Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Heart of Steel Audiobook now available! (and some other stuff)

As of this weekend, the audiobook of my SFR novel Heart of Steel is now available for sale on Audible here, Amazon here, and iTunes! I'm very excited about releasing my second audiobook, but of course it would have been possible without the vocal and technical talents of the narrator, Peter Reynolds, who helped bring this project to life. Check it out today for a quirky, heartwarming romance about a cyborg who learns how to be human again, and a traumatized doctor who learns how to trust again. Learn more about Peter here!

In other news, polishing is progressing rapidly with Hungry as a Wolf, so I will be able to move up the release date for that book to Halloween. This should be exciting news for fans of Sheep's Clothing, as it picks up Wolf's tale a few months after the conclusion of that story. I plan to re-releasing a rewritten version of Sheep's Clothing at some point in the future, as well as an omnibus edition of both my weird western books. I will keep all of you updated on that.

Next week I'll give you all a full update on how all my projects are going, and how much progress I've made towards the writing resolutions I made at the beginning of the year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Do Too Have Time to Write!

"I wish I had time to write!"

Ever find yourself thinking that? Ever been on the receiving end of people saying that to you?

Lots of people think you need to sit down in front of the writing implement of your choice for hours on end to crank out the Next Awesome Bestseller, and while it helps, it isn't always necessary, and thinking that it is will just leave you spinning your wheels waiting for Enough Time.

When I started writing Heart of Steel, I had a guaranteed hour a day to work with. I work full-time, and I wrote like an absolute fiend during my fifteen-minute morning break and my 45-minute lunch break. It took a while, but I eventually ended up with a 54k-word novel. Neat, huh?

Now, this situation was not ideal, of course, because Heart of Steel was practically running out my ears at that point and I just wanted to get that sucker down, but it worked out okay in the end.

So how can you squeeze in the time to write? Here are some tips:
  • Carve out a block for writing. This can be an hour that you specifically set aside for writing. During this time, you don't answer the phone, you don't check your email, and you don't browse on Facebook. You just write on whatever project offers itself up to your brain.
  • Guard your writing time like it's the Holy Grail. Seriously. If you have housemates or family members you need to let them know that You Are Not To Be Bothered. Lock the door if you have to.
  • Trash your excuses. The Procrastination Monster is an insidious beat. If you find yourself thinking, "I'll sit down to write after I finish the dishes", or "let me just read this next article on Facebook", or ""Let me check my email first", STOP. Close that off. put everything else aside and writing. The other stuff will be there when you finish. (Exceptions: if the house is on fire, someone dear to you is bleeding, or a Roland Emmerich movie is happening in real life.)
  • Get in the habit. This one will be hard. Your brain might not always be cooperative during your writing time. Don't worry about it. If you're drawing a blank, just free-write. Get those words out. Set up a routine. Get in the habit. I had to do this during NaNoWriMo to make sure I got my word-count total down.
  • Use writing tools. I found a bunch of sites that offer reinforcement programs to encourage you to write, both positive reinforcement (Written? Kitten!) and negative reinforcement (Write or Die). You may need to play around with some of these to see what works for you.
  • Write whenever and wherever you can. If all else fails, bring your writing tools with you. My smartphone can access Google Docs, where all my works in progress are, so I can peck away at a story wherever I can find wi-fi. Failing that, bring a small notebook with you to capture ideas as they happen. Get creative!
If you follow these tips, soon enough you will be in the habit of writing. Guess what--that's all you need in order to crank out that story you have in your head! I won't happen all at once, but it will happen.

You just need to sit down and make it happen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why a Bad Review is Not the End of the World

Getting negative reviews is never fun. Here you have this story that you worked hard to write and get published (by whatever means) and here comes this random person who doesn't understand the Process who tears your story--your baby--apart. It's tough. It hurts.

Over the weekend, I got my first two-star review on Goodreads, for my novel Heart of Steel. Two of them, actually... one of them from InD'Tale Magazine. Now, to put this in perspective, this is out of 19 total ratings, and my average rating is still 3.75 stars.

Still, it stings. This is a fact of any writer's life, and why so many of us are terrified to release our work into the wild because What If People Don't Like It? Heart of Steel is actually the first novel I ever wrote, but I sat on it until after Sheep's Clothing was released because of this fear. Heart of Steel isn't a conventional love story. People who like conventional love stories wouldn't impressed, and this was clearly the case with at least one of the ratings.

And that's okay.

But why is it okay? Don't they understand what genius my story is?

Probably not, and nothing requires them to.

Reviews and ratings on places like Goodreads and Amazon hold power, but not the sort of power an author might thing it does. I've seen people (not naming names) offering to exchange five-star reviews. I've also heard of websites (again, not naming names) that sell five-star reviews. This is cheating, and largely frowned upon by people who want to get by on their own worth rather than paying for fake accolades.

Complicating matters is a recent rash of the opposite problem: review trolls who careen through Amazon and Goodreads giving 1-star reviews at random, just to be jerks. Fortunately, both sites allow you to report the trolls so their douchebaggery doesn't affect your score.

But what about the others? I hear you cry.

Well, all things being equal, more reviews = GOOD THING, because it means more people are reading your book. If you wrote a good story, their feedback will reflect this. If they just weren't that into your story... well, their comments will likely help you improve as a writer. Reviews that aren't entirely stellar cal also help your legitimacy as a published author, since it proves that you're not stuffing the ballot box with people who would praise you as the next coming of Ernest Hemingway even if you wrote absolute dreck. (Not calling your stuff dreck, but I've read some bad books that got rave reviews.)

Besides, bad reviews are not about you, the author. They indicate that the reader didn't like your book. Maybe your choice of topic isn't right up their alley. Maybe your writing style doesn't inspire them to read more. Maybe you stepped out of your usual genre and it wasn't a resounding success. What matters is they read your book. They gave it a chance and decided it wasn't for them. Not everyone shares your taste in stories, but hopefully enough people do in order to build a decent fanbase.

Eventually, the good reviews will outnumber the bad, and you will feel vindicated. If not, you will have learned something

Both results are just fine.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Writer Problems

Everybody has problems that are, more or less, unique to them. Then there are the problems that are unique to certain groups. Here is a list of problems unique to writers that I've discovered through my own career, in no particular order:

  1. You can't sleep because your brain is playing out scenes in your head.
  2. You can't sleep because a character is arguing with you.
  3. Not enough ideas (usually due to having a deadline).
  4. Too many ideas (usually due to actively working on an active project).
  5. You're flooded idea while at your day job or running errands, but when you finally have a half-hour to yourself and sit down in front of the computer they flee to the far corners of your mind and hide.
  6. Completely failing in your mastery of your native tongue. Ever known the shade of meaning you wanted but not the word that goes with it? Ever rewrite a sentence seventeen times because it refuses to convey the idea you wanted? Yeah.
  7. Arguing with your spell-check program.
  8. Arguing with your grammar-check program.
  9. Arguing with your inner editor while writing your rough draft.
  10. Going through your rough draft afterwards and thinking it's crap.
  11. Your editing notes for the rough draft sound like Gordon Ramsay.
  12. You have a love-hate relationship with a red ballpoint pen.
  13. Rewriting the same chapter three or four times before you get the story to flow in the right direction.
  14. The story refuses to go in the direction you want.
  15. The characters refuse to cooperate with you.
  16. People telling you that writing looks so easy.
What writer problems have you encountered? Respond below!