard and fast rule. You can’t put a line in the sand and say “No one will ever pay more than this” because you’ll be wrong. Sales figures prove that. Look at the Amazon top 100 and you’ll see prices all over the map. It’s something personal and something that each author needs to figure out for themselves. Just because J.A Konrath says “$2.99 is the golden price point for a book.” Doesn’t make it true. It only makes it true for him. It makes it true for people who’ve set their price at that level and had success.

What are your thoughts on ebook pricing? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Tomorrow I’ll write about ducks

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: A little rain, a little hail, a little sunshine

The weather has decided to be a little nuts. I think the weather man is nuts as he said it would start raining around 2PM and IT DID! Right on time! I had to look at my watch to make sure I was seeing things right. I had a flash back to the movie Back to the Future. You know the scene. If you don’t, go watch Back to the Future II. Even if you do, go watch the movie anyway, it’s a great movie. Heck, all three are great movies.

Speaking of movies, we (the wife, my favorite daughter, and I) went over to the Millican’s house last night. I’ll get to the movie in a moment. We had dinner, and we started talking about ice cream. I love me some ice cream. I told them about Pistachios, my favorite daughter’s eyes lit up. And off we went to get ice cream and other goodies. Oh my oh my. I could eat that stuff every day, but I shouldn’t.

So anyway, we got back to their house and decided to watch a movie. We joked about some, watched previews for others that pretty much showed the entire movie and/or what we assumed would be the only funny parts of the movie. We finally settled on The Hunter being that we all like William Defoe and it looked like it would be a good movie.

Is it a good movie? To be fair, it was alright. It was very slow in spots, but I sometimes like a slower movie. I think the best part was the cryptozoology. The main character was off to hunt and kill a Tasmanian Tiger. The last one seen in the wild was in the 1930s. Or maybe that was in captivity. I forget. Either way, the movie, although slow and very predictable (I’ve become cynical in my old age) was a decent watch. I wouldn’t have seen it in the theaters, but was a good enough rental.

I bought a couple of ebooks recently. With all the free books I’ve picked up, I decided to buy a couple. I got the Hunger Games trilogy and Mike Stackpole’s Of Limited Loyalty: the Second Book of the Crown Colonies out through Nightshade books. I’m really looking forward to reading both of these. I had had gotten the first Crown Colonies signed by Mike Stackpole at WFC2011. I still need to write up a review for that one. I’ll probably wait and do both.

On the writing front, I hit my word goal yesterday. I’ll hit my word goal today. I’ll hit my word goal tomorrow. At least that’s the plan. Tonight we’re heading up to Huntington Beach. My favorite daughter has a tournament tomorrow so we’ll be heading up there tonight versus driving up at 5am.

If I’m going to hit that goal, I’d better get on it. So…

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: Two Days in One.

Yesterday. Holy cow.

So I had this training session yesterday. It’s for work. It’s dry material. The instructor knows it’s dry material. He does his best to keep in interesting. It’s still dry material, but we need to go through the lessons.

I met my friend Mike.The one who’s done all that music work and cover work for me in the past. You know, for V & A shipping, Billy Barbarian, Murdockian Tales. Yeah, that guy.

He’s a local to this area and we headed over the Bay Bridge. Saw Alatraz and the Golden Gate. Saw, as in, “Hey, see that over there.” We didn’t atually visit. What we did visit is China Town. That was so muh fun. A very touristy place and there were no tourists. Being a Monday night there was no one out and about. Oh, sure, there were a couple of people. It was nothing like what I expected. I had expeccted wall to wall people.

Being a local, Mike pointed out shops to buy touristsy things. I bought touristy things for the Wife, Mi Suerga, and My Favorite Daughter. I think they’ll like what I got and it was all so inexpensive. That caught my by surprise.

It was neat to see some things and I’ll mention that more in a later post and why it was so cool to see them.

Again, the local Mike piked out a place for us to eat. He’d been there before. A young boy followed us to our table. Sat at our table. Climbed up on our table. Giggled, laughed, had a great time. High-fived me. I took a picture with him. I took a picture of the menu on the white board writting in Chinese. I ate something with pork and noodles. A little sweet with a great spiy after taste. It was some good stuff.

Afterward I called up J.D. Sawyer. Mike and I drove over to hang with him. We had a beer, a great cigar, and a lot of conversation. Being both authors we discussed authorly topics. Suh as:

Works in progress

Works in print

upcoming works

legal rights

story concepts

story finances

how little writers make

We also talked about many other author friends and shared a lot about those authors. We talked about (in no certain order)

Scott Sigler

J. C. Huthins

Mur Lauferty

Gail Carriger

Scott Roche

Jake Bible

Paul E. Cooley

Mike Stackpole

Terry Bisson

Mike Plested

Lorna Suzuki

We talked about publishers

Dragon Moon Press

Hades Publiations (Edge)

Flying Island Press

Kindle / Amazon

Smashwords vs Paypal

It was hard, but I did allow Mike to talk as well. He and J.D. share a common interest in photography so they also did a lot of talk about photography. Before we knew it, it was late, the cigars were long cold, and the wind had picked up significantly. Mike and I called it a night.

Perhaps it wasn’t just two days in one, it was three. I did so muh that I woke up this morning and started packing for home. I sent a great deal of pictures home for the wife and my favorite daughter. I miss them. Even keeping myself busy didn’t keep my mind off of things. Even though I’m having a great time up here, I do miss them. It’ll be nice to go home and sleep in my own bed.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Unorthodox Writing Tips on Get Published

My friend and co-author Mike Plested asked if I could do a segment for his Get Published podcast. So I did. There will likely be more in the future. If you haven’t listened to his podcast, this is a great one to start with. The interview is packed with great information that more than makes up for the lack of recording quality (we were near a construction area)

Download MP3

Book Review: Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian by Michael Stackpole

Find the title on Amazon where you can also read a full description of the book and about the author.

I was not given my copy of the book. I was not asked to or paid to write this review.

I consider myself a Conan fan. I’ve read many of Robert E Howard’s books. I read the Marvel comics. I even read a couple of Robert Jordan’s Conan novels. And of course I’ve seen all the movies.

I’m a fan, not a fanatic. I know much about Conan lore, but I couldn’t recite the Hyborian Knowledge as many could. I just enjoy a good read and Conan can provide that.

I’m also a fan of Mike Stackpole. I enjoy his works and his writing style. I have read several of his books and have more on my to read pile.

I saw that the Conan movie was about to come out and I knew that Stackpole was going to write the novelization. I grabbed it for my kindle as soon as it was available. I love technology. I didn’t, however, start reading until after I had seen the movie. Too many times I’ve been disappointed by a movie after reading the book.

Sadly the new Conan movie was lacking. It was a shallow representation of Conan lore. It seemed like a minor transition from big fight scene to big fight scene. There was little development of the character. At least with the Arnold movies we had a running dialog to fill in many holes.

I worried that the book would also be lacking, but knowing Michael, I dove into the book. At first I was confused. It didn’t start where the movie started. I didn’t mind though. I didn’t need a long explanation of Conan being born on the battlefield. In great Stackpolean fashion, he brought Conan’s birth into the novel through conversation. Something the movie lacked a lot of was conversation and Michael brought that into the novel.

He also brought us the Conan history that Howard always had in his stories. That background needed to fill in so many gaps left in the movie. Where the movie failed, the novel succeeded. I finished the book quickly, finding it difficult to put down. It was such an enjoyable read. I can only hope that Michale Stackpole is allowed to revisit this universe and continue on the Conan tradition. After reading this book, he’s earned the right.

Unorthodox Writing Tips 7: Plotting and Planning and Playing Goalie

I’ve always written more for my own entertainment rather than writing for someone else’s. I’ve written quite a bit. To date I’ve completed ten novels, and I have four others started with ideas for five different novels. Only four are part of a series, the rest are all the first of a potential series, but work as stand alone novels as well. I have also completed quite a number of short stories.

One thing I have mostly avoided. Plotting. I usually come up with an idea, have a vague direction, and go for it. Yes, I’ve written by the seat of my pants. This has lead to some good stories (I feel) but overall I always had a direction in mind and on occasion I would end up stuck. What I never did was write down the actual plot and direction, be it for shorts or novels.

I plan on changing this. I’m going to start writing at least a paragraph plot that will give beginning, middle, and end. Obviously I can flesh out the details as I write, but I’ll start with the act of getting the idea on paper (1st draft?). What I hope to achieve by doing this is getting the idea down and not just letting it flounder around in my brain until I’ve talked myself out of writing the work. When I was at my most productive I kept a running log of story ideas and I’d cross them out as I’d complete them. This helped me with writing one hundred short stories in one year. I doubt I’ll try to write that many again, but this leads me into my next topic…

Planning is another thing I’ve never done well. I would write stories, send them out, and start the next. I kept an excel spread sheet and made sure not to send the same story to the same place twice. I’ve long since lost this spreadsheet, but it was interesting to keep track of the ‘red’ cells which noted rejections and ‘green’ which noted publication and even the ‘yellow’ which showed waiting response.

What I didn’t have when I did this was a clear plan of action. It was just write, submit, and hope for the best. I didn’t know why I was doing it other than to try and gain publishing credits and improve my writing. Obviously I stopped as the rejection process is grueling and after hundreds of rejections it just wore me down (and the year ended). Once I completed that year I had intended to get back to writing novels, but I never sent anything out. Rejection of a short story was easy to take, but a novel? I didn’t think I’d be able to handle that kind of rejection.

It’s all part of the game, though. Rejection is just getting you one step closer to publication. So I now have a plan for getting my works out there. Beyond that I’ve taken on an ambitious project that will run parallel with Scott Roche. The idea is to write, edit, and publish a short story each month during 2012. Sounds ambitious, doesn’t it?

I’m excited, but I know I’ll never, ever, be able to complete this task without a plan. I have explained to my wife that my writing needs to move from a hobby to something more like a part time job if I’m ever to make it successful. I need to plot my stories so I’ll have a direction. I need to plan my time so I’ll be able to perform the work.

So where does playing goalie come in? Plots and Plans are nice, but I need to have an overall direction. I had always wanted to be a published author before I was forty years old. Well, that ship has sailed. Why? I let life happen and didn’t make life happen. I am going to change that by setting goals. Not just setting goals, but sharing those goals with my friends and family. I’ve started writing down where I want to be at the end of 2012 and it just starts with the ambitious project of a short story a month. It also includes getting worked cleaned up and/or completed and finally getting those works in front of a publisher or agent.

Yes I’ll be self publishing my shorts, but I am going to look for traditional publication for some of my works. I’ll also be continuing to self publish works as well. I had an ambitious desire for 2011 to have three books out, but I didn’t follow through and I now know why. I didn’t set out clear, definable goals.

I’ve read J.A. Konraths’ blog. I’ve read Mike Stackpole’s blog and newsletter. What I haven’t done is apply those teachings. Yes, being creative is a wonderful thing, but unless I treat my work as work and a business, I’ll only have limited success. So included in my goals for 2012 are to seek out ways to promote myself. Ways to get more eyes on my work. To have a definite number of sales. I’ll, of course, share those in my blog.

If all goes well, next year I hope to write nearly half a million words. Yes, I know that’s a lot. Yes, I know I’m aiming high. But I’ve got my goals written. I’ve got my plan laid out. Does it begin in 2012? NO! It begins today. Why should I wait for January 1st to start on the road? These are just the plans I want to accomplish in 2012. If I don’t get started on them, no one will start on them for me. There’s no better time than the present!

Until Next week.

WOO WOO!

WFC2011: I will miss you.

In February of this year, my friend, Mike Plested, said “Jay, you should go to WFC this year.” I replied, “I can’t afford to go to WFC.” He said, “It’s in San Diego this year.” I said, “I can afford to go to WFC this year.”

Membership was purchased and I got more out of this weekend than I could have anticipated. This will not flow in chronological order, it’s just going to flow out of my brain as I think of it.

I knew going in there would be a fair number of established authors and a large number of new and up-and-coming authors. My expectation was to meet some fellow authors and perhaps bump into an established author or two. Boy was I wrong.

On the first day I met Terry Bisson. I knew his name, but had to look him up as to why. He had written the novelization of the Fifth Element. Terry was great to talk and Mike and I even went with him to breakfast with Lorna T. Suzuki on Saturday morning. I talked to Terry each morning and it was some great and insightful conversation for both of us. Lorna was also full of some great advice for self-publishing and was very excited about her movie deal.

On Thursday I had met the person now know as ‘the creeper’ and I didn’t like him much so avoided him for most of the con. I’m sad to see so many had their con affected by his presence. I had more interaction with him than I would have liked, but someone told me the first day. “You’ll meet seven people the first day and you’ll see them every day over the con.” That was quite a true statement.

On Thursday I also happened to be standing by the gazebo talking with a couple of people and L. E. Modesitt, who happened to be walking by, stopped and said “hello.” We had a great conversation with him and it was great to see him excited about his projects. So much so that he was nearly late to a panel he had to get to due to talking with us.

At the Aussie party I remember being able to get a beer. My first of the convention. It was to be my only that evening as there was a crush of people at that party. I stood near the wine table and Greg Bear got stuck in traffic. I introduced myself and tried desperately to not have a fan moment. As we stood there talking about how many people were at the con, David Clark, a long time friend of Greg’s stopped by and started talking with us. They shared many stories about conventions all through the years. Even L. E. Modesitt stopped and joined us for a few minutes. I’m so glad I didn’t drink much because I really enjoyed talking with them and they seemed interested in what I had to say.

So much so that the following day, Greg Bear and his wife, and David Clark and his wife came and sat with us during lunch from the con suite.
I will say now, by this point I was happy with my con experience. Just meeting Terry, L. E., David, and Greg made up for the price of admission. They made me feel welcome.

Then I ran into Robert J Sawyer. I must say that based on multiple interactions with him over the weekend, he really is the nicest guy in sci-fi publishing.

On day two I started wearing an LED name tag. This garnered a lot of attention. One author from a panel even stopped me afterwards to say, “I wasn’t distracted by your name tag, but that’s F*cking brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?” Myself and Mike, both wearing our LED name tags, became known as the Bobbsey twins by some of the con goers. Whatever helped people to remember me. It was a great conversation starter. Even Robert Silverberg had to stop and read our name tags and it garnered a smile from him.

I was lucky enough to run into all of these authors multiple times and each time they were pleasant and fun to talk with. I, as I said, did my best to contain my fan excitement of running into these authors and the conversations rarely came to their works and instead I got an insight to their con experiences, shared stories of past events, and enjoyed their company.

Mike and I also had the pleasure of not only running into Mike Stackpole, but pulling him aside for an interview for Get Published. I was going to just sit and listen, but when you’re talking e-publushing with and e-vangelist it’s hard not to participate. We not only did the interview, but we sat for a good time after just talking about the con and the con experience and the future of self publishing.

Beyond meeting people who’s name I knew, I also got to run into authors who I was familiar with, but not with their work. So many that it would be impossible to name them all. Suffice to say it was great meeting each and every one of them.

I had a great time meeting the folks of Nightshade books. They had brewed some beer for their book launch party and I had the best pumpkin ale I’ve had in a LONG time. Meeting them and the crew from Eraserhead/Bizarro books was a blast. A fun crew!

I also attended the ‘Sleepover of the Gods’. N. K. Jemisin was a fun, energetic host. I’m lucky to have met her.

Now to the meat and potatoes of my con experience. I got to meet Anita and Brian Hades from Edge. Mike knew them from previous cons and I had a great time talking with them about the anthologies they had out, their e-book strategy, the ability of a smaller press to make changes that the big companies are currently unable to make. I spent a good deal of time meeting many of their authors, going to the readings, and enjoying the Edge party. Both Brian and Anita made me feel like part of the family and it was so wonderful to get to know them as well as a couple of their editors Jaym Gates and Erika Holt.

Beyond meeting Brian and Anita, I had a great time meeting their authors. With the exception of one, they were all very professional and great to meet and talk with. If the people mentioned earlier in this post are the old guard, the folks from Edge are the new guard and they have begun to establish their place in the publishing industry. I would name names here but I’m confident I’d forget someone, but do go over to Edge, pick up an anthology and you won’t be disappointed. The readings were so much fun. I’m glad to have met you all.

At this point I’m gushing. I’m nearing tears because it all went by so fast and I had such a great time. The people who ran the convention did a great job with getting things set up, feeding so many of us, and keeping the con running as smoothly as it could.

Although it was my intent to try and pitch my stories ideas to as many as possible, I decided at the last minute that I would instead enjoy my time at the con. I didn’t take pictures. I didn’t bother an author for his/her autograph (except for the bundle of authors at the Edge table) and I did my best to maintain a professional front. Inside I was giddy and doing cartwheels. I don’t think I had a geekgasm at any point and was even told by some that if I hadn’t told them this was my first con, they wouldn’t have known.

Now to some sage advice:
1) Don’t be ‘that guy’ and if you get called out on being ‘that guy’ know when to say when.

2) Get some rest when you can.

3) Don’t start out gushing when you meet an author. Just relax, and be yourself. Let the conversation flow and you’ll make them feel more comfortable and it’ll make your experience that much better.

4) Don’t lead out with “I’ve got this great story/book/idea/etc” when you run into an agent/publisher/author. Again, refer to #3. Relax. Be yourself. Enjoy yourself.

I think stopping myself from trying to pitch unsolicited material to publishers and agents was the best call I made because I felt no pressure to find someone and I didn’t have any awkward moments. I just plain had a good time. This is most definitely something I will be doing again in the future.

To everyone I met at WFC2011, you ROCK! If I didn’t find you in twitter, please come find me. I’m @jrmurdock. I’m J.R. Murdock on facebook, and obviously you found my website.

Until we meet again WFC. WOO WOO!

P.S. If I did not include you in this post, I am sorry. I met so many wonderful people it was hard to keep track. Next time I will need to write more down.

I’ve been thinking about…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Usually that just gets me into trouble, but lately there’s a lot of thinking that needs to be done. What have I been thinking about? Funny you should ask.

Self Publishing.

I’ve written a lot and I feel I tell a pretty good tale. I know what it takes to make a story interesting and write characters that are enjoyable. I’ve written and edited the stories and sent them to many agents and publishers. I’ve gotten request for full manuscripts and partials and I’ve had a lot of rejections. In fact everything has been rejected. It’s not rejection that bothers me. It’s that I’ve always gotten notes on the rejections like “good writing”, “great premise”, “I like the way this sounds” and then I get the ‘but’. “We just don’t have room in our schedule”,”We just can’t take on another client at this time”,”Please try us again another time”.

Frustration has been had aplenty. Obviously my query letter and synopsis were good enough garner attention and warrant a request for more. I just haven’t been able to make it past that point. This is where my thinking cap has been put on firmly and I sit in front of the computer and wonder if I’m doing this all for myself or is there something I could do better? Or could I really do this myself?

What’s prompted all this thinking about self publishing? I cannot take all the credit myself. I have wanted to see my name on a book for a long time and almost succumbed to the temptation of such scams of sites like Publish America (back in the day) though I always felt I was going to make it one day.

That day has still not arrived and I continue to hear people like Mike Stackpole and Mike Mennenga on The Dragon Page talk endlessly about doing it yourself and that the day of big publishers is nearing its end. I hear podcasts like Get Published doing interviews talking about the great success people are having with doing it yourself.

The fact is that I can find an editor to edit my books fairly inexpensively. Back when I wanted to do this myself it was anywhere from $2500 – $5000 to have a manuscript edited. Now you can find people willing to edit your manuscript for as little as $150. That’s a huge difference. You can also find people willing to do book covers for around the same price. Suddenly it’s not so daunting to get an edit on your book and a cover and be ready to publish a book.

So where has all this thinking gotten me? Well. I did podcast two of my novels and it would seem that many people do enjoy my stories. So I’ve decided to head out on my own and start publishing my own books. You may have heard me on a podcast or two lately talking about my YA Fantasy story Astel. In my next post I will tell you a little more about the story and what I’ve done to prepare it for print. I know it could have been as easy as saving the word document as an HTML file and loading it up to Smashwords but I want to do a little more than that. Stay tuned. I’ve decided to start blogging and self publish my books and I’m not looking back.

Look out 2011! Here I come!