Embrace Insecurity: An Important Writing Tool

Linus and his blanketOften when I get interviewed about my writing and my books I get asked some kind of variation on what helps me as an author. In other words, what is the one tool in my arsenal I can’t do without.

Sometimes I point to my education, many times I point to my library and my reading (for, it is my opinion that all writers have to be industrious readers), but there is a secret friend I usually never bring up. He is a nagging voice, usually the last one I hear in my head each night before I go to bed. He questions everything I did that day, and wonders what I can do in the morning to correct it.

That is insecurity, and over the years I have learned to look at him as a companion in this upside-down, backwards and forwards, writing career. He rarely cheers or gets excited when something goes right (if he goes quiet for even a minute it is rare), but he keeps me on my toes, challenges me and always has my back in any situation.

Yes, I am telling you my fellow authors to be insecure! Fill your mind with self-doubt and worry! Let your uncertainty overwhelm you!

…And then use that power like I do. Continue reading

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Thank You eBook Readers!

An Illustration from AustenNow that was a cool Valentine’s Day weekend! The publisher of my novel A Jane Austen Daydream (Madison Street Publishing) had it as a free eBook for two days on Amazon. Over the weekend, I was able to see my novel top a few genre lists on Amazon and almost break the top 100. Wow!

If you are one of the many that grabbed a copy of my book, I would first like to say “thank you.” I hope you like it! The second thing I would like to add is… well…

See, to make it in this very congested world of writing there are primarily three possible paths to success for today’s authors. The first is sheer luck; the second is you know someone (agent, publisher, etc.); and the third is word of mouth. I am aiming for the third option. So if you downloaded a free copy of my book, and enjoyed it, would you help?

Here are some easy options that you might consider:

  • Write a review of it on GoodReads or Amazon.
  • Tell a friend.
  • Gift it to someone.
  • Choose it for your book club.
  • Write about it on your blog, or review it on the site.
  • Share it on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Recommend it to your local library or bookstore for stocking on their shelves.

And those are just the quickest and easiest options I came up with off of the top of my head. You might have a better option I might not have considered. Whatever the case, I would love for more readers to find my novel.

Again, thank you for making my Valentine’s Day so memorable (like this moment below). Memorable moment

The Demands of the Paper: A Writing Update

Stack of PaperA blank page of white paper is everything.

All possibility lies there and it can be a joy for an inspired writer, a dreamer. In A Jane Austen Daydream I have a holiday scene where I describe a snow-covered land as a fresh sheet of paper, just waiting for a new story to begin.

It’s hard not to get too romantic around the art of writing and creation. But there is a dark side to that white sheet as well. It demands attention, it makes you question everything, and it is always there. Never forgiving when you don’t create. And the longer it stays blank, the more it makes you question your own ability.

Why aren’t you writing? What are you waiting for? You say you are a writer, write! 

These days I have a love-hate relationship with that blessed piece of paper. I have so many ideas and things I want to do, but… But I am holding off, because I am uncertain of what the right direction is to go. Yes, the best piece of advice for any writer is to write for yourself, I preach it all the time. But there are moments when a person should stop and take a few seconds to consider the direction of one’s career. That’s where I am right now. I’m just trying to figure out which snow-covered path is the best one for me to walk and I hinder… I hinder.

The blank page of paper doesn’t see it that way, of course. It is weakness, it is hesitancy. Something I have never really had in my career. So while I still feel the thrill of all possibility, I can’t help but feel like I am letting that piece of paper down.  Continue reading

Twitter-Free: My 24 Hours Without Twitter

The Fail WhaleI have over 30,000 Twitter followers. When I began this post I had tweeted exactly 10,400 times. No more, no less. Tweet #10,401 will be the first notice that I have written this post.

I am an author on Twitter and, honestly, I don’t think Twitter has led to many book sales really from the traffic. It does generate blog views, but never more than a third of what I get on a daily basis. The rest comes from subscribers and those who just seem to check me out from time to time. So what is this hold Twitter has on me that I keep returning and why do so many follow me?

For me, personally, Twitter is an ego trip. I admit that. Beyond the amount of followers, I get a huge kick out of sharing, retweets, and likes around my articles and books. And I especially love it when someone writes to me about my books usually to say they are reading one of them or enjoy it.

The fact is though I can’t imagine having a real friendship or relationship over Twitter. There almost needs to be a new word for the relationships built on this social network; somewhere below “acquaintance” but above “name recognition.” Yeah, it’s not like Facebook where a majority of my “friends” I have actually spoken to at one point. This is more like epic literary crowdsurfing for a writer. Like I am thrown to the sea of Twitter, riding my book like a boat. And there are thousands and thousands of other writers and readers like me on the rough sea in similar boats… and now and then we will see a Fail Whale. Making us at that moment the internet equivalent of Ahab.

Well, not this day.  For on this day, for the first time in two years, I have decided to take a break and document my withdraw… Continue reading

Shock, Awe and a Call to Arms: A Writing Update

This is me as a duck in a hatThere are a few moments in my life I have been truly shocked.

Hearing my son cry for the first time (even though I was anticipating it) shocked me. Meeting my wife definitely turned my head. Getting into grad school at USC was a nice surprise… But this was a new one for me as an author.

This week Madison Street Publishing, the publisher of A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, did a two-day free eBook promotion of that new book and… The numbers were extraordinary!

People from all over the world in just 48 hours jumped to grab my novel, bringing the total to… 7392.

7392!

Over 7000 people have found my book and may begin it; not all may finish it, of course, but the possibility is there. If these were sale numbers those two days could have dropped my book on lists I have only dreamed about approaching. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Wrestling the Proof Copy into Submission

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverA proof copy of your novel is a beautifully constructed illusion.

Oh, it feels like your book, it could even be argued that it smells like your book, but when you open it up… Wait! I forgot that comma! What happened to that word in that sentence? I know I didn’t mean that!

The illusion is shattered like a mirror and by the time you have gone through the entire book your hands are riddled with little scratches and nicks, and the mirror is nothing like it used to look like. It’s all funky now and so is the reflection staring back at you.

Okay… okay… I know that is dramatic, but that is how I felt going through the proof copy of my new novel MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE.

One of the wonderful little surprises I had with deciding to work with CreateSpace is this option for a proof copy. Yes, they give you the option to look at the proof online for free, but I wanted to hold it.

See, I’ve never gotten into the whole Kindle thing. I just can’t get lost in a story via a screen like I do with paper. Maybe that makes me old fashioned (and, wow, I feel too young to have that feeling about anything), but it just feels more real. On paper is how I discovered all of my favorite books! We share a history, paper and me; and I want my new book to be part of that as well. Continue reading

Writers, why does everything need to be a series?

This is your new book, be gentle with it...Like a seed, a book idea begins small. So very small. Maybe it is a flash of an image, or maybe it is a question that needs to be answered. Whatever the case, it grows and grows until finally a novel emerges fully grown.

Yes, I consider writing and creating a very organic experience. And when I am done with a book, I’m happy to have one “tree.”

So I can’t help wondering why do so many writers today want to grow a forest?

 

Book One: By chance or fate the heroes meet

It was last year that I began really reaching out to other writers on Twitter. The thing that surprised me the most (besides the sheer number of all of us), is how many are focused on writing a series.

Paranormal, scifi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, romance (the innocent to the definitely NOT innocent at all), historical fiction, adventure, etc., some are even a combination of genres; but whatever the case they are never a solo book. Traditionally published, indie published, to self-published, everyone seems to be on the series train.

Choo Choo! Continue reading