Archive for the ‘the business side’ Category

This month’s Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour topic was “Blocks.” My arm was still sore for typing when my day came around, but I had something I wanted to say. So I’m going to go ahead and post my contribution late:

Over the years I think I’ve run into just about every kind of block there is, from the “no time even to breathe” block to the “kids come first” block to the “fear of success” block to the “dammit I’d rather play video games” block. I’ve also had my share of real ones: the ones where your inner muse is trying to tell you there’s something seriously wrong with the story, or something in your life that needs to be addressed first; the mysterious kind that seem to come out of nowhere and settle down over one’s brain and fingers like a shroud; and (toughest of all) the self-inflicted kind.

My most recent block, which is only just fading into the past, was the self-inflicted kind.

I was reading all this “treat your writing like a business” stuff, and “write it and send it out,” and “steady output, butt in chair, plumbers don’t get writer’s block,” and a whole lot of related stuff that works really well for a lot of people. They turn out lots of stories and novels and everything, and get paid for it. Productive and happy, what’s not to like?

And if it didn’t seem to work for me — if I’m the kind of person who wakes up on an unexpectedly sunny morning and says, “Let’s go hiking today. I can write tomorrow when it’s raining,” or has days when the brain just wants to mull things over — well, that just meant I needed to learn more discipline, right?

Wrong, apparently. My productivity dried up. The more discipline I applied, the worse it got. I hated even the thought of sitting down at my desk.

It got to where I even hated to read, because that just reminded me I wasn’t writing.

Last year, as bad as it was on many fronts, did break the block. I was away from my desk and my computer and caught up in family interaction, and writing once again became my solace and necessary friend. I wanted to write again. Circumstances meant I could only write small bits at first, but that was what I needed. Then small bits added to stories I never quite finished. Most recently, a lot of small bits added to a fantasy novella added up to a complete draft submitted to Torrid.

So things are looking up.

Most interestingly, today I was poking through files from two and three years ago, finding files where I had dumped ideas and partial stories while I banged my head against the projects I was “supposed” to be working on. If I had finished even half of them when the idea hit me and was fresh and ready to go, I’d have close to 40 stories.

No wonder my muse quit talking to me. Why should she waste her breath when I wasn’t listening?

So, yeah. Self-inflicted. Hopefully I can avoid making that mistake again!

Today’s post was inspired by the “blocks” prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: D Jordan Redhawk.

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building a platform

Guy Kawasaki suggests ten points for writers who want to build a platform. His list is a lot simpler and more straightforward than most such lists I’ve seen:


I’ve got a long way to go with mine, both under this name and under Alice’s. Guess it’s time to start thinking about it. I kind of don’t like the curator model — at least not when it refers to only reposting other stuff without reaction, and as the main content. There are always interesting links, fun photos, and silly memes, but I can’t see making that the majority of posts.

Are any of you guys doing deliberate platform building? What aspects are you emphasizing? What about the mechanics?

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Erin M. Hartshorn
tagged me in a meme that’s going around, The Next Big Thing. The quickmeme entry seems to have been hacked by somebody with a Newt Gingrich fetish, but some googling turned up this as the main question list:

What is the title of your next book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s geared to writers who are published, with a new book coming out soon, so many of the questions aren’t very relevant to me yet.

I have several projects under way that I’ll begin submitting in the new year.– short stories, a couple of novellas, and a novel titled “Overamped,” about a professional snowboarder dreaming of Olympic gold who gets the woman of his dreams instead. If I took out all Joey’s sex fantasies and all the f-bombs and other modern terminology, the book would shrink significantly, so it’s not a romance 🙂 I’ll probably just bill it as mainstream when I start to market it. I plan to start with conventional publishers, which means finding an agent. Self-publishers have done well in genres, but mainstream is still pretty much the property of, well, the mainstream.

I also have a bunch of ghost story/dark fantasy/somewhat erotic short stories and novellas to go out. I’ll use a different name for those and I’m planning to focus on small online publishers, at least to start.

It doesn’t take me very long to write a first draft. It’s the second and third that take forever. Generally the “first” draft is more of a proof of concept, to make sure the characters are interesting and complex enough to sustain the story, and there’s enough story there. So throwing out an idea after first draft is pretty common for me. Then I’ll expand it in the second draft. Way overexpand it, usually. Then the third draft will be about locating the heart of the story and cutting out non-essential stuff. Usually I wind up combining subplots and characters. For instance, in Overamped, Joey owns a small sporting goods store. In one scene he waits on a customer with a small kid. I was able to combine that woman with the mother of a kid on the snowboard team to turn two “furniture” characters into a bit of emotional trouble for Joey.

I’m not going to tag anybody in particular. If you’re reading this, and it sounds like something you want to blog about, consider yourself tagged.

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I’m trying to set up websites for my author personas. Plan for them, anyway. I’ve always written the literary fiction and science fiction under my own name, but lately I’ve been writing a lot of mystery, ghost story, and dark fantasy, rather creepy stuff with a higher violence content and sometimes unusual sex.

I think it would be a good idea to separate the two so the reader knows what to expect, which means I need a pen name for the creepy stuff. I think I’ve mentioned this in the past.

I had been thinking of a couple of possible names, using names from the family tree:

Taylor Landova
Randall Landova
Randall Maynard
Alice Cole

Do any of them sound like they write strange ghost stories?

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