Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

PACKAGES, SAMPLES, AND STOCKWORK – HIGHMOOT

Going to attend an author’s conference and seminar tomorrow.

Already have my packages, seminar samples, and stockwork prepared and in order for presentation…

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How I Wrote 10,000 Words in a Weekend

How I Wrote 10,000 Words in a Weekend

I’m a relatively solitary writer but I do have a few people who are always in my corner ( ❤ ) and I was lucky enough to befriend a fellow writer on Twitter just when I was starting to think of taking this on.  I tweeted in conversation to her about what, to me, was a crazy idea …

How I Wrote 10,000 Words in a Weekend // Something Delicious.  That much writing in so little time sounds crazy, right?  I thought so, too, until I did it myself!  Click the pin for my top tips for surviving the task and making it fun, to boot.  There's also a freebie guide to my must-have tools for a writing marathon!

I’ve mentioned a few times now how I wrote the final 10,000 words-ish of my rough draft over the course of a weekend, something heretofore unheard of for me. I’m still a little disbelieving that it actually happened, but it did! I have the printed pages to prove it. As I’m getting back into editing them this week, I want to share with you how I managed to do this, in hopes it’ll help you bust through that unbelievably obnoxious end bit that seems to drag on forever and ever.

It’s time to get it done; let’s do it!

STEP ONE: DECLARE YOUR INTENTIONS

If you tend to keep your writing a relatively private affair, you can take this step by writing it down on a bright flashcard or piece of paper and sticking it up somewhere you’ll see it constantly: “This weekend, I’m going to write ‘X’ words” or “This weekend, I’m going to barrel through my list of remaining scenes.”
And so I did!  I declared my intentions on Twitter and to my steadfast cheerleaders, and off I went.  Well, almost …

STEP TWO: PROACTIVELY REMOVE OBSTACLES

It’s one thing to create make-work for yourself and do the dishes as a form of procrastination, but there’s something to be said, for me at least, in having things in a wee bit of order before you take on something as momentous as a 10K writing marathon.  While I love a bit of cozy clutter, there is a tipping point, especially when I know I’m going to be mussing up my writing area anew with mugs of rooibos tea and peanut butter cup wrappers and empty plates.  Before you settle in for the weekend, spend half an hour cleaning up around your workspace.  For bonus points, run to the store and ensure you have supplies (tea bags are a big one for me).
Oh, and if your computer is as insistent and persnickety as mine is about doing updates and doing them NOW or I’ll slow your computer down to a turtle in a swamp race, do the updates before you start.  The less reasons we have to lose momentum, the better.

STEP THREE: MAKE A LIST (OR TWO)

I work best with music piped in through my headphones.  It doesn’t need to be instrumental or lyric-less, either, though I’m fond of trance, dubstep and chillstep for keeping myself revved up and typing.  If you know it won’t hinder you, songs with the right lyrics can be key to knocking out those pages.  Queue up whatever music inspires you and have it ready to go.  Just make sure you don’t get caught spending three hours making a YouTube playlist, needing to get it just right.
The second list that made a tremendous difference for me was one I’d started a week before, of scenes that still needed to be written.  Depending on how much of a planner you are, you may already have something like this, or maybe you’re just going to wing it.  I find it helps to have at least a line or two written to summarize each of the scenes beforehand.
And the satisfaction you get from crossing the scenes off your list as you go?  Priceless.

STEP FOUR: WORK IN SPURTS

Tempting as it may be to motor through without pause or sleep or stretch, this does not necessarily a successful writing weekend make.  We need the occasional break to rest and refuel, to do Downward Facing Dog or the Cobra, to make a fresh pot of tea or look out the window.  It feels scary to step away from it, I know, but it will feel a lot scarier to be going, going, going, GOING and then THUMP to a halt when you’re only halfway there.  Finish your thought, carry through your spurt, then walk away for a few minutes, or at the very least get out of your chair and stretch a little.  Your story isn’t going anywhere.  In fact, it might even have a little treasure waiting for you upon your return, just waiting to be unwrapped.  Why deny it the pleasure?

STEP FIVE: DON’T THINK TOO HARD

Probably the biggest anvil to fall on your head and derail your writing will be your own self-doubt: what if the ending sucks?  What if the whole thing stinks?  I don’t know what I’m doing!  I’ll never finish this properly.  I’m tired.  I’m a crap writer.  I don’t know why I ever thought I should write a book.
STOP.
 
Right here, right now, make a commitment to yourself to just keep moving until you feel yourself fading.  When you fade, take a break.  Do something else.  When you’re writing in spurts, you don’t give yourself time to think, and that’s crucial.  What’s even more crucial is doing something energizing and awesome in those mini-breaks so you don’t have the chance to go all cerebral.
It’s a rough draft.  It’s not going to be perfect, unless you’re one of those writers.  (I jest, I’m sure they’re lovely souls!)  You just have to keep moving, past your self-doubt, past your self-limitations, past every roadblock you’d fling in your way.  This is where that list of scenes to write comes in handy, because you can just focus on the one you’re writing until it’s done, cross it off (yay!  celebrate! briefly!), and move on to the next one, and the next.  One scene, one paragraph, one sentence, one moment at a time.  This is how we write.  This is what it takes.

STEP SIX: CELEBRATE YOUR AWESOMENESS

When you’ve crossed off the last scene, written your 9,967th word, do yourself a favour: before you do anything else, drop down a few lines and write “THE END” in big, bold letters.  Let it sink in.  You made it!

Seriously, if there was ever a time to feel proud of yourself and celebrate how awesome you are, this is it.  Don’t you dare downplay it.  Taking a rough draft from start to finish on anything, let alone a book, let alone finishing in a weekend, is a remarkable feat.  Gather your cheerleaders, bake cupcakes, do a little dance; whatever you want to do, do it!  You deserve it.

BONUS MISSION: BE READY FOR THE AFTERMATH

I’m not going to lie: like anything that you pour your heart and soul into, especially in such a concentrated period of time, it’s going to leave you both euphoric and ragged.  Once you’ve set your book (you wrote a BOOK) aside for a week or two to let it, and yourself, rest, you might feel a bit of a letdown, like you’re not sure what to do with yourself.  Your everyday routine is waiting for you, and you’re reluctant to go back to the status quo.
Chores, work, kids, Life, that has to happen, and it’s going to happen.  But there is joy in that, not to mention fodder for our writing, and we owe it to ourselves to embrace it.  We can also, though, start a new story, or write a poem, or work on a scrapbook.  Something creative to sink our teeth into while that book rests and waits for us to return.
In the meantime, have a bit of rest yourself.  You’ve earned it!

(Psst!  If you’re antsy to get writing but are still a little unsure about this 10,000 words in a weekend stuff, check out Rachel Aaron’s post on how she went from writing 2,000 to 10,000 words a day – your productivity will soar!  Janna Kaixer also has a brilliant post on writing 10,000 words in a day, with some great tips about setting yourself up for success.)

Do you want to virtually ensure your chances of being able to power through your next writing session?  Build a solid character foundation first with my free email course.  It’s a fun, inspiring process, and the results will see you through oodles of writing blocks.  Click here or the image below to find out more!

EITHER/OR: THE SELF PUBLISHED AUTHOR

EITHER/OR

With modern men it’s Either/Or with everything they do
You must “kill your darlings” see or they will butcher you
You must “this” or you must “that” but never both at once
There’s no room for compromise, conform, or thus you’re done

In life you cannot do it all, in art you cannot be
(so they say)
You either choose to play it small, or choose you must agree
You’re told this way is for the best by popular decree
For if you vary from that plan then there’s no guarantee

Of course there never was a risk that came with sure success
It’s Either/Or you see my friends, surely you’ll confess
That every piece of sure advice was once just enterprise
If you do not know that word it surely still applies

Now Either/Or is half of chance, I’ll grant you that is true
And both together, certain not, do not success ensue
But if you think that Either/Or by either issues Fate
Then you will soon discover kid that both will come too late

See some things they are right and just and some things they are wrong
And some things they are short, or fat, and some are tall, or long
Now of those things most modern men they treat them all the same
Evil is the twin of Good because they have no shame

Yet many things in life are not so ease-ly misconstrued
Not confused by sorcery they need some close review, and
Of those things all Either/Ors are theories in the air
Either this or never that is just a fool’s affair

The Keepers of those Mighty Gates that tell us all what is
Rarely ever venture forth in battle to enlist, and
If they do they found one way, but many paths are still
Untrodden in the hidden wastes, and through the untamed fields

So Either/Or I say to you, yes, either may be best
But you will never know that friends until them both you test…

 

____________________________________________________________

Actually, I think the writer of this piece made some good and very valid points. It just completely ignored the Or side of the equation.

 

Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year

Posted: 09/13/2015 1:22 am EDT Updated: 09/15/2015 11:59 am EDT
2015-09-13-1442118989-3335874-Stdtische_Bcherei_Radstadt__book_tower_detail.jpg

No matter what experts tell you, no matter what trends, conventional wisdom, social media chatter or your friends in the Facebook writers group insist upon, do NOT write four books a year. I mean it. Don’t.

Unless they’re four gorgeously written, painstakingly molded, amazingly rendered and undeniably memorable books. If you can pull off four of those a year, more power to you. But most can’t. I’d go so far as to say no one can, the qualifier being good books.

Beyond the fact that the marketplace is glutted with an overwhelming number of books already (many of dubious quality), writing good books simply takes time, lots of it. There’s no getting around that time. It involves learned skills, unhurried imagination, fastidious drafting, diligent editing, even the time to step away, then step back, to go over it all again. And, unless you’re a hack (and we know there are plenty of those out there), isn’t the whole point of this exercise to write good books?

Our most highly esteemed, widely applauded, prodigiously awarded, read and revered authors know this to be true. Donna Tartt, last year’ s Pulitzer Prize winner forThe Goldfinch, took eleven years to deliver that masterpiece. This year’s winner, Anthony Doerr, had written only four books in his entire career before penning All The Light We Cannot See, wisely taking years to craft his stunning tale. The cultishly-beloved Harper Lee had only To Kill A Mockingbird in her catalogue before this year’s controversial release of Go Set A Watchman (which some are convinced was not of her doing). Even others amongst our best, who do put out work on a more regular basis, do so with focus appropriately attuned to the quality of the book, not the depth of their catalogue or the flash-speed with which they crank out product.

But, you say, I’m not interested in writing Pulitzer Prize winners; I don’t need to be on The New York Times bestseller list; I just wanna see my name up at Amazon and sell a few books to family and friends, and, hey, if I go viral, all the better! They say write to the market, so I gotta write to the market. I mean, look at E.L. James…she’s hardly Chaucer and look what’s happened to her!!

Point taken. Which actually brings us to the point: what is your point?

What’s your point as a creative, an artist; an author? A purveyor of the written word? Why are you here, what is your purpose, your goal as a writer? What do you hope to achieve? Is it fame and fortune at any cost, quality be damned? Or is it about finely crafted work? It’s important to know, to decide, because those principles will guide and mandate every decision you make from there on out.

I bring all this up because I experienced a snap the other day, one triggered by an article from Self Published Author by Bowker titled, Discovery: Another Buzzword We’re Wrestling to Understand. In it, the writer lists many of the familiar instructions toward procuring success as an indie writer — social media, book reviews, networking, etc. — but her very first suggestion to self-published authors looking to get “discovered” was this:

Publish. A Lot: For those of you who have spent 10 years writing your last book I have news for you. You have ten days to write your next one. Okay, I’m sort of kidding with the ten days but, candidly, the most successful authors are pushing out tons of content: meaning books, not blog posts.

In most categories, readers are hungry for new reads, new books, and willing to discover new authors. You’ll have a better time getting found if you continually push new books out there. How many should you do? At a recent writers conference some authors said they publish four books a year. Yes, that’s right, four. [Emphasis mine.]

Wow.

So, her first piece of advice to self-publishing authors wasn’t to put more focus on fine-tuning one’s craft, it wasn’t about taking time to mull and ponder what stories, what narratives, most inspire you to put “pen to paper”; it wasn’t even a suggestion to be relentless about working with professional content/copy editors and cover designers to create the best possible version of your work. No, it was the insanely insane advice to pump out at least four books a year.

And people wonder why there are stigmas attached to self-publishing.

First of all, in looking at her point of reference, I suppose it depends on what you define as a “successful author.” I have a distinct feeling this may be where the disparities lie. Perhaps my own definition is a different one.

When I self-published my first book, After The Sucker Punch, in April of 2014, I had, by then, put years into it, doing all those many things I itemized above. Because I not only wanted to publish a novel, I wanted that novel to be a work of art, a book of depth and merit, one that would not only tell a compelling story but would meet standards of publishing that authors of the highest regard are held to. I wanted it to be a book that would favorably compare with anything put out by a traditional publisher. My choice to self-publish was a result of not having engaged a publisher by the time my book was done and I was ready to market it. It was not based on the notion of joining the “second tier club” where one is unbound from the stricter, more demanding standards of traditional publishing.

“Second tier club”? Yes. As insulting as that sounds, particularly in relation to self-publishing, there is no question that there are two tiers operating in the culture of the book industry. Take a moment to think about it: based on what advice is given to self-published writers, some of which I shared above; based on the”free/bargain” pricing paradigms of most book sellers hawking those writers; based on the corner (quality)-cutting measures required to pump out endless product to meet the purportedly endless demand of those sites and their bargain-hunting readers, “second tier club” is no misnomer.

Where the best of traditional publishers set their sights not only on commercial viability but award-quality work, nurturing authors with enduring skills and profound stories to tell, in a climate that is selective (perhaps too selective) and based on the notion that that level of quality and commercial appeal is a rare and valued commodity, self-published authors are advised to, “Crank out loads of books. if you have to write little teeny short ones to get your catalogue pumped up, do that! Don’t worry about covers; your readers don’t give a hoot about artwork. It’s all about genre, easy reads, and low, low prices! And speaking of low prices, don’t even think about selling your books for more than a dollar or two, because readers who do bother with self-published books are too accustomed to bargain-basement prices to spend any more than that. This is the 99¢ Bargain Circus Book Store, where we push quantity over quality every day of the week!! CRANK OUT THAT PRODUCT!!”

I’ll bet good money Donna Tartt, Anthony Doerr, and other quality writers aren’t getting that same message from their publishers. First tier, baby.

Look, if your point and purpose as a writer is largely related to the numbers — of books sold, of Amazon ranking, of reviews garnered, of Twitter followers and Facebook “likes” — then, certainly; follow the advice of the article quoted about. I know many self-published writers who are, and though I have no idea how well that’s working for them, it’s certainly the prevailing trend.

But if your point and purpose as a writer is to take someone’s breath away, capture a riveting story, translate an idea — whether fantasy, love story, science fiction, human interaction, tragedy, thriller, family saga, memoir, non-fiction — in a way that raises hairs or gets someone shouting “YES!”; if you’re compelled to tell that story so beautifully, so irreverently, with such power and prose as to make a reader stop to read a line over just to have the opportunity to roll those words around one more time, then don’t listen to that advice.

Instead, do the opposite: take your time, work your craft; look for the best possible ways to tell your story and allow yourself time to change your mind, sometimes often, until you know it’s right. Allow your editors time to help you mold your narrative into peak condition. Give your formatters and copy editors time to comb through your manuscript, again and again, to make sure everything is perfect. Work carefully with your cover artist to create the most gorgeous, most professional book cover you can. TAKE YOUR TIME.

Then take lots more to research marketing options; ask questions, weigh contradicting information, and come up with the best possible strategy for your book. Do what you choose with professionalism and without the misguided push to the “top of the list,” that pervasive attitude so rife with desperation and panic. You’re not in a race, with anyone. You are a professional author working your book your way. Be an artist, don’t be a carnival barker. Be a wordsmith, not a bean-counter. Be patient, not hysterical. Transact wisely, but don’t lose your soul in the process.

I know I’m bucking the trend, and certainly there are quality issues and dubious motivations floating around both tiers. It’s also certain that, if you follow my lead, you will not be able to write four books a year, at least not four full-length books. You will write, perhaps, one. But if you do it right, taking time and taking care, you will have written one excellent book. One you’ll be proud of years from now. One your friends and family will keep on their book shelves. One readers across the globe will talk about on social media. One that tells the world, I am a writer and this book is my legacy. Then you’ll go write another of those…and so on.

The rest of it — sales, rankings, reviews, viralness, likes, tweets, awards, kudos, peer admiration… all that? If you do it right, if/when any of those things come, they will be warranted and well-deserved. You can celebrate them authentically, because you did not sell your creative soul to get them. You actually made the far, far better deal.

CLARIFICATION- Because the last thing I want is to insult a fellow author, let me clarify, because it seems to be needed: This is NOT a screed against authors who CHOOSE to publish multiple titles annually (according to many, I’m faulty in assessing that that’s difficult to do well!), nor is it a suggestion that there is only “one way” to do things. In fact, it’s the opposite. The whole point is choice rather than mandate. When the mandate to publish in volume becomes the most prescribed way to reach success, it leaves many authors feeling pressured to publish more quickly and more often than they’d prefer, with some left feeling as though taking the time to craft a book is devalued. Neither should be true. I’m simply championing choice, the personal decisions every author makes about how they’ll reach success. For those who enjoy publishing in volume, who do it well and find it successful, that formula works. But for those who don’t, I’m suggesting forging your own way unshackled from the mandate. That is all. Best with your writing!

Book Tower photo by Herzi Pinki @ Wikimedia Commons

PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK – BOOKENDS

Book Publishing Secrets with S.W. O’Connell, Author of ‘The Cavalier Spy’

Name: S. W. O’Connell

Book Title: The Cavalier Spy

Genre: historical fiction

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?

SW: I had once published a magazine, called Living History. With each issue I wrote a publisher’s letter and often “ghost” wrote a few articles. I found over time that I preferred the writing to the publishing. After the magazine went out of circulation, I decided that I would get to the writing I liked via my favorite reading genre – the historical novel. I grew up reading Thomas B. Costain, James A. Michener, Leon Uris, Wilbur Smith, and C.S. Forrester. Later on, I read many of Bernard Cornwell’s books. I learned a lot about history from those writers. Yet the stories entertained.

Is this your first book?

SW: No, The Cavalier Spy is the second in the Revolutionary War action and espionage series I call Yankee Doodle Spies. I know the name is a bit “kitschy,” but I like it. I plan on eventually writing eight books in the series.

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?

SW: I went with a small trade publisher, a small press called Twilight Times Books. A friend, the late Lee McCaslin, referred me to Twilight Times Books. He was a published author himself and was looking for a new publisher for his second non-fiction book. When he learned Twilight Times Books published mainly fiction, he referred me and I was accepted and given a contract for the first three books in the Yankee Doodle Spies series.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?

SW: Well, I did all the usual things. After my first manuscript was done, I went on line to search for an agent. I also met with Dave Meadows and Michael O. Varhola, both published authors. Dave has written several naval espionage novels. Michael writes popular history, travel and ghost haunting books. They provided me lots of insight and encouragement. Lee McCaslkin did as well. But most of our dealings were by phone and email. I actually wrote a chapter in his book, Secrets of the Cold War. Then began the long and frustrating search for a literary agent. Mostly by luck (or unluck) I found two and had contracts with them. They provided feedback on my writing but it was a bit of drag and die. I would get some generalized comments. After I would address them and resubmit, I’d get more (different) generalized comments. It was clear different folks were reading these, as occasionally the comments clashed. In any case, I never was submitted to a publisher. In one case I was dropped. In the other, I did the dropping. These were not paid agents but fairly renowned New York agencies. I’d rate the experience as extremely frustrating, not to mention nerve grinding, but I did learn from it.

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?

SW: The most important thing I learned was to park my ego at the door. When you are writing, you have complete control of the world you are presenting. But once you get into the publishing phase, the situation sort of reverses. Editors and publishers now have a legitimate right to comment and suggest changing things. You have to trust them. And you have to let go of a part of the creative process. The author creates a work of literature for people to read. The editor and publisher have to turn it into a product for people to buy. The kind of fiction I write doesn’t really fit the cookie cutter mold.

Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?

SW: Yes, I would. I find the publisher accessible and well versed in all aspects of the business. And this publisher supports its writers.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

SW: I’ll say that there are a whole bunch of folks who will shut you down. For them, your work is a business decision.  This is especially true of some f the agencies. I’d say – find your style… your voice, and hone it. But don’t try to change it. I’d also say be very patient…. And keep writing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S.W. O’Connell is the author of the Yankee Doodle Spies series of action and espionage novels set during the American Revolutionary War. The author is a retired Army officer with over twenty years of experience in a variety of intelligence-related assignments around the world. He is long time student of history and lover of the historical novel genre. So it was no surprise that he turned to that genre when he decided to write back in 2009. He lives in Virginia.

////////////////////////////////////

Title: The Cavalier Spy

Genre: Historical

Author: S. W. O’Connell

Websitewww.yankeedoodlespies.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase linkhttp://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCavalierSpy_ch1.html

Amazon OmniLit 

About the Book:

1776: His army clinging to New York by a thread, a desperate General George Washington sends Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed behind British lines once more. But even the audacity of Creed and his band of spies cannot stop the British juggernaut from driving the Americans from New York, and chasing them across New Jersey in a blitzkrieg fashion. Realizing the imminent loss of one of the new nation’s most important states to the enemy, Washington sends Creed into the war-torn Hackensack Valley. His mission: recruit and train a gang of rogues to work behind British lines.

However, his mission takes a strange twist when the British high command plots to kidnap a senior American officer and a mysterious young woman comes between Creed and his plans. The British drive Washington’s army across the Delaware. The new nation faces its darkest moment. But Washington plans a surprise return led by young Creed, who must strike into hostile land so that Washington can rally his army for an audacious gamble that could win, or lose, the war.

“More than a great spy story… it is about leadership and courage in the face of adversity…The Cavalier Spy is the story of America’s first army and the few… those officers and soldiers who gave their all to a cause that was seemingly lost…”

~ Les Brownlee, former Acting Secretary of the Army and retired Army Colonel

“Secret meetings, skirmishes and scorching battles… The Cavalier Spy takes the reader through America’s darkest times and greatest triumphs thanks to its powerful array of fictional and historical characters… this book shows that courage, leadership and audacity are the key elements in war…”

~ F. William Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Author of Ways and Means for Managing UP

– See more at: http://publishingsecretsofauthors.blogspot.be/2015/09/book-publishing-secrets-with-sw.html#sthash.RvabPHmv.dpuf

GETTING MEDIEVAL

Wow. While doing my research this morning I just happened  (if you believe in that kinda thing) to run across Jeri Westerson’s Literary blog.

I have read several of her books, and as a matter of fact Shadow of the Alchemist was the last I read. I consider her one of the very best historical fiction authors (male or female) working today. I highly recommend her works, and her works have also influenced my own writings. So she is my Highmoot post for the day.

Here is the blog address: Getting Medieval

Here is her latest blog entry:

 

BECKER AND BASE – TWO OF THE BEST ARTISTS I’VE EVER SEEN

I write Children’s books. I do not have the time to illustrate them right now, so I’d love to find an excellent illustrator, but that aside, I write children’s books. So almost every time I go to the library I check out at least two children’s books (picture books I mean, I also read Middle Grade and Young Adult books but that’s another post) to read and study.

Last time I went I got books by Aaron Becker and Graeme Base. Becker’s book, called Journey, was flat out illustration, the entire story was told just in pictures. The book by Base, entitled Animalia, (another favorite of mine by Base is the Waterhole) was both scripted and illustrated, and the artwork must have taken a very long time indeed to perfect. But it is that, nearly perfect. Of the two I preferred Animalia, because of the artwork, but the story in Journey was superior and reminded me of the video game Ico, which was also gorgeous, and had a superb story.

I highly recommend both books.

These are the caliber of artists I want illustrating my children’s books.

 

Have a great day folks.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

A good one from a friend of mine…

Goal Setting for Writers (Firsts in Fiction with Aaron Gansky)

In our latest Firsts in Fiction program, Aaron Gansky and I chat about how writers can set goals for the new year and how goals for writers differ from goals of others.

Firsts in Fiction is a weekly netcast designed to help new novelists and other writers of fiction get a proper start. It’s also a fun place to hangout. It is broadcast live at 6:30 pm Pacific each Wednesday on Google Hang Outs. The show is posted later on YouTube, http://www.aarongansky.com, and here at http://www.altongansky.com. The audio version can also be heard on iTunes or Stitcher. Click on the Firsts in Fiction tab above for more.

Enjoy.

 

– See more at: http://altongansky.typepad.com/writersconferences/2015/01/goal-setting-for-writers-firsts-in-fiction-with-aaron-gansky.html#sthash.m2NM0lNa.dpuf

THE CHILD IS THE FATHER OF THE MAN

Being both a writer and a man who homeschooled my own children I found this article fascinating, informative, and useful. Maybe you will too.

The education of a best-selling teenage author

November 10

 

When Christopher Paolini was 15 years old, he started writing a novel that eventually was titled “Eragon,” the first in a four-book series that became known as the “Inheritance Cycle.” He spent two years writing and then rewriting the story and a third year traveling around the country promoting the self-published book before an established author, Carl Hiaasen, read it and had it published by Alfred A. Knopf.  How did he manage to do all this and get an education too? In the following post, his mother, Talita Paolini, explains. Talita Paolini trained and worked as a Montessori preschool teacher. She and her husband, Kenneth, homeschooled their two children. Many parents asked Talita for advice, so she recorded the Paolini Method in a series of articles and books. You can read about it here. She currently resides with her husband and children in Paradise Valley, Montana. On her website, the 30-year-old Christopher Paaolini is quoted as saying:

“People often ask how I was able to write Eragon at the age of fifteen. Well, the credit has to go to my parents, and specifically my mom, who is a trained teacher. She started to educate my sister and me when we were very young, first with games and other fun projects and later with more formal lessons. Without her system of instruction, none of our professional success would have been possible. I was incredibly fortunate to have been educated with these methods, and I firmly believe that children everywhere can benefit from them.”

 

By Talita Paolini

When my son, Christopher, was born, I wondered who he was and who he would become. I had no inkling that he would someday be listed in the Guinness World Records as the youngest author of a bestselling book series. At that time, I just marveled at this little human who had joined our family and felt a sense of responsibility at the task before me: to introduce him to the world.

My husband, Kenneth, and I talked to Christopher, read books to him, and sang to him. We carried him in a backpack, so he could watch what we were doing. He expressed great interest in watching me make dinner, peering over my shoulder as I worked, and he loved observing the world on hikes, while perched high on Kenneth’s back. And when he could walk and talk, wow! He explored the world using all his senses and filled our ears with endless questions and commentary. Our daughter Angela was born not quite two years later, and she developed along the same path. She would become a writer as well.

I had been trained as a Montessori preschool teacher. Dr. Montessori’s philosophy emphasizes the cultivation of children’s innate desire to learn using specially prepared materials and freedom of movement, so it was natural for me to offer my children hands-on activities. Not having the resources to buy expensive classroom materials, I looked for ways to teach them using common household items. In addition, I observed my children closely and then found ways to help them learn through art, games, music, and activities of daily life. In town, we counted cars and trees. We talked about the seasons and where we lived on planet Earth. My children enjoyed doing art projects and playing games with the letters of the alphabet, tracing the letters in preparation for writing, and then pointed out those letters around the house and in town. Each week we visited the library and returned with an armful of books.

THE GENESIS OF THE THING

Very well expressed by Mr. Carroll

Furnishing a new story

Several times recently I was asked what it feels like to begin writing a new book. I struggled for an answer until I remembered something. Two decades ago I was sitting in the completely empty living room of the new apartment we’d rented and in which we still live today. The movers were coming tomorrow to bring the furniture and other stuff. I had come to check things out a day early just in case something needed attention. After making sure all was okay, I sat down in the middle of the living room floor and looked around for a long time. The wooden floors had recently been refinished and the place smelled strongly of wax. The walls were newly painted white. Nothing else was there. What I remembered was how deeply satisfying it was to sit in that empty room, knowing in a day it would fill up with the furniture, objects, and various things of several peoples’ lives. This was going to be home for at least a few years and everyone in my family loved the big new space. Empty now, it was something in between— home but not yet. Ours but not quite. Virginal. Pure, but undoubtedly the apartment all of us wanted.

That is what it is like for me to begin writing a new novel. You’ve chosen a place to live for the next years but it has nothing inside it yet. Only the walls, floors and windows. Because you have specifically chosen this space, now you must furnish it. But you’re really looking forward to the task, no matter how long it takes. The other day I heard an interview with the writer Junot Diaz who said it took eleven years to write his last novel. Eleven years, two years, six months— it doesn’t matter. The writer chooses a specific space to inhabit. Next his task is to fill it with the best, the *only* furniture he knows how to make or find. If he is lucky and does it well, whoever comes to visit when it is finished will hopefully be delighted with the way it has been done and want to stay there a long time.

E-ASING UP

Do Readers Really Prefer Their Dusty Old Paperbacks To E-Books? The E-Book Industry By The Numbers

Today, 23 percent of all male adults and 33 percent of all female adults in the United States read e-books. In fact, the global e-book industry is worth a whopping $8.5 billion.

This still pales in comparison to global print’s $53.9 billion so it’s little surprise readers still prefer holding those dusty old paperbacks. 46 percent of U.S. Internet users said they only read printed books while 15 percent read more e-books than printed books. A mere 6 percent of Internet users said they exclusively read their books in electronic format.

What does all that mean for the industry? Are e-books going to be the final nails in the coffin of conventional brick and mortar bookstores in the near future? Far from it. The pace of the digital revolution has slackened with e-book sales growth falling to just 5 percent in the U.S. 2013. Revenue has also stagnated at just over $3 billion…

THE DICK AT WORK

I very much understand what she is saying about the discreet angle of the stories. Even a detective novel is really just a set of tightly fitting “discreet stories,” all of which may overlap and inter-relate, with the Dick in the center of the overlap, but still each “relationship” is a “discreet relationship.” That is to say that John may know Tom and Tom may know Betty, but John may not know Betty even though Betty’s relationship to the larger set of events is a big motivation for Tom’s theft from John. The detective, though, should eventually come to know them all.

It’s kinda like working a real case, and that’s how I approach writing Detective fiction. Like I was working a real case, only with me at the center of the case-board, rather than the perp, suspect, or UNSUB.

I get her points…

J.K. Rowling plans to write more about Cormoran Strike than Harry Potter

jk-rowling

Image Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

J.K. Rowling said that she plans to tell the story of Cormoran Strike, the war-veteran detective who stars in her books The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, in more than seven novels, outnumbering her Harry Potter books.

http://shelf-life.ew.com/2014/07/21/j-k-rowling-plans-to-write-more-about-cormoran-strike-than-harry-potter/

INTERRACIAL ROMANCE, INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE, A ROCK STAR, AND THE DEEP SOUTH

Today I went to a store called the Dollar Tree. I go there to pick up stuff like razor blades and trash bags and so forth because “everything there is a dollar. (As my wife would say).

Well a few months back I also discovered that they sell books. And not bad books either, but I imagine these are overstock books Barnes and Noble (or some such bookstore, maybe even a whole-seller) couldn’t sell all the copies of off their shelves so instead they liquidate their overstock and unload their surplus to this company. (I used to do liquidations so I know how it works.) I’ve added to both my fiction and non-fiction personal libraries from their book section, and some of those books are quite good, such as Michael Crichton’s Micro and George Anders’ The Rare Find (which I’ll discuss later).

So today I’m browsing their new book selection and find a book called Rock Star. It appears to be a romance and ordinarily I don’t read romances, much less books about rock stars, but this one has an interesting blurb premise. It’s the story of a White Rock Star named Bryan from LA who goes to a small town in Alabama and meets a young black girl named Callie.

Now my wife is black and I am white and so this was a point of interest to me as far as the premise went. But it gets better, much better.

The boy is an urbanite and I guess not very religious but the black girl is a devout Southern church girl. So score that for me being interested too. Now my wife has never been hamstrung by being an urbanite or a self-styled sophisticate, and neither have I. We’re both country-people and couldn’t be happier about that. (Coincidentally, today, I just happened to hear John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country-Boy” on the radio, a song I haven’t heard on the radio in a very long time.) However this conflict between the supposedly sophisticated and worldly modern urbanite and the devout, rural, down to Earth country-person also often appears in my own writings. My fiction, non-fiction, poetry, song-writing, you name it.

Finally the book also addresses the entertainment industry, an industry for which I have great disdain (though not for everyone in it) and since my wife is a singer I know exactly how corrupt such industries can often be, and how difficult they are to work in.

So the book had three very interesting premises and themes running throughout the plot. At least according to the blurb. Enough to make me decide to buy it and read it. I mean it was only a buck, so even if it is bad I haven’t wasted much of anything. But if the quality of the writing and story matches the thematic premises then I might enjoy it a lot.

Anyhow as I’ve already said the conflict between urban and rural life is a big personal theme throughout my own works. In addition I understand the corruption of things like the entertainment and music industries through personal (if limited) experience, and if you ask me much of the degeneracy of those industries arises precisely from the fact that they are, for the most part, big-city urbanite undertakings.

So that one form of urbanite corruption feeds off of, or feeds another. It is cyclical, circular, and self-feeding. The urbanite outlook fertilizes the corruption; the corruption further bloats and enlarges the mass-urbanite scheme behind these self-absorbed industries.

Yet in the final analysis, as fascinating as all of these themes are to me, I purchased the book because I too am interested in writing a series of Interracial Romances. (Those who know me might think it bizarre I’d write anything like a romance, but in this case, yes, I would.) Now my wife and I have faced very little opposition to our marriage or very little opposition in any way due to our racial differences. And race never really comes up as a matter to us, except occasionally in a joking way – because she can’t dance worth a crap. (She can sing well though.)

So I wish to write a series of interracial romances that far more realistically deals with what marriage and relationships are like between interracial couples than merely focusing upon the racial aspects. (Which have been the least of our obstacles, if they ever have been an obstacle at all, and truthfully I can’t say race has ever been an obstacle to us.)

Now I do think that many people are interested in the subject of interracial romance and marriages. Rightfully, or wrongly. A lot of people who have never been involved in one seem to think there is some big set of obstacles to overcome or some big set of social problems to face.

The only problems we’ve ever faced are the same ones any married couple are going to face: finances, sex, children, work, arguing, learning to understand each other as individuals, etc.

Therefore I wish to write a set of interracial romance books that are far more realistic and focus upon the real issues of an interracial marriage. Which have nothing to with some overarching racial bullshit (that may be the case in a small minority of such marriages, but as with any marriage those kinds of problems, nowadays at least, are very small compared to the real problems face din any marriage), but with the real difficulties of marriage: money, sex, romance, children, work, etc. In the end all marriages and all romances between couples come down to relationships between two individuals, not two races, or two classes, or two cultures, or ay of that other claptrap our society likes to politicize and call socially erudite and consequential. If the two people cannot get along it will not be because of their race, but because of their individual personalities and natures, if they can get along then it will not be because of their race (or class) that they do so, but because of their individual natures. Race, class, background, etc. may influence and variegate relationships, but those factors are far from determinative.

In other words I want to write some interracial romances that do not focus upon race but focus upon real human problems in marriage such as those I outlined above. I want to demystify this socially created and politically irrelevant bullshit of race-obsession and write some romances that focus upon the problems that individuals truly face in a relationship, relationships in which the individuals involved just happen to be different races. In other words realistic interracial romances.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that my wife and I have a bad marriage, or even a difficult one. We don’t, we have a very good and happy marriage and it gets better every year, although there have been times when the marriage was worse than it is now, and times when it was difficult. But none of those times were due to factors like race, even when we were dating, and we live in the Deep South. Though to be honest the modern Deep South is one of the most thoroughly integrated and best places in the entire nation for good race relations – as a whole. As with the mostly false misconceptions about interracial romances (at least in the rural South), the political propaganda regarding the modern South is largely fabricated and almost entirely erroneous. I’d take the good race relations of the rural South (most places in the South that is) over the race relations in almost any truly big city in the US any day and every day. There is no way at all I’d trade the race relations of the Upstate of SC for the race relations of Chicago or Los Angeles, for instance, and no way I’d want to live in places like Chicago or Los Angeles for that reason, or for any other reason I can name just to be honest.

Anyway I’d like to write some far more realistic books, as well as a literary novel (as a matter of fact I am writing a literary novel on this very subject – The Cache of Saint Andrew), on the subject of interracial romances and marriages.

That’s why I bought this book called Rock Star. I don’t know if it will be any good or not or if the story or the writing will be well done, but I very much like the premises of the book. So maybe in that sense it will be worth far more than the buck I paid for it. At the very least it may give me some further thematic ideas or help me refine my own.

PLOTTING HARRY POTTER

An excellent article on Rowling’s superb method of early book plotting. Well worth a read and an examination of her technique(s).

How J.K. Rowling Plotted Harry Potter

JK-Rowlings-Phoenix-Plot-Outline

At the height of the Harry Potter novels’ popularity, I asked a number of people why those books in particular enjoyed such a devoted readership. Everyone gave almost the same answer: that author J.K. Rowling “tells a good story.” The response at once clarified everything and nothing; of course a “good story” can draw a large, enthusiastic (and, at that time, impatient) readership, but what does it take to actually tell a good story? People have probably made more money attempting, questionably, to pin down, define, and teach the best practices of storytelling, but at the top of this post, we have a revealing scrap of Rowling’s own process. And I do, almost literally, mean a scrap: this piece of lined paper contains part of the handwritten plot spreadsheet she used to write the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix…”

WELCOME TO WYRDWEND

“Welcome to Wyrdwend, the strange and unpredictable fate you make of yourself as you wander through life.”

This blog is my Literary Blog. It is dedicated to my literary creations, my poetry, my musical compositions, my songwriting, my artwork, my scripts, my fiction and non-fiction writings and all other similar Career Pursuits.

I will therefore be posting in this blog excerpts from my various literary and fiction writings, my poetry, my songs, my musical compositions, my artwork, my children’s stories, my scripts, and some of my non-fiction writings.

I will also be serializing sections of my various novels and children’s books on these pages.

Agents and publishers you are most welcome to look around these pages for anything that might interest you and please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss anything you see posted.

I am also open to being contacted by any producer, publisher, or talent and agent who might wish to enter in a partnership with me regarding my songwriting and music.

I will also be cross-linking Wyrdwend to all of my other blogs and websites. If you wish to follow my brokerage, business, copywriting, entrepreneurial and inventive pursuits then please see my Open Door Communication webpages and my Launch Port blog. If you wish to follow my Game Creations and Designs then please see my gaming blog, Tome and Tomb, and if you wish to follow my personal writings on all other subjects, such as Culture and Society, Exploration, History, Law Enforcement, Military Matters, Politics, Religion, Science, Technology, Vadding, World Affairs, and other such subjects then please see my personal blog The Missal. Feel Free to join in any and all of the conversations on any of these sites. Welcome aboard my friend.

Thank you for visiting, please return often, and enjoy the site.

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