Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

5 Reasons Religion Should Just Go Away

If you've read Under a Broken Sun, you know there is a battle going on philosophically between the atheists and religious extremists throughout the novel.  The religious extremists believe the end of the world has come, and are determined to rid the world of the non-believers who have been left behind.  The atheists are determined to find out what happened and how they can get the planet back to its original status.

Some may argue that both are equally annoying, but something I wrote in college still sticks with me today:

The world will never know peace until religion has gone away.  For good.

Why?  Shouldn't religion fix our problems?  Teach us compassion?  Should.  But then again unicorns should be abundant in the world but they aren't.

Here's why:

1)  Religion, specifically the Abrahamic religions, continue to put our fate and control in the hands of some other being.  Anything we can't explain we attribute to some other being.  This removes our own self-determination in our lives, not just on an individual level, but on a global scale.  This is why climate change is so hard to get into some people's heads:  the earth's atmosphere and movements and climate are too big for us to affect.  Hurricanes are God's will (or punishment for sin).  Really?  And our impact on the climate had no effect on the increase or changes in hurricane occurrences?  Do we really think of ourselves as that small and insignificant that we can't take care of the earth and cure diseases and conquer space?  Of course we do, because we're not God.

2)  In conjunction with #2 above, religion discourages critical thinking.  In some areas, like the 2012 Texas Republican Party specifically have as their core belief:\


Take a good hard look at that.  They oppose anything that challenges a student's fixed beliefs.  Every religion opposes that.  To do so is to question every aspect of the religious text, and time and time again when challenges religious texts fail miserably.

3) Abrahamic religions in particular continue the massive war against women.  You cannot pray to a God you refer to as a male day in and day out and NOT think of men as superior to women.  This has become so ingrained in our culture that women have had to struggle for two-thousand years just to gain equal respect.  The thought of paying them the same wage for the same job is actually something America is debating.  Like it's something with pros and cons.  That's how ingrained into our culture this belief is.  

4)  Religion encourages illogical thinking.  The earth revolves around the sun.  The earth is flat.  When you die your soul, you, your personhood, remains in a heavenly place for all eternity.  Because of 1 and 2 above, many people look past logical fallacies and just nod and go about their business.  So much so that their focus in life becomes what will happen to them after they die.  But think about the logical behind the assertions of any faith:  God is all encompassing, all-powerful, everywhere and everything.  Yet man has free will.  Why isn't man God?  How can man have free will over an omnipresent being?  How can there be anything or any action that is NOT God?  The cherry picking of the Bible is a good example of how the logical fallacy of "begging the question" is thrown about by Christians - it's in the Bible, the Bible is the word of God, so it must be true.  
5)  Religion encourages, and is defined by, separatism.  This is the crux of the argument:  by its very nature, by its definition, religion implies that you are going to receive a reward in the afterlife for believing in something and everyone else who doesn't ISN'T.  This creates the need for evangelism, so that those who haven't heard the good word can be saved, but it implies that they are separate from you, and thus, worth less.  And why not?  You are separate from God and thus worth less than Him.  It only makes sense.  


But Kev, you might say, where the hell is the optimism that should be abounding in all of this?

Right Here.  America is shedding its religious shackles and increasing critical thinking.  Women as equals are rising.  Logic is prevailing.  We are being shown that Iraqis bleed the same as Americans, and that the human race is more powerful than a group of humans.  Why this is all happening now is another topic (the internet) but suffice to say this is important, and in some regards, inevitable.  As we move forward in the twenty-first century, as more information becomes available within seconds, we will find answers to questions previously answered with a command of "Don't ask."  We will drift towards social thought and global action.  We will look at ourselves as Humans, not Christians, or Muslims or Jews.  

That's something to be optimistic about: equality.  Peace.

If you're religious, and this post offends you, ask yourself why.  What is it about your own beliefs, and the ever-so-tenuous hold you have on them, that causes you to be defensive about them?  Have I struck a nerve?  Hit too close to home?  Said something you wish you could say but are 'afraid'?

Shed your fear.  Forget about what happens after you die.  Worry about what you can make happen while you live.

Peace out, and WRITE ON!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Is there a United States of America?

I'm heading to Gettysburg today to play some good old fashioned old time base ball, with no mitts, no batting helmets, weird rules, and a cow pasture for a field.  Great times!

I've been to Gettysburg several times, and love being able to appreciate the battles fought there and the sacrifices made by so many to ensure the unity of these states.

I know the confederate flag is a hot topic right now, or at least will be for another week or so until something else comes along, so I thought I'd weigh in on my opinion as to why a piece of cloth with stars and lines and colors is such a big deal.

To me, it's not about racism, it's not about state's rights, it's about history.  So that's where I'm going to focus.

To sum up, this is such a big deal because in my humble opinion, the war isn't over.  Not by a generation.

Oh sure, treaties were signed and slaves were set free and we've continued the march towards equality (especially in light of the gay marriage ruling), but that doesn't mean the hearts and minds of the captured have been transformed.  Remember, the civil war ended just over 150 yeras ago.  That's two generations.  Someone who's alive today had a great-great grandfather fight in the civil war.  That's not a lot of time.

And why is it not over?  Because we won't let it be.  We're terrified to face the truth about the civil war, which is this:

1)  It wasn't about slavery.  Oh sure, there's slavery written into the constitutions of the states, and slavery was the main source of income generation in the south, and all signs point to it being about slavery.  But if it truly was, and the north one, and slavery was abolished, why does the divide continue to this day?  Why do four states still celebrate a separate confederate memorial day?  Is it because they're so proud of their ancestors fighting to keep slaves?   Are they proud of their bigotry?  Some are, perhaps, yes.  There are no shortages of white supremacists in the country.  But they're an aberration, statistically speaking.  A blip on the radar.  The states still continuing to fly the confederate flag, holding confederate day ceremonies, in my opinion, still desperately WANT to be the CSA.

Texas has mentioned it before, and has the option in its constitution.  Mississippi took 148 years to think about the thirteenth amendment before making it official.  South Carolina just took down the confederate flag flying over the capital as I'm sure you all know.

You see a pattern?  We're not done with this war thing.

The second big thing we're afraid to face?  We're letting another foreign country celebrate their killing of Americans on American soil with monuments and consecration of grounds that we would never allow another foreign country to do.

2)  The CSA was, in its mind, a foreign country.  We refuse to recognize that objective.

And that may be intentional.  We may never want to forget the fact that the CSA was before 1861 the United States.  But I question whether we should or whether that recognition is propagating the secessionist ideal.

Here's another way to look at it.  Many of us have relatives that fought in the civil war.  Many of us have relatives that fought in the Revolutionary War.  FOR THE BRITISH.  Why, then, aren't there Union Jacks flying around as part of our "heritage"?   Why, at Revolutionary War battle sites, are there no monuments to the Queen's Rangers or such?

Because we recognize them as the enemy, and the USA as the victors, and treat the battlefields as such.  But in civil war battle sites, while there is a victor or loser (or in the case of Antietam, neither) we don't recognize the CSA as a separate country.

Should we?  My position is that each soldier carrying a weapon against the Union Army was no longer an American.  They died Confederate Soldiers, not as Americans.  Now it is a logical argument to make that since the US government didn't recognize the CSA (as did no one else in the world except maybe Britain), that they never really left the USA.  But here's where my point comes in:  in their mind, they did.  They renounced their citizenship when they took up arms against the government.

At best that makes them traitors, at worst foreign invaders (in the case of Gettysburg).  So to keep monuments up to the Confederate soldiers is to say "This monument is in memorial to those soldiers who gave their lives in an attempt to break away from the US and create a new country, one founded on state's rights, etc. etc."  Sound familiar?  A little like our own revolutionary war?

Except the CSA lost.  The CSA is a ghost, relegated to history as should all of its warriors, battle flags and achievements.  Instead, we celebrate it.

To me, this is like letting Japan put up monuments to their fallen kamikaze pilots around Pearl Harbor.  If we did that, wouldn't we continue to brew hatred with the Japanese?  If some continued to fly the Union Jack and held beliefs that America should be part of the British Empire, wouldn't we continue to harbor hatred towards England?

So we continue to bring forth the CSA and keep it forefront of our mind, and thus we continue the civil war.  Will this ever change?  I don't think so.  And because it won't, we will continue to fight a vicious civil war.  Not with guns and ammo, but with words and laws and politics.  And that's even more dangerous.

My hope is that we forget the CSA.  Keep it in the history books where it belongs as a failed idea and a pointless endeavor.  My hope is that we focus on the future and unite the states once and for all, not through force or coercion, but because it's who we are.  As Americans.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Change is coming!

I can see it now.  You've all clicked here to see what change I'm talking about.  How big is it?  How will it affect me?  Will it be minor, major or unnoticeable?

Image result for caitlyn jenner
Or really really noticeable

I don't actually know.

Sorry, I hope that wasn't too great a letdown.  But here's my point.  Change is always coming.  It's inevitable, even when you look outside your window.  But that's cliche and boring and everyone knows the only constant is change.  My point is more having to do with how we react.

Did your curiosity lead you to this page based on fear?  Or was it based on excitement?  See, I think there's two types of people in the world, those that embrace change and those that fight against it with all their might.  And everyone else who falls in between.  Ok, there are 7 billion types of people in the world but that's beside the point.

Let's call it a scale.  And where you are on the change acceptance scale usually tells us if you're going to be a jerk about change, or you're going to be laid back and Jeff Bridges "The Dude" like about change.  
Image result for old and grumpy
Wanna guess where he falls on the spectrum?

The impact of change on our lives normally influence our response to the change.  A small change to our morning routine may tick us off a bit, but a large change to government policy may make us lose our mind and do something stupid like watch Fox News.  Things we're used to doing every day are easier for us than things we have to learn about every day.  Things we've always believed are truer than things someone just told us for the first time.  These are given.

But what keeps us from staying more towards The Dude end of the spectrum?  Why can I handle change of a boyfriend (cuz he was a moron anyway) but I can't handle a change in the casting of Batman?
Image result for adam west batman
I'll never forgive them

I have a theory.  It's an economic theory mixed in with a psychological theory with just a dab of evolutionary theory on top just for kicks.

We talked about the impact to our lives.  We'll call that "the impact to our lives".  Now add to that our rock solid, deep, core inner faith in something, which we'll call "trust", and you can see where you fall on the scale.  If the impact is huge (Iranians will now have the capability to destroy the entire USA with nuclear bombs sent down from space stations orbiting the moon) and your faith in something is low (Obama is only slightly more intelligent than liquid soap), you're liable to be freaking the heck out.

Image result for examples of mass hysteria
America learns about Ben Affleck as Batman

So how do you change your spot on the spectrum?  Focus on one of those two things, and then CHANGE them (see how I did that?)  This provides two benefits:  one, YOU control the change to your own thought processes, and two you'll feel better about the change coming your way.

So in the above example, you could a) research the impact (will they really rain hellfire from above with the whole world watching their every move?)  or b) raise your level of faith (usually requiring disparate views of the topic, by, let's say, not watching Fox and looking at non-biased sources).

Image result for dumbest people
Don't be this guy

A third option is to avoid the change entirely.  Now, that's not really an option in the scenario above, unless you wanna take on the US Government, but if it's a change coming your way that you can avoid, you have that power.  You can act.  Even if it's writing a letter, or campaigning against DA MAN, or finding a new job instead, you do have the power to take matters into your own hands.  Usually, however, you'll find that takes faith again, either in yourself, or in the people you need to help you avoid that change.

In any case, hopefully you'll see that the change isn't as bad as you thought.  Sometimes the leap of faith is huge (Especially when dealing with anything related to the government), and sometimes the impact may be greater than you think.  Sometimes avoiding the change may be more work than you anticipated.  But never give up.  Change is coming.  And you CAN control your response to it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Some personal opinions...

Ok, I know the purpose of my blog is to help you follow the creation process, but seeing as how I'm in the midst of revisions to The Timepiece Chronicles, I can only tell you to check your spelling so many times before it becomes just like any other blog in the world.  So to differentiate this blog from the others, I have to put myself into it.

After all, it is MY blog. 


 
So there


My first topic is one I stumbled upon today and that I can't believe is still an issue in an educated society:  breastfeeding in public.  I joined in the debate on this hot topic (no pun intended) and found it appalling that people are still "offended" by this natural display of human growth and survival.

Offended?  By what, exactly?

See, the offense part is what gets me.   I'm not going to get into the whole dehumanization of the female figure in our society, or the role that religion has played in making us disgusted by natural acts of sex, reproduction, or whatever--

--oh who am I kidding, of course I am!

 
Of course....mwahahaha
 
If you're a religious sort, breastfeeding in public should be a joyful revelation in the wonderment of your god.  God created woman TO SUSTAIN LIFE ON HER OWN!  Holy crap, that's amazing!  And by amazing, I mean truly FULL OF AMAZE.  Have you ever thought about it?  The fuel necessary to grow a baby into a child is contained in the very person that grew that baby from a fetus?  It's incredible!

Ah, but there's the scary side of religion.  The part that has forever worked its butt off to make women a lesser species.  All Abrahamic religions do this:  Eve bit the apple, and every woman since can bite God's ass.  They need to be subservient, cover themselves up, and STOP TEMPTING MEN GODDAMIT.  

That means YOU Ms. White!

Pardon my French, dear fans, but I say Bullshit.  Lies told by men to stop people worshiping the goddess called Mother Earth.  It made sense at the time, right?  Mother earth gives birth to crops and all other animals give birth and women give birth, so women and the earth must be the same and thus women must be totally kick ass and awesome.

But noooooooo, guys have to come along and screw things up and make up some shit about a MALE God gettin' all pissed off about women because they ate from the tree of knowledge (catch that?  The Tree of Knowledge?  Meaning the original sin was to try and know more.  Think about that).

 
Religion's Preferred Audience

Fast forward 4000 years, and women can't even feed their children in public.  And that's all this is:  feeding her child.  Breasts are offensive?  Please.  The thoughts YOU put behind the breasts are offensive.  Yes, they play a part in the act of sexual intercourse, but really, she's not having a twenty-three year old man at her breast, it's a baby.  And if you're offended that means you're looking more at the breast, and not at the baby and the beauty of the process.  And if you're doing that, you're having some wicked thoughts that you probably should go to church to purge yourself of.  So get over it, change your thoughts, and raise a glass to that kid drinking away.  Who knows, he may raise a breast to you in return!

DAMN it feels good to get that out!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Optimism is NOT Hope

I may have written this before, but so be it.  Apologies for repetition, but if I had, this bears repeating.

Optimism abounds in all of us, but don't confuse that with hope.  Hope is a good thing, but it is a wishful thing.  It is a thought that we have that things will fall in our favor.  It's not a bad thing, but it's not the very best of things.

Because it eliminates our role in the outcome.

Optimism, however, is the belief that we have the same chance as others.  That we can make things happen.  Andy Dufrane in The Shawshank Redemption said "...hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."  But Andy made his own escape, it didn't just happen.  When you "hope" for something you wait for it to happen.

I'm tired of "hoping" my book sells.  Starting today, I'm going to be optimistic that I can make it sell.

Are you optimistic about your ability to complete your story, publish it, have it sell?  Or are you just "hoping"?  


Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Results are In!

My first giveaway on GoodReads has completed, and twenty people will soon be receiving signed copies of Under A Broken Sun.  I'm humbled to say over one thousand people signed up, and the twenty winners hail from four different countries, as far away as Australia! 

Can you imagine?  Your book in Australia!?

Well, GoodReads Giveaway is a great way to do that.  While it's only for print copies, and usually reserved for new releases, it increased my exposure tremendously and added five hundred people to my "Want to Read" list.  Even at 10% sales rate that's an additional 50 copies sold, and the giveaway was free to post.  Ok, so shipping and handling is on me, but it's well worth it, and well worth the potential reviews (hopefully positive!)

So if you haven't checked out advertising on GoodReads yet, and possibly going for a giveaway, take a look at the results below:


NOW, I should note, that I did do supplemental advertising while the promotion was going on.  Only spent about $13 though.  GoodReads fans are avid book lovers, and can't pass up a freebie.  I do have to sign them all, but c'mon, what fledgling self-published author doesn't love signing books?  Every signature is another copy in someone's hands.

Oh, and by the way, yes I still get nervous every time I send one out.  Self-published authors have absolutely no one else to blame.  Spelling errors?  My fault.  Missing words or chapters?  My fault.  I've gone over the book a million times, but I still worry.  That'll never go away.

Anyway, take a look, and WRITE ON!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Twitter advertising - Results so far

...not good. 

Now, before I go into the results, understand that this isn't a scientific study by any stretch.  There are so many other variables to take into consideration as to whether social media marketing works, beginning with "is your book any damn good?"

Well, I like to think the nearly 4 star average review on Amazon is good, but maybe it's not enough to justify the cost of the paperback or kindle.  Then again, maybe one or two reviews turns people off and they don't buy the book.  Or the price is out of their range.  Who knows.

Regardless, here's the background.

I started a twitter campaign on March 4, with a $100 max spend, and a max bid of $3 (more on that in a minute) and a max spend per day of $5.  Right there I've listed three variables that may have an impact on both the visibility of the ad and the timing.

The objective was to get people to click over to the Amazon site listing my book.  Obviously twitter can only lead the horses to water, it's up to me to make sure the Amazon site (i.e. the book summary) gets them to drink.  Another variable.

The details of the campaign I'll leave out, suffice to say I chose to advertise people who follow or talk about post-apocalyptic topics, as well as younger demographic tv shows and writers like John Stewart or Stephen King.

A bid, by the way, is listed as "how much a visitor to your website is worth", with a higher bid increasing your chances of your ad being shown.  I chose three dollars, because one person buying a book is a $3.86 profit to me from CreateSpace, so subtracting $3.00 still yields a profit.  I know, a little business-y for a writer's taste, but if you're self-publishing, get used to it.  You need to know this stuff.

Overall results then, so far:  1 book sold in paperback (woo-hoo!), 1 kindle ebook purchased, and 9 books borrowed or bought through Kindle Prime (which netted me about $1 in profit).  So, if this all holds true, I'll spend about $100 to make roughly $15.

Hardly worth it.

HOWEVER, on the plus side, twitter does offer a lot of demographics about who is clicking on the link, meaning who is interested in your book enough to go check it out.

Right now I've got a click through rate of roughly .5%.   That means for every thousand people seeing my ad, maybe five will click on it.  That may sound really low, but that's the equivalent of spamming people, and .5% is actually pretty good, according to the stats you can find here.  

But of the 116 people who clicked to my site, only 11 of them bought a book, which means interest is at about 9%.  Not good.

I'm written too much here, so I'll carry on next with determining the best point for advertising and return on investment - finding the sweet spot so to speak.  But again, I have to stress I'm not a PR expert and this isn't a scientific study.  It's all specific to me and the variables of my work.  In other words, results may vary.

In the meantime, if you have questions you'd like to ask, feel free to comment here, or find me on Goodreads here and drop me a question there.  And most definitely, WRITE ON!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Read it outloud!!

Final phase of editing before releasing it to the public in book form, and this, my friends, is the single most important part.  Read your entire book out loud.  Pretend you're making an audio book.  Do voices if you want.  Mumble on the bus to work like I did for two weeks straight.  It's ok.  It's winter.  Throw on a tattered hoodie and forget to shower and people just think you're a crazy person.


Why is it so important?


Because our brilliant mind can auto-translate and buzz over misspelled words without us even knowing it.  Reading your book isn't good enough, because the mind works too well and efficiently:  you need to slow yourself down, and reading out loud does that.  It forces you to go line by line.


Take, for example, this little beauty I picked up in my own book after reading it to myself, oh, seven or eight times:
 
I pulled Bill back a bit.  “What the hell are you doing?”
“Giving you a chance,” Bill said.
“Yeah, but this isn’t really a ‘giving you a chance’ kinda moment.  This is serious stuff.”
“Do you honestly think there’s anything out there you can’t handle?  Worse than the lake?  Worse than what you told me about in Pittsburgh?  You’ve seen the worst nature has to offer, and you’re still here.  Anyone who can cover the ground you’ve covered, keeping his team intact, is ok with me.”
I stood there, frozen and confused.  Me?   I looked around the room.  Ashley didn’t smile, she just put her two pistols into her jeans.  “He’s right,” she said.
Louie looked down at his shoes.  “I don’t want to go with anyone else.”
Tommy hoisted his sniper rifled on his shoulder and gave me a nod. 
The general shook his head.  “Not these three.  Bill - for chrissakes, they’re just kids.”
“Not anymore sir.  They stopped being kids a long time ago.”
No argument from anyone.  The room grew quiet.  “Fine.  Bill, you’re in charge, Dawson’s second in command.  Get those people organized and get ‘em ready.  Let’s move.”


Did you catch it?  Don't feel bad if you didn't, like I said I buzzed over it seven or eight times.  Spell check accepted it because it's a real word (although it doesn't make any sense in context), and my mind saw it and instantly dismissed it because it knew what it should've said.


If you read it out loud, you go line by line.  Slowly.  And then you catch it:


Tommy hoisted his sniper rifled on his shoulder and gave me a nod. 


RIfled.  A d.  One simple letter that doesn't belong. 


There were plenty of other examples that I caught by reading the book out loud.  It does take time, it slows you down to a crawl and burns inside your "get this thing out as quickly as you can" center, but it's well worth it.  Trust me.


So read it out loud, and WRITE ON!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to spot a "show don't tell" violation

More revisions?  Like to find those areas you could improve, like searching for the word "was"?


Search for any narration that includes distance.  Words like "about", "miles", "feet", "yards".


These are boring descriptions that leave the reader trying to imagine what 100 yards really looks like.  Ever notice how many times people refer to football fields when talking about distance?  It's because we can visualize a football field. 

About is usually a dead give away, unless you're describing what something is about.  And again, it's ok for characters to use this, as people do this all the time, but the narrator shouldn't.  It's just boring, because we're not interested in metrics or area or what have you. 

For Example:

The road stretched for about two miles ahead of us.  First of all, I can't visualize two miles, because even in the flattest heartland of Kansas, you may not be able to actually see two miles.  But regardless, this is boring.  The road stretched out ahead of us until it shrank into itself on the horizon gives you a better visualization.  When Andy Dufrane crawled through a half-mile of the foulest smelling shit you could think of, Stephen King made sure we knew that was "five and half football fields". 

That's a long way.

If something is about a hundred yards away, you could say the person of interest was so far away they appeared slightly larger than my thumb.  Or Jim Lovell used to block out the moon with the tip of his thumb, indicating how far away something that big was.

How deep is the ocean?  Don't answer in miles.  Someone going two miles below the surface of the ocean is hard to visualize.  Someone going so deep in the ocean that the sun, without a single cloud to block it, vanished like God had pulled the string and clicked it off, is in pretty deep. 

A little flowery, I know, but you get the point.  Watch for places where your narrator is telling us about distances and you'll find plenty of gold pieces you just need to dust off.

So?  Go get crackin' and WRITE ON!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Search for the WAS

How to find weak writing in your manuscript?  Search for the word WAS.


Most of the time, as I'm going through my book, I find this word describing something, which is the antithesis to the "Show, don't tell" mantra.  It definitely tells, most of the time.


When I find it, usually there are three things that are happening:
  1. I'm being lazy, and can beef up the action verb more.  "The sun was setting", for example, versus "the setting sun exploded color...". The verb went from "was" to "exploded" which is much more engaging.
  2. I'm using the passive voice.  Never good.  "The building was blown up by the militants" instead of "the militants destroyed the building".  Again, a more exciting action verb.
  3. I'm trying to use a metaphor, but again, being lazy:  "she looked at me like I was crazy" as opposed to "she stared at me like my head had just sprung open and butterflies flew out". 

HOWEVER, there are times when I keep the WAS in.
  1. In dialogue.  Yes, it's not as exciting, but that's how people speak.  Take any of the three items above and put quotes around it, and you've just made your teen sound like a Harvard grad.
  2. When it's require for past-perfect tense.  Like when a character is rehashing an event prior to the one they're in, or when they're remembering something.  "I remember he was running down the corridor" is perfectly ok because it's part of the past perfect tense. 
So I'm searching through my manuscript now and every time I see a "was" I look for these different items.  This is when the rubber meets the road, where your writing skills are really tested.  This is where an author could spend an hour on a single sentence.  This is what separates the pros from the unpublished.  So get searching, and

WRITE ON!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

3 Fears That Keep Writers from Writing

Ok, these are my three, and I'm no psycho-analytical genius, so take them for what they're worth.  But c'mon, every one of us that has either not been published or has self-published have stopped writing at some point, right?  We may call it writer's block, but there's something deeper than just trying to figure out another word for "like". 


We're afraid.


Of what, you may ask?  Why, if I love writing the way I do, would I possibly be so afraid as to STOP writing?  You can't be published if you stopped writing.  In fact, 100% of all unfinished novels that have never seen the light of day are UNPUBLISHED (that one's a fact.)


So why do we stop writing?


1.  FEAR OF SUCCESS.


This is a weird one, so I thought I'd throw it out first.  What does Fear of Success mean?  Who the heck would ever be afraid of success?  Money, fame, fortune, a beautiful model on each arm (depending on the tolerance level of your spouse).  Sounds great, right?


Wrong.  What does Success really entail?  CHANGE.  Imagine your book finally getting published.  Selling.  Through the proverbial roof, in fact.  What does that mean?  Changes to your lifestyle.  And I don't mean a brand new Porsche.  I mean possibly quitting your job.  Having to look for health insurance as a self-employed individual.  If you have kids, it might mean less time with them.  More time writing, but with greater, stricter deadlines.  Flights to weird places.  Book signings.  Marketing work, all while you still try to hang on to your crummy day job that you can't wait to quit but you have to keep because the royalties from last month just paid for a new printer and not much else.

How do you overcome this?  You face the fear, you imagine your life as a success, and you plan for it.  You organize your future life to understand what the change will mean, and make the change less of a scary "oh my God my life will be totally turned upside down" and more of a "man I can't wait."

Fear gone.  Until it's replaced by:



2.  FEAR OF FAILURE.



Yes, this is something that every author has so I won't bog you down with clich├ęs and obvious points.  You know what this means.  You know how it feels.  You see the rejection letters, hear the "It was good" reviews from your closest friends, and you know you've just dropped your drawers in front of three agents at a writer's workshop and had each of them laugh at you.  You've failed.


So how do you overcome it?   EXPECT FAILURE.  Welcome it.  Relish the rejection letters, and never accept a critique of "it was pretty good".  Failure means progression, pure and simple.  Without it, you can't recognize what needs to change.  Without it, you only know you're NOT doing something.  Like Edison famously once said, "I didn't fail 1000 times, I found 1000 ways to NOT make a light bulb".  Find those ways.  Don't, of course, drive yourself to failure.  That'd be silly.  But realize each time you think you've failed, that you're a real writer.


And then, you'll only be left with:


3.  THE FEAR OF EXPOSING YOURSELF



This is an altogether different type of fear, based on the reason WHY you're writing.  We write because we love the act of creating worlds, characters, being charge, playing God, whatever.  But really, deep down inside, we write because we have something to say.  My author friends, the published ones, have written very personal narratives that touch on social issues they feel people need to be aware of.  K.M. Walton's CRACKED, about not just bullying but why someone might bully, is a very relevant social topic.   SPEAK, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a wonderful story about a very troubling social issue of rape.  Even if the story isn't that heavy, like my book The Timepiece Chronicles (link above), there still is a theme to our writing that we want others to come away with (in my book it's about the importance of not fighting what happened in the past).


But what if your theme causes controversy, or you're seen as an expert when really you just wanted to express your opinion?  Or what if people argue against you, or challenge you?  That can be scary.


So, again, how do you overcome it?  TRUST YOURSELF WITH THE STORY.  You've written about this for a reason.  You know it in your heart to be true, no matter how many people take offense, or challenge you, or want more from you.  Hopefully, in your research, you've become somewhat of an expert, and hopefully you are passionate about it that you won't stop learning more.  You can stand your ground, accept the challenges, or promote your idea from the highest mountaintop if you believe in yourself, and believe in your ability to deliver the message.


We're all messengers.  Every single one of us that writes has a message to send.  Trust yours, and trust yourself to deliver it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

5 Things I've Learned About CreateSpace

After a lengthy sabbatical, I've picked up the blog pen again to keep you abreast of my adventures in self-publishing land.


To catch everyone up:  I was offered two eBook agreements by small time post-apocalyptic eBook publishers, and after wrestling with my indecision, I chose not to do either.  Stupid, perhaps, but some part of me felt that this was something I had to do alone.


Fast forward to today - I'm in the midst of editing the printed version of my book, after getting it to CreateSpace via Amazon.  It's print-on-demand, so there's no cost, just a percentage of your sales.  As opposed to publishing houses like AuthorHouse, I think this is totally worth it.  Sure other places like AuthorHouse offer a lot of perks, but they're also expensive.


So, without further ado:  5 things I've learned about CreateSpace:
  1. It's pretty easy to use, but the layout must be exactly to their specs.  Don't mess with it, or your book will look amateurish. 
  2. It does require an ISBN number.  If you're self published and don't have one yet, get one.  It's about $129, and if you go through CreateSpace to get it they'll add it to their distribution list for libraries.  Not really relevant for an R-rated book such as Under a Broken Sun, but definitely something I'm going to do with The Timepiece Chronicles.
    1. NOTE:  Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing does NOT require an ISBN - they assign an Amazon number regardless.  So if you're not planning on printing, don't worry about it.
    2. However, if you want to protect your work thoroughly, it does help ;)
    3. I pretty much just added 2 because my teacher always said when outlining every 1 must have at least a 2.
  3. The cover can be a bit tricky, but if you have the cover for your eBook already prepared, it's not too hard to get it into the format and size CreateSpace requires.  Just don't expect a "slam it in" or as the old infomercial used to say, "set it and forget it".  It'll take some tweaking.
  4. The site overall does a good job of walking you through what you need, and letting you know if something doesn't fit or doesn't work.
  5. Finally, when you get it all complete, for about $12 you can send yourself a PROOF copy to review and edit.  I HIGHLY recommend this, one because it's TOTALLY COOL to see your book in soft cover for the first time, and two, it's a lot easier to edit when it's in book form, because you read it like a real book.  And if you're like me, you'll find a lot of errors you would've caught in any real book.
That's it for now.  In the interest of keeping blogs short, I'll sign off.

Coming up:  trouble with my inner child, and how that stopped me from writing, and 10 reasons why I left Apple and switched to Surface Pro 3.

Later on, my writing family!

Popular Posts