N is for Nope

Hello, and welcome to the April A-Z Blogging Challenge! Over the first 26 days of April, we will explore aspects of writing and marketing books – authors, feel free to weigh in, and readers, feel free to observe and ask questions!

-M

*******

You know, one of the finest pieces of the indie (or self-pub) author community is the general willingness of authors to pass along advice to newcomers. This is usually couched in terms like, “don’t do what I did,” and today I am going to be a part of that proud tradition. Don’t do what I did. Learn to say no: to other authors, to readers, to editors, to agents, to publishers, and above all to yourself.

I said yes to almost everything when I started out: interviewing other authors, running social media accounts everywhere, hosting giveaways, and assigning myself writing targets anywhere in the range of inadvisable to utterly insane. No matter how over-scheduled I was, I would tell myself that it was only a little bit more effort. I was paying my dues. I was helping other people out, and what sort of sad person couldn’t take an hour to help out another author? What sort of person couldn’t get another book done within the month? (An over-scheduled person, and a normal person, respectively. That’s who.)

My burnout took two and a half years to arrive. In the Walker Art Center sculpture garden near my house, there is a series of granite benches with little truisms carved into them. One of them says, “There is a period when it is clear that you have gone wrong but you continue. Sometimes there is a luxurious amount of time before anything bad happens,” and my burnout was a lot like that. It went on for long enough, with me promising myself that I’d stop for a rest after the next book, the next interview, the next clever advertising push, and still somehow not burning out, that I managed to believe it wouldn’t ever happen.

The thing to remember here is that everyone watching could see what was happening. In lucid moments, even I could see it. But just as an author’s brain is capable of both believing their book is the greatest book ever written, and the worst book ever written, so we are capable of believing that we are approaching burnout, but we are also not approaching burnout and everything is fine. It’s a Schrodinger’s author thing.

All the more alluring is the siren call of art-ly misery, the longstanding myth that True Art comes from depression and alcoholism. Pardon my language, dear readers, but bullshit. True Art in the form of writing comes from writing, writing, more writing, editing, rewriting, honing, and writing some more. Like any craft, it becomes art by dedication, passion, and discipline. Though you will undoubtedly go to dark emotional places while writing, your art no more requires your misery than any other part of your life. You’d never think cooking a good dinner required unending emotional pain, would you? No. But when we’re tired, over-scheduled (because being busy is a virtue, you know), and courting situational depression, there’s that little voice telling us that this is how things should be.

Learning to say no is a solution that takes a lot of guts. We’re authors, so we’re mainly introverts. We may write epic space battles, but in reality a lot of us have trouble getting the courage to call for pizza. And what’s more, we generally like being helpful. “Oh, sure, I’ll just whip up a book that contains every painful lesson I’ve learned in this industry, it’ll take a few days, tops. Hopefully I’ll still be able to finish my manuscript in three weeks like I planned, though.” We know it’s conflict avoidant, but most of us still don’t have it in us to say no.

So say it to yourself first. Yeah, Stephen King got up at 4AM to write. Yeah, you could do another blog post. Yeah, you could spend some more time interacting on twitter. Yeah, you could get that book out in 9 weeks instead of 12. But maybe try saying no next time. Pause to think before telling yourself, “of course I can do that!” It takes a lot of willpower to say no to yourself, and a lot of practice, but if you can learn to stick up for your health when talking to you, you’re golden!

M is for Mercantile

Hello, and welcome to the April A-Z Blogging Challenge! Over the first 26 days of April, we will explore aspects of writing and marketing books – authors, feel free to weigh in, and readers, feel free to observe and ask questions!

-M

*******

Oh, right, selling books. That reason we’re all here as authors. Yeah…how, exactly, does one go about doing that? Fear not! This is your one-stop shop for getting ready to publish. Once you have a manuscript. So, you know, if you don’t yet have a manuscript, bookmark this post and come back to it.

First things first…what do you need to publish on an online site?

  • Blurb: you need a blurb for your book. There are two basic formulas. The first is: [selling point, such as an award] [another selling point, maybe a quote from a review] [brief overview of your book, using not only words that describe the narrative, but words that describe why your narrative will appear to readers]. The second is [really amazingly engrossing synopsis that sets up the main question of the book]. Both work. Both will seem like a very simple proposition and then will drive to screaming insanity. It’s harder than it looks – just stick with it!
  • Author photo: you need a good head shot of you. Just you. Not with someone else cropped out of the photo. It doesn’t have to be super formal, but if you don’t have a good one, get one! Or be mysterious and put up a picture of a chipmunk.
  • Author bio: your author bio should let a little bit of you shine through, whether that’s whimsical or serious. If you’re writing non-fiction, list credentials. If you’re writing fiction, list awards. Either way, don’t be afraid to get a bit whimsical. Remember – you’re not selling this one book, you’re selling you, as a brand that has created this one book and can create others.
  • Keywords: an oft-overlooked portion of book uploads, but an incredibly important one. The difference between sloppy with this and being precise is about 20 minutes of research, so get on that. Spend 5 minutes brainstorming how you think readers should find your books. Should they search for “dragons”? “Young adult fantasy”? Type those into whichever site you’re using and see what comes up. Is it books like yours? Cool. Then make sure to leave room for one or two keywords that are the names of books or authors yours are similar to. Ha! Done. I told you that would be a minimal effort.
  • A cover: oh, my goodness, the cover. GET A GOOD COVER. It is impossible to stress this enough. People do judge a book by its cover. There are fantastic premade covers (I’d urge you towards sites that will only let each cover be sold once), and there are great independent artists who will make original art. Take your time, do your research, and maybe skip some going out to eat or coffees or something. Get a good cover. Get a good cover. Please, get a good cover.
  • Bank information: you need to put in your social security number (for taxes) and some way to pay you (for fairly obvious reasons; if you don’t want the money, you can give it away – but they do have to give it to you first). You won’t need this while uploading the book specifically, but they will ask you for it at some point.
  • A formatted manuscript: this can get a little bit tricky. Amazon is notoriously easy for uploading (.doc or .docx are welcome), but other sites tend to be a bit crazy. If you don’t feel up to the challenge, you can always hire someone to format your book for upload (general rules: someone with verifiable testimonials and up-front pricing). BUT… I believe in you, and it is completely doable for you to manage this on your on. Mark Coker of Smashwords has a Style Guide that, while geared to Smashwords uploads, is just pretty for formatting. Author Susan Kaye Quinn also has applicable posts on her blog. I’m linking you to the iTunes one, for the simple reason that iTunes is the one I find most frustrating.

Got all of these things collected? Great! You’re almost done! One last choice (and it’s okay to spend some time thinking, or change your mind after a little while): do you want to go Amazon Exclusive (KDP Select) or cross-platform? There are benefits to both, and philosophical arguments in both directions. I personally do not do KDP Select for most of my titles, because I want people to be able to search out my books no matter what kind of e-reader they have; Hugh Howey, on the other hand, loves KDP Select because he believes (perhaps quite rightly!) that he reaches far more readers that way. The thing to remember is, neither KDP Select nor cross-platform is irrevocable. Like everything else in indie publishing, it is something you can switch up if your first choice isn’t working for you.

In fact … that’s good advice for quite literally everything in this post. Write a blurb. Get a cover. Choose some keywords. And don’t be afraid to change them up if they’re not working for you.

Onwards and upwards!

D is for Discipline

Hello, and welcome to the April A-Z Blogging Challenge! Over the first 26 days of April, we will explore aspects of writing and marketing books – authors, feel free to weigh in, and readers, feel free to observe and ask questions!

-M

*******

Almost all writers love writing. This may be partly a learned love, given that they have a compulsion to write and should try to enjoy themselves as they bleed stories from their fingertips, but they love it nonetheless. Even in the throes of writing-induced despair (or the even more common and maddening search for That One Word Come On You Know the One I Think It Starts With T), no writer I know would consider giving up the craft.

Unfortunately, love and compulsion can only bring you so far. Sometimes, gloriously, it will carry you through a story in one long, continuous burst so that you fall out of the world for several months and return to a bewildered family and a stack of unread mail, but this is rare. Far more often, the compulsion will carry you to your desk chair and then go on its merry way while you stare at your blank page and consider writing a book composed entirely of “flargle,” which seems to be the only word you can now remember.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you have discipline on your side, and that if you don’t yet have discipline on your side, you can. Discipline, it turns out, is not so much a thing you either have or don’t, but instead is a habit. Pretty cool, huh? And you can get it in little baby steps.

First, find five minutes every day. Barricade yourself in the bathroom, retreat into the bedroom to “change,” take a few minutes when you arrive at the store but before you go in – this time can be anywhere. But remember to take it every day. Bring along a trusty notepad or computer, and brainstorm, or write a few lines. About what, you ask? Whatever comes out. There’s some sort of wild misconception that you must have four hours to spare in order to get anything done, but that’s simply not true. Five minutes seems like an amount of discipline you have, right?

Step two: make it into a hobby. Hire a babysitter, get up an hour early, do whatever you need to do, but set aside a larger amount of time at some point the week. Think of your writing like you would think about exercise, or kickball, or violin lessons: a legit hobby. Every adult gets hobbies. They help keep your life wonderful.

Now set a goal! No, no, not a crazy goal. Just a little goal. You want to finish a short story, maybe. Perhaps you want to write until you get one sentence you’re really proud of, each time (it takes a few, let me tell you). My first goal was getting a chapter done each week. It could really be anything, but the point is that you have one. It gives purpose to your discipline.

Now hold the line. You and your manuscript will proceed to have some real knock-down-drag-out fights. You will sit down and stare blankly at an MS Word document for three hours while not a single word gets written. Or perhaps you will get some words written and you will get back the next day and discover that they are crap. Your brain will give you several very good reasons that writing is a Stupid Idea and that you should take up baking or tap-dance instead, but don’t stand for that crap. Hold the line. Get in your writing time.

Become completely obsessed. Frankly, after goal-setting I was completely lost. I vaguely remember googling what I needed to do to publish a book, and then there was an unpleasant period of querying agents, some depression and tea, and the encouragement of my friends and family to self-publish. More googling. And now here we are and I’m not quite sure when 30 minutes per day turned into 3-4 hours, and most of my weekends. It just…happened. So, you know, remember to eat and hydrate and so on. Get some sunshine. This stuff can take over your life if you let it – the problem isn’t really so much acquiring discipline, as learning how to stop.

Authors, anything to add? Readers? Comment below!

Indie Author Feature: Chris Reher

Hello, all!

Today comes with an interview! Chris Reher is the author many wonderful books, all of which I encourage you to check out, and she’s here today to discuss Entropy’s End!

-M

*******

Entropy

Tell us a little about this release – what inspired it, which characters were your favorites, what surprised you while writing it?

Entropy’s End is another adventure for Sethran Kada, who appeared in two previous stories. He’s just too interesting to fly off into the sunset just yet and so I gave him his own story which has received enthusiastic feedback from readers. This one, like the others, is a stand-alone story but a third book will pull things together into a trilogy.

The books of the Targon Tales revolve around a hundred-year old conflict between a colonizing Commonwealth and those who rebel against it. In this story, I wanted to take a look at a rebel’s point of view. She becomes his challenge as he once again saves the day. In some ways, current conflicts on our own planet were the inspiration for this.

As always, I ask myself: are we really the good guys? Are those rebels really evil terrorists and, if not, what makes them do what they do? Are some of them just victims of circumstance? This theme runs through all of my books, but this time a rebel is one of the main characters.

What Author(s) or Works first inspired you to write? Who inspires you now?

Margaret Atwood, for her use of language. I can only wish for such talent. Hugh Howey because he’s a cool guy. Larry Niven because of Ringworld and other really neat concepts. Anne McCaffery for her wonderful characters, specifically The Rowan who, in retrospect, served as a model for my main female protagonist. This reminds me that I need to replace my very tattered copy of her Get Off The Unicorn. Right now I’m inspired by writers who step out of the genre, or take it to another place. Michael Bunker and his Amish sci-fi is one of them.
Tell us about you – what do you do to unwind and relax? What are your hobbies?

Besides trying to remember to water my tomatoes, my way to relax is to learn things. Seriously. Thank goodness for the Internet. I can pick up a story and something in it will lead me to look up more detail, starting with basic sources like Wikipedia. Before you know it, I’m reading scientific papers. Most recently, I learned a great deal about President Johnson’s administration (and I’m Canadian!).

I think if some law enforcement agency ever examined my search history I’d be in great trouble. Good thing I can tell them I’m a writer and had to look up chlorine gas, mass extinction, dirty bombs, planet-wide exfoliation schemes, and laser weapons. I wish we found a better way to teach children. Instead of making them remember the gross national product of Lithuania, we ought to just let them explore. Eventually they’ll come across Eastern Europe, I’m sure.

I list links on my web site that offer factual information about the scientific concepts and inspirations I’ve used in my stories. Invariably, I get sucked into learning about quantum physics, space elevators, panspermia and neurology when doing research, even if I don’t dwell on these concepts in my book. So I think my readers may want to learn more, too.

Where can we find your work?

All of my books are listed on my web site at www.chrisreher.com along with excerpts and where to find them online.

*******

Questions for Chris? Leave a comment below!

Amazon vs. Hachette

Gentle Readers,

You may be aware that there is an ongoing dispute between Amazon and a publisher named Hachette. There is much speculation over the terms of the dispute, and proponents of both sides are claiming that the other is hurting authors.

I want to state my own stance up front:

Hachette Amazon

This means authors, and it also means editors, copy editors, publicists, agents, IP lawyers, cover artists, and many, many more people. If you keep buying books, I promise that the future of publishing is very bright, whether or not it includes either of the two companies involved.

Now, a few points that I don’t see coming up much:

  • Battle lines were already drawn before this dispute, so the waters are not only muddied with preexisting loyalties and dislike, but also with preexisting disputes (treatment of authors, diversity in publishing, quality of books, anything and everything). Publishing today is a web of allegiances, generally with traditionally published authors siding with Hachette and self-published authors siding with Amazon, although there are exceptions.
  • No one knows what this dispute is over except Hachette and Amazon – and both are bound by a confidentiality agreement during this time. While it seems fairly likely that the dispute is at least partially over book pricing, no one who is writing articles has the full details.
  • I personally believe that inefficient distribution channels and outdated stocking methods, among other things, have created a system in which ebook prices are kept artificially high to compensate for other losses – the largest component of a print book price is the cost of printing the book, so ebook prices on par with print prices are a bit weird
  • All evidence is anecdotal (there are a few studies about whether self pubbed or trad pubbed authors are happier with their situation, but nothing definitive), so all I have is my own experience: the disruptive publishing technology harnessed by Amazon and other companies has allowed me to make a budding career doing something I love. Amazon, in particular, has been easy to work with: clear in its terms of agreement, with easy-to-use technology, and comfortable providing me with stats on how my books are selling. (Some of the other systems are a real pain in the butt to use.) If you’re looking for an example of an author who has enjoyed traditional publishing, I would suggest reading John Scalzi’s blog, as he’s quite well-spoken and explains why he feels he’s gotten a good deal.
  • You will see a lot of bandying about royalty rates – some trad publishers arguing that Amazon can’t or won’t continue their high royalty rates, self publishers arguing that traditional publishers don’t give authors enough. The problem is that the dispute over royalty rates is not an exact parallel:
    • Authors who publish via traditional routes are given editing, cover art, distribution, formatting, etc., and the reduced royalty rate reflects the fact that many people are involved in the process
    • Costs for self-published authors are accrued through different channels and are taken outside the mechanism of royalties
    • It seems unlikely to me that traditional publishers set out to screw their authors, and it also seems unlikely that a bargain struck between a new author and a publishing company will be made with both parties on equal footing – generally speaking, the party with hundreds of lawyers has a leg up 😉  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle between “screw over” and “idyllic communal happy times,” just as it is with Amazon. Neither Hachette nor Amazon is in the business solely because they love books or because they want nothing more than to pay authors, but I don’t think the employees of either companies sit about rubbing their hands and cackling over how much they can extort their authors, either.
    • It is highly unlikely that Amazon will ever have the market power to establish itself as the sole publishing vector in the world and then screw over every author and reader – they’ll topple and fall before that happens. I mean, to do that you’d have to control the internet, and the FCC would never allow a company to … hmmm …
    • Seriously, though, Amazon has competitors waiting in the wings, willing and able to take it out at the knees if it becomes some crazy monolith
  • Following from the last point, if you enjoy books by a certain author and are comfortable with the price set on purchasing their work, do so. You are the only person who can make that calculation, and if you enjoy the books produced by Hachette and find the finished product worth the price, then please by all means DO compensate the author, editors, cover artists, formatters, secretaries, interns, and all other involved parties. Likewise with self-published authors and their helpers.
  • Likewise, if you think the price ISN’T worth it, well, don’t spend your money and DO speak up so that the publisher knows why you aren’t buying.

I know it seems hopelessly naive to cry, “but can’t we all just get along?” But, honestly…we’re all here because we love books: writing them, reading them, editing or advertising them, making art for them. Hachette and Amazon are locked in a battle of wills on a grand scale, but the rest of us have two options:

  1. Make dramatic posts siding with one or the other and decry the future of publishing if the opponent wins
  2. Continue to make rational decisions regarding price and value of books, and consume media accordingly

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got, I’m off to read Ancillary Justice.

-M

P.S. Happy 4th, American readers!

 

On Quality

Every once in a while, quietly, an author wonders why some other book, some book that is not nearly as good as their book, is doing so much better than their book is doing. Why do readers pore over the pages of that book, the author wonders. Why are there so many fans on facebook, why do readers line up thousands-strong for book signings or – envy of envies – movies?

This is normal, this desire to measure ourselves against our peers. Humans do this constantly. It may not always be healthy, but it’s certainly normal. Healthy, well-rounded adults experience these feelings from time to time. And it may really trouble them. All normal, all within the bounds of healthy behavior.

What is not normal or productive is when these musings spill out into the public sphere as fully-formed thoughts, as musings we have turned back on everyone else. Readers only like crap these days. Or: Everyone’s looking for an easy read. Or: No one gets my book. Or: Publishers aren’t willing to take a risk. You want more? I have more. I’ve heard a lot. Heck, I’ve thought some of it.

And you know where this leads? It leads to one of the single most unproductive discussions that any set of artists has ever had about the state of art in the world, namely: why are such awful works getting all the attention?

On the face of it, it makes sense. Author A has only one work, and that work is riddled with typos and poor characterization, and Author A is now a millionaire and you are working at Starbucks even though you have a book that is properly-formatted, (almost entirely) typo-free, with a stunning plot and characterization, just the right amount of quirk. All in all, your work is a masterpiece. You think it makes sense to ask if perhaps you should turn out typo-ridden crap so that you can at least have a shot at proving that money can’t buy happiness.

Here’s where I must ask you, and ask you honestly, three questions:

  1. Where, exactly, does this bitter wondering get you?
  2. Can you think of any better, surer way to get success as an author than to keep producing really good books?
  3. Why do we entertain the notion that readers don’t have a grasp on what makes a good book?

On point the first, I will say only this: spending time wondering why a “bad” book is doing better than yours is about as productive as spending your workout time not working out, but instead wondering how Jim seems to subsist on french fries and still maintain his svelte figure. That is to say, it is not as productive at all. Go write a good book. Or write a book of typo-riddled crap. Pick one, be honest with yourself about your goals, and shoot for the moon.

On the second point, throw everything you want at me about clever marketing and million-dollar advertising budgets, I have yet to see a single more effective and successful path to success than continuing to show up with good books for people to read. Provide me statistics that contradict this and I will (a) believe you; and (b) be really goddamned impressed.

Lastly, there is this thought, which is (again) very natural to have within the confines of one’s skull, which is that no one “gets” your work. Someone called your book “a good read” and you wanted it to tear them open emotionally. This has happened to me. And I love you all, and I feel your pain, but please listen to me when I say this: your readers are not wrong. Think, think, of the books you have loved and raved about to your family and friends, only to have them say, “eh.” Think of all the books they have told you will turn your world inside out, only for you to think, “eh.” Think of it! You will get readers who have read your genre inside and out, you will get readers who have never cracked open a book of its type before. Every single one of them will see the book a little bit differently, and they. Are. Not. Wrong.* Your book was not finished the moment you wrote it – it is finished when someone reads it and thinks about it, and I am sorry to say that at least some people will hate it. This is unavoidable. It is also natural and even healthy to feel crushed when someone reads your work and doesn’t like it (although I recommend finding some way not to be crushed, because that gets exhausting). What is wrong is to take this (very natural) thought and, instead of dismissing it, actually say out loud that your readers don’t know what they’re talking about.

What I’m getting around to is this: make your books the best they can be. No book can please everyone, but every book has the potential to be its best self. It’s really useless to sit around wondering why other authors have so many more sales than you do, when you could be editing your manuscript or writing a new one. Solicit feedback. Take feedback. Edit ruthlessly and often. Listen to your readers and write better books in the future. Write because the stories are all bottled up inside you and you can’t stand another minute with them not on paper. Write because you love to write, and edit because you want your readers to have just as moving an experience as you did, and the truth is that the words don’t always come out right the first time.

Also, it’s no fun being cynical all the time. I was a teenager once, I’ve tried that.

Go write.

-M

* Please note that there is a way for readers to be wrong, which is to review the wrong book, a la, “this book is about the life and death of the Mongolian water beetle” when it is in fact a cozy murder mystery. This sort of wrong is extremely rare. Also, please note that, “this book is crap” does not constitute slander. An example of slander is, “this author punts baby hamsters in her spare time and is an illegal arms dealer.”

 

Composers for Relief: Cover Reveal!

Gentle Readers –

You may remember that some time ago, I composed a short story to pair with “Existence,” a track on the Composers for Relief album benefiting relief efforts in the Philippines, following Typhoon Haiyan (called Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines). While the recovery has faded from the news, there is still MUCH to be done. All proceeds from the Composers for Relief album will be going to Gawad Kalinga and GVSP, and as of today, I have a beautiful cover to share with you for Beyond the Binding, the companion set of short stories!

-M

************

Beyond the Binding

Embark on an exciting journey “Beyond the Binding” of the imagination with 29 authors from across the globe, in a groundbreaking collaboration where music meets fiction. Surrender to soaring compositions as they surge through the veins of every story, capturing the triumphant pulse of the notes in heart pounding sci fi, enchanting fantasy and gripping slices of realism.

All proceeds of the Composers for Relief  album and Companion Collection ebook will go to Gawad Kalinga (“give care”) and GVSP (Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme), to support the relief efforts for victims of the deadliest natural disaster in Philippines’ history, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

The ebook will be available from Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, B&N, Kobo, Sony, Diesel & Smashwords, with a tentative release date of sometime today – stay tuned!

Composers for Relief album available on ITunes, Amazon, CDBaby & Spotify

Updating-ness

writers are not normal

Hello, Gentle Readers, and welcome to a new week!

A few updates for you, and assorted coolness from around the web…

Comments, questions, concerns? Queries about Novum?

-M

NaNoWriMo

photo(4)

I admit, I’m having an incredible amount of fun with NaNoWriMo. It was only two or three weeks ago that I was feeling very derisive and smug. Ha! I thought. NaNoWriMo. That’s every month for me! So, that’s a very short turnaround. But then, writers can be fickle.

Truth to tell, NaNoWriMo inspires a lot of strong emotions, and you may be hearing contradictory messages about whether it’s a good or bad thing. So I’m taking some time when I really should be finishing my manuscript (due for professional critique by December 20th) to tell you a bit about my experiences.

novum quote 1

As with any other writing tool, part of NaNoWriMo is about choosing what works for you–very rarely do all of the rules work for anyone. Rules I am breaking include: starting a new piece in November (I was many months of planning and a few thousand words in at the start of the month, so November is about me getting down a middle 50k of words), writing without editing, and probably others I have not read all the way through.

The ideal of the program is to get things down on paper (or word processor) without letting that little downer voice in your head, well…get you down. This is, on the one hand, a very fine plan. I have never seen a quote from a career novelist to the effect of, “I like my first drafts.” A first draft is the exhausting process of flailing around with words until you find one gem of a sentence, and then starting all over again. A lot of it will be crap. A great deal of it will seem almost right, and your inability to find the right words will drive you crazy. So “just write and write and write and write” is a very good starting point. You may (and in fact, probably will) stumble across some incredibly cool plot point or turn of phrase, but at the very least, you’ll learn things about writing that you can only learn from experience. This brings us to our first point: No time spent writing is wasted.

novum quote 2

However, the imperative to write must balance with good storytelling. Venturing forward with a gaping plot hole in my wake feels like walking on rotten floor boards: eventually, everything will come tumbling down. A poorly-written passage may nag at you. Do not honor the mandate of, “write in November, edit later” above the mandate of storytelling. If you want to edit something, go right ahead. Just avoid Perpetual Revision Land, where you obsess over the same five passages, continue to hate them, and get nothing else done. It’s bleak in Perpetual Revision Land. No one likes it there. The problem is, it’s surprisingly difficult to extricate yourself once you get there. Remind yourself frequently that when the first draft is completely finished, you may have new ideas about how to edit these pieces. So point the second: Edit, but don’t obsess (yet).

An unexpectedly cool part of NaNoWriMo for me was the community aspect. Many writers, myself included, can be solitary people by nature. NaNoWriMo gives you a group of people cheering you on, offering advice and encouragement when you get stuck, and in general, being passionate about writing. This can be very heartening. Point the third: A good writing community is gold.

The fourth point is so important that it comes at the start of the paragraph: Write. Write joyfully, write with meaning, write when you don’t want to write, carve out time to write.

So should you do NaNoWriMo? If it helps you write, sure. Just have fun with it.

-M

7 Favorites Giveaway!

7-for-7-copy

Hello, Gentle Readers, and happy Friday!

Today I have something wonderful for you all: a giveaway and an indie author feature all wrapped into one! You see, just after I started planning the indie author features, the wonderful and talented Tammy Salyer suggested this blog hop – and it seemed just perfect! So today, I have not one, not two, but SIX other indie authors to show off to you all.

Keep reading for more cool information about each author and their work, and when you get done, leave a comment to be entered for a bundle of all seven giveaway books! (That’s right, all seven of them. This blog hop is just that cool.)

  • Tammy Salyer – not only is Tammy the coordinator of this shindig, she is an award-winning author, staunch supporter of indie authors, and an editor! Tammy will be giving away a copy of Contract of Defiance.
    • Contract of Defiance: In a few hundred years, the Algol system becomes humanity’s new home. The question is: is it a better one? When a crew of arms smugglers botches their latest job, Corps-deserter and crewmember, Aly Erikson, is separated from her brother, the only person she can trust, and left behind to fight for her life. In the aftermath, as she tries to piece together what happened, a crew of roughneck settlers pressgang her into a dangerous mission in the heart of Corps territory. Time is running out to get back everything she’s lost: her crew, her brother, and her options. But no one is taking her gun.
  • Ren Zelen – Edit: Ren is, unfortunately, unable to participate in the giveaway. However, I encourage you to check out The Hathor Diaries, to see if it’s something you might enjoy!
  • Scott Whitmore – a former sports writer and US Navy Officer who now writes speculative fiction with paranormal, steampunk, and hard SciFi elements. What’s that, you say? Awesomesauce? Agreed! Scott will be giving away a copy of The Devil’s Harvest.
    • The Devil’s Harvest – France, 1916: The Great War in Western Europe is at a stalemate with the Allies and Central Powers facing each other from muddy trenches on either side of the deadly No Man’s Land. To end the years of bloody warfare, the Germans plan to unleash the perfect weapon in a villainous attack that will guarantee an unconditional victory over France and Britain.Bullet-proof and impervious to shellfire, a horde of the undead is about to sweep over Europe in a wave of unrestrainable death. Except no one told the Germans two things: anyone killed by the bite of a zombie becomes a zombie … and zombies don’t pick sides.

      To stop the Germans, an elite team of British soldiers led by Major Daniel O’Brien set out on a daring raid behind enemy lines. But in war no plan survives intact, and when the Germans lose control of their perfect weapon O’Brien’s group, including two vampires and a raconteur dame, must fight their way aboard a highly-armed German airship to halt the spread of the zombie plague throughout Europe.

      The Devil’s Harvest, an action-packed Steampunk/paranormal thriller and the second book in The Carpathia Timeline, is set thirty years after the events of Carpathia.

  • Joseph Lallo – you may know Joseph from his bestselling Book of Deacon series, full of magic and adventure! Haven’t started it? The first book is free, yo! Get reading, get hooked, and then follow it up with Joseph’s giveaway book, Rise of the Red Shadow, which follows one of the main characters from Book of Deacon.
    • Rise of the Red Shadow: Every story must begin somewhere. For the warrior who would come to be known as the fearsome Red Shadow, the story began in a forgotten glade deep in the land of Tressor. It was there that a pair of trackers, eager to retrieve a lost slave, instead found an orphaned malthrope. Had it been a human, it might have been treated with compassion, but in the eyes of human society a malthrope was a monster, a mix of fox and man believed to be a murderer and thief by its very nature. The beast was to be sold for a handful of silver, but fate intervened in the form of an old blind slave named Ben. Under the learned hand of the one human who believed in his potential, the young malthrope would instead be given the wisdom to take his first steps on the long journey to his destiny.The Rise of the Red Shadow chronicles the early life of one of the most mysterious figures of the Book of Deacon trilogy, the creature called Lain. It tells of his years working and learning on a Tresson plantation until a dark day of vengeance and bloodshed finally set him free. From there you will follow as he finds his place in the world, learning what it is to be a malthrope, and turning to the purpose that will guide him for the rest of his days. It is a story of love, hate, and lessons hard-learned, revealing the painful choices one must make to become the hero the world needs.
  • Peter Lukes – Peter is a SciFi author who describes his latest protagonist as, “part Han Solo, part James Bond, and part Tony Soprano.” How can you resist that?
    • The Dominus Runes: Thomas Gianmarco likes his liquor strong, his women plentiful, and his friends well-armed. While the rest of the human race is barely surviving in the rubble of destroyed cities and scorched countrysides, he enjoys a life of debauchery through the spoils of his contraband empire.Until he kills a Commander of the Titan Army, capturing the attention of the overlords who have subjugated humanity. The supernatural forces are on the verge of war, and Gianmarco finds himself caught in the middle of powerful competing interests. Some want him dead, but others want him alive, and working for them. Will he be able to transform from rogue to rebel in order to survive?Gianmarco is a master at leveraging the perfect deal. But this time, he’s the item for sale, and the art of this deal could change the course of human civilization forever.
  • Isaac Hooke – Isaac will be giving away the whole of the Forever Gate Compendium, a SciFi series. Check out his blog to read about his experiences writing, reading, traveling, and more!
    • The Forever Gate Compendium: 3740 A.D. The ice age has immobilized the world. Colossal walls seal off the cities from the uninhabitable Outside. Humanlike entities called “gols” run society, and force the humans to wear collars that block the innate powers humankind has evolved.What one man will do to save the woman he loves could destroy his world.

Leave a comment below to be entered for the drawing to win! While you can only enter once here, you are absolutely allowed – nay, encouraged! – to enter at the other blogs as well! Happy reading, and I will announce the winner on October 24th (so make sure to leave your email address)!

-M