Tag Archives: writing advice

Traveling Writer Advice

At some point or another we, writers, will need to travel for work. Whether it’s a book tour, convention, or speaking engagement. It’s just par for the course when you’re writing professionally. Now that I see writers traveling again for work, I thought it was time to share my tips and advice for those that are traveling for work.

Research
How far are you traveling? Learn about the city/cities along your tour. This is beneficial when you look at hotels within a reasonable range to the location the event will be held. This will also help you pack appropriately. If you’re not leaving your city or not traveling very far from home, a lot of these tips may not work for you. You may not have to pack clothing for a few days, may not need to pack toiletries.


If you are going to a city family or friends are in, you may not even need many things like money for a hotel room if they’re willing to take you on for a day or however long you need to be in the area.


If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you know if you have vaccines to enter the country. Also, know if you need electrical adapters. For example, Europe has different electrical outlets than the United States.

Packing Appropriately
This seems self-explanatory, but sometimes we forget while in the prepping stage for a trip. What is appropriate for traveling as a writer? Laptop, cellphone, or anything relating to the event. Are you going to sign your books? You will need a pen. Are you going to also record the event? You will need a recording device. This could be your cellphone, a camera, or even the gear of a podcaster if you’re also doing that.
Bring an extension cord, extra-long power cord/surge protector. You may be provided space at a convention, but you will not always be provided cords and extensions for your devices.


Though you are packing for work, don’t forget to pack for yourself. Clothing and a few extras as a ‘just in case’ preparation. When you’re there finally, many things can still happen. A fan could accidentally spill something on you, you will need a backup outfit. Don’t forget your toiletries. I also recommend bringing your favorite coffee (thank me later).


You will also need a table and all that you want to decorate it with. For example, books, book racks, displays, tablecloths, author posters, book posters, serving platters for the merch you may bring, etc. I recommend creating a to-do list and marking off everything as you pack it in bags and pack it into your car. Don’t forget your padlocks! If you need padlocks, make a special keyring with these specific keys on it.
If you’ve done your research well, you will also know what else you will need to pack, like adapters, or where you can get your petty cash converted into local currency.

Books
When I started out, I did not know how many books or products to pack. The best advice I ever got and continue to listen to is the number of books. If you’re expecting a large crowd at your booth, which can happen with advertising of your location at an event, bring more. It is better to have more than too little. If you’re worried about running out or do, make sure you have a way for readers to pay through a device like Stripe.

The laptop that you bring can also be used if you’re willing to allow people to pay, say, via Amazon. Make sure you clear and log out all information after every guest uses your device to protect their privacy. They’re trusting you and you should respect that.


If you have a series of books, always bring double or triple the amount of the first novel of the series and a smaller amount of the rest. For example, Book one pack fifty. Book two – four pack twenty to thirty. You will always sell the first of a series, but not everyone wants the rest until after they’ve read that first book.


With the above tip about book series, take that also into account for one-off novels. Bring the amount you would for the first book of a series.
Think of every book as its own business. With that mindset, you will bring all the goodies for each book or each series. This is where all the merch comes into play and those insta-pleasers freebies (like candy with your brand on it also a big-time pleaser is totes and bags. People at conventions always need more ways to carry their haul. If it has your brand or book all over, it as they move around the convention, they’re also passively advertising for you.).

Security
Above I mentioned padlocks. Always have bins or luggage you can lock. Though conventions and big events can be fun, there is always the looming risk of theft. Some places will allow you to put your totes under your table to hide them, but it’s usually best to pack and unpack if your goods are in a small batch. This means if you aren’t erecting large racks for clothing or shelving for products, pack, haul with you, and unpack.

This can be extra to some, but it is better than investing x-amount of money into your goods, merch, products, and having them swiped on you. Sadly, it happens. Desperate people will do desperate things when wanting to make a quick buck.


Bring helpers if you can. Sometimes you just must do things for yourself, it can be hard, but all of us have done the lonesome walk of working without help. I recommend bringing someone or more to help. I have a bad back that has flare-ups from time to time, so I always bring someone with me just in case I cannot lift something on my own (totes of books are super heavy).


This is also helpful in that more eyes can see more things going on. If you’re occupied at one end of your table, you may not see someone waiting at the edge. More people can help with customer service.
Helpers can also bring the risk of theft lower. Someone will be less likely to steal from you if there are too many people in their way or could see them doing things.

Table Kits
I do not know if any other author does ‘table kits’, but I do. A table kit is basically everything I’m going to use on my table at an event. From the labels to the standing displays advertising my being there. I research one tote as a ‘table kit’, bag, or tote devoted to electrical and extras I may need, and however many I need for books. I also will have luggage for clothing, hotel must-haves, like my favorite coffee or toiletries.


Whether you’re using sticky labels or displays with prices, I recommend labeling all. It will help them, the guest, look if you’re busy. Small displays explaining things like a book genre are very helpful to a customer that may want a quick glance. Have thrillers? A guest may like comedy and seeing a thriller label will help them tell if you’re a writer that they may want to invest in. Also, good also to have something dedicated to your social media if it is not on bigger staples like standing author banners.

Petty Cash
For those paying in cash, it’s best to have a safe place to put your income and for any change to exchange. I suggest a minimum of twenty or thirty. Your lockbox should always remain on you or a helper.


If you want more advice, or have questions, just comment. I don’t know how to help you if you don’t ask!

The Word: Top Self-Care Tips For Working Writers

Being a working writer can be hard, exhausting, and feel fruitless, but there are ways to help yourself. This is a lesson I had to learn along the way. Burning out is serious, I suffered it, and I’ve been on a mission to help others stop before they burn out themselves. I have written about the dark side of being creative on demand in an article here on the website entitled The Dark side of being ‘Creative on Demand’, if you’d like to read about my burn out journey and what I learned then. I recommend it.

I’m here to bring to you some more help on this topic, things I’ve learned since the previously mentioned post happened. Things that have helped me that may help you.


Scheduling

Schedule time in your day for writing. Sometimes this could be as small as a ten-minute break in the day, during a lunch period, or an hour. Planning and sticking to a schedule can have significant results in that manuscript getting done and accomplishing goals.

Turning Off/Closing Off

You can become quickly overwhelmed if you have a lot of chaos going on. From a cellphone that doesn’t stop going off to not having a quiet space, turn off the cellphone (if you can). I even recommend going as far as posting a sign outside your work space to let others know you need the quiet. If your space has a door, shut it.

Set Your Environment

To piggyback off of the above tip, you can also set up your space to optimize your productivity. Like candles and incense? Light one. Struggling with a scene? Why not listen to some cinematic music or your favorite film’s soundtrack? Sometimes the music helps to create a headspace, this may be the perfect place to help you write.

Get Out Of Your Head

This is something I didn’t realize I had done until someone mentioned it to me. When struggling with your writing space, sometimes you need to get out of it to get out of your head. It completely made sense to me I would move around especially if I’ve struggled for a long time at my desk, it becomes a focus of frustration and in order to push through I had grabbed a notebook, pencil, and found a spot on the floor in a completely different area of my home. You can also go outside or even to your favorite cafe to improve your headspace.

Exercise

Exercising is great for your health, both physical and mental wellness. It will also give you a boost of energy. Sitting at a desk for hours isn’t good for you, the risk for blood clots increases. In this article from Mount Sinai titled: Can I get a blood clot from sitting at my computer? It explains how sitting for long periods can affect your health in a more medical way.

Reward Yourself

Whether it is a few words, paragraph, or even a chapter rewarding yourself can help you continue through the long writing process. Setting a small goal to accomplish and rewarding yourself for goal achieving is motivation. I pulled this from my college days and began applying it to my working periods.

Remind Yourself You’re Amazing

You know how amazing you are? You’re a writer! You are a creator of worlds. That’s amazing. Look in a mirror and tell yourself you’re amazing, that you’re a talented writer, and that you can and will get through this.

Communicate

Talking to other writers may very well be something that you need. It may even surprise you to find out they’ve been right where you are before. Feeling not alone can help us through hard times, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone.

The Word: The Worst Writing Advice I Have Ever Been Given [Plus The Best] Comment/Share Yours!

Long before I published, worked in the industry, or even won titles like bestseller or award-winning, I was getting unsolicited advice on writing, how to improve, and the keys to the writing world. I learned in my journey that advice really is just a jumping off place, where you’re jumping is the risk many writers take to get to their goals. There is more realistic advice. This is what you need. This is what I needed.

The Bad Advice

  1. Writing is easy, and anyone can do it! You surely can.
  2. Now that we have Amazon it shouldn’t be hard, use Amazon.
  3. You don’t need an agent or lawyers when you’re an Indie. Believe me, you’ll be just fine.
  4. I made it. You will make it.
  5. If you don’t know your style, you can always mimic someone that’s doing well. If they did it, you can do it too.
  6. If you don’t have the money, you don’t need the service. [In editing, graphics, or formatting]
  7. They say they’re professional, so they must be. Their prices aren’t that bad.

Those not in the business often give poor advice about the business. It’s on par with asking someone how good a restaurant is, unaware they’ve never been there, and they’re pretending they know. Now that I’ve covered some ‘bad’ advice I’ve received, I want to cover some better advice, what has worked for me, and trustworthy wisdom.

The Realistic Advice

  1. Though anyone can put pen to paper or type on a keyboard, it may seem easy enough, writing seriously is another thing entirely. There’s a lot that goes into being a writer, published author, or anything in the business. The main thing is to keep going for the long haul, it will take months of work after writing, which will often take months of work. Just keep going, even if it’s typing a few words or lines a day.
  2. Yeah, Amazon’s made it easier to publish independently we have to do it their way. They’re a business and we still have to follow their structure if we’re going to use it. Beyond that, they’re not so bad. Just learn as much as you can about Amazon’s system and Audible, they own that too. Just be aware they may change policies and not in your favor.
  3. Hey, they made it, but that doesn’t mean you will. Being indie isn’t easy, we’re the underdogs, and sometimes people have a lot of money backing them to make it easier for them.
  4. You will need to either learn how to do something, know someone professionally skilled, or pay someone to do it. Nothing is free after all.
  5. Just because they claim they’re professional doesn’t mean they are. The word ‘professional’ gets used often by anyone that wants to be taken seriously, but you need to review their work history. Is their work up to your standards? Ask questions. Ask to see a portfolio or see if they have one on their website. Heck, do they even have one of those? You will see most of the time they don’t even have a free one. Be weary.
  6. Oh, man! You definitely need to hire a cover artist if you’re not able to do it yourself. The cover is the first impression the reader gets of the tone of the book. That goes for formatting, but most of all editing. Don’t ask friends and family to ‘just do it for you’, they won’t be honest every time, especially if they’ve seen you struggling for months. They will not want to hurt your feelings. Unless they’re taking your work seriously.
  7. For God Sakes, don’t try to professionally edit the work yourself if you’re not qualified.
  8. Listening to reviews is like being in a madhouse. You’ll not please everyone.
  9. Find YOUR VOICE and don’t lose it. Some freelance editors will try to change a work entirely from what you’re doing, if the work is losing your voice, it is losing your style and personality. Be careful. [This applies to trying to copy a better style. Mimicking isn’t your own style.]
  10. Editors will always edit differently. Give one manuscript to three editors and they will edit it into three different styles. Go with the one you like best.

Have you ever been given bad writing advice? What about some excellent advice? Whatever the case, share it! Got some questions even that you’ve not found answers for. Let’s start a conversation about it.

The Word: 5 Tips for Poetry Writing

How does one start in poetry? How can someone go from novel writing to poetic prose? Both valid questions and both questions you may ask. I can only share from my personal experience, but as an actively working fiction novelist and poet, I shared a few tips that may help you along your journey.

  • Read as much poetry as possible. Read a vast variety of different poetry from different poets throughout history and even current. This, for me, was a gateway to expanding my horizons. Every new poem or poet I came across I could see or try to see where that poet’s message lied. Whether it was about a falling leave in Autumn or the great despair of losing a child.
  • Learn more about poetry itself beyond the reading of the different prose you come across. The research into the poetic world will introduce you to more than you may know. For example, you will learn about free-styling poetry compared to a structured haiku set-up. These are important upon you developing a style for yourself. You may even discover you want to try your hand at all the different poetry forms!
  • Keep a journal nearby. I already practice this as a novel idea that may come and go. I will need to write it down before I lose my thought. Poetry ideas and lines can come just as quickly as they fade away. You may think of a beautiful way of saying something you’ve struggled with for some time, a journal can net that fish before it escapes.
  • Play with your words. Experiment with assonance and initial rhyme. These can help develop a flow in the work and a style. Along with this experiment, with metaphors.
  • Don’t be afraid to restart a poem. Editing your work is a good way to polish it. For me, this was natural as I would write a chapter draft or even a manuscript draft and re-approach it with fresh eyes during the phase of writing of self-editing. A poem doesn’t have to be perfect and if you think it is the first time you’ve written it, approach it again later on to test your original feelings of the work. This is also a good way to develop your writing and poetry, never publish the first draft of anything you ever write. Publishers will know and so will readers, it will feel ‘off’.

Related Posts

The Word: Advice on Nanowrimo

I wrote, in the past, why I decided to do Nanowrimo last year, but it also taught me things about myself. As time has passed, I have realized it taught me more that the initial realizations.

For me, confirmations have always been the best for me to know I can do something or that I’ve done something right. Often, I can do this for myself because I will build confidence due to research. With Nano I went in almost blind. I only had a week to prep. I was taking in a lot of information in a short period, mostly alone researching, but also talking to veterans of the event.

Here I sit, months later, and I realize Nano taught me if I can focus I really can accomplish many things. I have always tried, but my life is often crazy busy, to type here and there, but all I can think was everything seemed to work out for me to get 2019 Nano done.

I am still pretty happy with myself for pushing myself. I work well under pressure and this was an entire event I expected to be nothing but pressure. I started off doing it roughly, pushing and pushing, but ultimately and very quickly I didn’t. I would relax and tell myself that it was okay, something is better than nothing.

Below is all the advice I can share on my experience, I hope it helps someone.

Advice to take away:

  1. Don’t give up
  2. Some words is better than no words
  3. Ignore the community factor if it’s hindering your progress. This is a self-challenge, not a challenge against others.
  4. 50,000 words breaks down easier than you think, just breathe, and you can do it
  5. Self-care is important, don’t push yourself to hit the goal.
  6. If you don’t hit the goal to ‘win’, reflect upon what you accomplished, and remember that was so much more than you started with.

Follow my blogging from last year’s Nanowrimo. Great to see the word count progress. Check out these links in order for a better idea of how little or how much you can do and still ‘win’.

[Brief Words] 2019 guest post of Cindy Johnson

Throughout my life various people told me I should be a writer, but I was also drawn to art and that was the direction my life took for many years. I married a music teacher and decided to become a teacher myself, and the logical choice was art. I taught that for several years. I finally gave it up, but I didn’t give up my love for art. Now I have my own home-based business called L’Artista bella. I consider myself a portrait artist, but I’ve been branching out more, trying to teach myself new techniques, to grow as an artist.

I never lost my interest in writing, though. It was just put on the back burner for a while because life happened. To say I thought I always had a book in me sounds cliché, but that’s how I finally became a writer. I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal and many books I enjoy reading are paranormal, so I began writing in that genre. I’ve always had vivid dreams and I like
to analyze them. I had one that was so strange I couldn’t get it off my mind so I wrote it down. It finally led me to the idea for my first novel, “Keys Of Childish Scrawl.” The book wasn’t born, though, for several years.

I finally decided to sit down one day a few years ago and start writing that book I’d thought about for so long. It ended up taking a totally different direction than what I first envisioned, but I believe it turned out the way it was meant to be. I also included many of my own life experiences in it. For instance, one day while driving home from work in the hills, I got caught in a freak snow storm. I didn’t have experience driving in those weather conditions, so to say I was nervous is an understatement. While in a deserted area, I came upon a snow owl perched on a fence post, and it was watching me as though it was waiting for me. We made eye contact as I drove by and the scene was surreal. It looked like a ghost in the snow. That white owl was included in my book as an important part of the story. When I began writing my book, I didn’t think about having it published. I just wanted to show myself that I could write one. As it developed, I began to think seriously about having it published, and by the time I finished, I was determined to do that.

Publishing can be a long drawn out process, and sometimes people go through many publishers before their work is accepted. Some people are never published unless they self- publish, and even that never happens for some. I feel my experience isn’t typical and I feel very blessed. On the spur of the moment one day my husband, David, suggested we go to a comic-con in Paragould, AR. Neither of us had ever been to one so we were curious. I had also just gotten a rejection letter from the 2nd publishing company I submitted to. The 1st one didn’t even acknowledge me.

When we walked into the comic con, the first table we saw was Burning Willow Press Publishing Co., and we stopped and talked for several minutes. I was impressed with the owners and publishers, Edd and Kindra Sowder, and they encouraged me to submit my book, and they accepted it. I believe it was meant to be, and as the saying goes 3 rd time was the charm. “Keys Of Childish Scrawl,” was released March 2, and can be found on Amazon.

While waiting for my first book to be published I didn’t stop writing. I’ve written short stories for BWP anthologies that were also accepted. Those stories are “The Light In The Window,” “Highway 93,” and “Grandpa’s Glasses.” I’ve written a spin-off of my novel that continues the lives of two of the characters, and I’m working on a third book now with the same characters. Their story develops, and you get to learn more about the meaning of the white owl. I’ve also gotten story ideas from some of my paintings.

  • On writing, the greatest lesson I’ve learned from it is that I still have a lot more to learn. As I said about developing techniques in art, there’s always room for growth as a writer. I’m branching out with my writing and experimenting with different genres to help me grow.
  • Constructive criticism should always be welcomed too, because it’s a new perspective on your story or your writing style. Revision is extremely important.
  • Your first draft is just getting the story down, but there should be many drafts before you decide you are finished and submit anything. Every time I go over something I’ve written, I always rewrite part of it, add something new, or delete something I decide doesn’t work or is completely unnecessary. It just makes the story better.

I’ve wondered how long I’ll write. Well, who knows? But as long as I have story ideas, I’ll be writing. That could be a while because I keep coming up with new stories, many of which stem from my own life experiences.

Check Cindy Johnson’s Links

www.facebook.com/cindyjohnsonauthor

www.goodreads.com/user/show/69812811-cindy-johnson

/twitter.com/CindyJo…/status/1069584124824956928…

www.facebook.com/LArtista-bella-1390856007846946/

amazon.com/author/cindyj

Some links contained in the above interview may no longer work properly. Images may have been lost over the years as well for some interviews and older content. This is an older interview being re-posted.

[Brief Words] 2019 Throwback guest blog by KJ Taylor

My name is Katie, and I’ve been an author my entire adult life. I published my first novel in 2006 with a large mainstream publisher. In 2009 my second came out with another. Five more followed, and everything seemed set.

But by 2015, everything had changed. eBooks had been a thing for some time, and book sales were down across the board – even for bestsellers. The big publishing companies had chosen to invest heavily in the eBook market, a move which did not pay off as well as they likely hoped it would, as many readers decided the format did not suit them and for some “electronic books” appeared to have been nothing but a passing fad. On top of that Amazon had cornered the eBook market and few other platforms survived for long. By now hemorrhaging money, the “Big Five” stopped renewing contracts with many of their mid-level authors and many editors and other publishing professionals lost their jobs.

I was one of the many people to lose out. In 2015 both of my publishers told me they weren’t going to publish the next installment in the series I had begun in 2009. I was effectively out on the street with a half-published series, fans asking when the next book would be out and an agent shrugging helplessly as every other mainstream possibility turned us down on the grounds that they did not want to pick up a series halfway through (or in one case, went into receivership before they’d even read the manuscript).

I had no idea what to do, so I turned to my friends. Their advice – go indie.

There has long been something of a class system in the publishing world, which to my regret I must confess I once ascribed to myself. “Real” authors got their books out through big shiny corporate publishing companies and that’s it. Self-publishing was for untalented losers who couldn’t take no for an answer. Indie publishing was for cults and conspiracy theorists. Certainly, when I became an indie author several people I had thought were friends suddenly began acting as if I didn’t exist, or began making passive-aggressive remarks about my “failed” career.

But the landscape has changed and is still changing. If those stereotypes were ever so they no longer are. I entered the independent publishing world hopelessly naïve and unsure of what I was getting into, and as it is in any business I learned a few painful lessons along the way. What I found was a world where many others are still finding their feet, but were, for the most part, everything was less impersonal, and there was far more creative freedom. The companies I’ve begun working with are not owned by faceless bean counters, but by other artists, for artists. There’s less money invested, of course, but in some ways, that’s a good thing. Too much money on the line makes any company overly conservative and averse to taking risks, which is why so much mainstream fiction tends to be rather samey – blockbuster movies even more so. Diversity is encouraged and there is far less preferential treatment shown toward white male authors, which was an issue I had to deal with many times as a mainstream author. The experience is more collaborative, and as the author, you feel less like a supplicant and more like a partner.

Some people are now declaring that independent publishing is the way of the future, and perhaps it is. Time, as always, will tell.  I for one am optimistic.

Check out KJ Taylor:

Some links contained in the above interview may no longer work properly. Images may have been lost over the years as well for some interviews and older content.

This is an older piece of content being re-posted.


Interesting Reads and Related Content

The Word: What A Book Publicist & Experts Taught Me/How I Was Killing My Own Books

Originally, this blog post began as an essay of what I’ve seen others doing wrong with a different title to help others avoid the mistakes, but when I stopped working on it I realized I had made many of these mistakes myself, even recently! I wanted to step back and start over when I became more educated by some professionals in specific fields of the industry. This mentorship of sorts has enlightened me.

The Word began as a writer’s corner/writer’s stories/advice column of sorts to help others learn from my mistakes, give an outlet to fellow authors, share my knowledge, and try to help fellow poets and writers. One thing I’ve talked about the most is growth and being open-minded enough to learn as much as possible. This means I’m on a journey along with everyone else and I want to share what I’ve learned.


The Problem: Promoting too early

My Mistake: I would drop hints, clues, and teasers to create a buzz, but I would start months ahead of release dates. I wanted to create a buzz. I knew I should. This was poor marketing on my part. Which surprised me, I have written about marketing, but I’m not a publicist nor an expert in this field. Give me a photo and ask me if it’s photoshopped I can usually tell or ask me to write a short story, hold my drink, and watch me pound the keys!

What I’ve Learned to Correct This Problem: Promoting too early is a mistake. Months ahead of time is completely too early. 6 weeks ahead of release is the key number I’ve learned from authors and book publicists.

Promoting too early sucks the life out of the book. Any interest for a book will fade by the time it releases. The most active time is the month of and the months after, the peak time is the day of.

The Problem: Giving Up

My Mistake: Self-doubting myself has always been an issue. It’s led to me wanting to give up completely. I felt like a ‘bad writer’ multiple times and wouldn’t work on manuscripts or would force myself to move forward shakily.

What I’ve Learned to Correct This Problem: NEVER give up! Taking care of yourself isn’t giving up. It’s healing yourself to continue the journey. I know I’m not the only writer in the world with worries, concerns, and the ‘bad doubt demons’ whispering. I used to write every day, but over time I stopped doing this.

I’m changing my course and getting back to the good ol’ spooky writer that I am, as I never left just got lost in the mist. I will also say one nice thing about myself every day to pump myself up.

Today’s Self Compliment: I’ve survived so much, I can survive today too.

The Problem: Self-care

My Mistake: Not taking care of myself better. I’ve talked about being creatively burned out before (Read: The Dark side of being ‘Creative on Demand’). I’ve talked about it in interviews. I wasn’t taking care of myself or well enough which ultimately snuffed out my candle. It’s burning the candle at both ends, eventually it’ll met in the middle and be over.

What I’ve Learned to Correct This Problem: The solution was more self-care. Taking a break more than for a little amount of time. Stepping away from projects I’m working on and declining the ones I don’t want to do. I’m no good to anyone if I’m a mess. Never burn the candle at both ends again.

The Problem: Communication

My Mistake: Not communicating enough was a problem I didn’t realize I had. I replied to people, but never really dug deep into things. I never really commented in communities. I’m very aware of my own introverted nature. I don’t enjoy being on camera, don’t like my picture taken, and if you’ve followed me on Facebook, you’ll see even in a recently found older picture of myself I wasn’t happy about it.

What I’ve Learned to Correct This Problem: Though I would join communities around the net, but mainly to watch, but this year has grown to be a full-blown change. I’ve been responding to comments on other website during the Silver Daggers Book Tour, here on WordPress, and more throughout my social media.

The Word: Mike Feria Gives A Slice Of Himself To Us!

Where did all of this begin for me, you might ask? Well─ in an unlikely way. When I was a child, my imagination was a wild one, and much to my satisfaction, I’ve managed to keep most of it. Living back in South Florida, we lived in a neighborhood filled with other kids, and we spent the majority of our time outdoors thinking up ways of keeping ourselves entertained. As the years went on, I was the one that most kids wanted to come hang out with, because I always seemed to come up with the best games to play. Video games were still in their infancy, so we weren’t as chained to our television screens as later generations would learn to do.

            Much of my imagination stemmed from watching multitudes of films as a child, and I still remember the first time that I watched Night Of The Living Dead when I was around seven years old. I recall in detail being afraid to look out the windows at night because I was sure that I was going to see a horde of zombies staggering toward our house.

            It wasn’t until my brother and I started going to movie theaters on our own that I realized that storytelling was something that I longed to do, whether it be vocally, visually, or through the written word. Not knowing exactly where or how these movies came to fruition, I assumed for many years that it was the movie directors who wrote them. I never really had a desire to be an actor in film, but a movie director? That’s something I could get behind. Well, as the years went on, those dreams of mine began taking a back seat, but my love for the film never subsided.

            In my adolescence, I began having an affinity toward movies that intentionally dug around inside your head; movies such as Fight Club, Requiem For A Dream, Memento, and Seven. Those types of movies began setting me on a path that I would not take for quite some time, because life and other responsibilities take precedence.

            Fast forward to August 2016, the month I took the plunge into this whole writing life. My stepson accidentally pulled his PS3 off his bedroom dresser in the middle of the night, and that was the death of it. So, instead of fighting him over the PS4 in the living room, I took a step back and allowed him to have it. I retreated to the back of our apartment, opened a word document, and started pounding out words.

            Now, I claim to be a fairly intelligent person, but at the time when I started, I knew very little about the actual craft of writing. While we went through school, we had our assignments and whatnot, but creative writing was one of those things that were more or less water under the bridge. I had no real formal experience in writing, and I really wasn’t that big of a reader either. Also, I wouldn’t consider myself to be too much of a horror buff. I mean, I have watched pretty much all the scary movies over the past twenty-five or thirty years, but I never really saw myself as one who would be defined as a writer in the horror genre.

            The idea started out simple. I work in a creepy old warehouse, which used to be a textile mill in the early to mid-nineteen hundreds. I kept getting these feelings as though something was watching me from the dark spots, which felt like eyes everywhere because much of the warehouse is unlit. Some of my co-workers decided that it would be fun to prank me and began tormenting me with elaborate schemes. They even pulled things overusing the fishing line. Once I found out, I was pretty pissed off, but it also sparked something inside of me; a story that brewed deep down that I knew had to be told. As much as I wanted to punch those guys, I must credit them with getting my cogwheels moving. The rest is history for another day.

            If there’s anything that I learned from writing my first book, Passenger, it was to never be afraid to learn or to seek new information, because there are many techniques and methods to getting a novel completed. When I first started out, I wrote my first five or six chapters without knowing practically anything about creative writing. So, to avoid stepping into a bear trap, I took a walk backward and learn as much as I could about the craft before proceeding again. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in all my life. This was also the time when all those years of watching film became more relevant because storylines stay relatively the same across the board, regardless. These movies also helped me learn when to dive and when to pull back because it’s a delicate dance of difficulties.

            Here’s the best advice I can give. There are two enemies with writing or producing anything of emotional or monetary value. One enemy is your distractions. The second enemy is YOU. When you sit down to do your work at the end of a long hard workday, unplug yourself from the social media notifications. I would say to keep your phone as far away from your station as possible. In your browser, the only thing that you should have open is the dictionary. As far as enemy number two goes, give yourself a break, and a much-needed pat on the back. You’re doing something that is dreamt of by millions of people who make millions of excuses for never doing it. Take the time to be proud of yourself, because if you don’t believe in yourself, it will be tough getting other people to believe in you. One of my mottos is to be helpful, be humble, and be kind.

            Lastly, within reason, I say that you should be a “yes man.” Have a can-do attitude. If someone asks you for a favor, do your best to be reliable and dependable. Try going out of your way and dip your toes outside of your comfort zone. When the first live show I was ever a part of aired, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and this thing called anxiety was exploding through the ceiling of my apartment. It terrified me, which is strange because I’m an extrovert. After being on a couple more shows, it was like taking the dog out on a walk, and that feeling of dread was old news. Here’s a quote I heard somewhere, and don’t know who it’s from, but I’ll try to recite it as best I can ─ There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone. Best of luck to you, and happy writing.

            If you would like to know more about my debut horror novel, Passenger, I will release it in October 2020 with Three Furies Press. I look forward to meeting and talking with each one of you. Thank you and I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about my journey.

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I’m Answering Common and Uncommon Interview Questions Part Two

How do you handle literary criticism?

I understand its part of the entire industry. I’ve seen it come in several forms like from the editors of my work to even unsolicited reviewers or readers. The only thing that can be done is nod and keep moving forward.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

It depends. I sometimes have the world before writing, sometimes I write and realize I must flush out the world more. Either way, it happens and must for my characters be able to work within the limitations of the world I’ve created.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere. I’ve taken a lot of ideas from nightmares and dreams I’ve had. Some element from a show or some element from something has done or said will inspire me even if I’m not needing it. Something just clicks and the wheels turn.

Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?

I listen to rock music, dark cinematic music, southern rock, or dark ambient music. I’ve I’m writing something set at a special time, like the 1980s I’ll listen to the music of that period to help inspire the world building I’m placing my characters.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I have high functioning anxiety, depression, and ptsd. Which all means I will drill myself into the ground, burn out because I’m trying to do to my best, and overly worry about things that shouldn’t be worried about. It’s draining emotionally and mentally.

If you could only have one season, what would it be?

Autumn.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Hmm. Smart, creative, and stubborn.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I’ve never seen it help a writer. Confidence in yourself and your work is beautiful, but letting yourself get a big head isn’t a quality personality trait whether you’re a writer or not. Overly confident actions that become cocky, to me, send a red flag that shows insecurities that the person is trying to overcompensate for to mask themselves in a ‘better light’.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The first work I published I eventually unpublished it. It taught me a lot. I didn’t know much about the industry when I did this work and I learned the proper process to getting things out as an independently published author. Eventually, with all I learned because of this I approached the entire publishing process differently. I think this helped as the books to come have made their way to publishers. It changed the course of my career and perspective entirely.

What Is The Best Part Of What You Do?

Meeting fans and networking. This surprises me as I’m very introverted and a homebody, but it’s like I come alive or wake up almost around others. This side of me comes out I didn’t know was even there. I enjoy greeting fans, readers, others in the industry, and other writers.