Happy Hug Your Cat Day!

 

I’m going to start by telling you all something I’m very proud of; I’m a panster.

 

I rarely plot a novel, I have a few images in my head and an end scene usually and that end scene in my head often drives the rest of the story. The sense of discovery and how it comes to that point. Sometimes it’s in reverse and I have an opening idea, a character a scene, that throws me into the mystery of it all.

 

And I write. And I write a fuckload. I talk about sprinting often through writer’s block but here is what I want you to know; it’s not always a good thing.

 

We aren’t always who we say we are on the screen and I’ve been hurting for about six months. I’ll keep it short; it is because my stories were all broken. In little ways, but broken all the same. They were good ideas. They had creative spark. All the feedback from publishers, agents, editors, critique partners, and betas was that they liked it, but there was still something fundamentally wrong.

 

This came to a head a few weeks ago where the spark just left me and I decided I had to do something about it if I wanted to get better.

SAVE THE CAT

 

I’d previously dismissed Save the Cat for novices who weren’t sure what made good storytelling because of one thing I’d been reassured was that I told good stories. But it wasn’t enough. I had to fix what was wrong with all my current stories, that little flaw so different in each one came back to a similar problem. I sat down again and decided I would read this book, properly, and use it for the script I’m going to submit to PitchWars this year.

 

AND I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

 

One of the things about having Aspergers is that learning new stuff is intimidating as fuck for one reason alone; you will either just “click” and get the premise, or it will be a serious struggle to learn, even if its explained very simply and easily. Sometimes your brain just doesn’t understand the new information.

 

Learning is hard. Save the Cat is not.

 

The reassurances from the author throughout the book against how difficult it is to plot, how its not any more formulaic because ALL stories follow a similar pattern, the examples, its all just…

chef kiss

Let me start by stating one of the key takeaways for me was the break down which as a panster was a bit of a hurdle. However, once I read the book and understood the points I just wrote down a single line for each one because I knew that was all I needed. You don’t have to over plot this; the book makes it clear this isn’t a case of writing down every nuanced detail. It even goes into how the beat points will probably change during the course of writing it, and that is fine.

Understanding those points of the story, and what was truly happening was made very easy to understand by the use of examples.

What I appreciated most about these examples was the diversity of genre. We all write different stories, surely its not all the same! Welp, point of fact it is – but especially if you want to make your book commercial.

From Sci-Fi to romance books, at each stage there were easily recognizable points to the stories I’ve known all my life. In the way they are alike and this is where the book excels because it brings in a different kind of story-identification as well.

The story of a hero, rites of passage, dudes with problems, and none of this is going to make sense to you unless you go read it because we don’t just break stories into “categories/genres” but also what happens. A mystery/thriller/horror can be all about “whydunit”, a term in the book used to describe a mystery to be solved, during which there are shocking revelations. Using this type of genre then helps how you develop the story. Not only does the story go into explicit detail for all these different types of genres, it then helps you figure out how to do something that’s magic.

 

That’s right; you get to learn magic.

magic

Any one of you who’s ever had to sit down and write a pitch or synopsis I am going to give you the golden stamp for why you would need this book. It tells you exactly how to do it. Not a hint or guesswork or vague instructions you somehow have to manipulate. Very, fucking, specific, instructions.

 

For those querying, you need this. It’s your query letter, elevator pitch, and tweet for pitmad.

For those self pubbing, you need this. It’s your sales tweet, back cover blurb, and Amazon sales point.

 

And that’s what matters to many of us; the difference between whether an idea is attractive enough for a reader to buy the book in any form.

For those who think; I don’t want to write commercial formulaic fiction that is okay. This might not be for you. You may be writing a new breed or genre of story that’s specific and unique and I wish you the best of luck with that.

 

But most of you I know what to sell your stories. No, be honest, if not with me than yourselves. You’re selling to an agent/editor/publisher. You’re selling your work to an audience via Amazon. What you get out of it may not be money (not much at all in point of fact) but the feeling that someone loved your story. They cried, laughed, and spent time lost in your world of words.

The kicker here is that story telling is all the same. But you’d never compare The Handmaiden’s Tale to the Great Gatsby, would you? Yeah? Well, go read Save the Cat because it tells you exactly why.

When its broken down into these points all you are doing is what we’ve done since the dawn of time, and as Save the Cat is quick to point out and prove; stories are all fundamentally the same.

 

Taking Down Trolls

The last time I fought I troll I did so quietly and with anonymity.

Last night on Twitter that did NOT happen. Was it the glass of wine or the late hour on a Friday night or the nature of the attack? Nope, it was because this guy had nothing to spew but a generalized hatred of the world, its laser beam focused on me. Why? I invited him to.

giphy1

On this thread on Twitter, one of its known trolls on the #MSWL and #querying tags is a fellow called Gary Kadet. I’d seen him in a tweet against me last year when I’d started my querying journey and decided to stay the hell away. But in the thread, I did comment that some of the contents of the article were frankly disgusting. Because child pornography is disgusting.

It was a very detailed well-researched timeline of Gary Kadet’s publishing timeline and some other facts that were disturbing but appeared accurate enough to be retweeted by the esteemed Victoria Strauss. For those who don’t know; she’s a fabulous writer and runs Writers Beware, a website dedicated to protecting authors.

But my comments were noticed.

Out of the blue an account, I now know attacks Victoria Strauss regularly had a go at me.

Proserpine Katz

And I stared at that for a few minutes… and decided that this time I wouldn’t slink off or ignore it.

giphy2

I retweeted the comments bringing the account to the attention of Victoria Strauss in case she wasn’t aware of it (and I’ve since found out she’s aware of the account). In the meantime it appeared Proserpine wasn’t done mocking me.

Proserpine Katz 2

What proceeded was a series of tweets where I damn well stood up for myself.

giphy3

And then another account started screenshotting my comments from the main thread and starting vitriolic nonsense.

Oscar MadisoyOscar Madisoy 2Oscar Madisoy 3Oscar Madisoy 4

I called him on his shit and he blocked me. I then asked for the #WritingCommunity’s support and got in spades, but made it abundantly clear that the behaviour wasn’t acceptable, I wasn’t going to lie down, and I wasn’t going to just “take” it.

Other accounts talking the same trash blocked me, and do you know what? It felt fucking glorious.

giphy4

You don’t get to win against the trolls and the bullies of the world very often, and I’m honestly pretty proud of myself for standing up to that nonsense. So what’s the point of the article? You can too.

Don’t let yourself be bullied by anyone.

You can walk away, block, or vanish. Or you can fight back. Either is valid but you have to decide for yourself what you will and will not tolerate, I’m just here to show you it can be done.

I can’t say this won’t come back to haunt me, it might. Just like those original comments, I posted on that thread. But I won’t be bullied by the likes of Gary Kadet and his sock puppets, I’m not afraid of them, and you don’t have to be either.

The trolls of this world will be called out, and if they come for me, guess what? I’m ready.

Cue the Editor

When I set out on my self-publishing journey I knew that I’d need a good editor. I spoke to a friends, found a few people who might help, and sent them firstly my novella. The people I spoke to had varying degrees of warmth – all of them charging a reasonable rate but to me was half a fortune.

 

Editing is expensive because its work. In my case a LOT (but I’m getting better, I swear!).

 

People make a living off editing and the self-publishing community’s frustration with the fees is completely negligent of the fact that you’re asking someone to work for you. I’ve worked with many editors over the years but what I found in my first editor was what I’ve looked for in all my other editors.

 

Support and enthusiasm for my work and that is why you need an editor who works well with you. The same as any professional you want to assist you.

 

This isn’t just about the time, or the story that’s dear to you. You want people to love it as much as you do and your champion for that story will always be your editor.

 

When I brought the piece to Scott in 2014 he was keen. He liked the idea of the Last Prophecy series and it was that enthusiasm that drew me to him, but I’ve kept contact and working with him over the years and other projects because I liked what he said.

 

He didn’t just correct my words, he took the time to tell me why, what I could do to improve, and found the bits of my writing that were good. It was the grounding I needed in becoming a better writer. Your first editor is possibly your most important and making sure you have a good relationship of honesty and constructive criticism is vital to becoming a better writer.

 

Scott was kind enough to answer a few questions for me this weekend to talk about editing.

 

How did you become an editor?

I’d just quit a job at a call centre when a friend of a friend needed someone with some science and editing skills. I’d originally studied and worked as a scientist, and had recently finished my Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing course with an eye to improve my writing. Along the way I fell in love with relearning grammar and punctuation rules and editing as a subject. I was able to fuse my previous background and new skills and help with a science textbook. This pretty much kickstarted editing as a career for me, and I’ve since branched out to many kinds of texts.

 

What kind of editing do you do?

Educational textbooks are my bread-and-butter work. They make up the bulk of my work and the bulk of my income. But I’ll happily edit anything I can get my hands on. My passion is in speculative fiction and roleplaying games, which I’ve edited in, and which often keep me excited to be editing. I’ve worked on self-help books, business books, boardgames, young adult books and children’s books to mention a few others. I also do some manuscript assessment, an area I’m keen to get more involved with.

 

What is the most rewarding part about it?

There’s a few parts that are rewarding. Finding a manuscript that’s already written well, and making that absolutely shine feels amazing. I also love when I’m able to help an author – could be an emerging writer or an experienced writer – learn something new or even just to find that one idea or twist of phrase to improve a story.

 

Do you have a part of editing you like more than others?

I try not to be complacent about the work and feel there are always opportunities to improve and fine-tune my abilities as an editor. The editing work keeps me on my toes because of the continual challenge of feeling out and learning about a new project. I like the idea of always being an eternal learner in my work and the particular project I’m working on.

 

Is there any editing advice you can give writers?

Spend time with your words, no matter how awkward it feels to look at them and rework them. Find new ways to read and experience your words – go for a walk thinking about your story, craft an atmospheric soundtrack to feel out a scene or two, try writing and editing your work in a burbling café, read or experience something new and take something from that into your writing.

 

 

You can find Scott on his website, and twitter where he talks about his editor work, past history, and how you can get in touch with him.

 

E. J. Dawson.COM


We’re all trying to find our way, learn from our mistakes, and grow into this new and uncertain world.

 

We’re living in a world with a lot of chaos and fighting.

 

Covid. The BLM movement. The art vs artists arguments.

 

The truths coming about from the traditionally publishing industry, agencies that have had staff walk out, the disparaging differences for advances to black authors, and most recently the NYT revelations.

*deep breath*

 

All of these are confronting and difficult and we need to hear them.

 

So let’s also talk about the much-maligned/contradictory self-publishing/Writing Community.

 

I recently saw people have abandoned the Writing Community tag to form the Writerscafe to get away from the follow for follow trains and lifts.

 

Let’s start with the fact that many of these carry a subculture of bullying I’ve talked about before, but that the reason many of these accounts claim the following is done in support. Why? Because agents want you to have a platform. In the self-publishing case thousands, tens of thousands of followers will buy your books.

 

This is true.

 

But what agents and publishers and editors want to see is a reader base, especially if you’ve self-pubbed or went with an indie press. Not necessarily a host of other writers. And if you are seeking an agent straight off the bat, many represented authors DON’T have those bloated follower counts, some have less than a hundred. (As a side note; if you don’t at least check the feeds of those you follow you could end up following a pedophile, and oh yeah, MANY PEOPLE DID).

 

Why do it if that’s the case?

 

Because you DO want to find and support other writers, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, and you will never know who your newest best friend is as a writer if you don’t know them. Maybe their content is funny, engaging, helpful. Maybe they work in the same genre as you. You can beta swap and find critique partners and retweet pitches and ALL OF THAT IS VALID.

 

What isn’t is when you decide to bully people about it.

 

When “Follow me because I follow you” becomes the ONLY reason for engagement. Many of these accounts with their super high followers (we’re talking plus 20k here), do not have a lot of engagement. Look at their tweets. Many of these people do not engage in active dialogue – they serial retweet other accounts doing the same things as them.

 

These “writerslifts” and predominately self-published authors are not the ONLY ones, but they can make it seem like its either a join them or leave. That if you aren’t with them you aren’t a real supportive writer, and you won’t make it and GUYS, THIS IS NOT HOW SELF PUBLISHING WORKS.

 

There is a huge hidden part of the self-publishing world that cheats. They buy fake reviews, they swap stories and post it under different names, they use advertising and falsified buying and reading to up their ranking on Amazon so more people buy a trending book. I’ve talked about it a lot in the past and there are many places that talk about it in great detail.

 

And when we talk about supporting the writing community and that’s just your opinion, please remember the damaging behaviour of exclusiveness, and I would like to segue this dialogue to talk about… Rowling.

 

Many authors put their Hogwart houses on their bios to show their allegiances/preferences/and often writing style too. It’s become inconsiderate now because JK Rowling has made many public statements that she doesn’t support trans people.

 

So now writers are stating they need to remove it from their bios and they’re anti-trans if they’re don’t. There is the rise of separating the art from the artists and why this is understandable reaction given writers like Tolkien and Lovecraft.

 

Guys… they’ve been dead a long time and no longer profit from your patronage. Rowling does.

 

Separating the art from the artist is hard when integral parts of the storytelling carry themes that are hateful/thinly veiled phobias. When we’ve grown up with these stories and they’ve influenced who we are and the people we want to become. The shades of grey and uncertainty about where the line is, for me, still a little vague, but I am trying to seek clarity in what I am reading and writing. I still think the HP world has a lot to offer, but have also had my eyes opened from a tumbler post to a lot of the themes in the book that promotes slavery and exclusiveness.

 

You know… like… the Writing Community follow for following?

 

You can choose to keep enjoying HP, no one is telling you what you can and can’t do – as long as you are aware of what else is involved, and that your continued support will be clear to others about what you do and don’t believe in. It’s the same reason people ask you put your gender referral into your bio; not just to identify yourself to others, but to show that you understand and support those who’s genders are not clearly defined by a photo or even their bodies.

 

That you care about them and their lives and equality for those lives.

 

You cannot please everyone, someone is invariably going to take my words here and twist them or attack me for them and this is the thing; I am open to a reasonable discussion and learning from my mistakes. I removed my Hogwarts house from my bio the FIRST time I found out about Rowling and I didn’t exclude all of you who still kept it in your bio. I have Aspergers and sometimes my brain just works in weird ways and I try very hard to articulate that and maybe I’ve messed it up. But I can admit to my mistakes, and to try to improve.

 

I am here to support other authors and I do that many ways that involve sometimes never speaking to them or following them on twitter. I feature them on my website with book tours, blog posts, interviews and reviews of their work.

 

THAT’S HOW YOU SUPPORT A WRITER; YOU BUY THEIR BOOK AND REVIEW IT AND TALK ABOUT IT.

 

And if you find out that writer has a different political viewpoint from you; you can block or unfollow or whatever. But please remember your actions speak volumes and we aren’t just talking about opinions. Stating pineapple belongs on pizza (a gross preference I loathe, yeah I said it) is an opinion. Liking the colour green instead of purple and that purple sucks is an opinion.

 

The inclusion of the trans community is a human fucking right. A basic human right. Like everything else we are fighting for and that is not opinion, it is fact. Everyone deserves the same chance, the same support, and the same inclusiveness that the rest of us have held onto for centuries.

 

And we need to be clearer about it, and the kind of behaviour we want to see in our communities if we hope to be the ones doing the decent human thing. We’re making ourselves aware, we’re talking about it, and the effects that is has on our community.

 

Self publishing has no one direct leader, we aren’t beholden to five big publishing companies, a swathe of literary agencies or qualified editors who influence and direct our work. We are beholden to ourselves and each other. With so many voices, I refuse to let a single few dictate it for all, to devolve down to us vs them, to just a few of the squabbling children the rest of the professional writing industry not so subtly call the self publishing community.

 

My eyes are open, and I’m trying to make my community wider. Are you?

Ugliness in the Publishing Industry

 

I’m angry. I’m furious. I’m at the end of my fucking rope.

I’d like to say its about the BLM movement, and what’s happening in Australia and America is terrible.

I’d like to say it’s the #Publishingpaidme tag and the disparagement between black authors and white authors is sickening.

I’d like to say it’s the transphobic tweets from JK Rowling this morning but to be honest it was one tweet.

 

Just one.

 

And it has me tearing down the walls.

Bursting into tears.

So mad I was physically sick.

I’ve never been so angry and upset I’ve vomited before, but there you have it.

Because the BLM movement triggered transparency in the publishing industry about advances. Advances are paid by publishing houses to authors with the expectation the book sales will exceed the advance. Twitter is rife with authors talking about how much they got paid for their books and one clear comparison is the black to white author advance deals. Some have been frankly disgusting.

But the proverbial thing that has me crying with absolute RAGE is the author who got nearly a million dollars for a YA fantasy who was also prolifically self-published. That she got picked up by a traditional publisher after she’d been self-published, and gained readers, but traditional publishers STILL shit on self-publishing.

And the money she earned? She reinvested it into her self published market.

Keep in mind for a VERY critical moment that the #Publishingpaidme tag was MEANT to be about the disgusting difference between black and white authors, and that the amount white authors get paid for their books in comparison is obscene. Keep remembering that this tag was supposed to address the gap and encourage authors to come forward but also for black authors to know their worth. Stay focused on the fact that this tag was inspired by the need for equality and that the industry doesn’t currently serve that need.

 

Now… LETS TALK ABOUT THE WAY SELF PUBLISHING IS VIEWED.

 

One person being thankfully honest about the #publishingpaidme tag has admitted in the late naughties she got close to one million for her books. ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

 

Anyone saying that isn’t much please remember; MOST AUTHORS (TRAD INCLUDED) ARE LUCKY TO MAKE 10K A YEAR.

 

She writes about the possibility of self-publishing with the proper amount of dollars invested into self-publishing is very lucrative. After already earning nearly a million dollars in a trad contract.

 

And you should know, without spending, I don’t know maybe a million dollars, on a marketing campaign, your self-published novel probably won’t get far.

 

What drove me the most to my anxiety about all of this was that the idea that self-pub is lesser. That its full of scammers, low lifes out to make a dollar, those who dont care about story telling.

 

I GET IT.

 

There are a host of authors out there aiming to make a buck. I write articles on them.

There are a host of authors trying to game the system. I write articles about them.

There are a host of authors who do not accept editing. I write articles about them.

 

But when the idea is thrown in front of me that you can just go ahead and self-publish after being rejected by trad publishers, I want to scream. Why? Because I remember the same author who started the #Publishingpaidme tweet did NOT ask for any self-published work in a recent tweet about books. In fact she made a point of asking for traditionally published books. As though they were the only ones that mattered.

 

Let’s keep in mind this tag was supposed to bring about equality.

 

Down in the grey waters of ignored society trying to share their diverseness in a way that would have their stories celebrated and embraced MANY SELF PUBLISHED AUTHORS COME FROM SMALL DEMOGRAPHICS.

OH and in case you are wondering about my ability to be here let impart a couple of things;

 

I’m white.

I’m Australian.

I’m fat.

I have PCOS.

I have Aspergers.

I’m closeted bi, and consider myself her/they and don’t advertise it because there are others who’s gender stories are more important/I don’t feel comfortable doing it.

And I don’t need your fucking judgment on any of those parts of myself.

The tweets going around about a self-published author getting a trad deal implies a disparaging tendency to only accept what’s “trending”. This kind of behavior encourages only writers of a certain “quality”. This kind of writing is actively against the very authors it claims to be seeking action for.

 

Don’t have an agent?

Don’t have a publishing contract?

Don’t have a social media platform?

 

Get the fuck out.

 

God I wish this wasn’t the case but staring at all this and listening to these deals I am sitting over here stating; I DON’T HAVE ANY OF THIS. Neither do a bunch of authors who deserve it more.

 

I didn’t get an advance from Literary Wanderlust and I didn’t expect one; they are a small press I trusted with my story. I wonder how many other writers did the same. And no you shouldn’t HAVE to get an advance to feel of value but with so much pressure being placed on that right now you might be thinking it’s the difference between a good and bad book.

 

No, its not.

 

The same way a self pub and trad book is not the difference between a good and bad book.

 

You wanna talk self pub in comparison to trad? Yeah, I’m happy to talk about it, but what I want to talk about is the quality of the book – not whether or not it made money. Or did we forget somewhere along the line it was supposed to enrich lives?

 

Time and again I’ve been told I’m a good story teller. Time and again I’ve been told my writing needs to improve. And I have no problem with this.

 

My problem is with ANY author shutting out self-published authors BECAUSE THEY ARE SELF PUBLISHED.

 

As though they are inferior.

 

I’ve seen the very people traditional authors claim to represent write GREAT stories in the indie and self pub community. I don’t know what kind of a wake up call they need to grasp the self pub industry holds a SWATHE of great story telling. But having read and reviewed many of them I can say one thing to these authors calling on diverseness and equality in writing, who are ignoring the self publishing industry.

 

YOU ARE FUCKING LATE.

 

 

 

I have not been silent on my support of the Black Lives Matters movement and I’ve been doing that by one action alone; sharing and retweet the voices of those it affects most.

Today some of those words were lost. A clear screen shot on Taia Dominique’s Twitter can be seen that she posted the whole poem, but that later other parts of it were taken down.

This is not right, the words she’s spoken are true to what she feels and those are the words we need to hear right now.

Take the time, read the words, learn to listen.

I find that it is easier to die in this world than it is to live here Along with having the life squeezed out of you, like a fresh fruit for its juice, you can be told that your life is worthless. You won't be told t(3)

Red Sofa

This is an essential read for any author, regardless of your path. The actions of Red Sofa in the wake of the George Floyd murder and subsequent riots is terrible, but this is its own kind of awful. Many writers aspire to getting an agent, but please keep in mind that the actions of Red Sofa both now and then, is not acceptable behaviour.

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

This is not a post I ever thought I’d be writing, and I certainly didn’t expect to be writing it now, when there’s so many terrible things going on in the world. But the SFF writing and publishing community is not an island: we impact and are impacted by the world in turn, and it’s because of this relationship that I’m speaking now. This is a small matter in comparison to the ongoing protests over the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd and the egregious police brutality with which those protests have been met, but it is still, to me, an important matter, as how the SFF community responds to racism and bigotry in other contexts will always relate to how it deals with internal gatekeeping. After what’s happened, I don’t feel that I can in good conscience continue to remain silent.

Last week, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, who…

View original post 4,366 more words

I started writing a seriously in 2014 and consequently, self-published called the Last Prophecy Series. My reason remains sound; it was a twenty-one novella and book fantasy steampunk series. Not exactly a trendy topic, succinct series, or the kind of project that would be over in a few years.

But I was determined and it remains to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Getting an editor taught me a lot about my writing and how to write better. I moved on from the series to do other work. My scripts outside that series since then have had requests from agents. I have a publishing contract with Literary Wanderlust for Behind the Veil. I’ve gone on to self publish another series called Queen of Spades – a sci-fi action romance trilogy.

 

Here is what you need to know about this process and why it’s not something that lasts a year or two, but a lifetime.

 

The Product

 

Writing books take time. With many successful self-published authors who you may have never heard of, they attribute the full-time writer dream to releasing a book every six months. But when you have to write the damn thing, spend ages editing, and then get others to help with that process too it can be daunting. With families, jobs, and other things taxing time the idea of a book in a year let alone two is impossible.

The second thing to consider is do you have a stand-alone book? Is it a good fit for a specific genre? Is it the ONE book inside you? Many writers find once they have written a book that’s it, they’re done, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many writers have dozens of stories, can write often, and do. The thing to figure out is what kind of writer you are, and what you want from your stories.

Don’t kid yourself on movie deals and insta-fame; like any artistic endeavor, this should be about the soul. Because without a lot of luck, marketing, and constant work, and time, that’s not realistic.

If you have just one book you love and have spent years working on, why not query it? Don’t be scared of querying or an inevitable “no”, because I’ve seen authors with no social media presence and no contacts get agents. Research carefully and if you’re sure this is THE book, and you want to get it to a traditional publisher, then do try querying first. You’re going to know the quality of your work and the marketability of your idea pretty quickly with their reaction.

Do you have a lot of ideas? Can afford the time, savvy, and dedication needed to self publish? Because it requires a lot of work and that’s one of the most underestimated parts of self-publishing.

It’s a piece of creative work, but you are the person who decides the right path for you, and because they’re side by side you can move between the two, just be sure you know what you’re getting into.

 

The Work

 

I often see authors publish with self-made covers, no editing, and no marketing plan wonder why their book isn’t selling.

Imagine going to a café and seeing sandwiches on the shelf; are you going to pick the pickle and anchovy on lumpy weird looking bread, or the focaccia with smoked salmon, cream cheese, baby spinach, and capers? I mean, maybe not, that’s my favourite and I’m hungry but you get the picture.

Getting a professional-looking cover is not hard with research into the genre, some good stock photos, and getting comfortable with programs like GIMP. Having a good developmental editor is easy with many authors on social media offering beta and critical partner readings if you don’t want to hire a professional. Seeking out places that advertise your book, creating social media platforms, and avenues to advertise is easy with a bit of research.

But all this takes work, and it’s endless, it never stops and you are never not doing that.

When you take into consideration that you still have to write a book every six months that’s a lot of work. It’s constant, you do some every day, and some times it sucks away whole weekends. I’ve dedicated weeks of annual leave from day jobs for this and I wouldn’t have it any other way because I’m happy doing what I do.

Be sure you’re ready for the kind of work needed, and what’s involved, and if you like the idea of it. Because if you don’t, or are finding it hard, it might not be for you.

 

The End Goal

 

What do you want out of life?

It’s one of those questions you get asked in random quizzes and occasional in job interviews when they want to be sadistic. Heck, lots of money, love, and to live happily ever after? You can’t magic those into existence. Money takes business savvy, luck, saving, and accrument few of us possess. Love even in long term relationships is not always an easy task or a life long one.

Happiness? The most annoying old adage of finding it within yourself is, unfortunately, true and nothing could be more right than when talking about your writing journey.

I’ve seen so many writers give up after their book didn’t sell. They throw the towel in and disappear. Many writers perceive it is a “make it or fail” industry. They forget that this is like any other hobby; a creative outlet. You need to decide what you want for you, for your stories, and for your time.

If you have a single story you love with your whole heart, have poured years of work into, and just want to see out there, don’t be afraid of querying. I saw one writer query seven hundred agents, over five years before landing an agent that got her enviable big five publishing contract. She had another book, but it was in its drafting phases and she was happy with that. But she didn’t quit on what she wanted.

If you have heaps of stories and you have the determination to make it work, self publish. It’s very rewarding to get your books out there, your way, on your time, and finally in your hands. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work, but my god nothing is better than waking up to messages stating people loved your book and can’t wait for the next one.

The other thing to remember is the tendency for emerging writers to think it’s either self-publishing or traditional publishing, without taking into account the number of small presses out there. Literary Wanderlust has been nothing but supportive and wonderful to work with, and I’m very happy to be publishing with them. There are hundreds of small presses out there that do sell books and a lot of them.

There is no one place for your book to end up, or your career, but the most important thing to ask yourself is what you get out of the time you spend doing it, and if it doesn’t make you happy then ask yourself why.

This doesn’t make me happy all the time. I’ve cried, raged, lost hope, and faith over my writing career.

Nearly given up a time or two myself.

But I didn’t because when I asked myself why sit down and go on it’s because I love what I do. Ask yourself what you want, because no one else is going to make you happy. You figure this out yourself, you don’t give up at the first sign of defeat, and you do it knowing whatever comes, it’s time well spent.

You figure this out yourself, you don’t give up at the first sign of defeat, and you do it knowing whatever comes, it’s time well spent.

A Pinch of Bookdust

Awakening
Queen of Spades Book 1
by EJ Dawson
Genre: SciFi Action Romance
Ayla is a villain. With a gift that allows her to see when anyone will die, she’s remorseless in her profession as the perfect assassin. When she wakes up in a cryo-tank three thousand years in the future, and no idea how she came to be there, all that matters is survival.
Rescued by Leith and the crew of the Nuria, Ayla discovers a far evolved world of space ships and galactic colonization. But everything comes with a price, and though Ayla is no princess locked in an icy tower, she still has to pay for the rescue she didn’t know she needed.
Given over to Leith, a darkly handsome man who reads Ayla far easier than she’d like, they must work together if Ayla is to repay her debt. As the pair come to learn how…

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Refilling Your Tank

In everything that’s going on at the moment I know some of you are more scared than you’ve ever been before.

 

There are a million things going on outside our control. Fear eats a hole in our stomachs as we twitch aside window curtains and wonder if just one more visit to the store will bring home a fatal virus.

 

We lived with our parents and grandparents dread of another global war, and this isn’t nearly so awful, but it doesn’t change that it’s a trial. Its hard. Its scary. And the most frustrating thing about this is that we are helpless.

 

We can stay at home but some of us have to work to pay bills.

We can lock ourselves inside but when you’re jobless, like I am, its stressful.

We can pretend that it will be alright even as we do all the right things and it doesn’t change the anxiety.

 

With all this time in doors we should be reading and writing and being creative with our free time.

 

Except everyone is stating they don’t have the capacity to write or create and then blaming themselves like they’re lazy or can’t be bothered.

 

So this is a nice reminder to all you to STOP DOING THAT.

 

You have a tank of emotional gas and you have run out.

 

That you have forgotten the emotional commitment to your projects is no surprise, so here is your reminder; you can’t invest what you don’t have.

 

 

Joy, sadness, grief, despair; when we can control these emotions and funnel them into our creation we are building on past trauma and experiences. We are dealing with these things in safe spaces. You don’t feel safe, you don’t even know what to feel anymore.

 

I know cause I’m there too.

 

I’ve been writing during the lock down but I have a confession to make.

 

None of it is on relevant projects.

 

Its all trash. Half baked ideas I’d never publish. A sex scene between two of my favourite characters. A conversation two of my characters wish they could have had and never got the chance. A random idea that I don’t think will go anywhere. I’ve started about six different novels. Written a novella.

 

And all of its trash.

 

Garbage words that I may be able to salvage but honestly, I just indulged in what I wanted to write. All of its in snapshots and time not well spent but it helped me to keep on creating, but more importantly give me something to do that isn’t worrying.

 

So, write that fanfic you’ve always longed to. Just start a fresh page and write about how angry, upset, and stressed out you are. Write that letter to your high school bully, or the first time you fell in love. Tell the person inside the words are still there, they’re just waiting for you to fill up the tank.

 

Th first few days were hard to do, but it’s been nice to be able to sit and know I’ve put in writing time. I’m not losing the habit. I’ve kept working despite everything even if it wasn’t specifically on the goals I wanted.

 

For all the time I’ve had at home I’ve also spent it doing things like the final proofread on Queen of Spades Awakening which has already garnered a few five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

 

I didn’t want to do it but I had a release date, so I played solitaire and listened to the entire book twice to be sure there were no mistakes. It was good because I got writing related work done, ensured the script it was the best it could be, and distracted myself from the enormity of the task by playing solitaire. All the little wins made for a huge win on the day.

 

Don’t look for big picture wins.

Look for the time you did the dishes. Posted on your blog. Joined a Twitter event. Wrote a review. You are contributing to the joy in the world. You are refilling other people’s tanks with your attention and your time.

 

We’re all locked in our homes together, but we can do that, and doing that for many of you has made my life better.

 

You guys refilled my tank.

 

Tell me what I can do to help you, and we will get through this together.

 

 

REFILLING THE TANK(1)