Writing Advice

The Road of life

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As many of you know I recently signed a 2-book deal with Kensington Gore, a publisher in the UK. But what was my writing life like before that? How did I arrive there?

Well it started back in 5th grade. 1985 was the year. It began with a story about a character named Jet-thrust. He was a robot that traveled the universe looking for adventures and fighting all kinds of evil doers. I then added a brother for Jet-thrust, calling him Fighter, and then we had a duo of do-gooders.

Then. For whatever reason. I stopped writing. I went through life without writing another word, that is until 2003 rolled along. I was looking for a hobby that would take up a lot of time and was relatively inexpensive. At first I didn’t know what to write about so I wrote a bunch of novels as a learning experience. None of those got published. But I learned a lot about myself and my writing. I read more books, and read books about writing. Then I wrote some more.

Finally I decided to self-publish. That was in 2013. I learned the value of having a good cover, and hiring a good editor. And I always made sure that each book was the best I could make it. Editing was a thankless job so I settled on a great editor named Amanda Horan. Later she recommended my writing to a publisher in UK called Kensington Gore. After waiting a few months they decided to acquire the publishing rights to two of my books.

So that’s been the road map to my writing life. And I’m sure there’s still more to come.

What about you? Think about your life in perspective. Your journey, wherever you are right now. Where do you want to go? And what great things do you want to achieve?

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Epic Fantasy, Writing Advice

How to honor your Editor

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Now that November is here, I figured I’d write a post on editing. Let me tell you, when I first began my publishing odyssey, I knew nothing about editing. Sure, I’d edit my own books, but that was it. I felt that spending money on editing was a waste.

How wrong I was.

Editors and beta-readers are a key component to the writing process. They act as a safety net, and find everything you miss when you self-edit. But finding an editor that is best for you isn’t easy. But it’s a journey worth embarking on. Let me explain.

I went through many editors. Some were mediocre, but most were subpar. Then I finally settled on one. An Irish Lady named Amanda, who lives with a mischievous little African Grey Parrot called Lilo. There were times when we argued, and I felt our working relationship wouldn’t last. Perhaps it was my fault. Who knows? I can be difficult sometimes when it comes to my work. But in the end, Amanda was the one, the best editor a writer could ask for. After all, how many editors end up becoming your friends?

And then there’s Lilo, who could ever forget Lilo? The repetitive little talking birdie who won my heart, and often serves as an example to me not to take myself too seriously.

So, the morale of this story is simple. If you find an editor that just feels right, by all means, grab onto them like dear life. Make sure to value them like a life preserver, because they’ll save your writing, trust me I know.

And if they own a talking birdie, well that just a bonus!

Writing Advice

The truth about “bad” reviews

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Some of the newer writers out there might get a little peeved at bad reviews. But seriously, what is a bad review? How does a review become bad?

Well, technically, it’s when a reader doesn’t like your book. Ok. Let’s take a look at this. So someone didn’t like it. Does that make the book bad?

Course not. Listen, unless most or all of the reviews are bad there’s really nothing to worry about. As a reader, I’d actually be suspicious if all the reviews for a book were glowing. Wouldn’t that look suspicious? There’s enough of those fishy reviews to go around anyways.

So here’s my take on “bad” reviews. They’re good. Why? Because they add legitimacy to your book.

So when you free yourself from the unrealistic fact that everyone will love your book, you’ll be more relaxed, and your writing will flow.

Writing Advice

The Author who is also a Book

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Ever wonder where I (or any writer for that matter) get my fiction ideas from? I’d say it is a combination of things. First life experience comes into play. The combined collection of memories accumulated from my day-to-day events. Both good and bad.

I have pain. We all do. That’s what makes us human. I take my pain and use it in my stories to give humanity to my characters. Look at Tullus or Celestra from my Leopard King Saga series. Or Liberty Rise from Mindcop Dossiers.  I’d be selling them short by making them omnipotent. Who wants to read about characters like that?

It’s cliche, but troubled characters work best when drawn-upon from personal experience. That doesn’t mean you put yourself in the story. In that case you’re better off writing non-fiction (Which I read a lot, by the way.)

Fiction is a compass that points towards life. No matter how make-believe a story is, or if its genre is pure fantasy. People read to learn more about human nature and find meaning in their lives and the world around them.

What do you think?

Writing Advice

The truth about editing

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If you’ve ever published a book, or have considered publishing a book. Then remember these five words: editing is an ongoing process.

You’re probably wondering what I mean by that. Well, it’s simple, don’t think for a moment when you’re published that the work is done. Let me explain.

When I first embarked on my independent writing career I knew nothing about producing the best book possible. I thought that writing the book itself was enough.

Sadly. I was wrong.

A lot of editing goes into a book. First you self-edit it when it’s done, then you turn it over to a skilled editor and he/she tackles it before you confirm or reject their edits.

Then the beta-reader stage begins. Trust me. You should have at least half a dozen beta-readers. The reason for this is the more eyes, the better their chances of catching manuscript errors. But trust me, it doesn’t end there. Then you give the beta-read manuscript another look before handing it back to your editor before it is published.

But wait. You’re still not done. After you’ve published your work, typos, grammatical errors and other unwelcome guests will pop up. Sometimes, you’ll spot em on your own, other times, readers will notify you.

It is your lifelong duty as an author to always update your books when errors are spotted. Books are like people, they’re constantly growing and needing corrections to be better.

Will your work ever be perfect? Never. But then again, who is?

Writing Advice

When is it time to quit?

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This post is for all those writers out there, or wannabe writers. Or anyone who is invested in the arts. So pretty much everyone artistically-inclined.

Quitting. It’s a disease that affects the best of us. And it can really hit you when you’re about to break.

There are many causes: Family issues, work, health degradation, etc. But let’s narrow it down a bit. It’s called Lack of Commercial Success in the Arts.

Trust me, it’s great how now anyone can become a writer. The gatekeepers no longer block hopeful writers who dream of publication.

But the onslaught of indie books has made the market more difficult to break into. Especially when you’re just starting out.

But what if you’ve been in the game and are still struggling to sell books?

Well you have two options. You can keep writing, or, you can quit.

If you decide to quit then that is your choice. Especially if other pressing matters take center stage in your life. However, if you keep writing, you should remember one thing. Do it for yourself. Don’t write for an audience, or fame, or a huge payout. If you do this I can almost guarantee you that the pressure to succeed will dissipate, and your love of writing will be the only thing that matters.

Take it from someone who has pondered quitting.

Writing Advice

When Writers can’t write

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It happens to all of us. Suddenly our fingers don’t want to cooperate with our minds, and our passion for wordsmithing evaporates faster than a desert mirage.

So what do you do when the well of creation dries up? Take a vacation? Catch that new movie you’ve wanted to see? Clip your overgrown toenails?

Well…yeah. Duh! Just make sure you something that doesn’t involving writing. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m taking my mind off resuming my next project-which has been a novel I started way back in 2012-by doing something productive. Writing a blog post about why I can’t write right now. Whew!

Sometimes taking a break can do wonders. The worst thing you can do to yourself is force the issue and write something that doesn’t flow from the heart. And let’s be brutally honest here, writing is something that always derives from the human heart.

Listen, unless you’re a big-time writer with a deadline, you shouldn’t be worrying about why you cannot write.

Most of us will never cash a seven figure check for our writing efforts. I say this not to be negative, but to ground everyone out there in reality, so you can focus on treating your writing as a hobby, and not stressing over it for whatever reason impeding you.

Eventually you’ll get back behind your word processor, and the time spent away will have done wonders for your creativity. Writing doesn’t have to be stressful. Quite the opposite, it should be fun, and when it’s not fun anymore, that’s your cue to pursue another interest.

Writing Advice

How to recharge your writing life

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I’m always reading how writing seems to be the answer for every problem in the writer’s life. Can’t write? Then go write. Can’t find a topic? Go write. Well that’s great that there are folks out there that can write a lot. If you’ve got a deadline to make, or a huge writing contract that requires you to write 24-7, then by all means, please disregard this piece of advice.

But what if you’re an indie writer that’s just doing it for passion? Well, that’s why I’m writing this post. This is for you.

Writing should be fun. It’s cliche, but it’s also the damn truth. The minute you start stressing over every word count it ceases to be fun and becomes work!

This is surefire way to kill your creative juices and damage your writing mojo. The solution? Easy. You take a break. Take a few days, or even a few weeks to recharge your batteries. But don’t go cold turkey. Work on an outline or an idea. Take a break without cutting yourself off from writing altogether.

Now some of you might disagree with this approach. And that’s fine. It’s a free country, but if writing is becoming a chore then you may wish to try it. I’m on a writing hiatus right now after completing the latest draft of my upcoming YA novel Guns And Dogs. And trust me, I haven’t betrayed my muse by taking an extended writing break. Hell, I’ve probably empowered my muse.

So give it a go folks. Your writing will thank you.

Writing Advice

What does patience and writing have in common?

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The majority of writers today do not make enough to support themselves. Yes. You read correctly. Sorry if I popped your unrealistic bubble that was based on a get-rich-quick scheme where writing is concerned.

Writing is an art. And you really should keep the unrealistic fantasy at an arms length so it doesn’t affect your ability to create the best possible book or short story.

Many newbies think that one book will propel them to fame and fortune. Look, if you’re doing this for those reasons, then I really doubt your overall dedication. This is something you do for love. Yes, there are hacks out there trying to chase the market, but why aspire to be like them.

Be like you!

Patience comes into play. Don’t plan on making it with one or two books. Have a long-term game plan where your writing is concerned. Network with successful writers or learn what you can to make yourself a more well-rounded person that is built for success over a long period.

Ok. Lecture over. Now go out there and start building a strong foundation that will set you up for long-term success. And remember, patience should be your watchword.