Author Profile: Michael E. Dellert

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Your humble host

We were fortunate enough to spend a little time recently with Michael Dellert and managed to get him to open up a bit about his process and inner thoughts on writing.

Michael is an award-winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, as well as a writing coach. His publishing career spans 20 years. His blog is a resource for creative writers of all kinds, offering tips, tricks, and advice to aspiring writers seeking to improve their craft, plus insights into the current state of the publishing industry.

His recent guest post about character development was the most bookmarked of any post we’ve had here on the blog.

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DAN: What is the working title of your next book?

MICHAEL: The book I’m publishing next is called A Merchant’s Tale. It’s due in stores and online by early April.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

00 Dellert 3First, you have to understand that I’m a medieval literature nerd and a fantasy world-building geek.

So A Merchant’s Tale is an exploration and introduction of characters and settings that will continue to grow and develop and interrelate with one another through a much longer cycle of stories, similar to the cycles of medieval romances, such as the Matter of Britain or the Matter of France.

The specific idea for the story came out of my world-building exercises: I was developing a medieval economy in which my characters had to make a living for themselves, and it occurred to me that a traveling merchant would see a lot of opportunities for danger and adventure.

Which is the more important of these two: write drunk, edit sober?

Writing drunk is certainly the more fun of the two options, but most important?

CJ Cherryh once said: “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” So I’d have to say “edit sober.” Well, semi-sober anyway. Wine doesn’t count, right?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took me about a month to write the first junk draft of A Merchant’s Tale. It took about three months to rewrite for publication.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The actors I envision often aren’t suitable for the role anymore. Hell, they’re not even suitable for the role now. For example, the character of the young acolyte in A Merchant’s Tale might be played by a young Matthew Broderick (as “Philipe Gastone” in Ladyhawke) or a young Christian Slater (as “Adso of Melk” in the adaptation of Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose). By the time I even wrote the story, both actors were already far too old for the role.

Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

You, Dan. Many drinks, and often. With little umbrellas in them.

What makes you so damn interesting anyway?

Me? Because I’m like the mushroom that walks into the bar that doesn’t serve his kind: “Why not? I’m a fungi!”

What is the best part about being an indie author for you?

00 Dellert 0It allows me to exercise both halves of myself: the half that spent thirty years trying to be a good writer, and the half that spent twenty years being a good publisher. As a writer, I get to develop and execute stories that actually mean something to me. As a publisher, I get to put my professional skills to use publishing something that actually means something to me. An occupational hazard of publishing is that the longer you’re in it, the less you actually have to do with books. It becomes an exercise in accounting.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

That I’m actually a strange visitor from an alien planet, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. And an orbital death-ray. Commanded by my sock-monkey, Leroy.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

There’s something besides writing? I hike, I swim, I take the dog for walks, mostly just to get out of the house and give myself a clear, quiet space to think about writing. They also happen to be good exercise, which is an important way to keep oneself from not wasting away to nothing while gallivanting through one’s own imagination. I also enjoy cooking with wine (both in the food and otherwise) and listening to music. I try to get away from my desk as often as my schedule will allow (which is probably not as often as is strictly healthy). I go out to movies, readings, and arts exhibitions with friends. I’m told one has to keep up a regular interaction with society.

Why do some authors sell well and others don’t? (Indie or otherwise, but indie if possible)

Most indie authors fail to sell well because they fail to market well.

 A lot of writers have a sort of Field of Dreams approach to their work. They write it and just expect readers to magically show up. It doesn’t work that way.

Readers have to find their work. Writers can make that easy for their potential readers, by engaging in social media, getting out and doing readings and signing, or sending out free copies of their work to reviewers. Or they can make it very hard for their readers by just dropping their book into Smashwords and hoping for the best.

Also, too many writers think that marketing is “beneath” them. Sometimes, it’s not even the writers themselves who think this. I have an ongoing argument with one of my friends about this. She thinks I should only have to write, I shouldn’t have to market. I keep pointing out that even JK Rowling shows up for book-signings and movie premieres.

What’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea? Describe in detail. Inquiring minds want to know!

In bed. And that’s all the detail you get. A gentleman never tells.

What’s the oddest or most awkward or embarrassing research you’ve had to do?

The most awkward research I ever did was on the history of early Islam, from the socio-political context of the Prophet through the various successor dynasties of the early Caliphates and down to the Crusades. The next day, someone from Homeland Security asked to become a member of my LinkedIn network. Coincidence…? I think not.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

00 Dellert 2In many ways, the fantasy genre chose me. I grew up watching old Tarzan movies and Flash Gordon serials on TV, enjoying the Golden Age horror movies with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and reading about Greek and Roman mythology. I can’t remember a time when Fantasy and Science Fiction weren’t my favorite forms of entertainment. Even now, I get giddy as a school girl when I see the Batman vs. Superman trailers.

Can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you ever turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer?

I can, I have, and so I don’t anymore. Experience is a harsh laundress.

What “person” do you like to write in? First Person, Third Person, etc. – and why?

I often do my early drafts in first person, to get a better sense of characterization. But I prefer to write in Third Person Limited. It allows for, in my opinion, the greatest flexibility in presenting the story and still exploring the broadest possible range of human experience within that story. It also allows the author to break up the story into multiple viewpoints and maintain energy and interest through the boggy middle part of the story. Stories that limit themselves to a single viewpoint run the risk of becoming self-indulgent whinge-fests for the main character, and of turning potentially powerful secondary characters into limited cardboard caricatures. I also struggle to capture the magic of what CJ Cherryh calls her “Third Person Intimate Internal” point of view. I’m not sure I’m there yet.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Yes, thanks! I do, in fact. I’m going to be running my first Goodreads giveaway. Starting 18 February, 2016, contestants can enter for a chance to win one of just 20 exclusively autographed copies of both Hedge King in Winter AND an advanced reading copy of the complete, 13-episode series of A Merchant’s Tale, before it finishes its serial run and before it’s available anywhere else! The contest closes on 5 March, 2016 and winners will be announced by 11 March, 2016. You can learn more here at Goodreads.

How do you decide on a title for your book?

You know those refrigerator poetry magnets, where you just mix up different words? I give them to my dogs to play with and record the results.

What do you do for cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist (you can name names if you liked them), or purchase premade?

Fantasy is a very difficult genre for indies when it comes to cover art, particularly medieval fantasy. Stock photography of dragons is hard to come by

and you want to find something that makes the reader wonder what’s special about your book compared to the other 500 titles next to it on the shelf. If you’re not an artist yourself (and I am certainly not an artist), your options are to do something very abstract (which runs the risk of being incomprehensible), to purchase something premade (which therefore has no organic relationship to your book itself), or you have to commission custom artwork.

So I hire artists, depending on my budget. For my first novella, Hedge King in Winter, it was important to me that the cover didn’t scream “first time indie author,” so I broke open the bank and hired Victor Titov and his Grafit Studio to come up with an original design based on some ideas that I sent him. When the budget for my second title, A Merchant’s Tale, proved to be more modest, I used 99Designs to run a book cover design competition. This helped me keep costs down and gave me a few samples from various artists before I had to settle on one of them. That artist, Vacaru George-Florin, and I then worked together post-contest to further fine-tune the idea that became the final cover for A Merchant’s Tale. For my next title, Romance of Eowain, I’ve done the same thing with 99Designs, owing to scheduling conflicts with both Victor and George.

The challenge then becomes tying together books that are ostensibly part of a series, but have widely different styles of artwork on the covers. I have a single book designer who handles my cover and interior book design, tying together the various titles typographically, rather than by the artwork.

How has your experience with editors been (you can name names if you liked your editor)?

I recently engaged a copy-editor for A Merchant’s Tale before I sent it away to the typesetter, and she really helped me tighten up a number of places where the language clunked, but I had become tone-deaf to it.

she (my editor) really helped me tighten up a number of places where the language clunked, but I had become tone-deaf to it.

Her name is Erin Sandlin, and she’s also the author of the blog Being Southern Somewhere Else, and has several published books of her own, including No One Has Such A Dog, and No One Should: A Collection of Canine Essays and Petit Fours from the Pie Hole: It’s For Your Face Hole. Aside from her excellent editorial skills, she’s also a social activist, and she’s donating a portion of the proceeds from her collection of canine essays to a charity called Ahimsa House, which works to rescue abused women with animals from domestic violence situations. I have a lot of respect for Erin, both for her editorial work and her social causes.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

The greatest misconception is that indie authors are indies because their work lacks quality, that their work “wouldn’t make the cut” in a traditional publishing environment, and that they’re all in it for vanity’s sake. That is patently false. Many worthy indies are simply talented entrepreneurs who have recognized that they can take their work directly to the market (as in the readers) and let them decide on its worth, rather than waiting for the traditional market (as in publishers) to take a chance on a horse of a different color.

Many younger writers today won’t remember this, but it used to be that a writer was actively discouraged from engaging in what was called “simultaneous submissions,” the practice of sending the same work for consideration to several possible publishers at the same time. Each publisher wanted the opportunity to consider a work in their own leisurely time, and weren’t happy with the idea that they might finally, after months of deliberation, make an offer on a story only to discover that it had been snatched up by a competitor in the meantime. So there was actually collusion amongst publishers to discourage this practice. This meant that a new author might send the same manuscript around to only a dozen houses in half as many years.

Today, indie authors with an entrepreneurial spirit can publish half a dozen novels in the same year, and collect a heavier share of the profits off each book.

However, the problem of quality is going to continue to plague them for at least another five to ten years, not because they aren’t talented, but because they lack the resources that traditional publishers can afford to bring to bear. Cover art, professional production values, and good copy-editors all cost money, a resource that most indies have only in short supply.

Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position!

Plotter, but in a very hippie-dippie-doo pantser kind of way. I believe that plot is the series of damned things, one after another, that happen to the characters while they’re trying to resolve the theme. The theme is what ties the “series of unfortunate events” together and provides the narrative drive, and that can only be explored through the characters in a very creative fashion. So the plot might involve an argument with a colleague, bad customer service at Starbucks, and a running gun-battle, but the theme might be about finding love. The plot is easy. The theme is much more challenging and unpredictable.

What was your road to publication like?

Like the road of many emerging authors, I imagine: long, bumpy, uphill, dark and full of terrors, plagued by dead ends and switchbacks. The hardest thing to overcome is the notion that becoming a published author is really going to change very much in your life. The day I dropped Hedge King in Winter, my first commercially-published fiction work, I still had to go out and get the milk. It wasn’t like a limousine showed up at my door and divested a full media fanfare, clown-car-style, at my front door, along with millions of dollars in sales. It just doesn’t work like that. When I drop A Merchant’s Tale in April, I’m still going to have to figure out how to pay the rent. Becoming a published author creates at least as many problems, if not more, than it solves.

What advice can you give new authors?

If you’re serious about it,

don’t give up, and don’t think in terms of this book or that story. Think in terms of a career.

Don’t start building your platform after you’ve published your book, start building it while you’re writing your book. The contest doesn’t go to the strong, or the fast. It goes to the bull-headed and the stubborn.

And if you’re not serious about it, go learn a trade and do that instead. There are easier ways to earn a living, and those of us who are serious really don’t need the competition.

What’s a good writing secret or time management secret?

  • Show up. Set realistic daily goals, be ruthless about achieving them, and show up to get them done.
  • Keep track of your goals and your progress toward them.
  • Spend a few minutes at the end of each writing session making a notes about where you intend to go in the next writing session, so you don’t have to flail around “waiting for inspiration.”
  • And when you have a bad day and don’t meet your goals, be merciful. Give yourself credit for showing up, and for what you did accomplish. Then show up the next day and get back to work.

Check out Michael Dellert’s Goodreads giveaway!00 Dellert Merchant's Tale - GoodReads

Where in the process do you create the story’s title? Do you start with it? Do you know it before you begin? Before you end? Elsewhere?

I have working titles planned out well in advance, before I start, just to keep track of project goals on the calendar. But the final title often evolves out of the final rewrite, once the theme and resolution are clear to me.

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Mornings. I like to get up, take the dog for a walk, then sit down with a cup of coffee and get started while I’m fresh, before the day has a chance to whisk me away with other things.

Coffee addict? Name your poison.

Gods, yes. The caffeinated kind, dark-roasted, fresh-ground, light and sweet.

What’s your favorite food?

Italian is my comfort cuisine. I grew up in Northern New Jersey, in Sopranos territory. Ay, oh, badda bing, badda boom. If it’s smothered in fresh, hand-made tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, fuhgeddaboddit.

How do you develop characters?

Very carefully.

How much structure is in your story before you start writing it?

None. And all of it. There are basics to good story-telling structure that I try to live by. But how I’m going to use them in any particular story largely depends on which way the characters take me. There is no story without characters, and the characters will have unique needs that have to be addressed in each story, regardless of how it’s structured. I try not to let my initial idea of the story become confused with the actual story.

How many story ideas are in your “good ideas” file? What are some of them?

Too many to count, but some of them include: Is it possible to write a “traditional” (i.e., contemporary) romance novel with a male protagonist? What does a “heroine’s journey” look like? When the villain is the hero of his own story, what does that story look like? What happens when the “child of destiny” is an unlikeable little brat? What does “boarding school” for the unlikeable child of destiny look like in a medieval setting? How do the friends, family, mentors, and rivals of the “child of destiny” shape his fitness for his role long before that fate becomes apparent?

What is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

Character, I think. I’ve started more novels than I will ever finish, and those that fell by the wayside failed to engage me and draw me in early to the story. In almost every case, this was because of poor characterization.

If I don’t care about the characters, I’m not going to finish the book.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Drop dead of shock, more than likely. But after that, there’s some beach-front property in Fiji I’ve had my eye on…

Best book to movie you’ve seen?

Ohh, a tough one. Most adaptations are so awful. But I think the best adaptations have both been from the novel M*A*S*H. I think in both cases (movie and TV series), what made the adaptations great wasn’t their loyalty to the story per se, but to the characters and their absurd circumstances.

What are your three favorite books by other authors?

  • Gate of Ivrel by CJ Cherryh.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
  • The Swan War Trilogy by Sean Russell.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was in seventh grade, so about twelve years old, before I finally had a label to put on the thing I’d been doing for as long as I could remember.

Do you hate cats?

Hate is a strong word. But I’m about as indifferent to cats as they are to me. I’m definitely a dog person. My dogs have always been so excited to see me when I come home: “Where you been, what you do, what it smell like, when you gonna take me theeeere?! I’m so glad you’re hoooooome!!!”

My cat, on the other hand, could care less. “Oh.” (Licks crotch.) “It’s you.” (Licks crotch.) “My litter box needs cleaning, by the way.” (Licks crotch.) You know you’re going to go blind doing that, you silly cat. She’s lucky I’m a big-hearted slob and rescued her from the rain one dark and stormy night.

In a story we are often asked to create images for the reader that we may not have experienced ourselves. When have you had to do that?

In a medieval fantasy story, that’s something that has to be done on almost every page. But

ironically, it’s not usually the really fantastic stuff that is hardest to write.

In A Merchant’s Tale, there’s a scene involving a monstrous bear and a pack of otherworldly hounds. This actually wasn’t so hard to write: I grew up around dogs, and I grew up in a region where black bears are very common, so much so that I’ve several times encountered them by surprise and at close range, as my characters do in the story. I drew from those experiences to paint that scene. It was more challenging to describe a typical rural medieval scene in early springtime: the tools the farmers were using, and the difficulties they faced using them. I grew up in a rural community, but I’ve never been a farmer, and I’ve certainly never known anyone who had to use an ox-drawn ard-plough to furrow a half-frozen field. That took some research and some imagination.

Tell us about yourself. Who IS the real Michael Dellert? And not the typical boring bio stuff. The dirt. Like, when was the last time you did laundry?

I did laundry last weekend, same as every Saturday morning. I try to get most of my errands and housekeeping out of the way early on Saturdays, so that by afternoon, I can look forward to having the rest of the weekend free.

I take a guilty pleasure from superhero movies, despite how awful they often are.

And I’m a critical theory nerd: structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, post-colonialism, transnationalism, I eat all that theoretical stuff up with a spoon.

What’s a favorite quote of anyone besides you, and one from you?

Kurt Vonnegut: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in my mouth.” I love that line. It so perfectly describes the difficulty of wrestling words down onto paper in the form of a compelling story.

From me? “You can’t edit what ain’t writ.” My personal mantra every time I’m faced with writers’ block. I can’t make something better if I don’t start someplace.

Most writers are a bit shy. Is that how your friends would describe you (shy), or do you have your readers fooled?

I’m not sure I’d describe myself as shy. I was actually a member of a theatre troupe in both high school and college. My best friends, I don’t think they’d describe me as shy. But if I’m not on stage, I can be very reserved, particularly around people I don’t know well. One of my best friends likes to call me “Silent Bob,” as in the Kevin Smith character from Clerks. I don’t speak often, but when I do, apparently I’m terribly profound.

Did you ever have a job where they were strict about shined shoes and stuff?

Several of them in fact. I’ve worked a few jobs in corporate publishing where appearances were considered important. I even had one job where I was told that the car I was driving (a beat-up 2001 Jetta that’s been across the country four times) didn’t “represent me as well it might.” I was actually told that it would be a good idea “for my career” to get a new car. I left the job. I still have the car. I figure the car is more loyal and better company.

Is tea a big deal over in England like they make it seem in Downton Abbey? (My wife watches, not me.)

I’ve had the pleasure of doing a lot of business in England in my career. Yes, tea is a big deal, but not as important anymore as in the period of Downton Abbey, at least, not among those I’ve known. Beer, on the other hand… My lord… I’ve come home from some business trips sure that I’d need a liver transplant.

How playful are you? Is your REAL Facebook page much more revealing about sides of you that people won’t know from your blog posts or books? Is there a double life thing going on?

I’m very playful, though I doubt even my REAL Facebook page shows much of that side of me. My grandmother always said, “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Sunday paper.” In the modern age, I figure that extends to social media. But in private and among friends? Hell, the kit gloves are off.

How hard was it to hit that “Publish” button the first time and send your book into the world? Looking back, what can you tell new authors about that experience?

There were more than a few moments of trepidation, I have to admit.

I think I needed two glasses of wine before I worked up the nerve (to hit the publish button).

But I had spent about six months ahead of that moment getting prepared: setting up my blog, talking about it on my blog, growing my Facebook and Twitter platforms and mentioning the book there a million times each. Hitting “Publish” was really the only thing I could do. However big a fool I might look if the book was awful, I would have looked more a fool if I’d built up all that hype and then backed down.

I would tell new authors, “Just do it.” If you’ve been working diligently at your craft, built a platform, announced to all and sundry that you’re going to be publishing a book, and you finally come face-to-face with that button, then it’s time. Yesterday’s not an option, and tomorrow is too late.

Just push the (publish) button. It’s really not going to change your life that much, where the world is concerned. But at the same time, it changes everything in your heart, where it really matters.

Doing something once and for the first time is always hardest. But doing it at all gives you the courage and confidence to do it again and again. So go ahead. Just do it.

Have you ever spent time with anyone famous? Was there any ransom involved?

I once attended a fund-raising party where I met Harry Belafonte Jr, his wife, and his daughter. They were very lovely and gracious people.

I’m also an irregular attendant at the Irish-American Writers and Artists Salon in New York City, which is headed up by Larry Kirwan (of the band Black 47) and Malachy McCourt (brother of Frank McCourt, of Angela’s Ashes fame), whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with from time to time. They’re both very kind and humble people, dedicated to the arts and the improvement of artists’ circumstances. It’s a privilege to know them both. And so far, the only ransom has involved shots of whiskey.

What was the most fun interview you’ve done and why?

Why, of course, this interview is the most fun I’ve ever had, ever, in the whole history of fun times. But it might have been because of the bologna in my shoes. The bologna just made me feel funny.

I think we have a new contender for most bookmarked post!

Here are Michael’s links:

Michael Dellert Learn more about Indie Publishing!

LinkedIn: Michael Dellert

Blog: MDellert-Dot-Com: Adventures in Indie Publishing

Twitter: @MDellertDotCom

Facebook: Michael Dellert, Writer, Editor, Publishing Consultant

 

Author On The Ledge!

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Be sure to enter to win a signed copy of Savvy Stories HERE

LAST DAY! Don’t miss out!

 


 

 

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Your humble host

 

You’ll know it when you see it.

An author friend has started the downward spiral of doubt.

Here’s an example from a blog post of an obviously dismayed author friend, followed by my reply:

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…it seems as if I’ve just wasted the last (fill in your number here of the weeks, months or years) of my life writing a story no one will ever be interested in EVER. It should be printed off only to be burned in a barrel and then bombed with a nuclear warhead. I have THREE chapters left to write. THREE. At the end of the summer, in September, I had FIVE.

 This week I sat down to write and . . . nothing happened. I stared at a blinking cursor for six hours. Well, that’s not entirely true. I checked my email. I went to town on Twitter. I cleaned the house and did two loads of laundry. I watched a few cat videos on Facebook.

 AND I deleted two thousand words from my latest draft

This is what we call the ledge.

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Is this you?

Occasionally I’ll see a writer out there and talk them back in through a window. Just as often they let me know they’re out on the ledge and I talk them down. But on rare occasions they get out there and start deleting thousands of words and then it’s more a matter of getting them to hit the net when they jump.

Or if they slip.

You don’t strike me as a jumper so we’ll say slip. Yeah, that’s it. The ledge needed cleaning and next thing you know you were out there on it. It happens.

In fact, it can happen to any of us. You’re chugging along thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your writing, and then you reread the latest chapter of your GAM (Great American Novel) it and you’re like whaaat? Or a trusted CP (Critique Partner) starts asking if you wrote you latest submission while under the influence of prescription cough medicine.

Okay, so what do we know, and what do we do about it? Cos if you think I’m gonna hold your hand, you might have shot me a Facebook message (I have messenger now, too; it rocks) BEFORE you deleted thousands of words – and managed to write a thousand on your blog lamenting… your inability to write? Do I have that correct?

Well, I love irony as much as the next guy. Heck, maybe more. I even have sympathy for anybody buried under a foot of snow while I contemplate whether I’ll wear a sweatshirt with my shorts as I go buy chlorine for the pool. (I decided yes on the sweatshirt, but only because it was a little windy.)

Okay, sister, time for the tough love.

If you think this is the hard part, you are wrong. This writing stuff? This is the easy part. Even when it’s hard, it’s easy. The hard part – the part we refer to as the abyss – that’s when you press the “publish” button and a few weeks go by and nothing really happens. Or you get three or four bad reviews in a row. Or your sales drop for some unknown reason. Or you have no sales and you suddenly realize it’s been quite a while since you did have some.

We talked about the emotional roller coaster that is authordom, HERE.

You’ll want to crawl under a rock and question your right to exist because nobody anywhere wants to read your story. Or review it. Or recommend it to friends. Or any one of a thousand other ways your shiny new manuscript will bring harm to your delicate little writer psyche.

But there’s good news! I can help you avoid the abyss!

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This does not have to be you!

And I could have helped you avoid the freaking ledge! Do you not know how to get ahold of me? Facebook, Twitter, the Contact Me button on the blog, Instagram, Pinterest… You can call. I’m in the book, for pete’s sake. There’s like two guys with my name in the whole United States and I’m not the radical priest in Texas.

Okay, okay, here’s the deal:

  1. You have probably written a pretty good book. You may still f*ck it up, but more than likely it’s completely readable and interesting. (Amazeballs in Jennyspeak.) How can I say this? You’re here on my site, which means you have a clue and you give a damn, and you know the difference. I don’t say that to everybody – check the array of carcasses in my critique group that got a “better luck next time” card from me. My readers have, almost without exception, been good writers. (I say almost because nobody bats .1000)
  1. If it was easy, everybody would write a book. 80% of US Americans want to and the vast majority don’t.
  1. Of those who attempt to write a book, MOST SUCK. Your book probably does not suck. (See #1)
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for that help when you’re blocked. (And I don’t mean constipated, but I’m sure you know somebody to call about that, too. It’s not me. I wanna get on the record about that right now.)
  1. You are beautiful, funny, interesting, and a nice person. And your family loves you. Probably friends, too; I only know you online. But let’s give you that one, too.
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Sometimes that means goofing off with them for an hour on Facebook chat (now messenger; I upgraded and it’s totally addictive) until they prod you to get creative and clear the logjam. After all, you managed to put down tens of thousands of words in a mostly cohesive string so far. Odds are a few more thousand are in you. Here’s proof, click HERE.
  1. This was not going to be a list but what the hell, it is now.
  1. As a list, it needed to stop at three or five, but once we sailed past those, ten seemed to be the magic number.
  1. Have a drink. (Like I need to tell you that.) Try writing drunk, like Hemingway said – write drunk, edit sober. It’s worth a shot (get it? Shot?) You may come up with something really interesting. You may not. But at least you’ll be drunk. And cut back on the cat videos. They obviously aren’t helping.
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

Whatever way is needed.

WHAT EVER way is needed.

You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

Get it?

Let them.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great upcoming sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

Writing Good Dialogs

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Be sure to enter to win a signed copy of Savvy Stories HERE

 

 



 

 

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

I’m told I write good dialogs. (That wasn’t always the case. I used to have baskets full of dialog tags – even flowery ones. I was told those would make baby Jesus cry, so I tried hard to stop – but it was a hard habit to break.)

scared%20mom Yeah, we don’t want that.

It’s easy to write good dialogs, but it takes some practice.

First, I have the conversation. I write down what two people would say, and I write it as fast as I can. It’s half jibberish, too, because I’m a lousy typist.

eevn rough drafts aer hard wrk eevn rough drafts aer hard wrk

Then, I go back and add in the “beats” – the little actions and other stuff that people do during conversations. Because if I try to do it all at the same time, I usually miss something. Like the timing of a conversation, which is most important. In real…

View original post 425 more words

What Am I Supposed To Be Doing On Goodreads?

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Your humble host.

I’m going to tell you this little story for several reasons. It’s a sad cry for help, yes, but in a good way. Also, I’m a pretty honest guy, depending on who you ask. When I’m clueless, which is rare but it happens, I’ll probably admit it.

(Recently, we discussed building your author platform HERE, and how to auto post your blog HERE)

I don’t usually do it so publicly…

 But what the heck; I ask you guys to open yourselves up in your writing even though it’s scary; here’s an example of opening yourself up to ridicule for the sake of getting an education.

 

See? After a while, opening yourself isn’t that scary. Nobody is gonna punch me in the nose for posting this. Probably.

 

They may laugh

 

Okay, ready?

 

So I joined Goodreads a few years ago because I was supposed to – you know? Like starting that blog? And getting on Twitter? Well, Goodreads was yet another thing I was supposed to do as a new author.

(We discussed Goodreads recently HERE but it’s time to rally the troops! As authors we are missing the boat on this one)

Goodreads profile pic
That’s me! (This is the new profile. No, you don’t get to see the old, horrible one.)

Anyway, I put up a (mediocre) profile and listed my books…. And that was about it.

 

drunk
A visual representation of my Goodreads activity for about 2 1/2 years.

I was essentially inactive from then until about 2 weeks ago when I decided to get re-involved. I had accumulated about 30 friends on Goodreads by then, maybe fewer, really; I don’t remember. It wasn’t a lot. Could have been ten. Doesn’t matter.

But since we’re supposed to attack one new social media every so often. It was time to look at Goodreads.

 

I went to my author profile on November 25, 2015, updated it, clicked on a few other things – and BOOM, people started friending me.

 

NO idea what I did.

 

I added a few hundred friends like three hours. I didn’t click things to do this, it just happened. I mean, I clicked some things originally during the profile update stuff, but I didn’t keep clicking things. (These are technical terms, in case I lost you.)

 

Next day there were more people who had become my Goodreads friends.

500 Goodreads friends 11272015 b
This was TWO days later, on November 27, 2015

A few days later there were a LOT more.

616 on Goodreads 11292015 b
November 29, 2015

And it kept going…

700 Goodreads 12022015 B
December 2, 2015

Today we hit 900.

900 goodreads friends 12092015 b
That’s good, right?

I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Or did. No idea what I did.

 

But that’s not the point.

I’m pretty sure it’s not like a golf score, where lower is better…

But…

I need to know what I should be doing with these folks. Interact, yes – how? What do you do there? Market to these folks? Sure! How – what is the right way?

 

SOMEBODY is being effective on Goodreads. Let’s find them and get them here to explain it in a guest blog post. (I have books to sell, and GR is the world’s largest book club.)

 

  • If you are on Goodreads, friend me. “Dan Alatorre” – that’s me. You’ll recognize my smiling mug on the profile page.
  • If you are clueless about Goodreads, too, REBLOG this and let’s find a friend of yours who’s not.
  • If you are active on Goodreads, tell us a little about what you do there in the comments section.
  • If you find a good article that explain how authors should utilize Goodreads, think about doing a guest blog for us. Or link to the article in the comments section.
  • If you know people who market effectively on Goodreads, track them down and use enhanced interrogation techniques to get them to fill the rest of us in. (It’s not torture and it’s not illegal. Allegedly.)

 

From what I understand, Goodreads is a little bit of a different animal. You don’t post about “buy my book” there. Or maybe you do – I don’t know. But I sure don’t want to piss off 900 people figuring it out.

 

That’s where you come in. There are a lot of you, so if we all work on this we’ll come up with the answers fast. You weren’t expecting homework? Think of it as a writing challenge. (I don’t know how it qualifies as a writing challenge, but work with me on this one.)

 

Meanwhile, you guys have books you’ll want recommended to these 900 friends of mine. You’ll want reviews for your books. Well, so will I, from you and your friends, when I put out my next book. So we can all help each other eventually. But we gotta figure it out first.

 

It’s time to figure out Goodreads!

 

And as always, when we do, we’ll learn it together.

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00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

 

 

MAILING LISTS: Why Authors Need Them, How To Build One (It’s Pretty Simple!)

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Your humble host.

We all know there are dozens of things we’re supposed to be doing as authors in addition to writing. We talk about it here all the time.

One of the important items is building a mailing list. That way, YOU are the source for information on your books and not a website or online retailer or agent or anybody else. YOU let fans know when the next book is coming – or anything else you wanna share, and THEY become connected with you and your writing. That’s  a huge asset when it comes time to sell them another book.

Okay, that’s the why part. But how do you do it? And what do you mail to the subscribers?

Today, author and friend of the blog  Al Macy explains how he saw the light and what he did to gain a solid mailing list with an active readership – and shows how you can do it, too.

Here’s my chat with Al.

DAN: How did you come to conclude you needed a mailing list?

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Author Al Macy

AL MACY: Many of the authors on the Kboards forum have stressed the importance of having a mailing list. I wasn’t completely convinced, but I was willing to give it a try.

Right. That’s what I saw. Lots of people say you need a mailing list but they don’t say why – or what you’re supposed to do once you start getting emails. That was me; I accumulated about 500 emails but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do except announce the next book when it was ready. But let’s start at the beginning. How did you get yours started?

I realized that it wasn’t enough just to have something at the end of my book saying “If you liked this book, please sign up for my mailing list.” That may have worked in the past, when lists like this were novel, but now, you have to give the readers more of an incentive to sign up. By giving you their email, they realize they may be opening up the floodgates of ads for marital aids, so you have to make it worth their while.

At that point I only had one fiction book out, Contact Us. I considered giving away a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate or a Kindle as an incentive, but was told that if I did that, subscribers would simple unsubscribe once the contest was over.

Nobody wants that. So what did you do?

I wanted to give away a free book, but since I didn’t have one of my own available, I gave away another author’s book.

Brilliant. Who’s book did you use?

Jay Falconer gave me permission to give away one of his books as an incentive.

Why him? Is his writing similar to yours?

On the Kboards forum, I’d heard that he was looking for other authors to cross promote with. The book of his I chose, Glassford Girl (which was not free at the time) was more paranormal than sci-fi, but I read it and enjoyed it.

Note that I was warned by one Kboarder that offering someone else’s book was a bad idea. The argument was that I the readers might enjoy this other author’s writing more than mine. I figured the advantages of gaining subscribers would outweigh that risk.

By the way, if anyone wants to offer The Antiterrorist to their readers, just let me know!

What kind of contest did you run and who did you run it through?

I just gave everyone who subscribed to my mailing list the link to the free book. This worked well, and I gained an average of one new subscriber per day. Now, remember that I did that as a stop-gap measure. I wanted to offer my own book as a giveaway, and I dropped everything to start work on my short book, The Antiterrorist. I wrote it in two months, which is fast for me. It was 15,000 words, and its sole purpose in life was to be an incentive for newsletters signups.

That’s really a whole second step to the mailing list. Now for The Antiterrorist, you had a cover made or did you make it yourself, or what?

I did it myself. I’m a do-it-yourselfer and I’m frugal. All of NASA’s photos are free (we paid for them, after all), so I downloaded some shots of the International Space Station, the stars, and the earth and put together a simple cover. You can see it here:

 

 00 Al Macy 1 AT

 

 

I’ve recently decided that covers are so important, I should have them designed by experts. I had my cover for Contact Us done by Damonza.com, (and I’ve since revised the cover for Antiterrorist to match that look).

 00 al macy contact us.jpg

 

I’ve found that I although I like (okay, love) the covers I come up with, I can’t really trust my judgment. But that’s a whole other subject.

I suffer from a similar affliction. If I like a cover, it’s a dud. I have to rely on my fans. They’re never wrong.

00 d r rBack to the marketing and free book ideas, note that I also made my non-fiction book, Drive, Ride, Repeat, a permafree book. Everyone who downloaded that book, got an offer to sign up for the mailing list and get a free Antiterrorist.

So, in summary, I got exposure through my permafree book, so many readers would see the mailing list free-book offer.

Any other ideas on how to get more people to see your offer?

Yes. One thing I do, is I have my offer page at the start of the book. That way, any one who uses Amazon’s Look Inside feature or downloads the sample will see my offer. Readers may think they are sneaky and clever to get the offer without buying anything, but that’s fine with me.

So now you have two incentives working for you.

Once The Antiterrorist was complete, I put it up for pre-order on Amazon, with a lead time of ninety days. That way, I could say to my potential subscribers, “This book is not available anywhere, but you can get it for free for signing up.” In other words, don’t think of it as just saving 99 cents, think of it as the only place in the universe that you can get this book.

I take it that was a PDF they would get?

No, I offer it as a mobi (Kindle) file. Once they sign up, the reader gets an email with a link to the mobi and instructions on how to get it to their reader. Sometimes people ask for a PDF or ePub file, and I email it to them.

This shows how my mailing list grew:

 

00 Al Macy mail list growth

Eight months to go to 500 – not bad! Plus, I see a big jump from October to November. What caused that?

I participated in a promotion at FreeKindleGiveaway.com. I paid them $20 to be a sponsor of one of their giveaways. In return, they had a link to my book, and site visitors could enter their contest by signing up for my mailing list. It was a little more complicated than that, but I got 180 new subscribers that way, and they didn’t simply unsubscribe once the contest was over.

That’s an awesome gain for twenty bucks.

By the way, I learned a lot about this newsletter strategy from a book called Reader Magnets.

Awesome. After I got a bunch of emails, I didn’t send them anything. Like, almost never. That’s backwards, right? How often do you send out newsletters?

When I started, I was thinking, “I don’t want to bother these people with a lot of newsletters. I’ll just save the email addresses, and send something out when I have a new book available.” But I learned that would have been a big mistake.

That was totally my mindset. Why is that a mistake?

00 Al Macy 0 author pic srWell, as someone explained to me, if you don’t send out regular emails, your subscribers will forget who you are. Then, when you do send out something, they’ll think, “Oh, there’s some spam!” Click, they’ll delete it. Or worse, they’ll unsubscribe.

I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened to me. (Dammit!) Lesson learned. But you found additional reasons to stay in contact and develop a relationship with your subscribers. Stuff that proved extremely useful.

I hadn’t appreciated my subscribers until I sent an email to them asking for ten beta readers for my newest book, Yesterday’s Thief. The response was overwhelming. Literally! I was overwhelmed, and had to sit down and have a drink. I got over fifty responses.

More than that, their responses showed me that these were people who really enjoyed my books and wanted to read more.

That’s HUGE. That’s exactly what you want as an author.

I got so many responses explaining why I should pick them as a beta reader, that I had to give in and choose twenty-one readers.

The first reader finished the book in only three hours. I wish I could read that fast. One reader read the whole book twice! They all had great ideas and caught some plot holes.

00 Al Macy 0 author pic csThat alone may have been worth the effort of gaining followers. In the past I’ve had beta readers who aren’t that motivated. They might take a month to read my book and have few comments.

With this revelation, I decided I should work harder to come up with fun newsletters.

So, you aren’t like I was, sitting in my house trying to send mass emails. Who do you use to manages that for your newsletter?

Mailchimp. (Apparently there are two main options: Mailchimp and Aweber. I know nothing about the latter, but am very happy with Mailchimp.) As long as you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers it’s free.

We all like free!

Unfortunately, there’s no tech support for a free account, and there’s no support forum that I’ve found.

But it doesn’t take too long to get used to Mailchimp’s interface, and it can be fun to design your newsletters and other emails. I’ve even used Mailchimp to manage my Christmas videos.

I saw those. I was impressed. Nice job.

How would you say a newsletter compares with a blog or Twitter postings?

I’d say they’re variations on a theme. They are all ways to connect with your readers. I found that with my bike trip and my piano sight-reading blogs, I got similar engagement with readers. I have 5,000 followers on Twitter, but I must be missing something because I get almost zero engagement there.

So as my readers venture forth to create their all-important mailing lists, where should they start?

First, one good idea is to sign up for a bunch of newsletters from other authors. That way, you can get some ideas of what people send out.

Second, I have a feeling that newsletters are becoming less effective now that so many people are doing them. It’s rare to go to an author’s web site without being asked to sign up. Many of those requests come in the form of annoying popup windows. People hate those. Don’t use them, please.

I was actually going to have a popup on my blog to ask for an email address. Now I know not to.

Are there downsides to doing a newsletter?

00 Al Macy 0 author pic bIn a way it’s like getting lots of new friends. It takes time to interact with them, and that means less time for writing and other activities.

That’s fun, but it can become time consuming, too, so as always: balance.

So, you like your newsletter subscribers. What’s the most interesting email you’ve received from any of  them.

No contest. When I first got the following email, I thought it was some kind of scam from a non-English speaker.  But it wasn’t, and now it’s my favorite email:

Greetings, Mr. Beach

We here on Bubble One enjoyed reading your Amazon Kindle, but didn’t encounter her in the story, though she would have fit right in, we believe. Please consider adding her in your up-and-comings because she could provide love-interest competition and enhanced flavourableness to reading experiences of beings such as we, who are ideal market force for increased production volume and enhanced status size for you.

We have sent a copy of your excellent otherwise literature to our space-rovering neighbors, who also are lacking in excitement possibilities. We hope you will not be displeased by this undertaking of ours and we will sent you a percentage of saleable recuperations. Please advise in what format you want these. We offer many potentials.

Yours, most sincere beings, also likeable,

Prothus IV, for itself and others on craft which themselves are not advanced totally in Englishableness

.

That’s freaking awesome. Al, I can’t thank you enough for walking us through a difficult topic and making it simple.

To sum up the incentive steps:

  • Al created a giveaway using another author’s book.
  • He made a book of his own, Drive, Ride, Repeat, permafree, and
  • Gave downloaders of Drive, Ride, Repeat an offer to sign up for the mailing list and get a free copy of The Antiterrorist.
  • Told new potential email subscribers they could get The Antiterrorist free for subscribing (it would not be available for 90 days)
  • Participated in a sponsorship/promotion

00 Al Macy 0 author pic yt 

I’ll be working on Al’s suggestions during my down time this holiday season, and so should you! Get creative, like Al did. Don’t have a book of your own to offer? Ask another author if you can use theirs!

Here are Al’s links, and be sure to preorder his latest book, Yesterday’s Thief on Amazon!

Contact Us: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V73HKOI

The Antiterrorist: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZS51IJE

Yesterday’s Thief: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018UOTOEA

Sign up for Al’s Newsletter  http://pages.suddenlink.net/almacystuff/signupantiterrorist.htm

Al’s Amazon Author page  http://www.amazon.com/Al-Macy/e/B00HS3BO2U

Al’s Facebook page Facebook.com/AlMacyAuthor

Al’s Twitter ID @AlMacyAuthor

Al’s author web site AlMacyAuthor.com

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00 Santa Dan
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

Hey, check me out!

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Stop beating yourself up over low blog traffic!

I got featured on Indie Plot Twist! How cool is that?

There are lots of ways to find followers and get a little recognition. Indie Plot Twist is all over Twitter because they have an innovative way of incorporating your post with clickable tweets that send out the highlights of your message.

 

I found the site because one of my author friends posted on it. They mentioned it, so I checked it out and submitted. Now Indie Plot Twist is running my guest post and I’m mentioning it to you.

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There I am!

The site is good for many reasons but posting there couldn’t be easier. They have a button; you use it to contact them. Send your thoughts and they’ll let you know in a pretty fast manner. That’s it. If they like it, they schedule you and ask for some additional stuff, like links.

 

curious-woman
I do need to stay current.

Now, when you see your blog post on their site, you tell the world like I am. They get more readers, you get more readers. Everybody wins.

 

After you read a few posts on their site, you’ll see what they are looking for in content. Subscribe, and you’ll always have the latest tips.

 

It’s a good way to get your name out there, and guess what? There are lots of sites that will let you do a guest blog post.

 

Like this one.

 

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Me? A guest blogger? SURE!

For example, we will be featuring author interviews but we also have our friends of the blog post stuff we all need to know about. Al Macy is doing a few for us about building an email list (how to do it, why you need one) and using Kboards to get input on covers, blurbs, and titles. When his new book comes out in early 2016, we’ll be featuring him in a fun interview. Al gets a little exposure for his books and he becomes a trusted commodity by being a guest blogger here. You learn stuff you need from somebody who just did it. It’s a win-win.

 

That’s what you want, too.

 

So give Indie Plot Twists a shout, and send me an email (use the Contact Me button) to tell me what you’d like to guest post about.

 

Then, when it runs, you tell everybody – giving you an excuse to talk about yourself and your new book, drive traffic to your blog, or whatever!

 

It helps us; it helps you. And not every great idea has to come from me.

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00 Santa DanREBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

 

Still Stuck? How To Unstick Your Unmotivated Writer’s Brain And WRITE

burned out womanSometimes a story gets stuck. That sucks, because we’re the ones who drove into the tree, but it happens. (This is not a post about that.)

 

When the story is fine but the writer is stuck, that’s different. That’s a mental thing, or an organization thing, or whatever, but if you are stuck and unhappy about it, here’s another method to re-engage your motivation.

 

BTW, if you have read my other piece about this and NOT tried EVERY solution offered, DO NOT complain that you are still stuck. You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

 

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You’ll get there.

First, don’t worry about “finishing” the story. That’s a thought too big for your unmotivated brain right now, like trying to swallow your whole Thanksgiving dinner in one bite.

 

Instead, let’s work in reverse.

 

(Ooh, math. Already, writing your story sounds good, doesn’t it? You’re welcome.)

 

How many chapters do you estimate you have to go to finish the story? I used about 1 chapter per plot point.

How many words per chapter? I use about 3000.

How long does it take to write a chapter? That depends, but you know and I don’t, for you. Using me, I’d say 3 days per chapter DEPENDING on if I have some plot points I have to work out or logic problems, etc.

 

In my fantasy romance story, The Water Castle, if Philip marries Gina and stays in Florida, he dies a year later in an Indian raid. If he doesn’t marry her and goes back to Spain, he lives. What was the option if he didn’t marry her and stayed in Florida? Oops. I guess I’d better make Spain mandatory. But then he’d live regardless. Oops. So he ONLY stays if he marries her, otherwise he has to go back. Staying is defiance. Okay. And she can’t go with him to Spain? Oops. Nope, I guess not.

 

See? All that thinking will stop the writing!

 

woman-stressed-pulling-hair-out

Anyway, if I have 6 plot points remaining (Philip has the meeting, Philip goes back to castle, Gina sees the book, Gina breaks up with Philip, Gina and her mom reconcile, Philip leaves, that’s about it.) 6 plot points. None of those is probably a whole chapter but let’s say they are.

 

6 “chapters” x 3000 words per chapter, at 2 chapters a week for normal speed = 3 weeks until I’m finished. (Again, your mileage may vary)

 

Add 50% to 100% for holiday interference and I’d say 6 weeks. Six weeks from now is, what, early January?

 

Okay, now I have to decide WHEN I’m going to write. (If you do not have a set writing time, there are ways to find time and schedule time HERE and HERE) For me, it’s usually 4am to 6am, plus 1 hour in the early evening and a few after dinner evenings, plus 3 hours on Sunday morning and 3 hours on Saturday afternoon, plus ALL DAY BLACK FRIDAY. Otherwise, whenever I can, since holidays mess things up.abacus

 

* Crunches numbers *

 

Yes, I can meet that January 7 deadline.

 

Now, if I finish before January 7, I will feel really good, but just knowing January 7 is when it’ll likely be finished, that’s GREAT. All I have to do is ensure I get my 2 hours in each morning.

 

Walk through that exercise for yourself. Be realistic, not ambitious. You’re not going to become SuperAuthor just because you wrote down some numbers.

 

Break down the numbers and have a weekly goal, with a daily estimate. A weekly goal might be 6,000 words but there will be days when I don’t write 1000. Maybe I’m rereading or reviewing – and my critique partners can usually tell when I haven’t. So I’ll go for a weekly goal but after 2 weeks if I’m only hitting 4000 words a week, guess what? REVISE THE DEADLINE or increase the weekly word production, or both.

 

0 punch
Don’t do that.

Right now, you’re beating yourself. I’d adjust the deadline. If that means March 31 and I hate it being that far away, I’ll get motivated – but the idea is to have a system to get where you want to go because right now you are NOT getting there without a system right now, are you? The system you’re using ain’t getting it done!

 

THEN take your plot points and list them:

Philip has the meeting,

Philip goes back to castle,

Gina sees the book,

Gina breaks up with Philip,

Gina and her mom reconcile,

Philip orders castle destroyed and leaves

 

Then take your favorite one and tell in 1 paragraph what happens in that part, or why it’s your favorite. Just sum it up. A few sentences may be enough, but feel free to explain the intricacies or details you want to hit.

 

Then, do that for the other points.

 

o spark
Feeling it yet?

Even if you wrote one paragraph for each of 6 plot points, you’d have written probably 1000 – 1500 words, and probably re-sparked your interest in your story. I defy you to write 1000 words on a story you love and NOT get restarted on it. But if you don’t, then set it aside and start something new. Maybe short stories or Flash Fiction challenges.

 

Me, I’d FORCE myself to write if I had to. I have written and discarded tens of thousands of words for The Water Castle. There have been a few strolls down interesting paths before the big ending that were later discarded. There was supposed to be a big dragon chase that evaporated. It’s all clay until it’s baked into a pot.

 

HappyChild_large
Me! Me! Me!

But if the story has left you, it’s okay to dance with a new story – as long as you don’t marry the new story. You don’t need 20 stories lying around that are half finished (and if you DO have 20 half-finished stories laying around, consider partnering up with others to finish them. Co-authors. Give ‘em your outline and notes and publish the thing, then split the royalties.)

 

They say if you have to wait for a muse, you’re a not a writer, you’re a waiter. Do you want that? How does that feel, to say that about yourself? You don’t want that.

 

Nobody wants that.

 

That’s why Hemingway said bite the nail every day and write. (Although he did shoot himself.) Sometimes it’s work. Build those writer muscles so next time it’ll be easier! You are not a quitter!

 

AB19725
You’ll get there!

I think breaking it down this way will help you see what you want to work on. You know what happens in the story; you just need to get it down. Also, as the end gets close, it’s hard to finish, so don’t let that get in the way. Finishing is difficult the first few times. You’ll be sitting there wondering if you tied up all the loose ends. Don’t. Just finish it. THEN worry about that stuff. Because clay. You can add to your story or change it. You can’t edit a blank page.

 

Write SOMETHING EVERY DAY, or even just reread a favorite part of the story. Do these exercises. Pretty soon the old fun feeling will be back.

 

And you’ll be writing again!

 

If YOU have ever been stuck, what worked for you? Tell us!

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.