Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Self Publishing and the World of Kindle

Many people have heard about the allure of Kindle and the promises of hitting it big as a fledgling writer. After all, Amanda Hocking did it. So, why can't the rest of us, right?

Oh, if only it was that easy! There are many websites out there on the net with promises of making a whopping million dollars by e-publishing your latest undiscovered (although brilliant) novel. Have you seen all of those websites? If not, just do a quick web-search for them. Such articles are in mass quantities on the internet.

In honesty, it isn't as easy as a lot of people try to make it out to be. Amanda Hocking pretty much went from rags to riches through e-publishing her novels, primarily through Kindle. However, she had been writing for years and years and years. She submitted her novels to countless publishers who politely, or not so politely, sent her countless rejection letters in return. Kindle seemed to be her last resort. She wanted her work to be published, so she took it upon herself and made it happen.

For those of you who don't know Amanda Hocking's story, you should really look her up. If memory serves me correctly (sometimes it does) she cleared around 1.5 million dollars her first year of self-publishing on Kindle. She's quite an inspiration for the rest of us still struggling with our work.

It's still possible to make a living as an indie published author. Kindle and other e-book platforms have wonderfully helped to level the playing field, creating opportunities unheard of for writers before the tablet generation of readers.

Don't expect to put up one 100-page "novel" and made $1,500 next month. However, if you are a good writer, and you are able to write several books and build a franchise around your material, then you just might make good money. Kindle isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes work and dedication, just like publishing in other formats. The difference is you will be doing all of your own marketing.

If you are willing to do the work and get your book(s) up on Kindle, use all your social media, friends, phone numbers, etc., to get the word out about your work. Get the word out to family, friends, and tell them to tell others. They will in turn pass the word along if they liked what they read. More success stories on Kindle are still to come. My entire point of this is that it isn't a given. It's a load of work, but worth it.

Personally I adore the idea of e-books. It's very much the new generation of publishing, and it allows unknown writers to get their work out there for the world to read. So, get to writing. Just remember -- writing your book is the first step. Next, get it out there and market! market! market!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Long Road to Nowhere

If you've been a writer for very long then you probably can understand how sometimes it feels like being on the long road to nowhere. At other times the work just whips right along and beckons us to keep up. It can be heartbreaking and exhilarating, all at the same time.

For the past year I've been working odd and end jobs, helped out by friends and family as well. My writing has blossomed and unfolded in ways I hadn't foreseen coming. I have one manuscript that will be ready for submission in about a week, and another that should be completed within the next month.

Writing requires bravery, stamina, courage. At the end of the day when it feels like you've been spinning your wheels, what do you do? Sometimes it feels that things stand still as we keep running. At the same time, I've also found that maintaining a steady forward pressure is the way to go. Eventually the door we're looking for will be scripted out of thin air, created by our writers' craft.

And if the door doesn't show up, just write something else exciting and blow a hole in the side of whatever wall it is. Then, walk on through to a brave new world.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hemlock Grove! OMG!

Ok, so first let me say that I'm not a big television watcher. I just do not have the time for it. However, I do catch some things on Netflix from time to time. Usually I'm writing away or working on some other project I have going on.

So it was a total shock a few days ago to discover Hemlock Grove, some new Netflix original show. I am absolutely hooked! I will admit to watching all of them in the span of two days. That is entirely NOT like me.

I'm absolutely enthralled by this show. Completely did NOT see that ending to the series coming at all. I won't say much about it, as I don't want to give away details that will spoil it for you if you haven't watched it.

If you have nothing to do and want a show to watch for a while, give Hemlock Grove a try. I'll probably watch the series a few times before I tire of it.

Here's an awesome line I really liked (and yes, I'm paraphrasing):

"The thing about whispers, is if you put a thousand of them together, they become a howl......"

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fleshing Out Brilliant Ideas

I'm sure I am not the only one who has come up with a brilliant one-liner idea but was then at a loss as to how to take it much further. Even brilliant ideas can fall apart in the early stages of their infancy.

After successes and even more failures learning experiences, I came up with an idea that has proven extremely helpful in my writing. Maybe it will help you when you get into sticky areas as well.

Got an idea? Great. Write it down. Write down your entire idea in one complete sentence. Then, take that one carefully crafted sentence and expound on it, maybe a few sentences, maybe an entire paragraph. Go for the meat of it, not all the extra descriptions and details which will come later. For the moment just focus on the core of your idea, elaborating it to include key events marking its progression.

Ok, so that was fairly painless, right? Now your one sentence is a paragraph, perhaps long or short, either way it's great. Next, in your writer's notebook or in a word file, or wherever you do your writer's thing, write one sentence from your paragraph at the top of a different page. Then use that page to develop each sentence into its own paragraph(s), keeping focused on key events and actions that drive your story.

When you are done, you'll have 5 to 10 paragraphs (maybe more) detailing the progression of the plot of your brilliant one-liner idea.

This really works for me. I tend to get an idea and then get overwhelmed by the details of it. All those bits and pieces just flood my mind and I feel compelled to write them all, all at the same time. As you might guess, that doesn't work. Focusing on one sentence, and letting it grow bit by bit, has been wonderful in focusing me on the work. It literally saved my writing.

The last idea I had almost died after struggling with it for 2 years. Two years! I have lots of notes and all that jazz for it, but whenever I sat down to actually write on the novel, I just couldn't do it. After using the method above, however, the novel fell into place and made sense of itself while I watched and tried to keep up with its twists and turns.

Give it a shot! See if it works for you. Happy writing, fellow time traveler!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Novel in 3 Days?

Is it possible? Is it really possible for someone to write a novel in 3 days? It sounds a bit crazy. Actually it sounds a lot crazy. And yet, from what I've read, it's entirely possible. Also from what I've read, it's not exactly the most fun you're going to have this year.
I've read several blogs over the past few days about writing quickly. Along the way, the "write a novel in 3 days" sites started popping up. I was intrigued, so I read further. It's a daunting prospect. A few of the writers were writing about 18 hours a day for those 3 days. One recounted that he looked absolutely vampiric by the time he had typed the last word of the book.
So, is it possible? Yes, it's actually very possible. Possible, but extremely challenging. Am I planning on writing a novel in 3 days? Hmmm, nope. Not going to happen, not in my life. I know my limits at the moment, including the necessity of working another different job at the same time I'm writing.
However, what about setting the goal of writing a first draft within a month? Now that's doable, right? That should be possible for those of us who aren't able to take 3 days of to write 18 hours a day and then crash for the following week to recuperate from the round-the-clock writing binge.
As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, I've finally make a break through in the plot progression of my current writing project. Last night it continued to blossom and grow and expand while I sat in awe of the new life it is taking on almost by its own effort.
Something else I've learned:
  • Fast writing doesn't mean crappy writing.
  • Slow writing doesn't mean good writing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eureka! At long last!

It's been an exciting morning for me. For a few years now I've been working on a writing project. Ok, so it's a novel I started back in summer of 2011. I worked on it probably 18 hours a day for several months, and then hit a complete wall. I couldn't figure out the root of the conflict.

My stack of notebooks, folders, and "look books" grew higher and higher, fed by notes, clippings, bits of dialogue, and notes on structure and plot progression. There was a lot of work put into that project. How frustrating it's been to not be able to do anything with all of that generated data!

I've written my entire life, for as long as I can remember. I have the first short story I ever wrote, about some magic key a kid finds in the woods. I even made it into a little book, with construction paper covers and crayon drawn illustrations inside. It was submitted for some young authors competition and won a blue ribbon. Yep, those were proud days!

I have a few old Samsonite hard-side suitcases filled with journals, notes, poems and short stories. I'm all on the bandwagon these days for working on the beloved laptop, but I still do a lot of my work by pen and old-school composition notebooks with the notorious black-and-white marble covers. I've continued to fill several of them while the "novel" has grown slowly, and mostly in silence.

So, where's this Eureka! I mentioned way back long ago? Okay, let's get to that before I divert my attention to another tangent......

This morning, while pacing the living room, nursing my third cup of coffee, the conflict dawned on me. Blam! Just like that. All of a sudden it dawned within the darkness of my writer's endless horizon of wonder. It's those moments of magic that keep me writing, day after day.

Conflict is important. Let's be honest here -- there are plenty of books out there that are poorly written, books that Faulkner, Wolfe, and Williams would scoff at. And yet, plenty of those books are huge successes! Some of them are published in the traditional method through a publishing house, and plenty are e-published through such platforms as Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and iBooks.

Conflict, that underlying tension, drives a good story forward, even more than florid and complicated vocabulary. Don't get me wrong -- I am all about using proper vocabulary to delve into situations instead of over using a limited repository of trite phrases. That being said, even a basic vocab can be used to write a book that sells thousands and thousands of copies. We see it every day.

These past two years I've collected hundreds of pages of text. I have folders and folders of scenes I've developed, turning points for the characters. And yet, I couldn't figure out the key underlying conflict.

My story is about New Orleans, my beloved and sometimes despised home. It's about two families that have seemingly ruled the city from their positions in the underworld currents that run strong through Orleans Parish. The families are not your run-of-the-mill Uptown aristocrats that hold parties every week and show up in the society pages of the Sunday newspaper.

These two families have been at war with each other for hundreds of years, back to the time before they migrated to the New World. One family is an ancient coven of witches, and the other is a clan of another line of beings with their own particular lusts, needs, and demands.

This morning, the source of conflict between those two families finally dawned on me. The conflict needs to be very real, believable, able to sustain months of daily work, and days of a good read.

If you are having difficulty with your writing, my suggestion is to look at the undercurrent of it. Where is the conflict? What is the true source of the tension? I firmly believe that if you can find the tension, then the writing will begin to write itself as you allow it to come through you. When there's tension, the story propels itself, desiring resolution and completion of its own tale.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hello Old Friend!

Ok, so I've been a bit lax in keeping up with all my projects. That's clearly obvious today when I realized I already had this blog when I set out to start a personal one. I blog all the time, just not really for myself. So finding this old one is a bit like rediscovering an old friend.

I write a lot, other places. In addition to everything else, I work as a freelance writer on a few different projects. My novel has not received the attention I'd like to give it, so I thought, well, what the hell, blog about it!

WordPress? It's an excellent option, let's be honest. I've had several blogs on their blog platform. After years of blogging, though, there's something about Blogger that I still like. That's beside the point, and I'm getting distracted now.

Any way......  Welcome back into my life, old friend! Sooooo glad to have found you again! Looking forward to stealing some time during the days to come, and chatting a bit with you, revealing a bit of the contents of my mind. Cheers.