Taking a break from Hell on Earth, and talking about writing.

Let’s control what we can and let the world take care of itself.

Hello fellow earthlings,   I know life has just sucked the last few weeks, and I feel that it is going to suck more before it is over.

Let’s break away from the news of the day and talk about writing.  I feel many of you that follow me are writers, want to be writers, or are authors who want to see how others do what they do.

With over 32 novels selling around the world, I have learned a thing or two.

Let me start by talking about the reasons to write.  I am sure I have addressed these before in a previous blog, but let me do it again for those who are new to this site.

The only reason for you to write is that you love writing.  Unless you work for a paper or some other institution that has hired you to write manuals or something, we writers write because we love to write.

If you decide to write a book because you want to live in a gated community on the ocean in California, or Kiawah Island or, perhaps, Martha’s Vineyard, let me just wake you the hell up.  Your first novel will most likely be horrible.  Sorry for the truth of it, those are the facts.  You can work and research your heart out, but your first work will suck.  …probably…

When I wrote my first few novels, I appealed to an audience that was not looking for literary genius.  My craft was not developed enough to appeal to a high brow audience.  What I was looking for is writing something that people would buy for a couple of dollars, and hopefully give me some feedback.

You see, the truth of it is, Beta Readers that are not your family are hard to come by, and you might have to pay someone to read your crap, and give you honest feedback.  Too Harsh?

We need to be honest with each other, and we must learn to accept rejection.  Rejection, no matter how hurtful, should be taken as part of the learning process.  Feedback is terrific, even if it sucks.  Only when we can step away from the forest of our writing, can we see the mistakes and missteps we have made.  Only then can we see the weeds.

My advice to you is to write your first novel, polish it as best you can and then self-publish it, and then beg for feedback.  Make it easy for them to go to an e-mail address and tell you how badly it sucked, and they want their $1.99 back.  If they tell you why and what is wrong, I would send them the $2.

Writing books is a labor of love.  Writing is hard.  As a writer, you must form a habit of writing, even if it means you climb your butt out of bed an hour earlier.   It is a lonely profession.  I work till three or four in the morning many nights.  Oh, and I have a day job.  ‘I love to write.’

There are times I don’t like it too much, but I love to write.

Form your habit and stick to it.  Much like exercise or following a diet, it is all about practice.   There is an advantage to writing early in the morning.  Your brain produces certain types of waves, and one of them are theta waves.  When you get up in the morning, you have more theta waves going on than during the typical day.  Taking a shower, your brain produces theta waves.  Ever wake up with an epiphany or perhaps have one in the shower…?  That is why.

I think the hardest thing to swallow is this; nobody cares.  Your parents will lie to you and care because you wrote it, your spouse really doesn’t give a shit, and your friends will manage to distance themselves from you if you require them to love your book.  Nobody cares as you do.  It is your baby, and you are the one that needs to love it, nurture it, and then send it out into the world to see what happens.

I have said this before too.  You cannot be a one-trick pony.  I know writers who have been working on the same book for tens of years.  OMFG…self-publish it and get on with it.  Amazon will make a few dollars off you, the government in the place the person is in that buys it, will get some tax money from you, and if you are lucky, you might make a dollar for your labor of love.

Most new authors who self-publish make about $10 their first year.   Damn, I know that hurts if you have never heard that before, but I speak the truth.

I know too many authors who pour a fortune in their book, ‘that sucks’ to have it professionally edited, pay to have a cover designed, and then pay people to market it.  I have read their books, and they suck.

  • I make a point to purchase books from new authors, that manage to sit inside the local book store.  Why?
  • I want to be supportive of them.
  • I want to speak with them and learn from them.
  • I get their signature and put the book on the shelf after I read it.
  • I can tell you after the first few pages if the book will hit or not, never missed once yet.
  • I want to encourage these authors to keep writing.  Don’t stop.

Study the craft of writing, read books like you are disassembling a watch, that you must put back together.  Examine the structure, story, and character arcs and ask yourself if you had written it, how you would make it better.  Do that with terrible books as well.   Where did the author go wrong?

The craft of writing is not something you can just do.  Unless you are ‘somebody’ and can afford a ghostwriter to take your crap and make it better, you need to learn the entire craft yourself.

That is why I trumpet the idea of writing for the love of writing.

As an artist, I thought my first painting was pretty good.  Today when I see pictures of it, I wish I could find it, I would burn it.  The same is true for my writing.  I have been writing since I was a kid.  That was more than a few years ago.

The practice is crucial and doing it because you love it is the only reason to write.  Once you perfect it, publish it on Amazon, or Smashwords, and see what happens.

If you follow me here, and if you would like some feedback, I might consider giving it if you would be willing to reciprocate.

I pray that you are all staying safe and staying home during these times of uncertainty.  Live in your worlds that you create, or read some of my novels, and live in one of my worlds.

Much Love -TW

Newest Project

Are you one who reads at lunch? Check out my latest project.

As we roll into a new week, I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you who hit that magic follow button, both on WordPress, and Twitter.

This weekend I attended a conference with many writers and want to be writers.  We had a wonderful time exploring the possibilities, hopes, and dreams, along with some that have already hit the publishing lottery.

I say lottery tongue and cheek.

We have examined the reasons we write, many times; please don’t let it be the ‘publishing lottery.’

While passion for the craft of storytelling should be your number one reason for writing, it is ok to entertain the ‘possibility’ that you might find the perfect agent who is just hot to trot over your idea or manuscript.  When I say ‘possibility,’ I want you to put that in the realm that I do when I spend a dollar on ‘a’ single lottery ticket.

“TW, you don’t waste money on those, do you?”

“Waste, no.  You see, with me, when I am traveling, and I need to use the facilities…(Nice way to say pee) and I don’t need gas or what have you, I will spend a dollar on a lottery ticket.

Now, I don’t feel cheap for using their bathroom; well, too cheap.   With that lottery ticket in my possession, I think of all the things I will do with it when I ‘win!’

Keep in mind, the only way to win the lottery is not to play.

We writers must have an active imagination, and that includes fantasy.  Use those thoughts as writing prompts.  Your character spent his or her last dollar on a lottery ticket instead of buying cheap soup.  You know those bags of noodles that you put into hot water like you did in college.

  • Why did your character do that?
  • Did he or she win?
  • How did it change their life?
  • Did they eat the ticket if they lost?
  • Did they have to explain what they did with that dollar to anyone?
  • Maybe your character is prosperous and just bought the ticket not to appear cheap and hit the lottery anyway!

*Write a flash fiction on your blog, with one of these and send me a link.

Since I titled this new project, I suppose I should tell you what I am up to.  I came up with the idea of creating a book of short stories.  Ten thousand words or less per story.  The idea is that you can buy this book, and take it with you to lunch and have a mental vacation while you dine on celery and salad.  Oh, you’re not one of those that made those ridiculous New Year’s resolutions to eat better?

Stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, I am still editing and changing my novels as time permits.  If you bought one, and I re-release it, you can speak with the people at Amazon and get the latest, I am told.   I called to make sure that you could, and what the process was.

Stay safe out there, write to me and tell me how you are doing and if you take on the prompt, I would love to see how you do with it.

 

Much Love,

TW

*Flash Fiction… For those of you who don’t know, flash fiction is usually a story of 1000 words or less that demonstrates a story and character arc.  In 1000 words or less can be a challenge.

 

 

Feedback.  How should you use it?

This is a cover I created for Diamond Joe.  The island  I took while on holiday, the ladies I drew as well as parts of the horses.   Diamond Joe should be a movie.  Too bad Hallmark does not do same-sex movies.

AHHHH!  I don’t want to market my books, I just want to write the damned things!

Sound familiar?

I am a natural-born storyteller.

As a kid, I was the one with the flashlight making up stories about the zombie bunny that would be all cuddly and cute when you were hugging it.  As soon as your eyes closed, the fangs came out!  The claws turned in to razor-sharp daggers that it would use to rip your throat out!

Can you imagine how many kids tossed their velveteen rabbit books in the trash after that little story?

Whoever heard of evil bunny rabbits? Gives all new meaning to biting the ears off that chocolate Easter bunny now, doesn’t it?  Die you SOB…you’re not ripping my throat out!

I always wondered why nobody wanted to sleepover at my house… Was it my breath?  Is it possible that my invitations to parties were not lost in the mail?  BOOO!

Stories are part of who we are.  If it were not for them, we would have no bible, no Jesus, no Zeus or Pele’.  We would have no folklore at all.  The magical kingdoms of the Scots, we would never know about.

While history is written by the victors, the stories that entertain, are written by writers.  That is right, baby, who is your mama!

Before the written word, they would lie around at night and look up at the skies and wonder what all those dots of light were.  From constellations resembling things they might recognize, much like clouds today, they made up stories.  Those passed down through the ages have most certainly changed much like the ‘telephone game, ‘but never the less, we have them.

This week I got one of my novels back from a beta reader who had some interesting comments.

Tonight I want to talk about feedback and how to use it.

Let’s deal with rejection first.

It is going to happen.  Those excellent agents must have material that they don’t have to sell.  It has to be so good that it pops off the page without even reading it.  There must be linguistic magic that enchants the person who even thinks about opening the e-mail.

“This is not the kind of thing we handle, or your book is not right for us.”

“Son of a bitch!  Let me take the old Underwood out and shoot the damned thing, and go back to waiting tables!  At least there I get a pinched ass for a few dollars, and hey…I get some attention.”

Ok, that might be a little on the extreme side.  I haven’t waited tables, while since I was a kid. I do have an old Underwood that actually works, but of course, I don’t use it either.

Rejections are a starting point. Here is how to handle them if traditional publishing is your path.

Send out your baby, gird your loins, and while you are waiting for the offer letters to come in like the proverbial tsunami, start another book.

Absolutely, positively, do not rest on your laurels!  Are you listening? Tell me, you heard that!

You spend your time writing your book, and you send it out after you have languished over every god damned word in the thing. Send it out and move on!  Do you realize that the average book is over 70k words and writers suffer over every one of them?  Is this the right word?  We agonize, trust me on this one grasshopper!

When you get the boilerplate letter weeks to months later, file it away, and send it out again.  Someone out there is looking for what you wrote and just possibly with weed so much more prevalent, you might catch them in a stoned moment, and they might laugh at your hook or characters and in a weak moment, they send you an e-mail with all kinds of miss spelled words telling you that you rock and please submit the entire manuscript!  Hey, it could happen!

On the flip side, you find the agent who is genuinely seeking what you wrote and is ready to do what it takes to sign you.

Happy days!  It could happen.

Tonight I just uploaded a new version of Diamond Joe.  After applying many things that I have learned over the years, I have made this lesbian love affair, an affair to remember.

That sounds tawdry, and it is not.

The beta reader told me that she loved the story and was amazed that my characters each had their own voice.  ‘Hello, they should have their own voices.”

This is a romance with romantic subplots, family issues, and oh yes, a racehorse!

What is not to love about a rags to riches story, where a young lady discovers who she is and better yet, captures the heart of a young rich widow, who has no idea that she would love another woman?

I walk you through the entire thought process, and I take you down the dark road of, ‘what if she is after my money?”

Oh yes, there are gold diggers out there, gay or straight or is it gay and straight?

This is a heart wrenching, feel-good story that they should make a movie out of but, Hallmark has yet to make a movie with same-sex couples.  Why is that?  This book would be such a killer hot movie.  Maybe Netflix should pick it up.

I am trying to figure out who would play whom…

Back to the feedback.  What you want from them is what they liked and what did not work for them.  That is all you want, as that is all you need.  If they start to tell you, it would have worked better if…Stop them!  You don’t want to know the ‘if’ part.  The reasons are simple.  If they render an opinion and you should be foolish enough to take it, guess what, it is now their story, not yours.

So ladies and gentlemen, if you read my novels and you should be so kind as to offer me feedback, just tell me what worked and did not work for you.  Allow me to figure out why.  I am the writer and in my little office, I am a god!

That sounds crazy but think about it.  I create worlds, people, places, and situations. I even create evil little rabbits.  That is what a writer does, and if you don’t respect any writer that you know, you might find yourself in one of their stories, tied to the bed, surrounded by hundreds of chocolate Easter rabbits, without their ears.  Since they cannot hear you, they will never know if you are loving, or hating your throat being eaten out.  It is just payback after all.

Write! Write! Write!

When I get a rejection letter, which I do on occasion, it just drives me to improve my craft.  Since they hardly ever tell you anything other than, ‘we don’t sell this shit’ (paraphrased,) you send it out again while learning your craft even better.  That is what drives me.  Yes, I would love to know what exactly they didn’t like about it but, it is probably their twelve-year-old child going through the slush pile while playing some game on their phone.

  • Put some magic in your hook!
  • Cast a spell on the reader.

Write something so overpowering that even the twelve-year-old will stop looking at the phone long enough to say ‘WOW!”

I have said it many times in different ways, you cannot be a one-trick pony.  Write your story, nobody is perfect and your story will not be perfect.  Send the thing out and start writing about evil little bunnies, or not.

If you are like me, you are on fire at the keyboard.  You can go hours without eating, or even thinking about food, as your characters are running through caves or jumping off cliffs, you cannot leave them!  Continue on, and don’t let the bastards or twelve-year-olds get you down.

Agents are always looking, even though they might profess to be too busy.  If they are good, they are looking.  You might try sending your queries to agents in states where pot is legal…I kid…nobody gives a damned if it is legal or not!

I am probably one of the few who has never tried it.  I don’t smoke, but I hear some gummies are to die for…Bwhaaa!  Are they rabbit gummies?

Much love peeps.  -TW

Writers Block

I wish I had a nickel for every person who has spoken with me about writer’s block.

I don’t believe it makes a difference if you are a plotter or a panster; at some time in your life, you will experience writer’s block.

How do you deal with the infamous blank page?

I find it useful to examine why I am drawing a blank, or my characters have stopped talking.  Many times it is that part of the novel that we all dread, the middle slump.  Since we all know we want to avoid that, just possibly, we put undue stress on ourselves and cause our stream of conscious to become, derailed.

Keep in mind that it is your SFD or $hitty first draft.  Only you will see it, read it, and know that your characters decided to go on strike.

Some causes for the strike can be that you don’t want to deal with this part of the story.  Maybe it is too close to you.  There are many land mines with writing, and I find it refreshing and often times cathartic when I work my way through a story.

If the words are not coming, turn off your ‘IBM Selectric’ and go do something else.  As an artist, I find if I am busy with some graphic, or a painting, my characters will want to see what I am doing and come out and play.

Now, why do you suppose that might be?

When we are between awake and asleep, in the shower and yes, doing something with our hands like coloring or painting, your brain produces something called Theta waves.  A different part of your brain is active and guess where the characters hideout?  Yes, you have knocked on the door, rang the bell and now you have huffed and puffed the proverbial threat, all while trying to color between the lines.

One thing that I find that assist me is I will put the project up, and work on something else, such as this blog.  Hours, days, weeks, and even months later, I will start at the beginning of the project and reread it.  There you will find the epiphany.  The Ah-Ha moment will become apparent and you will see where your GPS took you on a wrong turn.  You might have to scrap a few paragraphs or chapters, but that is how my process works.  In ten years, I have written well over thirty novels, so I must know something.

The literary process, to me, is the gold standard of how I wish to live.  How can I tell the best there while remaining true to who and what I am?  Truth over lies, love over hate and yes, and a dirty mind is necessary at times to keep it real.

We are the perfect juxtaposition of Jekyll, and Hyde, only most of us ‘hide’ that dark side while putting on our happy face.  In my books, I rip the Band-Aids off.  One of my critics told me that she did not like the F word.  Umm, don’t read it.  If my characters use that vernacular guess what, the F word is there.

Honesty, truth, and kindness will take you far in life.  Knowing who you are will assist you through those bleak times when the blank page is striking fear into your heart.

“Write the shitty first draft and own it!”

 

Much Love -TW