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Tag Archives: Publishing

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…

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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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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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It’s all about the little things

For the last week I’ve been setting up all the print files for my trilogy. I had to redo the one book I already had out because I rewrote three chapters, and the other two I had been putting off till I had “time.” You never have time. It’s just not there, never is, and I should just stop kidding myself. Something needs done? Do it.

Anyway, I got everything put in, ordered copies so I could see them, and then today I did the virtual proof just to take a look…and there was an error. Not like an error with the words, or with the cover. No, I was missing a page. A BLANK page even. But that one page made a huge difference. Without that one page right after the table of contents the rest of the book shifted. The first page wasn’t on the right hand side. The margins were backwards because they were formatted for being on the opposite side. And everything just looked WRONG.

I had to open the file, add one blank page, and resubmit everything.

Little things can matter, even blank pages. Sometimes you’re staring at that blank page wondering what the heck you should write, and you get an idea. Other times you stare at it, type a few words, delete them all, and try again.

I’ve had a lot of new ideas lately, but few of them get completed. That’s just another thing that gets in the way of following your dreams. But I don’t want to be just a dreamer. I want to be a finisher. I want a stack of books sitting on my shelf, all of them with my name on the spine.

So I finished editing the book again, and republished it. Now I’ll wait for it to be proofed, and order another copy. And it will finally go up on Amazon in a few more days. No big.

Because of one page.

It really is the little things that make your dreams into reality. I’m going to go write a page in my novel now.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Writers Block

 

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Strong Female Characters

I saw another post asking which stories could use strong female characters, and my answer probably wasn’t what they were looking for: None of them.

Now, before you get up in arms please hear me out, because I do have a reason behind it.

There are already a lot of wonderful books out there with strong female characters as the lead character. A short list:
Aurian by Maggie Furey
Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon
The Hallows Series by Kim Harrison
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Twenty Sided Sorceress by Annie Bellet
The Little Flame Series by Melissa Lummis
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina
White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Several books in the Xanth Series by Piers Anthony
Anything by Anne McCaffery
Elvenbane by Andre Norton
Several books in the Wool Series by Hugh Howey
The Shambling Guides by Mur Lafferty
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hit Girls by Garrett Robinson
Anything from the Buffy the Vampire universe.
Harper Collelly series by Charaine Harris.

And these are just the books that I know of because I’ve personally read them (or watched the movie in the case of Hunger Games). There are over 6,000 books in this list with strong female lead characters, many of which have been on best seller lists, or made into movies. And this isn’t even counting all the strong, wonderful women that play secondary roles in books like Kitiara from Dragonlance Chronicles, Catti-brie from the Dritzzt series, or Hermione from Harry Potter. That’s not even getting into comic books. And I’m sure there are thousands more that aren’t even in that list.

All of the stories in my list are sci-fi and fantasy. That’s because I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also know a lot of strong female characters from paranormal romance. I also know of characters from other books, games, and films in many other genres that are strong female characters.

Am I saying we don’t need any more? Of course not, that would be like saying we don’t need more books. I really enjoy reading about strong women doing extraordinary things, and even wrote my own series of books with that in mind so I hope my favorite authors continue writing theirs. I also enjoy reading about mages that slowly go mad, or women who are hell cats and need to be tamed. There are all kinds of books out there, with all kinds of characters, because people come with different attitudes, desires, ideas, and personalities. But I would also encourage more authors to include strong female characters…IF they are a benefit to the story.

Not every story has a woman in it. What if you wrote a story about a man in a men’s shower room? Or a group of men going on a camping trip together? Or a father and son sharing a moment? Or a group of dwarves out to save their mountain? Not every story is going to have a strong female character in it. Not every story is going to have a woman in it. In fact when they added a strong female into The Hobbit some of the fans were less than thrilled with the addition.

A story isn’t always about sex, gender, political correctness, or whatever. Sometimes it’s just a story about a leaf blowing in the wind, or the history of salt, or vampire bunnies. And if a story doesn’t have a female character that doesn’t automatically make it anti-women. Hell, there could be a character in the story that is utterly sexist and the story still might not be about women.

My thought for those looking for strong female characters: Expand your reading list, because there are THOUSANDS of books out there with strong female characters, you just have to be open to finding them. And just so you know, MEN need strong male character role models, too. And both sexes need the ridiculously heroic characters, or the weak ones, or the the psychopathic murderous kings/queens to show them what not to be. It does not take away from your enjoyment of books/films/games/etc because the other sex also has what you are looking for.

And if you think any gender, or genderless, or gender fluid individual needs more characters like them out there: GO WRITE IT! That’s the beauty of the indy world. Anyone can make anything that they think should exist.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Commentary

 

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A Busy Month

Books are coming!

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The Scarab Necklace will be out this weekend. A novella in the Illicit Gains series, it follows Samantha as she shifts from mousy assistant to the heroine, Becca Blake, into a self assured woman. And it just takes a little assistance from a magical artifact to do it. Never mind that the artifact has some nasty side effects.

Then I should be getting edits back for Witch’s Stand early next week. Another week to edit, and it will be published by (I hope) the end of the month, or beginning of May.

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In May I have Witch’s Sight (a prequel to the Witch’s Trilogy) and Mirror (a prequel to the Illicit Gains series) coming out.

I have a few ideas for a June release as well. I’m not sure if it’s going to be an anthology, or a stand alone yet, but I have a few things that I’ve been working on. I do have a lot of science fiction short stories from the Bradbury Challenge to polish and publish. I will be doing that in June or July.

I should probably put up  calendar of expected publications, because I have several more that will be happening up until October.

I have been working hard finishing up a few new stories to get up on amazon, and on getting healthy again. I really can’t wait to share some of these new stories with everyone.

And, just a reminder, if you’d like to read the short stories I’ve been writing for the Bradbury Challenge then you can sign up for my newsletter. I have managed to send six short stories this year, and there will be more in the comming months as we continue with our challenge.

I’ll be honest, I felt a little down the last few days because of how much this bronchitis had been limiting me, but after thinking about what I’ve accomplished the last few weeks, and what I’m going to be able to do the next couple months because of it, I’m rather proud of myself. I didn’t give up, even when my body was literally attacking itself from within, and I have something awesome to show for it.

So keep an eye out for the new books.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2016 in On Writing, Updates

 

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Clouds are on the horizon!

Hello, it’s been a while.

The Bradbury Challenge started eight weeks ago, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last month and a half. I mean, that’s what this challenge is about, right? Learning about yourself.

I learned that i make a lot of excuses. Not contentiously, mind you. I don’t sit down and say “I’d rather do this than write.” It’s more subtle than that. I get to the computer and think “I’ll just play this game for a few minutes then get to writing.” Then an hour later I’m still playing a game and no writing has taken place. Or I think I will just check Reddit, or twitter, or whatever.

I’ve learned that social media is something I need to limit from now on. Half an hour for everything, and that’s it. And Reddit is not my friend. Reddit is a trap of meme’s, news stories, and interesting anecdotes that will suck me in and keep me there for a long time if I’m not careful.

I’ve learned that I need to stop making excuses about the small things so that when the larger things happen I don’t feel so guilty. It’s okay to take a sick day, but it feels so bad if you’re behind on work and you’re just adding one more excuse to the top of a growing pile.

I’ve learned that I need to take self imposed deadlines a lot more seriously. I’m not sure how to do this yet, but that’s part of what this challenge is about. And no, I can’t say “I’ll do better next week.” I have to do better THIS week, because each week I put it off just makes things that much worse.

So for the past eight weeks of the challenge I finished four stories. I just finished the final draft one the fourth one this morning. That’s an average of two weeks per story. Not horrible, but not great either.

“Cloud,” the story you’re getting today, was conceived on the road to RadCon. Gregg and I were passing through the mountains and talking about the desolate area. We were in the middle of no where with nothing for miles, and the mountains up ahead. A lot of my story ideas come from discussions I have with Gregg.

For next week I’ll be finishing “The Deep,” which is my story in regards to the story prompt I gave a few weeks ago about finding something unusual in the ocean.

I also know that while the stories I send you are completed first drafts, they aren’t finished. I generally like my short stories to be at least 3000 words before I publish them. This isn’t always possible since some stories just have a naturally shorter length, but often I find that I have to go back in and add description, or little details that will make the story flow better. That’s the case with this one as well. The bones are there, and it’s a good basic story, but there is a little bit of brushing up to make it GOOD that needs to happen before I can publish it. This one, I feel, also might need a new name.

But for now…

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Cloud
Lisa shifted in the passenger seat, the rough upholstery grating against her arms as she tried, in vein, to get comfortable. Beside her Zach snorted. Her brother never had an issue sleeping, no matter where they were. Hotel rooms, camping on rocky ground, or sleeping in the camped front seat of a Honda Civic, Zach dozed off within seconds of closing his eyes. Lisa hated him for it, and envied it, especially right then.

They had been traveling for nearly a week, gathering photos and articles about various little towns in the Midwest for their blog. In a few months they’d be right back out on the road heading to the east coast. But for now they were headed home to their computers and equipment, a warm cup of coffee, and her own bed where she could finally fall asleep.

She dreamed of her bed with the five fluffy pillows and three thick comforters laid out on top of it as she hitched her jacket back up on her shoulders. She was only vaguely aware of the rolling hills sliding past them just outside the window. They would be in the mountains soon, with snow and towering trees all around them. The rolling of the car across hilly roads should have lulled her to sleep, instead it just annoyed her.

She concentrated on the lull of the car, rocking back and forth. The soft sound of tires over black top. The sway as the road curved gently to the left, then back right, following along the stream below them.

Sleep drifted closer…then was ripped away by a bright light blazing through her eye lids, followed by the sudden jerk of the car to the right as it careened into the shoulder and came to a sudden stop.

She shot up in her seat, mind snapping to full alertness as Zach fought to gain control of the car. A shock wave washed over them, a grumble that grew in the air, pressing down on them with a tremendous force as trees and rocks sailed across the road in front of them.

“What the hell is going on?” Lisa cried.

“I don’t know,” Zach said, struggling to pull the car to a stop.

“I saw light? Was it a car?”

 

To read the rest of “Cloud” subscribe to my newsletter. You will also get a free copy of “Witch’s Sacrifice”. 

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Almost done, and scared

I’m close to finishing book three in my Witch’s Trilogy. This has taken me almost a year and a half to complete. What started as a simple 80,000 word stand alone novel has become a 230,000 word trilogy, something I never thought I could write. I mean the first novel I wrote (which was terrible) took five years. This took 18 months for all three! That’s crazy.

And yet as I get closer to the end I find myself getting scared. Scared to finish. Scared to succeed. But mostly terrified that it will fail. It makes it difficult to write sometimes, but I do it anyway. A few words here, a few sentences there, trying to get to the end even though a big part of me is afraid of doing so. And I know it’s stupid to be afraid.

For the last couple of years I’ve made some great friends, watched them write novels and make a small (or sometimes big) following for themselves. And they’ve done well. I’m happy for them, and I’ve tried to learn from their examples but it all seems to come back to “write more good books. Eventually something will get through.”

Oh, they do other things like ads on facebook and book bub, but mostly they just write good books and keep putting them out there. No wonder they have lots of readers.

So I’ve been telling myself that with the third book I can finally have a trilogy out, three complete novels, and I might be able to do a bit of advertising. But as the time gets closer I realize that… it doesn’t work like that. Oh sure, I could do some advertising (and I will) but really, in the end it might not even matter. Sometimes getting people to pay attention to what you made is just a matter of the right time at the right place.

So I’m afraid that I’ll put up the third book and I won’t sell a single copy. I shouldn’t be afraid of that, not if I really just want to write. But there it is. That gnawing fear.

Here’s the truth: whether I sell a thousand books, or one, or even zero…I’m going to keep writing. I love telling stories, and building worlds. I love seeing what happens to my characters. So I know I shouldn’t care if this book sells anything since I’m going to keep doing it anyway.

But I also know it’s nice to have some validation that what I say matters to someone. And I don’t know where to get that validation. I suppose I should figure that out soon, because it probably won’t come from sales any time soon.

After this last book in the trilogy I’m going to go back to making my own covers, and probably shorter works because editing can get expensive, but I will continue to write. And I won’t feel the pressure to finish them like I do with this one because I won’t have invested so much money into them… just time, and me. I think I’d rather invest myself in my books then money anyway.

Anyway, time to get back to the writing. Fear or not, I want to finish it. Even if no one ever reads it I need to say that I finished it.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Commentary

 

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