Re-Inventing Yourself as a Writer

I haven’t been blogging over the past couple months, but I intend to change that today. To start, I’d like to share a few of the things I’ve learned recently.

I think it’s fair to say that every writer who’s experienced commercial success has had to undertake the task, at least once, of “re-inventing” themselves. I came across a really neat writing resource today, called Bookfox, which is written by author John Fox.

Fox explains in his bio that he’s all too familiar with rejection slips. After he got enough of them, though, he started thinking to himself, maybe it wasn’t everyone else who was wrong. Maybe he really needed to work on his writing.

He undertook the earnest office of learning from his failures, and using his mistakes to improve his writing. Eventually, he started winning prizes for his work.

Click here to have a look at Bookfox. (It’s filled with lots of great resources.)

It took me a while to learn the truth: we’re really never at the peak of our success as writers. Maybe monetarily, but not creatively. With every week that passes, and every story that we write, our works grows, takes a more pronounced shape, and gains more vivid colors. It’s like a forever-climbing house of cards that never falls down.

In a word, if you’re not succeeding as a writer, take another look at your work. It may very well be that you just haven’t caught your break yet — but it may also be that you need some re-inventing. I know that was the case for me.

 

Guest Author: Rohvannyn Shaw

Good evening, reading and writing peeps. With us today is Rohvannyn Shaw, author of The Dice of Fate.

 

  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

 

I grew up with both parents being writers.  Literature was a part of life.  I always had stories to tell, but I only started to love to write when I learned to type well.  That revolutionized things.  When I got my first real computer, it was finally easy to write, revise, rethink, and repeat.  Writing was finally satisfying when my word output could catch up with my racing thoughts.  I’ve also drawn all of my life, so it’s a natural thing to illustrate.  The combination of drawings with text is especially satisfying to me.  This is why my novel, The Dice of Fate, contains a hand painted map and several pen and ink illustrations even though that’s not usual for modern novels.

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

 

Right now, there are two.  The Dice of Fate tells about an ordinary call center worker who is transported into a world of mystery.  She discovers her inner strength while trying to solve the mystery of how she got there in the first place.  Ultimately, it’s about learning to have faith in yourself.  It can be found on CreateSpace and Kindle and is free for Kindle subscribers.

The other is a humorous book of advice on how to be a really, really, really bad employee.  In fact, if you did the opposite of the “advice” in this book, you’d probably be near perfect!  It sprang from ten years of work in customer service.  It should be titled and available by the time everyone reads this.

 

Both books, and my other work, can be found right here:

https://subversiveartblog.wordpress.com/tales/

 

I also have a main blog called “Time to be Awesome” and that is here:

http://subversiveartblog.wordpress.com

 

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

It can be hard realizing I have to rewrite something yet again, even though I thought that paragraph was gold.  Or to have high hopes about a blog post and look into my tracker in the morning and find that not even one more person has looked at my content.  However, I think those lows make the successes all the sweeter.  I really feel like I worked for what I have, like no one handed me anything.  Ultimately I would write even if I never made a cent, so anything else is a bonus.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

“Don’t ever give up.  Whatever your goal, don’t quit.  Remember, as long as there’s life, there’s still hope.”

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

 

I have many favorite authors and they can change depending on mood, time of year, or life circumstance.  I’ll pick Tom Clancy out of the pack.  I love his passion for detail combined with his ability to tell a good story, and his amazing level of research.  I still miss him as an author.

I’m divided about modern versus classic literature.  I think some so-called classics are really overrated while others don’t get nearly enough press.  Some modern literature is pure schlock, yet is popular, while really good stuff goes by the wayside.  That’s to be expected I suppose, and it’s been going on since before everybody wrote Mozart off as popular music.

 

Wow, that was an interesting interview! I have to say, I really loved Miss Shaw’s answers.

Just a little reminder: Rohvannyn’s new book, How to P!ss Off the Customers (A Little Book of Bad Advice) is available now! Just follow the link provided above!

Thanks for reading, everybody. Have a good one.

Guest Author: Suzanne Bowditch

Good evening, readers and writers. Welcome to the second installment of Blackwood’s Magazine’s Indie Author Spotlight for October! Today’s special guest is Suzanne Bowditch. Let’s have a chat with her!

workplace-1245776_640
Let’s talk about writing!

 

 

 

  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

I have loved to write since a teenager. I entered a competition at school and came second, since then I have kept diaries, journals and scribbled notes, but was never serious about my writing. Last year however, I took a writing challenge and my passion was rekindled! Now I write most days, as a fulltime writer of historical fiction.

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

I’ve self published my second book Alice’s Secret: A Celtic Trilogy in July. It’s the follow on book for a saga I’m writing, based in Tasmania and Melbourne.

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

As a writer, I think that any feedback received is positive, especially when that reader has enjoyed your book. I encourage any feedback really, and any constructive criticism, which helps in the writing/learning process. Fortunately the feedback so far to my books has been good, which is lovely.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

That’s a very big question! I seriously think that reading produces positive vibes, helps us to learn about the world and each other, and whilst we’re deep into a book, we’re not having cause to think negatively. Reading is good for the soul!

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

I have a few favorites, mainly modern literature. As a teenager, I loved Stephen King and had a passion for anything by Catherine Cookson. Her books on the hardships of life in northern England have inspired me. Recently I’ve enjoyed books by Elizabeth Gilbert, Hannah Kent and Margaret Atwood. I’ve just finished reading Jane Harper’s The Dry, which I’d recommend; it’s really good.

 

suzanne-bowditch

 

Excellent answers, Suzanne! Reading definitely is good for the soul. And the Celtic Trilogy sounds like it’s off to an awesome start! Great work!

To learn more about Suzanne and her work, please check out the links provided below.

 

Find me at:

 

www.goodreads.com/suzannebowditch

www.facebook.com/suzannebowditch

www.suzannebowditch.wordpress.com

 

My books

 

Elen (A Celtic Trilogy #Book 1)

https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01911AE8Q

 

*

 

Alice’s Secret (A Celtic Trilogy # Book 2)

Alice’s Secret

Guest Author: Candace Vianna

Good evening, readers and writers. With the new month comes a new batch of writers to Blackwood’s Spotlight, and first up is Candace Vianna!

author_candace_vianna

  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

If I could give a deep answer, full of writerly angst and beauty, I would; but truthfully, it’s one of the few jobs where I can drink coffee and sit around in boxers all day.

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

To date I have published two books.

My debut novel, “The Science of Loving,” was a romantic comedy about a shy biologist and an edgy, tattooed architect. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… an architect? Well this is how Leslie Jacobs, a supporting character who’s currently in the process of getting her own story, described him.

“You’ve got this dangerous bad boy, don’t mess with me or I’ll f*** you up edginess. If you were any edgier, we’d all be bleeding. It’s like architects are edgy-lite, while you’re  industrial-strength concentrate, eat-a-hole in my panties edgy.”

You get the idea…

Because I was genre hopping, when I recently published my novella, “Dead Dwight: a dark comedy,” I did so under the pseudonym, E.V. Iverson.

“Dead Dwight” will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s definitely not a romance. It’s a hillbilly zombie satire with a  twisted sense of humor I’m not sure everyone will appreciate (I’m a sick, sick girl.) Imagine a mashup of the television show “My Name is Earl” and the movies “Sean of the Dead” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Hey, I never claimed I was normal.

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

Truthfully, I’ve always found this question a bit nonsensical. I’m not saying this to be mean, but I’ve never understood the assumption that unrelated events somehow offset each other? How can you appreciate the joys of the moment if you’re dwelling on past disappointments?

Have I struggled at times? Certainly. Growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability wasn’t easy, but it did force me to develop skills that I could pass on to my children to make their lives easier. Would I have chosen to have a special needs child? Hell no, but I would change a hair on my boy’s head.

But here’s the thing, I believe that positive things happen to positive people. And if you’re busy focusing on the negative, you’re likely missing some good things right in front of you.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

Get out and VOTE! Not just in the main elections, but the mid-terms as well. And do your homework, because the down-ticket is just as, if not more, important than the main ticket. When they say politics is local, it’s not just about stump speeches. What are the views of the people setting local policy? Is that guy wanting to be a district court judge going to be unbiased? Is he even qualified? These are the things that will have a direct impact on your daily lives.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

I don’t have one favorite author; I have many; and for many different reasons. There’s poetry in Thomas Paine’s call to action in “The Crisis;” awful beauty in the horror of Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury’s “Rocket Summer” is nothing short of brilliant. While I prefer the immediacy in modern writing, I do think it can become too simplistic when we’re not careful, dumbing down the vocabulary at the expense of more evocative passages.

Very nice! Personally, I know I’m super-interested in something termed a hillbilly zombie satire. How could that not be entertaining?

Hope you guys enjoyed today’s interview. To contact Candace Vianna, or to learn more about her work, check out the links below!

 

 I enjoy getting out and meeting my readers, so if any of you are coming to San Diego, CA; give me a shout just don’t try to sell me anything:
Candace.Vianna.Writes@gmail.com

Both of my books are available on Amazon and in the Kindles Unlimited library:

The Science of Loving
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MXC0E2C
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00MXC0E2C

Dead Dwight: a dark comedy
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F2ZCTCO
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01F2ZCTCO

Amazon Author page:
https://www.amazon.com/Candace-Vianna/e/B00N05FF66/

You can check out my blog (fair warning, I take adolescent glee in playing with profanity) at:
http://candaceviannawrites.com/

On Twitter:
@CviannaWrites

Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/candace.vianna

GoodReads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8507140.Candace_Vianna

Guest Author: Nic Schuck

Hey, all my writing and reading peeps! How are we doing today? I’m just gonna pretend you said “great,” then I’m gonna say how happy I am to hear that, and then I’m gonna introduce our guest for today.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Nic Schuck, whose first novel was just released on September 15th. It’s already garnered four 5-star reviews on Amazon, as well as eleven 5-star ratings on Goodreads! Talk about a smash hit! But, when you read about all he went through to come up with the finished product — I think you’ll agree that he deserves every one of those stars.

Now let’s sit down and chat with him!

 

  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

I’m not sure I would necessarily say I love to write. I love to read more than I love to write and I love to create a readable story. I love the finished product, but the physical act of writing, the part of being disciplined and sitting down and doing the actual writing is tough. I like when I have a rough draft complete and then I can start to shape the story and add in the fun little details that give the story depth. So, I have a love-hate relationship with writing.

I didn’t really start taking writing seriously until I was 20 years old and I was swinging in a hammock in Costa Rica. I had been in Costa Rica for a few weeks and decided that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was swing in a hammock and surf and never really work. So, naturally I told myself I was going to be a writer. I didn’t tell anyone else because it sounds really silly to me to tell people you’re going to be a writer when you haven’t produced anything worth reading. I started writing a story about expatriated surfers in Costa Rica and quickly realized that writing was a very difficult skill to learn on your own. I enrolled at the University of West Florida to get a degree in English to help learn the craft. I earned a BA and began teaching middle school English and had a rough draft of a novel completed in 2007. I sent it off to agents and publishers and after 30 or so rejection letters I became discouraged and didn’t write another word for about three years. But by that time, I had the itch. I knew I was going to be a writer and that was all I really wanted to do. I then enrolled in graduate school to learn more about literature and hopefully figure out what I was doing wrong in my writing (besides not writing, I understood that part). After graduating in 2012 with a MA in English, I figuratively dusted off the manuscript I had put away and began rewriting it. I went through maybe four more drafts over the next three years before I really felt like I got the story right. I started the process again of emailing agents and publishers. I think I was up to 75 or so rejections before I received and email from Barbara Terry of Waldorf Publishing saying she’d like to read more. A month later I signed a publishing contract. I had become a writer. And it only took sixteen years. 

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

The story of the expatriated surfers became Native Moments, my debut novel. I had read many stories of writers having to  write many novels before finally getting one published, but I couldn’t trash it. This was the story I wanted to write. There have been few great books I have read about surfing but most had been non-fiction. Kem Nunn had some fiction – The Dogs of Winter and Tapping the Source, which was turned into the film Point Break. And I wanted to add to that catalogue of surf fiction. I wanted to write a book that surfers will take along with them on surf trips and I think I have.

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

There is only one positive moment as a writer that makes up for all the negative ones. When a reader tells you how much they enjoyed your story. I’ve never experienced a greater joy as an artist as having someone say they cared for a character you created or that they felt like you nailed the setting perfectly or to say that they laughed out loud while reading your work. To know that you did the work correctly. That all the hard work was worth it. The only moment a writer works for is having a reader connect with your work. The money, if I ever make any – I’m still new to this industry – will just be a bonus. Obviously I want to make enough as a writer to never have to work a day job and just swing in a hammock and surf, but if not, as long as I keep producing fun stories that people enjoy reading I will be happy with that, too.

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

I couldn’t say what I wanted to the universe in the scope of an interview. It would take me 327 pages. That’s how long Native Moments ended up being. It’s all in there. I’m now thinking of new things to say and hopefully it won’t take me another 15 years. I’ve already got the first draft of my next book completed so I’m thinking it will come quicker this time.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

This is an impossible question. Hemingway was once asked something similar in an interview and he gave a good list of authors we should read. Find that list and read those writers. To add to the list, writers that came after Hemingway, I’d include Cormac McCarthy, Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, Harry Crews, Hunter S Thompson, Brad Watson, Tom Franklin and Jonathan Fink. I’m leaving out many others just because it would be nearly impossible to name them all and even if I tried I’d forget somebody. As far as nonfiction, I became a much better reader of American literature, especially Ernest Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy by reading Dr. Allen Josephs books about those authors. It’s impossible to read everything that should be read, but you have to try.

Wow, I have just got to say — I really enjoyed that interview! Nic’s story is really inspiring, and I think it carries a positive, powerful message for all writers, struggling or not. (I also really commiserate with him on that love-hate relationship with writing. Some writers might not get that — but I’m with him 100%.)

To learn more about Nic, and to check out his awesome new book, navigate the links below!

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Native-Moments-Nic-Schuck/dp/1944781188

Website: www.nicschuck.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nic.schuck

Twitter: @schuck_nic

Instagram: nic_schuck

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28412569-native-moments

Guest Author: Frank Parker

Hey, everybody! Top of the evening to you, and welcome back to our September Spotlight of indie authors here at Blackwood’s. Today’s special guest is the awesome Frank Parker! Let’s have a little chit-chat with him.

author_frank_parker
Here’s Frank! (I really love this pic of him.)
  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

I was an avid reader from an early age – one of those people that cannot resist reading the back of the cereal packet and sauce bottle whilst eating breakfast! And I was read to; my mother’s way of sharing her own love of reading with her children. Our knowledge and understanding of the world around us comes from reading. Our formal education consists principally in studying prescribed texts under the guidance of our teachers.

It was not long before I felt the need to challenge some of the discoveries I made through reading. What way is there to do that, other than writing?

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

May I be cheeky here and mention two books? My most recently published novel is called Transgression. It is an attempt to link the many sexual abuse scandals that were revealed over the past few years to the sexual liberation of the 1970s. A drunken romp in the back of a car that took place in 1974 has repercussions 40 years later for a successful politician.

My previous book tells the story of the Norman occupation of Ireland in the 12th century, through the eyes of the young Irish woman whose marriage to their leader was the price paid to him by her father. A number of readers of both books have told me that they prefer Strongbow’s Wife, so I recently extended it’s discoverability by re-publishing it in a paper-back edition at feedaread.com.

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

Positive reviews are always welcome, but nothing can match actually meeting someone who has read your book and tells you they enjoyed it.

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

Don’t believe everything you read. Read as widely as possible. Study all sides of a disputed issue, then make up your own mind.

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

I much prefer modern – by which I mean 20th and 21st century – literature. English writers like Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes, for example. Since moving to Ireland a decade ago I’ve discovered some great Irish writing, too, including Irish authors now based in the USA, like Colm Toibin and Colum McCann. And, if that sounds like an all male list, I must add that there are many women writers I admire, too: Edna O’Brien has been around long enough to be ennumerated with the classics. Lionel Shriver gets to the heart of modern dilemmas. And I’ve recently read brilliant books by newer writers like Saskia Sarginson, Sarah Baume and Jana Petken

I’m still a voracious reader. I don’t confine myself to fiction, enjoying memoir, biography and political treatises as well as novels. I also include independently published authors in my reading list. I’m a great admirer of the way independent authors come together for mutual support through groups like IASD and Independents for Charity, the latter producing anthologies the proceeds from the sale of which go to support the Macmillan Nurses cancer support charity in the UK.

Not everyone likes the kind of writing that earns praise from what might be termed “the literati”, those who achieve recognition via prizes like the Mann-Booker. When I posted my 5 star review of Colum McCann’s Booker long-listed Transatlantic on Goodreads, recently, I was astonished to discover, among the reviews already posted, some that were highly critical. Maybe because I’m still open to every style and genre I am not sufficiently critical myself!

Wow! That was really interesting, Frank! It’s obvious Mr. Parker is a widely-read individual, and a very good judge of modern literature. I might have to ask him to give me a little crash course!

Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s interview, everybody. To learn more about Frank Parker, have a look at the links listed below!

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Strongbows-Wife-9781786109910.aspx

https://www.amazon.com/Transgression-secret-Member-Parliament-darker-ebook/dp/B014N1C1QC/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

https://franklparker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/?ref=bookmarks

https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

 

 

Publishing Tip: “Don’t Be Hasty”

Hello, indie authors. And everyone else who has the kindness to read this post!

Now — this is a post geared towards “very new indies.” What do I mean by that? I mean indie authors who haven’t necessarily just started writing (that’s hardly anyone) but who’ve just started trying to really sell their work. Some people get the hang of it pretty quickly, and are only really “green” for about as long as Stanley’s thumb usually stays lit up that color in A Troll in Central Park. But some people — hem hem, like me — are about as hard to drill information into as a concrete Mafia boot.

stones-385716_640
Pre-used concrete boots, fished fresh daily.

Whichever type of indie you are, I just have a small piece of advice for you today. It’s very simple, and consists of only three words.

DON’T BE HASTY.

When you’re just starting out, you want to do all you can to make a name for yourself. You’re competing against thousands and thousands of other people with quality content, and you want to make yourself stand out.

But you’re only going to do that if you’re peddling quality content, too. If you throw every book you’ve ever written on Kindle Direct Publishing, just trying to garner sales and increase the amount of money you get paid every month (which is relatively small for an indie anyway, no matter what you do), you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run.

animal-17474_640
I think that I should think about this a little more.

Only publish quality content. Only publish when you’re sure it’s worthy of competing, not just with other indie selections in your genre, but even with the best-sellers in that category on the Barnes & Noble “new release” rack. Don’t skimp on your editing, don’t settle on your covers, don’t forget little things like justifying the text of your e-book. (I hate it when I download a book with text that’s not justified.)

Because, here’s a little tidbit for you. If you start to regret a title you’ve published, and you want to take it off of your author page — sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, when you unpublish them, they do disappear — but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they stay forever, like annoying whiny ghosts in your Aunt Susie’s attic, and they just say “Unavailable” until the day you die.

ghosts-982975_640
Hey — I thought Aunt Susie said you guys weren’t real? 

If you ask Author Central to take an out-of-print book off your author page, they won’t. It’s all about “the best possible experience for the customer,” they say.

But hey, it’s not their fault you published something you shouldn’t have published in the first place.

primate-1019101_640
I think we may be onto something here.

Take it from me, my indie friends. Here are three life lessons, in a nutshell.

Don’t be unkind to people.

Don’t be too cheap when it comes to things you really need.

And for goodness’ sake, whatever you do — DON’T BE HASTY!!!