Writing Science

Bear with me.

No, seriously.

Of the many things that I have wanted to do with my life as a writer is to write about science. Of that I want to write about science in politics (or the fact that it so rarely exists). But science is the one thing that I have wanted to write on for a long time. Afterall, I am a scientist.

Well OK, technically I am a middle manager in a science field, that field being polyurethane chemistry. I am the technical manager at a facility for a large chemical processor. Nothing overly fancy, but I do work in the science industry, so at least I have some cred?

Anyway, I do not wish to write about the polyurethane industry. That could tread too close to areas where I would need to retain trade secrets, etc. (That will change if I ever move to write as my job.) I do want to write more on science policy, science in schools and education, science discoveries, and of course how sciaence impacts our daily lives.

Now with anything, it is going to take practice in getting used to writing on these topics. I cannot write in the same way as I write about my fitness or writing life or how I write stories. Sure, I can still insert sarcasm and wit, but there is not as much room.

Plus my exposure has been very narrow since working in this field, and I am trying to expand that again.

So bear with me.

I am going to shoot at first for an article covering science every two weeks (there’s research to be had!). Between those articles will be the normal bullshit I spew out onto my blog. So please just be gentle. My ass is already sore.

Searching for My Success

I’ve been at this for 4 years. I’ve been writing for much longer than that, but 4 years ago I self-published my first book Remember the Yorktown, book 1 of my sci-fi saga Gravity. Since then I have added 5 other works to my backlist, 2 more additions to my Gravity saga (book 2, book 3), a short story, a poetry book, and a novel. I am also a few weeks away from another short story and a little over a month from publishing another novel. It sounds like a lot. In a way I agree. Many accomplished writers (traditionally published and otherwise) don’t get that many titles out in 4 years.

But it isn’t enough.

My goal is to make my career as an independent writer. I want to earn enough money to replace my current job earning a living from my writing. In no uncertain terms that will be an enormous undertaking. The vast majority of writers never get to that point.

When I look at where I am, the fact that I have so many books published means nothing. At one of the moments in writing this post I was ranked 724,807 in the Amazon author ranking. At my highest ranking (nearly 4 years ago mind you) I was 84,047. My guess is that I need to maintain my rank between 5,000 and 10,000 to probably earn the salary I am after. This is a guess in its purest form. It might be higher, it might be lower.

Every day I wonder how I am going to make it happen. For one, I certainly need more than the 5 current published works plus the 2 I am about to push out. I have this idea in my head that I won’t start making a consistent income (small, but consistent) until I reach about 10 books available, meaning that I have 3 more to push out after these upcoming 2. Of those 3 my thought is that 1 should be Gravity 4, another should be a short story, and the last should be a novel I initially wrote over 15 years ago (but updated with a revision). Looking at what I have and what I can get out quick, I am more likely going to have 3 short stories.

Of course that may earn me like I said: “a consistent income (small, but consistent).”

That isn’t everything though. As I wrote about a little in a prior post “Advice for this Newbie Writer,” there are a number of things that I need to start doing in order to increase my chances of being discovered by an audience.

I need to then keep building on top of the 10 books. Each year I need to put out some number of new pieces. How many? Some say 1; some say 4. I guess that the number will be determined by how much success each work has. If one title earns me what is my current salary, then it’ll be one (I laugh now because all of my books together have only eclipsed a few hundred in sales these last 4 years).

Then again, why am I worrying about all of this?

I worry because it is an ultimate goal. But at my stage that goal is still too convoluted too grasp. I could do all of the things and more and only make pennies. Now while I will never stop writing, eventually given a lack of success, I might just slow down. What I need to do long before that is to break my lofty goal into stages. Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals would work. Examples would be like: hit 500 words written a day, update the site weekly, revise marketing strategy every month, and publish a work every quarter.

In no way is that what I’ve worked out at this moment, but it could look something like that.

More to the point, I need to break my goals down to daily achievements with that end goal in mind. Maybe, just maybe if I keep up with it, I will find my success. Even if it never ends up being financial as I would hope part of it is.

Finding What Works

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve stopped eating breakfast. I have to admit that it is working out well for me. My waist is thinning out, I am able to sleep in a little longer, and I haven’t been feeling sick as I had been for the past few months.

Now as I page through fitness blogs, etc, what I end up finding is a lot of people swearing by one technique or another. They propose that what they do will ABSOLUTELY work for you! All that I can say is… “well… maybe.”

Truth is that everybody is different. It doesn’t matter race or gender. Although those do play roles in what I am about to put forth, they aren’t overarching factors for anything with some exceptions (more on the gender side of things).

What people have to look at is a myriad of items when determining what will work for them fitness-wise. Here’s a quick list from this non-expert fitness guy:

  • What are you after?
    This requires a bit of honesty. It can’t just be “I want to look like the Rock or Zac Efron.” I suggest particular goals such as “I want to be able to bench 200 lbs,” or “I want to have a 6-pack.” “I want to be a competition lifter” also works as well as “I want to run a marathon.” Just saying “I want to be buff” is an elusive goal for a number of reasons I won’t go into.
    For me, I am looking more for a competition level ability to lift, but also would like to keep my flexibility up along with general good health.
  • What is your schedule like?
    This is a big one for me. If I could, I would love to be able to slip in another 30 minutes of training a day at least. But I have a limited schedule. Either that or I would benefit from having a smaller, more deficit cardio-based session in the AM and the lift later in the day. Unfortunately, my schedule laughs at me when I even suggest such things.
    Know what you can fit into your schedule. Know what you can adjust. Do this before assigning a crazy goal. You can’t get to Iron Man endurance status if you can’t commit the time to train.
  • How much and what do you eat?
    More than the training, diet has a huge effect on health. My recommendation is to do a general calorie counting exercise and then keep track of what you eat. Getting to gnat’s ass detail only is required if you are going for a national body building or bikini contest, so in general just make sure you aren’t way under or way over what you need. Then, make sure that at least the bulk of what you eat are a healthy mix of good fat, protein, and good carbs (minimizing sugar for example – did you notice I didn’t say eliminate).
  • What sacrifices are you willing to make?
    I wrote a quick post a while ago where I came to accept that I wouldn’t ever get toned abs (aka a 6 or 8 pack). The reason? I like beer way too much. Beer is an enemy of toned abs. But being a heavy lifter? Not an issue.
    Depending on the goal, one might have to sacrifice a few things in order to achieve that goal. In the case above, I speak of a food. But it might also be an activity or other things. Who knows. Basically, if you cannot make the sacrifices necessary to achieve a certain goal… well then find a different goal!

Don’t be afraid to experiment too. With regards to both working out and eating, it is best to experiment. My not eating breakfast was an experiment with how my body would react because I was feeling a certain way while eating breakfast. I’ve also changed the style of my workouts a number of times. Sometimes the workouts I do don’t have nearly the impact as others. There’s also exercises that some swear by, but do absolutely nothing for me (or I simply cannot seem to perform them effectively).

The point is that everyone is different, not only in physiology, but also in diet, diet because of physiology (for example various food allergies, tastes, and intolerances), schedules, and in the goals we have. Take advice, but take it knowing that there is always a very good chance that it won’t work, and then again, it might.

Either way, you’ll need to figure it out for yourself.

Why I Like Novellas

I mentioned it in a prior post an article that stated there was a growing popularity with novellas. I like that this is the case. Novellas are a favorite format of mine to write. In fact, my scifi series Gravity is comprised of novellas. And I am debating on converting my two former web serials into serial novellas as well. I am also working on another stand-alone novella called Antlers.

So what is a novella anyway?

It all has to do with wordcount. Although there is a lot of grey area when you talk about what is what regarding word count, one can come up with a reasonable definition for each. Now much of it is debated, but here’s where my research has led me to:

Short story: up to 7,500 words. Up to 500 words, or somewhere in there are called vignettes or flash fiction, a subset of the short story.

Novellette: 7,500 to 17,500 words. Basically this is a long short story.

Short Novel: 40,000 to 50,000 words. I placed this in here because though I found evidence of those who support that novels start at 40,000 words, while A LOT of others say that novels start at 50,000 words.

Novel: 50,000 words or more.

Epic: 100,000 words or more. Still a novel, but a big novel.

Finally:

Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words. Debates also will suggest that a novella starts from 7,500 words (they say around 8,000 words, so it still fits). Anything longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel can be called a novella. Truth is that ‘novellette’ is a term that is rare in comparison to novella. Many choose to call their longer-than-a-short-story-but-not-quite-a-novel stories novellas even at just over the word count line.

During my research I found a lot of conflicting information, but suffice to say that most of the numbers were close enough. Debating 40,000 to 50,000 words for the starting point of a novel is a big gap, but realistically it is up to the person writing it at this point. I wouldn’t fight a writer who wants to call their 39,999 word book a novel. My opinion is that if you are pretty damn close, you can call what you write whatever you want. Unless you are entering a competition that has strict word count delineations, it really shouldn’t make a nibble of difference..

Novellas are shorter, so in essence they tend to be quicker to write. Now in my case, it took me 2 years to put the 3rd novella in my series Gravity out, but of course in the meantime I was also writing a novel with a 80,000 word count, another novel I am up to 23,000 words, and various other projects.

I know that when I was just starting out I felt a lot of pressure to write either a short story or a novel. And like I also mentioned in prior articles, a novel in the eyes of many to meet “traditional” standards at the time was around 80,000 words. At the time what I was writing just didn’t fit in either of them. Writing and publishing novellas was almost unheard of. But like with everything else, novellas just weren’t out there enough to see if they were viable options.

Reading novellas are certainly not as intimidating as some of these novels that are. My Gravity novellas can be read in under two hours each (some variation depending on a reader’s speed).

Another reason I like writing them is that I can condense a story down. I am sure that if I needed to, I could push each chapter in my Gravity series to 50,000 or more words apiece and retain the main plot points. Pushing for longer stories sometimes causes wordiness. Not that I can’t boil down these books further, but I don’t believe in going too far in depth about every little item in the story unless those items are pertinent to the plot. (This is not a dig against writers of long books. This is however noting that some longer books don’t need to be as long.) Obviously since I have books that I am writing or have written that I have stories that can go longer than a novella, but in many cases I just can’t fit what I want into a short story… and there’s still room to grow into the novel stature.

The whole thing is showing that novels and short stories are not the only two viable storytelling options with the written word. Not that they ever were, but this gives it a much swifter kick in the ass. Novellas in my opinion will help to solve a lot of the problems that books are having in our modern society. Their shorter length will make them a favorite among readers and writers alike. I know this writer enjoys them. And with their lower word count, many writers may find themselves able to produce double or triple the volume of books than focusing solely on novels.

I think novellas are here to stay. And I couldn’t be happier.

My Bloated Opinion

I feel silly when I write these opinion pieces. Not because I don’t have anything to offer to the discussion, but I feel as though my opinion just isn’t as informed as it could be when offering up my two-cents. But here it goes.

So we all know that Barnes and Nobles is in trouble, bookstores have been flagging (though there is a recent report showing a change), and there’s been a lot of debates surrounding traditional publishing vs self-publishing. Another recent article pointed to a trend that the novella (a favorite format of mine) is also on the rise in popularity. All of these have supported the growing leanings of my thoughts towards what I am about to spew.

Here’s why I think books are generally on the decline, or at least it isn’t a growing industry like this writer believes it should be.

  • TV is good – Let’s face it, TV is in a golden age. We are seeing more shows of a quality unseen before our time. My wife and I watch an average of 11 hours of TV a week and we cannot even keep up. Even with all of that watching, I am still behind on Daredevil season 2, and have barely even begun to watch Walking Dead or Game of Thrones… and that isn’t even the start.
    Shows like Stranger Things are simply captivating to watch, both visually and from a storytelling perspective. Books have to compete with that.
    Add in the ease of TV watching and it is a perfect storm. TV is just a better alternative.
  • Books are too damn long – this one is one that I believe to be true. Novels used to be considered a novel at 40,000 words or more. An epic was 100,000 words. When I was doing research a few years back on whether to self-publish or try to go the old-fashioned route, I saw that there were demands that novels be at least 80,000 words before they’d even be considered. What? Why?
    My personal opinion is that very few writers have the capability, skills, or whathaveyou to keep a reader riveted, much less even interested, for much more than 50,000 words… if even that. There are writers like Jim Butcher, Stephen King, JK Rowling to name a handful who can do that and more.
    But more writers just fill the empty space with boring fluff to get to that word-count.
    Then as I mentioned above, novellas are on the rise, and this is proving my point a little.
    I like to read, but when I see a book that has 80,000 or more words, I get a little thing called procrastination. I put off even starting it. I would argue that there are probably a lot of people who feel the same way. Not that all books are long, but many are.
    Then add in that one of the big things now is to have a trilogy or be part of an ongoing series. So long books essentially are even longer.
    Now while avid readers see that as a good thing, the average person might see that as just too much.
  • Books are too damned expensive, especially ebooks – Amazon was doing the right thing when they were fighting against big-name publishers. Amazon had the idea that no ebook should cost more than $9.99. I COMPLETELY AGREE. Even more so, I would say that an ebook probably shouldn’t cost much more than $5. E-reading devices are already expensive. And printed books have to include cost of manufacture, materials, storage, and shipment. Those aren’t exactly inhibitors for a ebook. The same pre-work that print versions have go into the making of an ebook. Programs have already been written that then convert files like .docx, .pdf, etc into an ebook within minutes. Then once the ebook is created, it can be replicated often and very quickly. And all of the while, the only space consumed is digital.
    Selling a hard-cover book for $25 just feels excessive, even with the added costs that manufacture, storage, and shipment likely incur.
    There are arguments that could be made to the resale ability of a printed book versus an ebook that would also drive up their costs. So as much as I would like to argue against expensive print books, I cannot. And if you look hard enough, there are plenty of opportunities to get used books for cheap (there’s a great place in Bartlett, IL just for that).
    But again… ebooks should be cheap. Much cheaper than print, whether people believe it or not. In fact, I believe in that enough that I even offer my ebooks FREE when someone purchases the print version, even though I am trying to keep the print cost as low as possible while still making some profit for myself.
    People have funny habits though on what they spend their money on entertainment-wise. Books need to be competitive with that. But even so, traditional publishers have built themselves up to a point where selling books at indie (Self-published) prices would undermine their executives’ bonuses, even though the volume might actually increase if people realize the affordability.
  • Self-published writers are still demonized – This one hits closer to home. I’ve written on this at various angles as well. There is a movement (albeit a shrinking one) where the publishing world including all of the big to small publishing houses want everyone to believe that writers who bypass the traditional means of publishing are in fact not viable entertainment options. How can they write a good book without our great editing resources to guide them? How can it be quality without us to ensure it is so? How can they engage readers without our expertise?
    Fact is that before big publishing houses, all writers were independent. The problem was that they needed printing presses to get their works to broader audiences. Then distribution networks. Eventually like many things in life, those printers and distribution networks saw the ability to grow, make contracts with writers, and lock out those who didn’t want to play by the rules they set up for themselves.
    Then this bastard company called Amazon comes along, and though a behemoth itself, it has done wonders for writers who have no interest in going along traditional routes… even if it means never selling many copies of my books.
    But there are incredible stories coming out in the independent arena because they aren’t bound to the traditional ideals of story-telling. And that should be invigorating.
    But until people realize that you don’t have to have a perfectly polished book in order to enjoy what is read, it won’t change much.
  • The polished turd still reigns – This is my last point and this is entirely built on personal opinion. It builds a little off of the prior point. Format, storytelling, etc from traditional publishers are bland pieces of shit. That isn’t to say that they aren’t good. I enjoy a lot of what is put out in the world by the old ways. But in many cases it is entirely predictably bland. There are many stand-outs, but a lot of what the traditional publishing world puts out are the safe bets. A story like my old web-serial and soon to be serialized novella “The Vigil” just wouldn’t fit, despite being able to be called a crime noir… it just is off-putting and ill-suited for the old style. But to me, that’s what makes it fun to write.
    There are big-name writers such as Chuck Palahniuk who write wonderfully unusual stories that don’t sit anywhere near mainstream. His story Beautiful You reminded me to just have fun writing.
    Unfortunately those writers are sporadic, only supported as they proved themselves as viable investment options. Outside of those, publishers like the safe bet. Writers focus on a formula, and though they are predictable, the familiar style and story make that writer’s readers comfortable.
    I want a writer that you couldn’t guess what their next book would be about much less the genre, but you know you’ll like it. And of course I want to be that kind of writer.

I can be real here. The bullet points listed above could be complete bullshit. My perspective though is that books are struggling. They aren’t as popular as one would imagine. The whole point of a fiction book is to escape. I want to have fun reading a story. I want to be moved by it. I want to be scared, surprised, or whatever. I just want books that prove that TV and movies aren’t the only entertainment medium that can pack a punch.

Old and New

It is closing in on my own deadlines, and although I am possibly going to miss it by a day or two, I am moving along. At least at this moment I am still on target to reaching my goal of publishing “The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle,” my upcoming YA (Young Adult) supernatural/fantasy novel, in late September/early October. But I can’t let that be the only thing I do.

At this time, I have several projects that I can likely push to fast releases to accompany Agnes. Some are short stories, a couple are novels, and then there is always part 4 of my saga Gravity.

As an indie writer the greatest strength that I have is that there is nothing stopping me except for my own behaviors in getting a ton of work published. The more material, the more opportunities. Now it’s not saying quantity over quality, but it is saying quantity. That is one of the many weapons an indie has.

I am not restricted to publisher deadlines. I am not stopped by interfering with another writer’s release timing. There are no contracts telling me that I can only release a particular number of works over a set timeframe. I am in control of all of that. So if I have work to put out, why not put it out?

Because I have more than just several projects ready for fast release…

There’s old projects and new projects, many just sitting there awaiting me to do something with them. For starters there’s this book I wrote over 15 years ago, 50,000+ words, needing a read-through and revision. That’s it. I’ve already gotten a good first pass from alpha readers.

There’s a short story I’ve been sitting on for about 2 years awaiting a cover from a friend. What’s stopping me from building a temporary cover and putting it out there until the promised cover is made?

Two projects I used to post as monthly serialized stories on my website, a crime noir and a dystopian scifi, can make easy novellas like my saga Gravity.

Overall I counted 15 different projects in various stages that if I put enough effort I can have them all out in the next 2 to 3 years. And that doesn’t include book 2 of Agnes, or books 5+ for Gravity. That’s at least 5 projects out a year, which is a very good pace (even if a bunch are just short stories).

The point is that like the advice above and from my prior post, the only thing stopping me from putting this stuff out there is me. So what the hell am I waiting for? An engraved invitation?

Advice for This Newbie Writer

There is a lot of advice out there for writers. Finding good advice however is an issue. The problem isn’t that the advice itself isn’t good, but rather that the advice just doesn’t fit the level that I am at in my writing career.

For example, the other day I read an article off of Bookbub.com that outlined how the writer of the article was able to sell 20,000 copies of his book in a month and the steps he took to do so. Now while the post angered me at the time (details of which is in a post I will probably leave unposted, but suffice to say it was some Bookbub salesmanship going on in the article), it brought me a realization that it isn’t the advice that’s the problem, it’s me. I am not there yet. I don’t have the skills or resources needed for most of the advice out there. At least not yet.

What I need is the advice that takes me from an average of 1 book sold a month to 100. See what I mean? The writer of the article was already a midlister. He was already successful at a level that allowed the steps he outlined to work well to boost his sales. For example, he talked about using an email mailing list… where he already had 15,000 subscribers. Using an email mailing list is good advice, but I am at the level that I need the steps on how to build a mailing list from scratch and get to 1000 subscribers. What good is the advice on how to use the mailing list to reach 15,000 people when realistically I have 0 people to email? Somewhere between none and very little.

Then there is accounting for dumb luck.

What do I mean by that? There are plenty of books that sell out and the circumstances that contributed to it were weird and involved little effort from anyone involved. A shining example of that was Fifty Shades of Gray. It took off seemingly out of nowhere taking EL James from a part-time fan-fiction writer to a multi-millionaire. While every writer dreams of that happening to them, it is far more likely that I’d be attacked by a shark while at my typewriter in Illinois. To gain success, I have to build on the skills to do so.

And I need the skills to get me off of my current plateau and onto the next level. So here is a rough set of advice that I’ve gathered from a myriad of places that at least appear to fit my level, the novice novelist, and will get me to the next phase in my quest to make writing a career (remember this is a list assembled by a novice and written really for me and anyone else who it will help):

  • Write! – Writing is a craft that needs to be practiced. Good, bad, or indifferent, more writing equals more practice. More practice equals (at least in principle) improved writing. Just keep writing. This is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT RULE I’VE FOUND!
  • Review your work – Given that many of us don’t have the funds for pro editors much less the time to find one who is going to fit our personality or writing style, it is useful to review your stories. I am not a fan of editors, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see value in editing.
    What one should try to catch are the glaring errors. Catch where you switched a character’s trait, such as eye color, without warning or reason. See where a character maybe doesn’t fit, or where there is a lacking of activity from other characters. Or look for the timing that is wrong in the plot. (Characteristics I found in a review of my book I recently finished.) Read the book as a reader! Don’t look for the mistakes, they will look for you. Read aloud. Even though you know what is going on, push that all out of your mind and just read your damn book. You will find things wrong. Trust me. Then try to make them better, even if only by a small amount.
  • Learn GIMP – Gimp is Photoshop. The difference is that Gimp is a fully functioning, freeware version of Photoshop. You can use that to build covers.
    There is a plethora of YouTube tutorials on how to use Gimp to do any number of things. Play around. Save multiple versions of the same file to experiment with filters and other tricks. I build my own covers right now. It takes time and effort, but it is better than spending money one doesn’t have. (Also learn about photo rights too. Can’t just grab any picture to use on your cover.)
    And research other covers in your genre. I would want a cover that jumps out, but at this point, I need to learn what blends in first before I can learn what will jump out.
    While I might change this practice to hiring a pro later on if I find some success, it’s just helped me learn more about the process. And it is a little fun.
    There’s also Canva. But either way, learn to build your cover on your own to begin.
  • Figure out how to build an email subscriber list – I’ve read a number of articles on how email lists are growing again whereas the blog is dying. I am sure that as technology is still growing, people are still adjusting to how they are going to consume their information. I worry about that all of the time. That worry has led me to commit to non-action as my avenue to pursue. And I am realizing how wrong I am to worry about it to begin with.
    The point is that an email list is something. And while it is working for numerous people and not for others, finding out whether or not it will work for me is only answered if I try.
  • Blog more often (really: blog consistently) – I am so flaky with this one. I promised earlier in the year that I was going to attempt to blog daily. Didn’t last long. Then I told myself to blog once a week. Didn’t keep up with that. Then I go back to a daily streak. Then off again.
    Like the email list above, there are arguments to a blog having positive impact and also to how it is dying. It shouldn’t matter. If nothing else, it is about building up the skills for consistent writing.
    Sometimes I let worry about committing an opinion down to a blog post drive my abandonment of the process as well. Then I read a post from Hugh Howey (a writer I highly respect) where he mentioned how his posts from years ago are often embarrassing and way different than how he feels today. And I realized that the same is true for many of us. It’s called growth.
    So write. Pick a schedule. Stick to the schedule. Post.
  • Social Networking – I have a rule about social networking: any post reaches on average 1% of followers. That means that my twitter, where I have just under 300 followers, will only reach maybe 3 people per post. I am sure the percentage in reality is higher, but lowballing it helps to keep the expectations low.
    And therein lies my problem again. I don’t feel the effort is worth it… again.
    When I am consistent with social networking, my followers grow. As followers grow, the chances of others seeing posts grow. So be consistent with posting on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. Don’t count the effort necessarily as a direct translation to books sales, but rather building the potential.
    Interested in my social networks? Here’s the links:
    Twitter
    Facebook
    Tumblr
    Instagram
  • Learn to talk about your books – this is a huge problem I have. It was not until this past July that I really learned about this too. I always just called it “being uncomfortable selling my books.” Then I realized as I was at an author’s event that I just don’t know how to talk about my books! Selling be damned! What I called discomfort was my foolish misbelief. It was lack of skill, a lack of know-how.
    If you don’t know how to talk about your book, how can you write a good blurb? How can you sell your book? Anything on the back end of the process becomes virtually impossible if you don’t know how to talk about your book. Learn it.
  • Publish as often as you can!! – This is a huge advantage that I will mention again in other posts I am sure. As indie writers, we can publish as often as we choose without any restrictions other than what we provide to ourselves. Can you publish a book every day? Sure! If you can write that much. It is HUGE! We aren’t restricted. With every book I’ve put out, I learn a little more about the process. Not in the 6 times I’ve done it so far has it gotten any easier, but I’ve kept building up that skill. Your books will get better the more often you do it. It’s akin to practice.
    And you always have the option to revise the book, to update it to a new version. I recently did that with my novel “The Good Teacher” in order to upgrade the cover.
    Don’t be afraid of it not being perfect. It’ll never be perfect. Let it be perfect as it is. Just get it out there!
    A side benefit of this is that you WILL start getting people that will give you honest opinions on the story. Then you can take them to improve what you do for the next one, and the next one, and the next one. And when readers find mistakes, you can even decide to publish a revision. I’ve already done that on two of my books, and I am not against doing it again.
    If you wait, then you lose. Getting that book to “perfect” in the eyes of traditionalists is a fool’s errand at best. There are plenty of examples out there as to how imperfect their choices have been and how there are books they’ve turned away that end up enormous successes. Quick Google searches yield plenty of those cases.
    There are also growing arguments to stop editing, stop revising, to push your shitty work out there and just make something off of it. Of course that is the extreme on the other end. I vote for somewhere in the middle, but a little-tiny-bit closer to the extreme just now mentioned.
  • Be persistent – this is one rule I’ve kept up with. Despite nothing materializing in my writing career, I’ve continued to try. I will continue to try. Giving up shouldn’t be an option. Eventually something should happen. And if not, it wouldn’t be for not trying then.

I cannot say that any of this will work at all, but from all of the advice out there for higher level writers, this stuff looks like it fits for the newbie like me. We’ll see. If I keep up with all of it and nothing works, I’ll be back to say how this was all horseshit and telling everyone not to listen to me.

 

 

Book Lover’s Day!

Happy Book Lover’s Day!

In celebration of what is a very important holiday for both writers and readers alike, I have discounted every ebook I sell on Amazon.com to FREE!

That’s right, for Book Lovers Day, August 9, 2016, all of my Kindle ebooks will be FREE to download.

So while you are sitting here (and even if you have no intentions of actually reading it), download a copy of each of my books!

Here’s all of the Links:

Gravity Saga, novellas (Science Fiction, Space Opera)

The Good Teacher, novel (Contemporary Fiction, Thriller) – www.amazon.com/dp/B015G2I0PS

Leaving it Behind, short-story (Science Fiction) – www.amazon.com/dp/B00BIVY5WE

Change of Seasons, poetry – www.amazon.com/dp/B009Y0WJ2E

 

Again, each of these are 100% FREE for August 9th! Why not get yourself a copy?

To Break the Fast or Not

Breakfast… the most important meal of the day. Or at least that is what I have been told all of my life. I used to not eat breakfast. I used to skip it. Didn’t feel hungry, so why eat?

At least for the last 10 or so years I have made it a point to eat breakfast.

The problem is, should I have been?

For nearly 2 years now I have been going to the gym in the morning. I would wake up, eat breakfast, and then head out to lift weights. In most cases I was never entirely comfortable. My stomach would churn, despite having 45 or more minutes between eating and lifting. Lately as I have been doing more difficult, heavier, more complex lifts, my stomach has been reeling.

So should I eat breakfast?

Of course I should. It’s the most important meal of the day right?

Researching general fitness tips I found a few things that started making me question my belief. For one, there is the concept of deficit cardio, where prior to eating anything for the day, one would get up and take a moderate-to-brisk walk. More and more I found an answer I use on just about anything health related: depends on the person.

Do I wake up hungry? Nope.

Does my stomach feel satisfied after eating first thing in the morning? Nope. And I am unsure if it ever has.

Based on these and a few more questions, I began to wonder if I am just one of those “don’t need (or shouldn’t) eat breakfast in the morning. In turn then, I am going to experiment with that for a few weeks. In that time I will skip breakfast and instead have something a little lighter after my workout. On the days I am not working out I might wait an hour before getting anything. We’ll see how it helps or hurts. At least then I will know what to really do.

Bad Advice that’s Actually Good

“Write drunk; edit sober.”

It’s a quote often given attribution to Earnest Hemmingway, arguably one of the greatest writers of all time. It’s wrong. He didn’t say that. And given enough internet research, people can easily discover that this was indeed the case: Hemmingway never said it, and he never practiced it.

At least he never practiced it in the literal sense of the phrase.

When reading that statement, that equally good and bad advice, I see something beyond the literal meaning. My instinct isn’t to pound a few beers (although beer is a hobby I very much enjoy – although not for the “getting drunk” aspect). Shot glasses aren’t found with the lingering scent of liquor. I read a statement about getting past inhibitive writing.

Yesterday, I posted about an emotion I’ve dealt with for a good portion of my life. It was the doubt surrounding not knowing what I am doing. Interpreting the writing advice above, I associate it with the act of numbing or inhibiting those doubts, those things that prevent a writer from writing, and then editing after.

It’s getting out of your head.

It’s advice I need to take to heart, advice I tried to listen when placing the phrase “it’s never going to be perfect, so let it be perfect” on my notebook. I need to ignore my inhibitions when writing.

It might be wrong, but it’s just good advice.