Research

 I’m the alien that loves research. Literally. 

Without research in a novel depicting a real place, what is going to set it aside and draw the reader in?

As a reader nothing irritates me more than reading about a place where the writer has got it all wrong. 

For example: 

Welcome to Indiana! The Cross Roads of America! You will find corn fields, roads that never end, rednecks, and innocent small town America here. Indianapolis is small in comparison to other cities. Basketball is what Hoosiers live for. And fried chicken is one word.

Now this wordage is more ironic to the average Hoosier.

It’s mostly true if you are on the outside looking in. BUT look at it from the inside and there you realize too late that you just got yourself in hot water. 

Reality is people don’t like labels. In writing there is a boundary with labels. You may write something that you have done research on and label it a specific way. It depends on your reaction to backlash. Can’t take it? 

Leave it to the locals. If you’re a local writing something about your said town. You put it out there with the specific intent to bring an uprising of mad townsfolk. Good for you. You know what you want and how to execute it to get the desired outcome. 

Now switching hands, I’m an outsider representing a specific place in my story. The place is real, but I get all the facts wrong. 

For example: 

I’m writing about the wildlife of Montana. I say there are only mountains, ground dwelling bushes, very few trees, and flowers everywhere. 

 In reality Montana contains a coniferous forest base. Meaning there are not a lot of ground plants. It’s mostly pine trees, some sparse grasses and so forth. 

In truth if you want the place to be realistic. Stick to the facts. Do your research. 

Not doing the correct research looks unprofessional. 

The age of the internet is here. There are virtual tours and Google Earth and all sorts of resources you can use if you don’t want to actually travel to the place you are describing. 

Take the time, get it right the first time. 

Avoiding Writer Norms

Rule #1 of being a writer: There are no rules.

A lot people get hung up on the he said she said version of writing.

Stop talking and write.

Let me tell you, no name and such are still going to be waiting with their drama when you’re finished. You will be able to resume your quarreling. I give you no worries about that.

Stop procrastinating.

I know we all are guilty of it. 4 am or not, get out of bed and write. You may not want to, but if you dream of being a writer you better make it happen. It takes sacrifice and dedication.

Do write everything down.

Get an idea. Repeat it in your head until you find a piece of paper. Jot the idea in the notes app on your phone. Find a napkin. Find a book. A cup. Something! And get that idea down. Once it’s gone, it may really be gone.

Rejection blues.

We all get it. I’ve been there, already done that. Try, try again, scream a little bit. Cry a flood, but swim back to shore and get back on your way. Rejection is horrible. Embrace it. Believe in your work. Don’t let your dream die.

Don’t listen to naysayers.

People are programmed with negativity so if they’re not giving you constructive criticism, is it worth your time?

Congratulations! You now know how to actually avoid writing blocks!

Remember, as a writer different is good. Be unusual. Be quite crazy if you choose to. Test the lengths of your own imagination. After all it is your story, make it whatever you want it to be. Have a little fun, find yourself along the way. You won’t regret it.

Now Go Write!

 

 

Accepting Criticism

The fear someone can experience from hearing someone critique their work is out of this world.

But if you want to make it in the world of Indie authors, grow the hide of an alligator and prevent yourself from shedding it like a snake.

Hearing someone give a bad review on something you have written can be heartbreaking. It comes with the industry. You have to take it and run with it. Don’t let it get to you.

I think of writing and life in this sort of spherical sense.

When someone tells you they dislike your work, it can come off as if someone called you ugly, or fat, or any number of derogatory names that might hurt your self-esteem. It’s the same sort of issue. It can be hard to tell whether it was deliberate, or if it was a good dose of constructive criticism that you took the wrong way.

A line is drawn, but it’s not always easy to tell where that line is.

When I started writing longer pieces in high school. I thought my work was wonderful. In the same sense I was terrified of someone telling me my writing was awful. I got this superiority complex, nobody would tell me wrong. Needless to say, I climbed off my high pedestal and excepted my writing for what it was. Garbage, with bad plot, terrible spelling, and even worse grammar. There I began my real writing journey. I opened myself up for opportunities. I looked at someone’s comments on my writing not as a bad thing, but as a suggestion field.

Hey this is what you need to improve on. Maybe try this. The plot is great, but you have too much going on. 

Things were going great then I hit my junior year in high school. I went backwards and dug myself in a writing hole that started to consume me.

By the beginning of my senior year I was so tired of looking at the same work over and over again that I stopped turning my computer on. I was trying to give up on my lifelong dream.

Gradually everything got worse, I was barely hanging on in school and I grasped for some traction. Christmas break rolled around and I got tired of feeling unlike myself. I started doing research. A lot of it. By January I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing. In February I declared to a few family and friends that by the end of the year I was going to fulfill my dream and go on to be the person that I have always wanted to be. On my own terms.

Initially some of my family was skeptical. They suggested maybe I take the traditional route.

Frankly I am not a patient person. I did the rounds of sending out query letters. I waited long enough. The decision to self publish was my way of accepting the criticism of not being published by a big name publisher. That was a huge obstacle for me. I conquered it. I began my trek up the mountain, one rocky edge at a time.

It hasn’t been a year since I made my decision. I’ve graduated and moved on to college. I did it, I made it to the top of the mountain.

What I really did, was I accepted the criticism I was receiving as a goal. Okay what have I learned about her opinion on this chapter? What points is she projecting I change or improve? What is the relevance of what she is saying? I see where she is coming from. That’s a good idea. I never thought of that!

The fact is no matter what you do, how great your writing is, or how famous you are. Someone out there in a world of billions is going to dislike it, probably absolutely hate it. While another is going to fall in love with your work and romance it to its core.

Great.

It’s your job to have enough respect for yourself and for those people to not give up.

I may never be a good writer, but I will never be the worst writer. It’s that simple logic. It keeps me going, it says Okay so and so doesn’t like it, but I do and someone out there does.

If Stephen King or JK Rowling took to heart every bad thing a reader or critic has said about them or their novels. They would not get out of bed in the morning.

Writing is an art. It’s a means to an end for many. It can be opinionated or biased, derived from the person who wrote it.

The importance of criticism is that it is merely a suggestion. It doesn’t mean anything, unless you make it mean something.

It’s the writers choice.

Writing for Exposure vs Writing for Enjoyment

This topic can be touchy.

Everyone has a different perspective on it. Whether they’ve had success in the writing universe or not.

I have my own opinion. Whether others listen that’s their choice. Or if they are listening, it’s the questions of importance. Did they learn anything from it? Do they stand behind me or do they simply see where I’m coming from?

That’s the thing about being a writer, new or a veteran. There is not always a lot of feedback. It can be hard to determine whose side of the equation your readers are on. But as the Author of the opinion, it is your job to find out through people’s reactions to your work.

Then you have to decide where you stand. Are you writing for exposure or for pure enjoyment.

Of course you can have a say as both. Perfectly logical, but it devoids the point.

Pick a side, present your case, and stick to it like your life depends on it. In other words is your writing a business or is it just your  brain child that you’ve shoved out there?

It all depends on how you choose to look at it.

In full honesty writing is my business. I love to write. I can’t go a day without it. It’s been one of the longest present things in my life. Writing has never failed me. Though here I am calling it my business. Writing IS my life. I wake up in the morning and it’s what am I going to write next? 

I am a writer, the writer life found me. I have no idea how, but here I am writing about writing. Go figure.

Needless to say writing is not easy.  It’s easy in the word perspective. I mean all you do is put words on paper. But it is so much more than that. Writing is a psychological experience of living life through one’s fingers. Through one’s words.

When you become serious about writing, you have to push forward a differentiation. Are you writing to find and connect with people or are you writing for the hell of it?

Writing with no boundaries for me became this chase. I chased after my character. I chased after my plot. I became a puppet and my book became the puppet master. I had no idea where I was going with it, it was steering me in my own direction. First draft ended up a bloody nightmare. Writing with no sense of direction was not the correct route for me, but I figured it out through experience and that’s okay.

In my own opinion, writing for exposure has given my writing a purpose. A meaning behind each word. Running out into the writing world has awakened me to all these possibilities. I see something I want to do and I do it because I know if I don’t I will regret it. Writing is freedom.

Writing for exposure has allow me to write what I feel and know that it is good enough because it’s out there. There are no more obstacles, there is no more fear.

I chopped off the monster’s head and threw it into the passing crowd.

Someone out there is going to see my purpose as I see it myself.  The adventure is finding them. How can that not be the opportunity of a lifetime?

Put your work out there. Kill the monster that is your self-doubt and get it out for the world to see. Regret will be a word you no longer know.

Publishing

Being an author is not a walk in the park. That is if you want to be successful. 

Being a writer IS a job. It takes a lot of work if you want to show the world what you have to offer. 

There’s a common stereotype: Writing isn’t a real job. 

*Glass shatters

Don’t tell that to an actual writer because they will unfriend you and never speak to you again. Guaranteed. 

The amount of marketing, time, and money that it takes to be a successful writer is astounding. It’s not something that happens over night. 

Anyone can be a writer, but so few actually make a living off of it. That’s why you have to have a particular mindset. You need to get yourself in the marketing groove and be prepared to do what it takes. If you’re not a people person, you need to become one. You need to go to events, you need to blog, you need to create an email list. The list goes on forever. 

The hard part is everyone in the Author field is going to try to tell you exactly what you need to do. Get in a writing group. Form a bond with your chosen group and you will find how easy and rewarding it is to find advice from people who have been down the road you are traveling. They can give you advice on what not to do. 

You will form friendships and learn a lot. 

I have several good writing friends. It is so nice to be able to relate different experiences and such to these people. Not only that, but we all can go to events. If in case of financial situations, when you have a group, you can split a table. Therefore, split the cost. Going to events is not impossible. It’s the way in which you go about it.

There are so many miss conceptions. I’m going to get my book published and become a best-selling author.

There is a plausible chance of that happening, but not without the right tools and doing the work. In all truth, If you don’t provide the means for people to find your book. Such as links, paid adds, and sponsorships. People aren’t going to buy your book, because they don’t know how to find it.

You have to do everything in your power to make success if you want to be successful. Do that and there is no room for failure. 

There are people all over the world who want it bad enough to go through with the whole list of things that goes along with publishing. But how many of them actually carry through? 

If you want to be a successful author, put in the work. 

Many people stop after so many failures. The idea is that you have to go through hard times before you come out on top. 

Climb the mountain, don’t stop if you’re about to fall. Hang on and keep climbing. Along will come a time when there is nothing left, other than to conquer the mountain. 

The Devil’s Retreat

It’s amazing how time flies. One minute you’re a nobody. The next 2 hours of your life, you’re suddenly an accomplished individual who knows what they are doing and what their next move is.

Wrong!

Becoming an Indie author can be a stressful decision. Whoever says it’s easy has never had to work at it. It’s not easy. It’s this compilation of fifty different people telling you their take on it and then you talking to yourself saying, oh boy where do I begin? The truth is you are your business in the Indie market. Don’t let it deter you away. If you want it bad enough, go for it.

My novel, The Devil’s Retreat, just released. I can confide, I was not scared, but undeniably terrified. A week before the release I fretted during every second awake. What haven’t I done? Did I forget something? Has it been edited enough? I was overwhelmed. Excitement turned to frustration, and in the aftermath of sitting at my computer for hours on end, it all came to a head. I realized a little something. The lessons I have learned from this experience and the time I spent going over my writing goals, and oh so stressing about EVERYTHING.  It got me where I need to be.

I was pushing myself to finalize everything and forcing myself to edit in every chance of free time I got. The writing flame inside me, reignited.

“I’m back!” I exclaimed at 4 am, while rubbing my sleep deprived eyes.

The drive inside me came back. After months of  succumbing to a paperless oblivion, the writing beast inside my head finally regurgitated some words.

All that worrying and what I did was achieve a lifelong  dream. I got my novel published.  It was a challenging feat that took two years worth of work and planning, but it happened. It has changed my view on the world.

I was always under the impression that being an Indie author wasn’t professional at all. It was traditional or no way. I spent two years of my life researching the markets and doing novel research. I learned myself wrong. Self-Publishing has become huge. It’s how much work you put into it that makes a difference. I self published and do not regret anything.  I have a long road ahead of me and years worth of work to smash into the next four months. To face the facts. It could have taken years to secure an agent, and even longer to get a publishing contract. I have time now. I have none to waste. I have stories to tell.

After years of dreaming of being a writer, I put my book out there on the market. Now its time to keep moving up. For me it has never been about writing a good story. It has always been about writing a story I would want to read. For years I have been searching for that story that sucks me in and refuses to let go. A story that I can never forget. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m on my way to writing it.

While I work on my next novel, my hope is to find the values in my writing that I placed in my first book. The Devil’s Retreat is not a hapless book with no common ground to it. There is a purpose behind it. That purpose conforms around the idea that coal mining is a dying practice across the world.

I grew up in a coal mining and farming community. I am not unfamiliar with the problems expressed in my book. The problems, fictionalized to a degree, ring a level of importance. What happens when coal becomes a thing of the past? What will we do without it? In the same case, what is coal doing to our environment? Why should we rely on coal when there could be alternatives out there? The book is not meant to bring clear answers it is meant to explore a series of what ifs.

My stories need purpose. I want them to teach something. I want to force the reader to think about something maybe they wouldn’t normally approach.

 

Monsters All Around Here

I guess it is easy to get caught up in reality. Working a 9 to 5 job, saving for that new car, paying bills like there is no end. Or even working the now common 70-90 hours a week slaving away to live a life that is seemingly unfulfilled by society’s approach to surviving.

Some of us have found a way to combat the throes of the noose that popular culture sends forth to reel us all in. Many of us haven’t but there is always hope. So it can be said.

In all truth conformity sounds idealistic. It’s a means of survival. Is it really though?

I have always been one to shy away from what is the typical norm. We all have a soft spot and crack eventually. That mega mansion nestled in the hills, all the shoes a girl can ever dream of, endless cash to never have to worry about finding your next meal. It sounds wonderful, maybe even a little artificial. That’s what it is.

It’s a trap. Hey come here, work a little harder, work endless hours. Struggle, then the dream dies off because, you know in your mind that reality is a killer.

I have my way of fighting off conformity. Minimalism is refreshing. It’s this stark whiteness set against the pollution filled days of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

One of the most important things that minimalism does is it exposes monsters. 

Fictional and Physical

A monster in a book can highlight the greed that has encompasses the person who created the monster. In real life, those who will do what is necessary to get the things they want is an example of the power of materialism. 

Minimalism is an easy way to free yourself from the woes of a technological society. Detaching yourself completely doesn’t have to be the answer, but being aware does.  

One of the reasons monsters have been a thing that I have centered myself around is the idea that I am only one person in a universe full of them. 

In order to stand out you have to be different. But, to make a difference you have to understand why you are different. 

Monsters don’t care what you look like or what gender you are. They themselves have been built upon ugliness. The disgrace of the greed by their creator, and the deformities that might be ravaging their bodies and changing their minds. 

Writing about monsters has helped me understand why our world is the way it is. Monsters represent more than a level on the food chain. Their meaning reaches far beyond what any of us could ever imagine. 

Are they really the villains of the story, or are they misunderstood by the humans who portray them to be a certain way?