Is blogging still a thing?

BloggerIt was not so long ago that I could lose an afternoon writing a 2000-word blog post about a video game I was playing. Another 1400 words on why a TV show annoyed me. (Yes, Game of Thrones I am looking at you.) 2500 words about a musical group that feels like family to me (Paul McCartney and Dave Matthews never show up though or call me). A blog post with writing advice (I did a lot of those). And how about one about a strange thing that happened to me, or something that made me the person I am today.

That was my life for years! And for a while, I was averaging a few blog posts a week. It was a fun time with likes and shares and comments and followers. But now something has shifted and nothing feels the same.

The thing that shifted is not just about me, it’s about the world. I think we as a collective consciousness decided to all move away from blogging together. An itch was scratched, we all sighed, and then forgot about it. (How many of you just scratched your arm because I wrote “itch”? Weird, huh? Mind control!)

I have some theories and thoughts on what has happened to the artform of blogging (and, yes, I used the word “artform”). It’s not a graveyard scenario yet. We are not pouring wine or throwing a rose on a casket while Boyz II Men plays on a stereo, but it is definitely a major hospital visit and there is a machine that makes a “ping” noise every time its heart beats. But remember what the nurse said when we entered the room- talk to the patient. Even though the patient doesn’t respond, it does make a difference.

“Hi blog, it’s us the writers. We just wanted to stop by and see how you’re doing. Are you feeling okay? Do you want to wake up now?”

Continue reading

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“Sweetest Decline” by Beth Orton

Mountain ClimbingThis is the third in my “With Music” series, where I capture moments in my life through a song. The first entry was about a Ben Folds song and a girl with elf ears (you can read it here), the second was about being lost in Europe and Sheryl Crow (here).

It was never supposed to be a hobby. Let’s make that point clear. Since the age of 16, my focus and my aim was on one target, becoming a professional author. I even had an agent when I was a kid (the agent then tried to sell a collection I wrote, but we parted ways when I discovered to my horror they were calling me a new generation Beverly Cleary. I thought I was Ray Bradbury. Yeah, I was a stupid and egotistic teenager… But Beverly Cleary?)

And by the time of this tale (age 24), I had four screenplays, the scripts for a ten-episode radio series, and a mountain of short stories. I knew there were novels in me, but I just wasn’t feeling it yet. I just had too many ideas and the idea of focusing on one like that felt difficult. Whatever the case, my world and identity was engulfed in the idea of me being a writer. Not just any writer, but an important one, for the history books, one of the voices of a generation. Why aim for a lower target when the mountain is freaking right there?

Now this is the rub- I was in the graduate program for English Literature at Michigan State University and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored! The idea of writing and studying more writers (and probably going on for my Ph.D.) sounded so… sigh… dull. Another essay? Another literary criticism? Bored…

The fact is I just wanted to write! My literary cup was full, thank you very much!

So in January, I got this idea and by May it was done. I had dropped out of the graduate program, moved back to Grand Rapids, got a really nice studio apartment (seriously, it had a fireplace, but the flames were blue for some odd reason), and found a normal job. Hello life!

There was a certain amount of logic around this (at least logic that worked for my odd mountain-seeking brain), I would live in this place and create my masterpieces, then when ready I would explode into the world. The problem is that this was all based on the idea that inspiration would be there waiting for me in that apartment.

It wasn’t. Continue reading

Gender-Swapping: Some Writing Tricks for Taking on the Other Sex

GendersDuring my blog tour for Permanent Spring Showers (my last novel) I had an interesting question from a reader. It really inspired this post.

Here is the quote:

I always am amazed when a man writes from a woman’s perspective or a woman writes from a man’s perspective so convincingly. I was wondering how the author found writing from the opposite sex’s POV.

I don’t want to claim I’m an expert on this. That would be naive, because truly no one knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes (or high heels), but I’ve experience doing this in my books and I have some tricks that work for me.

In my new book, I have a few female main characters (including one that has diary entries); and there is my book Megan which is entirely one afternoon in one woman’s life. So if you are thinking of writing a work where the “other” gender is the main POV, well, maybe my advice can help.

Oh yeah, and I’m the dude who wrote an entire book with Jane Austen as the main character… Again, not saying I know everything, but… come on! Jane Austen! That gives me some cred, right? I mean… freaking Jane Austen!?! Continue reading

“Beautiful Illogical Messes” A Guest Post on Marlow Kelly (Book Tour Day 8)

Messy BrushesOnly a few days left on the blog tour. Today is the 8th day and another guest post. This one is on the creative writing process and the creation of my latest novel Permanent Spring Showers.

The guest post is entitled “Beautiful Illogical Messes.” Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

I wish this could all make sense.

It would be wonderful if the arts worked in the same side of the brain as logic and math. But it doesn’t, creativity lives with dreams. It resides in that wonderful land people visit when they want to “think outside the box.” And if you try to control that part of the brain with deadlines and rules, it turns off, creating that painful writer’s block.

The trick, I have found, is learning to go with it. It’s almost zen in a way, allowing the river to take you, as compared to fighting against the current. So when someone asks me where my ideas come from, I never know exactly how to start. When you are in a river, the last thing you are thinking about is how you got there, you are more curious about where you are going and when you will reach shore again.

You can read the rest of the guest post here.

This is my sixth guest post on the tour. The others covered a wide range of topics. You can check out posts on how it feels to write an anti-romance (here), eccentric characters (here), passion and sex in the book (here), the importance of springtime (here), and some advice for new writers (here). There were also two interviews (here and here).Permanent Spring Showers

Just for the tour, the eBook of Permanent Spring Showers is on sale! Just $1.99, it can’t get cheaper than that! So there is no better time to grab a copy.

You can find it on amazon for Kindle here and for the NOOK here.

Fiona Apple and the new book Permanent Spring Showers. A guest post on the Undercover Soundtrack.

Fiona Apple's New MasterpieceToday I have a guest post on the very cool site The Undercover Soundtrack. If you haven’t visit the site, you should. Writers discuss their musical inspiration and “soundtrack” in the writing of their work. I was on the site before, writing about the music behind A Jane Austen Daydream (which you can check out here). In this post I take on the soundtrack of Permanent Spring Showers, my latest book.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

Music can be like little time capsules. For some, they may return you to younger days, for me they return me to books. Whenever I take on a project, my creative psyche demands that I find the right soundtrack for it. And if I don’t, I might as well kiss that creative spirit goodbye. They flounder, gasping and dying like a fish out of water.

When I began work on my novel Permanent Spring Showers I knew I was doing something a little odd. It was a book very loosely based on a screenplay I had written years earlier, but this was going to be a very different work, not an easy adaptation. Also, I was going to present it chapter by chapter on my site. I liked to call it then a book in real time since you could enjoy the book and witness the creation of it as well. Yet, it was even more than that. Since I wasn’t bogging myself down in thoughts of sales, agents, and publishers, I was opening the door for sheer possibility. I could do anything, only limited by my own imagination.

It was so creatively exhilarating to throw off the shackles that so many of us feel when creating. And, adding in the danger that I could screw it up at any moment (for everyone to see) was just as thrilling. I was playing with literary fire. Luckily, I never felt alone in the flames.

In the article I break down the relationship between Fiona Apple’s most recent CD (which is awesome, by the way) and the book. You can check out the entire article here.

Permanent Spring ShowersPermanent Spring Showers was published by 5 Prince Books and is available on all online book retailers. Out in both print and eBook, you can find it on amazon.com here. The eBook is on sale for only $3.99.

You can read a sample and learn more about the book via this page. Grab a copy today!

 

Working The Audience: A Very Useful Writing Trick

On the StageI am a little bit of a helpless romantic.

For those who read my novel A Jane Austen Daydream that is not at all surprising. And before I met my wife I thought of my writing as a gateway to the heart.

I was one of those fools that bought into the lie of the romantic novels and the romantic comedy films. You see this plot twist all the time! That grand gesture that makes a person reconsider another in a different light. Oh, it is a great idea in a story, but we all know, honestly, it goes against how people are wired in the real world.

Short stories with hidden messages (and not so hidden ones), books, and I still squirm to remember the poetry. I have admitted a lot of embarrassing stuff on this site, but this is one of those few memories I still want to crawl into a cave and live out my remaining days because of. Yup, just the hint of it makes me want to become a hermit.

I, Scott Southard, was the creator of bad love poems. And I have sent them, strategically left them around, and even mailed them once anonymously in the hope that it would make another stop and see me as hotter (as some kind of light rock classic kicks on in the background like in a bad movie). In the end it never worked… and, by the way, the recipient of the anonymous love poems didn’t even figure out they were from me until I said something! Ouch!

All those bad memories aside, there is something to be said for the importance of an audience. I’m not just talking about the readers all writers dream to have, I mean that more enigmatic dream of a reader. The one we hope will find our work, the one in the back of our mind that drives the creation forward. They demand the story. What many don’t realize is that dream reader can be a tool, and can help over many different steps in the creative process if used right. Just be sure to leave the poetry at home… Continue reading

How to Walk the Equator on Planet Books

globeOn Friday night, with a few drinks and snacks nearby us, my wife and I were discussing the states of our artforms. (Yeah, this is what we do on weekend nights.) For my wife it is dance and she struggles between the world of dance you see on TV and the artistry and importance of modern dance (she writes a lot about this on her own blog- educatingdancers.com). For me, it is the state of writing and books.

My wife has heard these arguments before (and I love her more each time she doesn’t yawn) as I continue to wonder where my artform is going and why there seems to be such a thick and foreboding wall between the pop writing you see filling the stores and the more literary creations you see winning the acclaim.

See, for me it feels unnatural that some books are written solely for entertainment and others are considered more important, but can be an endeavor to read even for us educated readers. What many don’t know is that this line, this equator, wasn’t always around and there is a way to create novels that do both.

On this night, my wife laughed and said, “You know who you are? In your posts and on your site? All those articles about books and writing? You, hubby, are the Great Mediator.”

The Great Mediator? Yup, that’s me. And I guess that makes me the lamest member of the Justice League (I’m assuming my chest plate would be the image of a perfectly-balanced scale). I’ve also been probably known to say after a battle with bad guys, “Wait, dudes, let’s hear the Legion of Doom out on this one first before we jump to judgement.” I’m the action figure no kids wants to play with.

Whatever the case, as the world of books gets more and more fractured into different genres and accessibility, I want to bring everything back together.  Continue reading

How a Great Book Cover Gets Made

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverBrina Williamson is the freelance artist who has made the book cover for my novel Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, a book I am planning to self-publish in the next month and have been documenting the experience of via this blog.

On her website, Brina has written an article detailing her process around creating this great eye-catching cover. It’s a fascinating insight into another side of a book’s design that a writer might not consider and I recommend my fellow writers check it out.

You can read her article here.

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: The Necessary Humbling of Editing

Dunce CapA lot of fantasies, daydreams, and rainbows cloud the world of writing. It’s not surprising; actually completely natural since we spend so much of our time making up stories as writers, why wouldn’t we have stories about the stories?

Have you ever seen that scene in a TV show or movie in which a writer finishes a book or script? The writer may raise his hands in triumph over an old typewriter or do a little dance; then we as viewers are then jumped forward in time to their inevitable success.

We don’t see the struggle over getting the book out, finding an audience, working with an agent or publisher or, more importantly, editing. And, let’s be honest, editing is not as exciting as the victory dance of a finished book or the sparks of coming up with ideas around a first draft.

Like I said, it’s a fantasy, people. I have even been known to say to writers that much of the art around true writing happens in the editing. It is there a work is “finetuned,” perfected into a final piece. Right now, I am working with an editor on my book Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare (which I plan to self-publish later this year), and I will also be working soon with an editor from Madison Street Publishing on my novel A Jane Austen Daydream (which is set for publication this April).

So why do I love editing so much? Well, because I learned about its importance the hard way. Yes, I have an editing and writing horror story, and I am about to share it. Be prepared, this is about to haunt you like a poltergeist… a writing poltergeist. Continue reading

A Writing Update: I Don’t Like Roller Coasters

Ahhhhh!!!!!I don’t like roller coasters.

I never have, and the few times I have dared ride one, I stiffen up, feeling all of my muscles tighten and lock in place from my toes to my face. I’ve even been known to get kinks in my neck from the experience that can last for hours afterwards. Yes, I suffer from a good roller coaster. You may scream in joy, I’m the guy in the back with the gritted teeth screaming in terror like a child in a haunted house.

The only roller coasters I have been known to enjoy are not considered intense in anyone’s book. For example, I like the ones at Disneyland (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, etc.) and I think part of the reason I like those is because I have something to look at, as compared to the ground rushing towards me, preparing to swallow me up into the black of death’s eternal oblivion.

Well, last week for me and my writing was a roller coaster. In a matter of a week (and just a week), I had my old publisher close up shop, got a termination letter, received my last check, and watched my beloved novel disappear from amazon… AND in that same week- I got a great new publisher for it and decided to try something new with one of my other books! So on the roller coaster I went screaming down and then rose up in relief, safe to live once more, and strangely and magically stronger and happier for the experience.

Here is an update on what is going on right now with three of my books: A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, and Permanent Spring Showers. Continue reading