The Importance of Delusions: The Four That All Writers Need

Imaginary FriendsWhen I was a child, I never had one imaginary friend.  I could never limit myself to one. And when I did seek them out, I would steal them left and right from books, having in the end something more akin to a kingdom in my head.

The funny thing is this kingdom is still around. No, I don’t need any help, but they are there, transformed now from warriors and wizards into readers, editors, agents, interviewers and publishers.

And if I am walking my dog on a late evening, there is a chance I might be working out a pretend interview in my head or I might be thinking of a meeting with a producer interested in one of my books, figuring out how I would pitch the material. Typically, I don’t talk out loud (even my dog would question my sanity then), but those conversations are there as I am always planning, considering my options and thinking of the next steps I might need to take in my career.

Yes, the imaginary friends or the capability for internal debate like this is still around and it is now a tool I use. And using my imagination like this has grown, assisting and encouraging… and not always truthfully. Spawning dreams and delusions that I use as tools as well.

All artists have delusions, some are big and some are small. They empower our debates, drive our inspiration forward, and give us hope even in the bleakest of hours. There are, in my humble opinion, four universal delusions that all writers share.  Continue reading

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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. This year, I worked with a series of different editors. First for, my novel A Jane Austen Daydream (which was published by Madison Street Publishing) and then for my novel  Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare.

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

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

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Curse All These Fonts!

fontI am haunted by fonts.  While the characters in MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE are haunted by ghosts and other demonic surprises, I am haunted by the way an “a” can curve, and what each letter may or may not say about my story.

Yes, I have lost days, weeks, debating with myself the right kind of font to use for the book I am self-publishing. It has gotten so bad that some of the fonts are starting to take on personalities for me. For example:

  • Times New Roman is the preppy know-it-all in school. The one you would swear at under your breath when they get a better grade than you.
  • Verdana thinks it is mysterious (it is not).
  • Palatino would dot its i’s with hearts if it could. It is that overly cute.
  • Calibri… well… it is just dumb.
  • Arial is a pampering old grandmother with stale hard candy in a dusty bowl.  Yes, the best intentions are there, but you don’t want to eat them. Ew.

I’ve changed my manuscript again and again trying to find the one that best captures my book. Now the book is a Victorian period mystery (of course, that is not without including the experimental twists in it), so a font that feels a little dated would be nice. Yet, I don’t want to go too much in that regards. I don’t want to drive readers away as if they can feel the dust on the font and story. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Back Covers, Conversions and Timeframe

The final cover by Brina Williamson, http://brinawilliamson.com/

The final cover by Brina Williamson, http://brinawilliamson.com/

An author is always more than an author.

An author creates worlds, gives birth, administers death; in some works many, many times over. They are the judge, the jury, and the attorneys arguing both sides in a case. They are the royalty deciding mercy and the peasants pleading for it. They can be everything for their characters (making all their dreams come true), or more harshly nothing at all. They are the beginning and the end.

But beyond these awesome “god-like” powers, for me, I am also an actor.

An actor?

Well, no not really. I can’t really act at all, but whenever I am in the wonderful position of “locking down” a novel I read the entire work out loud. It’s my secret “hat” I like to wear. Scott the one-man show, and in the performance I “ feel” each character, each line, and each description. For if the voice is right throughout, I know it will feel that way for the reader as well. It is a practice I highly recommend to all writers.

That is where I am right now with the book I am self-publishing, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare.

Watch out Sir Laurence Olivier! Continue reading

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