Being a Better Writer: So You’ve Discovered Writing is Work, Now What?

Hello readers! Welcome back to another glorious Monday Being a Better Writer post! Yeah, I’m in a good mood this morning. The Halo novel pitch draft is coming along nicely, I’ve got a fairly relaxed topic for the day, and a bunch of new music to listen to while I work!

This work included. Which doesn’t include too much in the way of news before I dive into it. Just one or two things coming up worth discussing.

First, the long-promised wrist post, complete with pictures and a sequence of events, will go up this week. Look for that around Wednesday or Thursday. I have to keep the actual date a little fluid, because tomorrow I find out whether or not I’m going back to work Wednesday, and from what I understand my job has been extremely strapped for workers lately.

It’s amazing. It’s like locking wages for seven years and paying below average market value with really bad hours (9 PM to 4 AM is common, with no compensation like most jobs would have for such a late shift; in fact it’s the lowest-paid job in the place) makes it really hard to keep employees. Especially in a place where the cost of living is currently skyrocketing. It’s like people want money or something in exchange for their labors. Weird, right?

Anyway, long way of saying that they may, if I am cleared for work tomorrow, have me in ASAP because yeah, they don’t have nearly enough employees.

Second bit of news? My books are almost at the halfway point for the end-year goal of 400 reviews and ratings. Seriously, three reviews away. 197 out of 200. So … close!

And that’s it for the news! Like I said, just one or two things. Now, onto today’s post!

So, this post may sound a little familiar to many of you. And that’s because I’ve written a bit on the subject before. Today’s is just from another angle, because surprise surprise, this topic is one I hear requests for constantly.

And in part, it’s because there are a lot of young writers out there who, well, to put it bluntly, with no sugar, think that they are different, that their situation is unique and different from the other new writers when it’s really not. I’m sorry to have to pull the band-aid off, but let me make something clear: It’s not. You may feel that because of the story you’re writing, or your circumstances, or your characters, or your genre, or any number of other reasons, that your story is unique, that if you were working on any other story or if it were some other individual’s writing, the trials you’re facing in these early moments wouldn’t occur.

But you’re wrong. Sure, there might be a small detail here or there that can make your situation a bit different, but at the end of the day?

Writing is work. Even when you love it.

Continue reading

The Mountains

Writing a book is like climbing a mountain. A long, arduous trek, with ups and downs, flat easy bits, and hard nearly vertical portions that require all of your skills and tools. And there are moments when it feels like you’re never going to reach the top, like the book will never be done and you’re just endlessly ascending a slope for some purpose you’re not even sure of.

Now, once you get to the top? You bask in the view, take it in … and look at the next mountain in your path, because if there’s another book, there’s another mountain. A career in writing? Well, it’s kind of like making a commitment to hike each individual mountain in the Rockies.

And some of them will be great hikes, and some of them … are going to try their best to break you.

One of the hardest bits then, I think I’d add to this, is that these hikes are done, for the most part, completely solo and without much in the way of external input until the very end. Only in that final sprint to the top, when the editors and Alpha Readers begin looking over your work, do you interact with others. And then after the book comes out, when there’s a flurry of recognition that flashes by for a week or two … and then it’s gone. Just like the news stories of the first conquest of a mountain, it’s announced, but very quickly the world moves on, and it’s on to the next mountain for that author.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, a number of reasons. I’m in the last third of another mountain right now, and so far it’s been a far more arduous experience than was planned. Longer, too. I’m working to get it done, but the snow is deep and thick (this is actually a more accurate analogy than you might think) and it’s made things a bit of a slog most days.

I’m not stopping, mind. I’m going to finish this mountain and start the next. That’s how the job goes. But it can be (and right now, is) a slog.

Which makes the number of people who’ve gathered around just to tell me to give up, call it quits, or lambaste me about how it really isn’t all that hard all the more grating.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Creating a Paragraph

Welcome back readers! And welcome to the year 2019! Which, as we all know, is either infested with replicants or about to become the battleground once again between that blue robot known as Megaman and his nemisis, Dr. Wily.

Huh, now that I think about it, a lot of fictional movies, games, and books with robots took place in the “20XX” date arrangement. Granted, Megaman at least has some leeway with a few of their titles because “20XX” is nebulous enough to be “2047” but Blade Runner on the other hand …

Then again, mad replicants could explain a lot of our politics and news commentators.

But enough about politics, it’s 2019, and my holiday break is over. Which means that it’s time to once again resume posting Being a Better Writer! A day late, but let’s face it, thanks to my constantly chaotic shift schedule, BaBW is practically a Monday-or-occasional-Tuesday feature rather than straight Monday anymore. But that aside, what’s today’s topic?

Paragraphs.

Continue reading

In Sickness and in Health

Sands and Storms, guys, I almost can’t believe how much I’ve been sick lately. Except I have to because I’m living through it. The little bout I had in October? Nothing compared to the last … two weeks. I swear I’ve caught every cold out there this season, one after the other, and cycled through them all. I think I’m on the last one: A chest cough that has knocked me down for a week and been the cause of much lack of sleep problems (though now that I can sleep, I’m catching up by, as I did today, sleeping until 2 PM).

The ultimate problem in all of this? I don’t write well when I’m sick. With the back-and-forth nature of the last few weeks I’ve had some good days and some bad days, but I’m likely to still come in a good 1/3 short of my monthly quota. For those of you wondering why that goes down … let’s just say all my Alpha and Beta readers can attest to what happens when I write with only a fraction of my normal brainpower. Things get bad. Fast.

Granted, my part-time job doesn’t help. They’re classic current US-job, which means you work if you’re sick or not. Oh, they might say at some point during the day “Why not see a doctor?” or something. But they’re paying low enough that seeing a doctor isn’t an option, and if you take a shift off? Well, that’s money you need, since their wages are low. To which you might say “Get another job!” but … it’s the modern world. Local businesses all know what their competitors are paying, so they all pay the same lowball number. Why compete when they can make everything just as appealing?

Unless you’re a manager. According to local data in my area, Managers make anywhere from 2 to 6 times as much as other employees. Curious that.

Anyway, not really sure what the point of this post is other that to say that I’m finally feeling better. Illness-wise, not job-wise. Job-wise I’m pretty sure that my company is an open-and-shut case for the current growing income inequality issues in America. But aside from that, I’m finally feeling a bit more alive and aware, so I’m going to try and finish up a chunk of Hunter/Hunted today and hopefully get things back on track. I really, really have not enjoyed all the crap getting in the way of my writing this year.

Anyway, with that in mind, I really need to get to it. Oh, but before I go, today is the last day in that week-long sale on my books. If you’ve been looking at one and sitting on the fence, now is the time to make your decision!

And with that, I’ve got writing to do!

“A Game of Stakes” Has Been Submitted! And Other News.

That’s it! As of a few minutes ago, A Game of Stakes has been sent out to the editor of the folks who asked for it. Thanks again to all you Alpha and Beta Readers, and as usual, when this gets published (either in the collection it’s been submitted for, or in More Unusual Events) I’ll make sure to ask how (and if) you want to be credited for all your help.

I’ll admit, I really enjoyed this one. It was just a fun story to write, and the characters and the faint inklings of the world were fun to play with too. I still do have to sit down and rewrite the original story that was going to be for the collection, which ended up being more of a novella length. That one I’ll likely publish separately (it’s been a while since I’ve done something like that) rather than stick into More Unusual Events since MUE is already going to have another novella length story in it. Two novellas in one “short” story collection is a bit much. I’ll get to that … maybe after the Halo novel submission. It’s just too good to let rest. I mean, the name is Axtara: Banking and Finance and the protagonist is a dragon. The original draft may have grown well past the scope of a short story, but as a novella? I think it’ll be a fun little adventure in economics, industry, and what happens when a young dragon moves to the edge of civilization with grand designs.

But I’m getting sidetracked. Point is, A Game of Stakes has now been sent in. Thank you everyone who helped with Alpha and Beta reading, and I’ll keep you guys updated.


Other news! Hunter/Hunted is about to enter Part three (the final part). I can see this being done early in December, or even the end of November if I get a few good writing sprints in. There is one specter hovering over it, however, and that’s the Christmas season. Long story short, Christmas means lots of hours available at my part-time job, and since hours are generally in short supply before Christmas, well … I kind of need the extra cash. I may be really limited with writing time in December.

Yeah, I know, the holiday season means working harder than the rest of the year. It’s just how things end up working out. It might mean a few delayed or missed Being a Better Writer posts, though, just so I can get Hunter/Hunted finished.


More news! Don’t fotget that a number of my books will be going on sale Thursday at midnight! Deeply on sale. Now’s the time to grab something if you’re tight on cash!


Okay, last bit of news: I’m only a few ratings away from cracking 100 ratings on Goodreads! My goal has been to surpass 100 by the end of the year, and as of right now, I’m only 14 away! If you have a Goodreads account and would like to help, well …


Anyway, that’s it for news. Thanksgiving is coming, along with a Black Friday sale, A Game of Stakes is in, and … Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Time to get back to work on Hunter/Hunted.

Being a Better Writer: Self-Deceiving Characters

Hello readers! How was your weekend? Get any good reading in? I did. Working my way through Jack Campbell’s second Lost Fleet series, which has been good fun. Spoilers, but he has an interesting approach to alien life.

Anyway, there’s not much in the way of news (outside of the Beta Call for A Game of Stakes having gone out a couple of days ago, so check your inboxes) so we’re going to jump right to today’s topic. Which, by the way, is a companion piece to a Being a Better Writer post a month or so back on Ambiguous stories and characters.

See, over the course of that post it became clear that there was one aspect which needed its own time set aside. Sure, we can have a plot, events, or characters that is ambiguous or deceptive to the reader, and even to other characters through lack of information, the wrong information, or even the wrong position (all of which, if memory serves, came up in that other post), but what about a character who is ambiguous about things because they themselves refuse to acknowledge them. As in, well, the title today: A character that deliberately deceives themselves?

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Blending Different Genres

Hey readers! Welcome back to the start of another week! I hope you all had a pretty good weekend! Mine went well. In fact, I’ve got some good news for you.

For starters, Frigid-Reviews asked me to do a special spotlight on how I worldbuild. You can find it over on their site, as well as a number of book reviews—including reviews for Shadow of an Empire and Colony!

Second, Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection is on sale today for 99 cents! This price will slowly climb back to the original price over the course of the week, so grab it while it’s cheap!

That’s it for news! Plus, there’s a lot for me to do today, so let’s just dive right in to today’s topic. This topic is … well, it’s a bit of a broad one. I’ve noticed that with these request topics things seem to go one of two ways, broad or extremely specific, so in the future I think I’ll scale back the amount of requests a little to hit some more traditional writing topics as well.

But that aside, this topic is a bit broad because the question behind it concerns genres and how to use them. Specifically, how to mix them together. To get even more specific, the initial question wanted to know how to mix genres that didn’t mesh together, but … Well, I disagree with that. Almost. But since I can’t explain that without a whole lot of other context …

Yeah, let’s just dive in.

Continue reading