1) Bic sells 8.76 billion stationary products yearly. Out of that 8.76 billion, I’d guess more than half are the kind of cheapo ink pen just about everybody uses. Yet, writers never seem to have a pen and can never locate the package they swore was in their desk drawer where more pens could be found. I bet your average author spends 15 minutes almost every single day looking for ink pens.
2) Eventually, even lesser known authors (such as myself), will get fan mail. Sometimes that fan mail is nice, but sometimes you get things that are a little bit of a mixed bag. Like a written account of blood play fantasies involving the fan and the author. Or a severed body part. Or something in crayon depicting explosions and vampires.
3) Contrary to popular belief, coffee makers cannot remain on 24/7/365. Eventually, they burn out and you have to buy a new one, but there is always a small window of time where you’re out of coffee. Though this window may only be temporary, the experience is traumatizing to authors. It’s typically our life force.
4) Utility bills are to be paid monthly, yet a lot of publishers pay quarterly, forcing authors to stretch and budget. Some of us are good at that. Others? Well, not so much.
5) Somewhere, some poor, innocent young person having no prior experience with vampires is reading Twilight for the first time.
6) When an author sits down to write, wherever it is they write, he/she does certain things to get in the zone. For each of us, these things are different, I’m sure, but all of us have a routine or a thing we have to do or maybe just certain conditions which we absolutely need. There’ s always something. But, more often than not, something gets in the way to screw all that up. Maybe it’s the phone ringing off the hook. Maybe it’s the author’s writing playlist being accidentally deleted by a knee jerk reaction. Or maybe it’s the author’s nieces and nephews jumping all over the place, doing kid things. Yup. Whatever the author was intending to write just went right out the noggin and into the super secret hell good ideas go to when they’re abruptly aborted.
7) Snooki wrote a book…and people bought it.
8) A real conversation with a real person:
Person: So, you’re a writer?
Person: What do you do?
Me: I write books.
Person: Ooooh. Ya know what you should do! You should make one of your books into a movie!
9) While it is true most fiction writers spend hours every day having conversations in their heads between characters they have created, people who do not really exist, it is not completely true that we always know the difference between things that have actually happened that day and things we wrote that day. Sometimes I eat dinner twice, but skip lunch and breakfast…and one of those dinners was written dinner, not actual dinner.
10) After years of writing, authors stoop. Our eyes stop working properly and we squint, even through our super duper ultra crazy thick glasses. We hear noises that aren’t there. Bodies we buried in our fiction begin to pound against the walls in our office spaces. Yet, we wouldn’t trade it for anything on this earth. We are truly, amazingly gluttons for punishment.
Dan Dillard is one of those authors I love so much because his stories stick with you. He writes about things sometimes a little far out there, but where horror is concerned, that isn’t a bad thing at all. Right now, in Amazon, he has a freebie called Giving Up The Ghost. Were I you, I’d snatch it quick before the price is no longer FREE.
A fellow blogger published a post earlier called 10 Things Aspiring Novelists Should know. Well done. The link is there for you if you’d like to read it–and you very well should–but, I thought about this over and over and there are a few things I wanted to add to that list. I had a running commentary in my head the entire time I read the post. I’m not going to give you her post and then my response to it, but rather write an entirely new list. After all, if I just gave you hers and then added my two cents, you would’t learn nearly as much from either of us lol.
So, without tweedle-dumming around, here is my list.
1–Write whatever the heck you want to write. Just write. And then write some more. And, after that, write in the bedroom. Then, move to the kitchen and write in there. Write all over the place or keep one specific place to write. But, just write, okay.
2– Read stuff. Lots of stuff. Read magazines, comic books, romance, horror, science fiction, non-fiction, and pamphlets in the doctor’s office. The more you read, the better off you’ll be. After all, a writer who chooses not to read is like a scientist who chooses not to learn the periodic table of elements. It just doesn’t work. Chances are, if you’re not fond of reading, you want to be a writer for money and fame and nothing else.
And as you can see by my overwhelming lack of celebrity status and the missing yacht from my driveway, writers do not always become rich, famous celebrities.
3–Some folks say to write what you know, but I say write what you see. Depending on the genre you’re writing, you may not know anything about what you’re writing because it may not have been invented or discovered yet. Like time machines and the planet Uberdork. Some writers will see things they actually do know, which is wonderful. But, never think you have to fit into a mold and do things by the book just to be published.
4–Create your characters first. This is a lesson that was particularly difficult for me to learn, but my friend George hammered this habit into my head fairly hard and I think it finally stuck. And, you know what? He was right. Create normal people or create immortal creatures, monsters, goblins, or whatever your heart desires. Give them depth. Write out a character sketch for these characters and write out some background for them before you start writing your story (if you want to…but, if you’re new to writing, I would suggest at least giving it a try). As long as you can create real, lifelike characters and really give them their own voices, your story will pretty well tell itself, sort of. Not completely. You still have actual work to do.
5–Set up a writing schedule and try your best to stick to it. Stop making excuses. Sit down and write, even when you’re not in the mood. You can always go back and change things that ultimately suck later if you have to. Don’t beat yourself to death if you can’t stick to your schedule to a tee, but make a conscious effort. You will be much more successful in finishing your projects this way.
6–Read some more, but this time read something in a genre you’re not used to or fond of. Choose a book you wouldn’t normally choose. I’ve gone through genre phases throughout my life. As a kid, I started out reading comic books. By the time I reached eleven years old, I’d moved on to good ol’ Billy Bob Shakespeare. After Romeo and Juliet, I phased into reading historical romances, then historical anything else, and by the time I was a freshman in high school, I began reading more horror and science fiction as well as romance novels ranging from historical to contemporary to paranormal. Nowadays, I lean toward paranormal novels of any sub genre. I love horror–zombies, gremlins, imps, witches, and of course, vampires. I also have a real sweet spot for books of any genre that include time travel. The more you read, the more open your mind becomes the more you’re exposed to new possibilities. Don’t cut yourself short by only reading one thing.
7–Do not limit yourself, your stories, or your characters in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Characters shouldn’t have to fit any cookie cutter mold and neither should their plots.
8–Take some time to smell the roses. Go on a fishing trip. Book a hotel in town for the night just to order room service and watch television uninterrupted by your normal life. Take a walk through the park. Go to your local community center and take a knitting class. Join a gym. Live your life. Life experiences make you a better, more perceptive writer.
9–Take advise from more experienced authors, but don’t take it all straight to heart. Just because bestselling author XYZ drinks 3 oz. of lizard spit every morning because he swears it helps his creative juices start to flow doesn’t mean you should do it, too. Like most things in life, rules you were taught as children often apply to the writing business–as far as etiquette and common sense goes–as well. Just because Bob jumps off a bridge, do you think you should jump with him? No. No, you should not. But, you could bungee if you want to.
10–Do not measure your success by comparing yourself to other authors. Authors who write for the love of the craft are just as valuable–more, in my opinion–than writers who write with the full intent to become millionaires. You’ll meet your fair share of each of those kinds of authors when you get started. You’ll quickly learn to figure out which ones are which. If you write romance, do it because you love it, not because romance books sell. If you write horror, write the heck out of that stuff! Don’t worry about what Stephen King is doing (but, buy his books because he is awesome).
Alternately, do not measure the worth of another author by the amount of money they make, the status of their publisher, or what their sales are currently looking like. There are a lot of diamonds sparkling in the coal pile, just waiting to be picked. Well, read. Whatever.
A quick note to my followers and anyone else who happened upon my blog:
From time to time, I do post things intended to help other authors along. We all have our moments of doubt and sometimes we need a push. Sometimes, when we read things focused on the craft of writing, it ignites a fuse inside our weirdo brains that causes us to write marvelous things. That’s why I do it. Not because I feel like I have to. Just because I want others to go forth and write. I do like to read, so I suppose it’s rather selfish of me to push others along if you think about it that way… Nonetheless, if you feel like something I’ve said is wrong, please explain which thing and why in comments. A good conversation or argument with intelligence instead of nastiness is always welcome. 😀
My dad is in North Carolina, so I can’t celebrate with him every year, so this year I decided to do a Father’s Day blog post and I’ll email him the link and also give him a call, too. I’m faced with the question of what exactly goes into a Happy Father’s Day blog post because this is a first for me.
When I was born, my dad was in the US Navy, so I was born on a naval base in Portsmouth, Va. While I’m sure that was loads of fun for my mother (sarcasm, there), it’s a neat story to tell.
The first movie I saw in theaters was Gremlins…I’m sure that was my dad’s influence more than my mom’s, and I sometimes wonder if that first film I saw (while still in diapers) didn’t have some sort of effect on me through the years. I think it probably did. My dad taught me how to pitch a tent by myself, how to make tuna salad sandwiches, how to ride a bike, how to race trucks across a field (a story my kids don’t know and don’t need to know…lol), how to always buy a camera case when you buy a new camera, how to bargain shop (and I’m not sure he even realized he did this), and lots of other things.
My dad was one of the coolest dads a kid could ever want. My weekends with him were always fun, regardless of what we did, but an evening with just the two of us typically began with a trip to Burger King for a kids meal–and, more importantly, a kids’ meal toy–followed by a trip to the grocery store and the video store. We rented movies and I ended up with every single Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Burger King toy ever made…I think. And, the remarkable thing about that is that I’m pretty sure he still has most of those old toys.
When I spent summers with my dad, though, we got to do a whole lot more than that. He took me camping and that’s where I learned to pitch a tent and sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground and I really loved it. I always had something to complain about (I’m bored, it’s hot, there’s nothing to do, the lake is too cold, the lake is too hot, etc…), but I always had fun and the memories made have always stuck with me because a few years ago, I was able to (sort of) teach my kids how to pitch a tent, too. Unfortunately, they were little and don’t remember, but the gesture was made and past down and we’ll do it again soon anyhow.
A dad is one of the most influential people in a kid’s life, even if the kid’s parents are divorced like mine are. I got my taste in music more from him than my mom. I got my taste in books and movies more from him than anyone else, too. My dad loooooooves Batman and I like Batman, but not nearly as much as he does. Instead, I looooooove a movie called Labyrinth (Jim Henson Films, 1983, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connolly), but the fanatic way I love Labyrinth is the same fanatical way he loves Batman. As a matter of fact, the first time I ever met my step mom, she brought me my very own VHS copy of Labyrinth because he told her it was my favorite.
When I was a teenager, I’m pretty sure my parents both wanted to strangle me, but luckily they didn’t and I’m still alive to tell the tale of my growing up. Well, some of it, anyhow. Without my dad being who he is, I wouldn’t be who I am, either. My oldest daughter is a lot like him, too, probably more than me and probably more than she realizes. Genetics are weird in that way.
So, to just wrap this up, Happy Fathers Day, Dad. Wish I could be with you, but the state of Virginia is in the way. We all love you. The kids say hi.
In case you missed the memo, THE DEMON KING is on sale in both the US ($2.99) and the UK (£1.49) Amazon sites. There is also a guest post about the book at Fringe Works you can read if you’d like to read a little more about it, beyond the Amazon description, before you buy. However, you should buy it.
Draken needs a soothsayer to help him keep his kingdom under his own rule and not that of his twin brother. What he doesn’t count on is that his bewitching soothsayer, Willow, could possibly be the fall of the entire Underworld without trying to do so. One small twenty year old secret could destroy everything Draken has ever held dear. Through battles, both political and emotional, the King must do what is best to destroy his brother and hold his kingdom in the right hands, although nothing is ever what it seems and no one can be trusted in the Underworld.
And in other Rhiannon news… In case you missed this memo also, THE BONES OF WILLOW LAKE (formerly titled “Willow Lake”) will be published by KnightWatch Press, an imprint of Fringe Works Press sometime this year. Stay tuned with my blog to find out more details as they come!
The Demon King (kindle edition) is on sale temporarily from tomorrow until June 30th.
For UK readers, the price will be lowered to £1.49.
For US readers, the price will be lowered to $2.99.
If you do not own a Kindle, you can get the Kindle for PC app from Amazon for FREE so you can enjoy The Demon King as well as any other Kindle books you’d like to purchase (and also there are a lot of freebies available from time to time!).
Also, if you’d like to read my guest blog post at Fringe Works, please head on over with this link!
Today I bought a few books online from Thriftbooks.com. I thought I’d share with you the things I bought because I had no idea Thriftbooks.com was even a thing. I was thrilled to bits! The books from that site are all used (from what I’ve gathered) and some come from libraries. When you choose a book to add to your cart, you can choose from which source you wish to buy and there is a description to tell you what shape the book is in. Most of the books are in pretty good shape. And, unlike Amazon, this site takes Paypal, which is a bonus.
Anytime I search for used books, I look for replacement books first–books to replace books people have borrowed from me and never returned (lol). Keep in mind that if someone borrows a book and disappears with it and refuses to return it or just doesn’t acknowledge that they lost it to begin with, they’ll never borrow a book from me again. Ever. Common decency and all that.
So, I bought Stephen King’s On Writing. Hardback. Yeah.
And then I bought Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. Not a hardback, but I don’t care. My first copy wasn’t either.
And then I bought To Kill A Mockingbird. Paperback, same exact cover as the one I used to own.
And then I bought a book I have never owned. It’s called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I came across this title in an article I read about a week ago that listed all kinds of science fiction books readers were not to miss. I hadn’t read it and it was one of the few that I hadn’t heard of.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the book:
An alternative history set in 19th-century England around the time of the Nepoleonic Wars, it is based on the premise that magic once existed in England and has returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Centring on the relationship between these two men, the novel investigates the nature of “Englishness” and the boundaries between reason and unreason, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane, and Northern and Southern English cultural tropes/stereotypes. It has been described as a fantasy novel, an alternative history, and a historical novel. It overtly inverts the Industrial Revolution conception of the North/South divide in England: in this book the North is romantic and magical, rather than rational and concrete. It can be usefully compared and contrasted with Elizabeth Gaskell’s attempts at synthesising a unitary English identity in her fiction.
Sounds right up my alley, so I can’t wait until my books arrive. I’ve been searching for summer reading material and that fits the bill perfectly. If you have any suggestions for me, by all means, leave them in comments below! Share titles and authors you love. I’m still searching for reading material. And, of course, when summer is over, I’m going to be looking for fall reading material, and then winter reading material, and so on.
I’ve been asked not once, but twice this week how to get published. I figure this question is best answered through blog since it’s a very broad topic. For a start, you don’t get published. There are a million other steps you have to take first.
The first step you have to take is to write a book. Write from start to finish and don’t worry about the business end of things until much later. And when I say you have to write a book, I mean you have to have a cast of characters so fantastic your readers can see them clearly and believe they’re real. You have to have a story together that makes sense and (depending on genre) does what it’s supposed to do.
Step two–Editing. Oh dear lawd, I hate editing. I’d rather be stabbed repeatedly than edit one page of a manuscript. Your best bet is to print off each and every page with at least 1.5 spacing. Don’t use black ink or pencil to edit. Use a different color so that it stands out to you. Be somewhat organized about it. Then, go forth and edit AGAIN!! And after you do that, do it again. And again, and again. When you’re finally sure everything’s in place to the very best of your ability, then you can move on to your computer once again where you will spend countless hours entering all your edits.
And don’t go and assume your work is flawless and you don’t need to edit. Even Stephen King edits!
Step three–The submitting process. This step sucks so bad you’ll want to hang yourself by your earlobes midway through it. First, you have to decide what you’ve written. Is it horror? Steampunk? Romance? Erotica? Romantica? New Adult? Young Adult? Science fiction? Figure out who publishes those things. Google helps. Once you’ve established a genre (and possibly a sub-genre), go ahead and read the submission guidelines to the entire list of publishers you’re planning on submitting to. Read through carefully! This can be tricky business.
Most publishers are going to ask for a query letter and first three chapters first, which is typically called a partial. This is the step in the submitting process where you’re going to question your own existence and ask the writing gods to put an end to your misery because writing a query sucks. I’d rather drink lava than write a query. But, I have urged through it and I’m a query survivor–several times over.
There are some publishers out there who will ask for your complete manuscript, a query, and your first born. Send what they ask for. Which brings me to another evil entity called “Standard Format”…. If the publisher doesn’t ask for any particular format for your MS, use standard format. If you don’t know what that is, I’m not going to tell you. Nope. I had to look it up and you do too. Why? Because if you’re serious that you want to write, you’re going to be googling, binging, and hitting the books pretty hard from here on in. May as well get used to it, kids.
So, where were we? You’ve written a book, decided a genre, submitted to publishers…
Oh, shit. Now you get to just wait for a bazillion years because no one is answering your emails when you want them to. You’ll be waiting a while, so you may as well start your next project, write some short stories, clean out the storm drains around your house, go to Disney World, write some more short stories, come half way through another novel…
And by the time you do all of those things, you’ll probably have an inbox full of rejection letters. Cry about it if you want to. Sometimes it really does help, but remember that all you need is one yes. Just one.
Now, for the sake of being fair, if you submitted to several publishers at once, please make sure all of them take simultaneous subs. Some publishers will ask that you not send to other publishers while your work is being reviewed by them. If you’ve sent to more than one publisher, though, and you get an offer from one of them, make sure you send withdraw letters to the others you subbed to. You should have kept track of the places you submitted on paper or with a spreadsheet anyhow. It’s common decency and the publishers will all silently thank you for it. Maybe.
You can bypass all this stuff, though, and just self-publish through KDP or Createspace. Lots of authors do it these days. It’s a way to cut out the middleman, so to speak. Sure, Amazon is going to make money off you, but basically no one else will.
Except the person you hire to edit for you. I highly recommend you hire someone else to edit your work. And not me, either. I’m too darned busy with my own stuff. Final edits for The Bones of Willow Lake will be coming to my inbox in the near future and when they’re ready for me to look over and enter, I’ll be a raving lunatic. You don’t want a raving lunatic to edit for you, trust me.
And the cover artist. Shit. Yeah, you have to have a cover if you actually want to sell a few copies. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let me tell ya, people judge books by their covers…every single freaking day. Unless you’re crafty in that way, please hire someone who knows what the heck they’re doing. And for Pete’s sake, pay them! Pay them because they’re an artist just like you are and you don’t want to be stiffed, do ya? No, you don’t. What goes around in the business of writing, tends to come around, linger, and smack you in the face before it runs off again so fast you can’t catch it.
Well, whether you self-published or were published by a traditional publisher, you have a book out and you’re going to have to market that sucker. You’re going to need a few reviews, some good PR, and friends to push it for you. Good luck with all that because it’s not easy, either. Writers are gluttons for punishment, but we’re a strange breed because we like it. Reviewers are sometimes absolutely scathing, but we keep going. People sometimes mock the very characters we pined over for months, but we keep writing.
Every writer has them–little fantasies that dance in our heads, mostly things we rarely talk about. Except to our besties and sometimes with other authors. For fun’s sake, I decided to write out some of mine.
1). Probably the most common dream for writers is to have one of their stories made into a movie. Some of us are lucky enough to have this dream turn into a reality, but that number is very few. Some of the best book-to-movie/TV adaptations I’ve seen recently are The Hunger Games, True Blood, Game of Thrones, all of the Lord of the Rings movies, and let’s not forget the slew of superhero movies (Comic books…they’re books, too).
If one of my books could make it to the big screen, I’d probably keel over from shock because the chances are that slim. However, if I could choose which one, I’d choose THE BONES OF WILLOW LAKE (to be released sometime this year). I have no idea who I’d really want to play Celia Burne and Paul Gray, but it would be awesome to have Cloris Leachman play Velma Beatty. Velma is the character who lives next door to Celia and knew Gray in the forties. She was one of the best characters I’ve ever written in my short twenty-nine years as a writer (I was born writing with my own umbilical cord. Just ask my mom.). Whoever played Paul Gray would need to carry certain characteristics through his expressions and, mostly, with his eyes. Paul Gray is described as having sleepy blue-gray eyes, regardless of the time of day. Mark Ryder (Canal +’s Borgia) would be a close choice, although his hair is too dark. The intensity in the eyes is there, though. Also, I just have a thing for Mark Ryder.
2). To be on the New York Times Bestsellers list. I may never see my name there, but it’s interesting enough to dream, right?
3.) To have my book in hardcover. Face facts, Jack. Most small publishers do not offer books in hardcover. Some do, but most do not, which leaves the majority of writers today pining away at their own thoughts, dreaming of the day when they can run their fingers across the spine of a hardcover copy of one of their own creations. I have no clue why this is so important to so many of us, but it apparently isn’t just me who has this dream. I consider myself in good company.
4). To see your books at Wal-Mart, the drug store, K-Mart, basically anything else that ends with “Mart”, Barnes & Nobles, and any other free shelf space in stores. Independent authors fight and scratch to get their books on shelves. It’s another thing many of us will never see. Some will, most will not. The digital age has everyone buying books online, which I have absolutely nothing against (Go now and buy THE DEMON KING from Amazon), but sometimes it’s nice to just shop in real stores and handle the books before you buy them. I, for one, love going into a store and picking the book up, feeling and smelling the pages, and checking out how it feels to hold it. Honestly, sometimes I’ll refuse to read a book because I don’t like the way it feels in my hand and I’ll choose another format instead (I prefer trade paperback unless it’s a book I wish to collect and then I buy hardback lol).
5). To reach Stephen King status. That man is awesome. He has over fifty books in print, several of his books have been made into films and television series, and I see more Stephen King quotes on Facebook than any other author, alive or dead. Why is he so important and special? Because he writes greatness. Some of his books I far prefer over others, but that man writes whatever he wants. He sticks it to the man. He wears tee shirts and jeans and he doesn’t care what anyone else things (at least for the most part). He scares the shit out of people, which is powerful stuff!
6). Whether or not I ever reach “Stephen King status” doesn’t matter nearly as much as this last thing on my list. I want people to read and enjoy my books. I want to hear from readers and for them to have positive experiences with my books. I want to hear people say that my book made them feel something. Anything. I want to pull reactions out of the readers and make them want more. I want to tell the stories in my head and leave them on this Earth long after I’ve gone. Decades from now, I want my grandchildren to be able to read my books and say, “Wow, my grandma was WEIRD! But, I kinda like her…”
Anything else to add? Feel free to add your own dreams in comments!
Also, go buy my book, THE DEMON KING. (LOL!)