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How do some novelists write book after book after book?

I recently started answering some questions over on Quora. I thought I’d share them here now. This particular question is a good one, one that is asked a lot…

*************** Answer *************

Lots of people will be telling you “they write crap.” They aren’t completely wrong. There are some authors who do churn out “crap”, but what you call crap and what the readers like might be the same thing.

Take James Patterson for example. He writes a lot of books, and he sells A LOT of books. He sells them because people love them. Even Chuck Tingle, who clearly writes toward the ridiculous, can churn out a book a week, and sells enough books to never work again.

Then there’s Stephen King who wrote so many books a year that he kept manuscripts in his drawer because the editors refused to publish more than one a year. He eventually publishd under a pseudonym just so that he could do something with the work he had done. And he has contributed a huge amount of work to the horror genre, and inspired many people to build upon his foundations.

List of prolific writers – Wikipedia who have more than 150 books to their name, some with more than 1000. Nora Roberts, RL Stine, Issac Asimov, and more.

Are they geniuses? You might consider some of them to be. But really, if you pay attention to what these authors have to say you realize that it isn’t genius that drives them. They simply want to create a story, and they write it. They don’t agonize over every word, or rewrite 50 times like their counterparts who write less than a book a year. They just write. In Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and On Writing Stephen King both authors insist that anyone can write. Bradbury even suggests writing a short story a week every week for a year (because no one can write 52 bad short stories.)

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, by Rachel Aaron and 5, 000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox offer some fantastic tips and tricks to help you write more consistently, and steadily increase your word count per day. Because really that’s what it comes down to. The more you write the more words you have down on a page, and the faster you get to the end of a novel. The more you practice writing the better your writing becomes. The more finished novels, short stories and novels you have the more practice you have at completing work.

Writing, noveling, is a job. A plummer can’t take a day off because he just doesn’t feel like it. An neither can an author. Call it crap if you want (and clearly a lot of people do) but that doesn’t mean you can’t write a good novel quickly if you just take the time to do so.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Back Again

I took a short break from social media. It did me good to step away from the drama, and look at my beliefs with a critical eye and decide what was important to me, and if I truly believed them enough to stand on those beliefs.

The truth is no one knows everything. we’re all learning from day to day, moment to moment. And none of us have all the answers. If we did then there wouldn’t be so much contention in the world. My core beliefs, the things that I hold most dear, have always hinged upon that fact. That I don’t know everything, and I should be willing to examine my beliefs in order to make sure they still hold true.

Oddly enough I learned this lesson in church. I don’t go to church anymore because I don’t consider myself a Christian, but there were many good things I learned there. One of the things they taught in the churches I went to is that you should examine and know your beliefs. It’s based on the idea that when someone asks you a question about the church, or the gospel, that you will have an answer because you know what you believe in. It’s the fundamental belief of most philosophers that if your belief can not stand up to scrutiny then the scrutiny is not the problem. Your belief is.

So I took the time to pars my beliefs and to really hold them up to a light. The belief that violence, outside of self defense, is not the answer. The belief that endless war is not the answer. The belief that EVERYONE has a right to speak, and assemble even if I don’t agree with what they have to say.

I’m not a violent person. I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t enjoy being harassed, but I think I can’t stay silent anymore. And the harassment will surely follow. If anything has been shown to me recently it is this: If you don’t believe in the group think 100% then you are their enemy. And they will hit you, even if they don’t know for sure what you said.

And that’s the point that scared me the most. All of the thousands of people rejoicing that “the nazi got punched” probably never actually watched any of his videos. They probably had no idea what he actually talked about. I know I only have a vague idea, and what I saw I found distasteful and turned it off. But I didn’t feel like punching him over it.

Then there is Milo and the riots. A man who is gay, prefers black men, and talks about equality for all people. Granted, some of his ideas are little out there, but I have yet to see a single thing from him that makes him racist or a nazi. But no one actually listens to what he says, they just listen to what everyone else says about him and believe it without vetting.

If either of these men have ideas that can stand up to the light of day then maybe we should listen. If not then HOLD THEM UP TO THE LIGHT! Poke holes in their ideas. Show people what’s wrong with them. That is the proper response to someone spreading ideas you don’t like. Not punching. Not rioting. Not denying them their freedom to speak.

I’ll leave with this final quote:

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”  George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in On Writing

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Witch’s Sacrifice by Crissy Mossy

If you like dark fantasy, magic, witches and all things fiction this is the book for you. There is action and drama. It makes your heart melt and then it leaves you in suspense. They story never lags and there is always something that peaks your interest.

Source: BOOK REVIEW: Witch’s Sacrifice by Crissy Mossy

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in On Writing

 

A Year in Writing

Well… It’s the new year and time to go over my stats for writing, as I have for the last four years. And boy is it an eye opener.

yearly-writingFirst, I wrote 20,000 words less than last year. Admittedly, last year was a fantastic year and I wrote 15k more than any other year. I also lost about 12k just by loosing NaNoWriMo this year. I took another huge dip around the time I switched jobs. Clearly major changes have made huge differences in my writing.

But all these numbers forced me to go back and really look at what I’ve accomplished over the last four years, not just in amount of words written, but what I’ve published.

I started publishing in 2012 with three short stories and a novella. Not bad for my first year. 2013 followed with 16 short stories, a novella, and a short novel. 2014 saw a single publication, and a short story at that. I had to go back to my stats for that year and find out if that was true. After two years of writing, and publishing tons of short stories suddenly…NOTHING! But there was a reason behind it. In 2014 I published one short story, and I wrote the majority of the three Witch’s Trilogy novels.

In 2015 I started actually publishing the Witch’s Trilogy. Two novels, and one little short story.

yearly-writing2And 2016, the year that we just finished? I finished the Witch’s trilogy, publishing Witch’s Stand in April, then added a short story prequel in May. I also published two more short stories in my Illicit Gain’s series (Mirror and Scarab Necklace) bringing the total to three short stories and a novel for 2016. What else did I do for 2016? I started on my next novel series. Of the 230k words I wrote this year the majority of them went to “Half-Blood Sorceress”.

When I first saw that list of publications, and how many of them happened in 2013 I was a little shocked. Then I remembered that a lot of the short stories I finished, and published, for that year were already half finished when I started writing them. That while it was a big publishing year it wasn’t a big writing year, I was just finishing words of half completed projects, not taking on as many new challenges.

Even though 2016 saw less writing over all, it was still a productive year. I completed the trilogy, found a new job, and started on a new series that I have already put down 78,400 words in just a few months.

I’m working to get the first two published in 2017. I do not know if that is possible because of editing and cover design, but at the very least they will be written. But since I’m focusing on Half-Blood Sorceress it means I might not publish anything else this year, just like 2014. And I think I’m okay with that.

The Witch’s Trilogy is good because I took the time I needed to write the books. I didn’t rush it, and I’m not going to rush Half-Blood Sorceress either. I want the series to be good, and go on. I have five books planned, after all, and I want to finish all of them.

Learning to write faster was a great help in 2015. It pushed me through, got Witch’s Trilogy finished, and helped me complete something. I need to find that fire again. That’s what I’ll be working on for 2017. Writing, finding the passion for the writing, and making it the priority again.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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This year…

Today is the 29th of December, just a few short days to go. While social media is a buzz with yet another celebrity death, and all the terrible things that have happened, I am going to look back on the good things. You don’t need me to remind you of anything bad that happened, I’m sure. Just read Facebook or Twitter for that.

On the good front…

My daughters moved out a few months ago. That has been a huge change in our lives. It’s quieter around the house, less arguing (though my son still likes to try and push back against us.) I can wake up most mornings to an empty house, and it’s marvelous!

Gregg has been doing such an awesome job with his leather work that he started getting commissions. He also started streaming on Twitch occasionally, which has made for a few changes around the house to accommodate that. But it’s worth it!

I got a new job six months ago, which was great for my piece of mind, and our house fund. Not great for my time schedule. I had been writing consistently for a while, and after the new job happened I had to figure that out again. Six months later I have (mostly) got it under control again. Now it’s just a matter of prioritizing things.

mirrorminiSpeaking of writing, I just published a new book. The Mirror. Judy inherited a house, and she found a mirror in the attic, but there’s something dark and sinister lurking inside the silvered glass.

I actually wrote this a while ago, and sent it out to my mailing list at the time. I have since rewritten it, adding parts, removing others, and generally making it better. At least I hope so.

All together I published a novel and three short stories this year. The Mirror, The Scarab Necklace, Witch’s Stand and Witch’s Sight. Also the boxed set for the Witch’s Trilogy. I also wrote nearly a quarter million words this year. No a bad year. I’d like to see what I can do with this coming year. I have a bunch of almost complete projects that I’d like to finish, and publish…now to put action to thought.

I also took my first flight. Looking down on the world from 39,000 feet. Everything seems so small and far away. It makes you feel a bit more insignificant. And then you’re landing, making your way through the airport, and realizing just how insignificant you really are to the other 7 billion people in the world.

In among all the good things, there were a few bad ones. And I mean the personal ones, not the ones listed on social media. Those are for better pundits to exam. For now I’m going to focus on the good, and remember that things have been worse. Things have been dark and bleak and at one point I really had no hope. But life changed, and I changed with it. And the same thing is happening with everyone else around me.

Here’s to 2017, the new hope. And the good, and bad, of 2016. May we learn from our experiences, and keep moving forward.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Review: Spectral

netflix-spectral-prostokat Part war movie, part sci-fi ghost story, Spectral was an amazing cross genre movie. A lot of action, a lot of mystery, and a whole lot of “what the heck just happened?” in a good way.

Set in a somewhat futuristic society where troops are trying to protect yet another city from displaced insurgents, a loan engineer finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Go back home and forget he saw anything, or stay and help figure out what’s killing soldiers and civilians alike. Ghost like apparitions that could be soldiers in invisible camouflage, or….something else.

The main focus of this movie is the battle between the soldiers, and the apparitions, less about the personal interactions. You won’t find a sappy love story, or heart warming coming to know yourself. This is all about the action. And there is a lot of it.

spectralgrenadesThe “ghosts” are grounded in some pseudo science, giving some explanation as to what they are and where they came from. As is the weaponry the soldiers fight with. But the pseudo science is really glossed over, and you can’t take a look at it too closely or you might see just how unrealistic it is. However, some of the visuals they use to get the science across is pretty amazing. Weapons, armor, and techno gizmos are awesome to look at, and a cos-players dream.

Being as this was an action movie, above all else, I had to appreciate some of the military tactics, while scoffing at others. They do make a convincing formation moving into a building. They do not, however, utilize tactics for entering an unknown location. Information is the key, and they didn’t seem to have much before rushing into a building headlong. Plus one of the scientists is so head strong that she takes some stupid risks to prove her point. Bad tactical risks.

I also found it curious how quickly their engineer was able to whip up a bunch of gadgets. The world is about to end and he has time to make enough weaponry to outfit an entire battalion? Hard to suspend your disbelief on that one, but the ending battle was glorious because of it.

For all the pseudo science, I did find the lore of the ghosts to be interesting. I liked how they presented them, and how they stopped them. The visual effects were beautiful, as well. The ghosts had just enough weak points to made the battle scenes more interesting, but were still a formidable foe. It was only the Achilles heel that managed to take them out in the end.

Still, for a military sci-fi movie, it isn’t so overbearingly military that I lost interest, and the paranormal has enough of an interesting angle that it might keep more action junkies happy to the end.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in Review

 

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NaNoWriMo Aftermath

It’s December, that means holiday cheer, Christmas music, and reflecting back on NaNoWriMo, and what I learned this year.

Ifnov you were following my twitter you might already know that I failed NaNoWriMo this year. In fact it’s the first time in over five years that I’ve lost NaNo. I only got 38,309 words written. Still, I managed an average of 1200 words a day, which isn’t a bad showing. But I didn’t win.

This year was a very slow start. I remember being frustrated, and having to force myself to sit down and write for that first week. And even when I did finally sit down I didn’t have a lot of time. I often became tired, and just gave up after 800-1200 words with the idea that I’d make it up the next week. Only the next week didn’t come. Not really.

I had my moments. Days in which I hit 2200, one glorious moment when I hit 3200. But it was the small days in which I only got 300, or 400 words that caused me to fail. If I had written at least 1000 words a day then the other days, the days when I strove for better, when the story was hitting it’s mark, I would have earn my 50,000 words.

But, there’s a lesson to be learned from the failing, and that is why I do NaNoWriMo every year. Not for the win, not for the words I get ahead in my writing (though that’s nice) but for the things I learn about myself.

This year my heart just didn’t seem to be in NaNoWriMo. It was hard to write, hard to find the words, hard to follow the story at times. I think there were three things that lead to my inability to write as much as I would have liked.

My story wasn’t focused.

I am a both a plotter, and a pantser. I write simple beat style plots for my story (x did this, then did this, then this happened.) Then from those notes I do the actual story. Most of the time it works, but it really depends on how detailed the plot is. Sometimes, like this time, the story grows outside of the original beats and I have to completely rework the novel. This time I had a 2600 word plot exasperated into individual chapters, which a running story line going through it all. But after writing it I realized that pacing and character development weren’t completed. I needed more story. Whole chapters and scenes needed to be added in. More characters created.

I ended up having to rewrite the entire plot line to see what I had already written, and what was missing. That took a couple days, and I still need to do more of it for the last few chapters. The novel is 35,000 words at the moment, but I’m only about half way through the novel.

This plot shifting caused a huge hiccup in my writing schedule. I had to figure out what I was writing before I could even attempt to go forward. But once I did figure it out I had some really good word count days.

My family was more important.

My schedule changed when I got a new job a few months ago. The new schedule means that I go to bed shortly before Gregg (my boyfriend) is getting up. I often get home to find him already asleep, or headed that way. This means we don’t get as much quality time together. And, to be frank, that sucks.

We have had to consciously make time for one another. Adjust sleep schedules. Nap if needed. Anything so that we can spend a little bit of time with one another. My writing has suffered because I’d rather spend time with my boyfriend when I’m able, talking, laughing, and enjoying his company, than finishing my book.

Hopefully our schedules will be more compatible after January, but only time will tell for sure.

I was distracted.

Election day was November 8th, and like many people in the USA I was distracted, watching the debates, reading forum posts and news articles, listening to opposing arguments for and against. I was fascinated by everything happening, and disturbed in many ways. I’m a centrist, I like to vote based on facts, not feelings, so I was appalled by things on both side of this election. Some things more than others, but just because one side is more wrong then the other it didn’t mean I ignored the problem with the apposing side.

I tried avoiding stating my personal viewpoints most of the time online because there were so many people who were just being entirely hateful to one another, on both sides, and it hurt to watch friendships falling apart. One of the few times I spoke up I lost a friend over it. So I stayed quiet for the most part, listening but not saying anything very much except to a few friends, and my boyfriend.

Than one night my boyfriend said “you know what, you should write about these things. It’s clearly eating you up inside, and you need to get these thoughts out. Try writing it down.”

So I did. In the graph above you’ll see two sections. Blue for “The Half Blood Sorceress” series which was my NaNo project. Red for the political writings I started to do. You’ll notice I had a lot to say at first, and it lessoned over time. You’ll also note that as soon as I started getting all of those questions and ideas about politics, society, and social obligations out of my head….I finally started to really work on my book.

(Green is for blog posts and news letters. I don’t count them in my NaNo word counts, but I do keep track of them.)

Will I ever publish those words talking about social inequalities and observations? Maybe, possibly. If I do it won’t be under my name though. It’s too dangerous. People get really mad about politics, and lately it seems there are more people who think that if you don’t agree with them 100% then you’re wrong and they will attack you. I’m a centrist, so that’s not good for me. Both sides tend to attack those in the middle.

Conclusions

Considering my heart just wasn’t in NaNo this year, I still did damn good with my writing. I rarely write 30k in a month. The fact hat I was almost at 40k this month, even with my heart completely somewhere else, means I didn’t do that badly. I’m kind of proud of that.

But it also means I have no excuse for writing less than 30k a month (unless I’m incredibly sick, or my world is falling apart.) Writing is part of me, it keeps me sane. It lets me focus my thoughts, and discuss the world and what I see in it. Writing helps me to understand the world around me.

If I manage another 30k for the month of December than I will have written another quarter of a million words this year. If I can manage that then maybe next years goal will be half a million.

Time to get writing.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in On Writing

 

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