Archive | April 2012

Three Writing Tips! (from an unpublished author)

Okay, short post today.

Progress: The Forgiving (my horror/suspense novel) is coming along swimmingly: almost 35,000 words now, aiming for 40,000, probably end up being 45,000.

Now some writing tips from an unpublished author!

  1. Get some exercise! While writing can be good for the mind, it can also be bad for the body. Keep fit and keep writing. They actually work together. I’ve been jogging and swimming when I can, and I’m starting to see the positive effects on my writing output.
  2. Keep your self-esteem up. I know this is hard for us introverted writer types, but self-esteem can really affect your productivity. The exercise should help, but also spend less time with people who bring you down and more time with people who bring you up. Be kind to yourself. The depressed prolific writer is the exception, not the rule.
  3. When uninspired, read to see how other writers do it; don’t just read for pleasure. Dissect sentences. Look at transitions. Read with a writer’s eye. There is no need for wheel reinvention.
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Growing Twitter

Self Write is about writing and indie publishing. My first step of gaining twitter followers and starting a blog has been a success. Almost 500 twitter followers already. Now the question is, what should I blog about and what will my tweets be. The pressure is growing with each follower.

A few things I’ve learned about Twitter:

Tweeting is a small form of writing and self-publishing. The tweet button is the publish button.

Stay me in each tweet and stay genuine.

At the same time, stay branded. In some ways, I am the product. I can say whatever I want, but what I really want is for people to remember me, taste my writing, and want more when my book is finally released.

Tweeting about writing progress is a good idea, even though at first it seemed like that would get redundant. Writing a novel is a narrative to follow, and it is the narrative of my life.

Tweets go by quickly, so I can do quite a few without becoming irritating, as long as my tweets aren’t repeats or links.

A little depth and a little humor go a long way on a service that has an endless amount of the mundane.

Anything that is branded, or is part of my theme, can be a tweet. That means anything that fits with the tone of my novel gets a pass.

I will still be experimenting with my tweets to find my voice and express myself. Tweeting is a writing outlet where I have my first real audience. I want to honor that by giving my readers something to invest in and something to root for.

Dark day for books.

Here is a CNN article about the dark future of books:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/15/opinion/coker-book-publishing/

 

Here is what I got out of the CNN article:

“Authors are beginning to turn their backs on traditional publishers in favor of self-publishing. Authors are now hiring their own editors, cover designers and marketing consultants. By assuming responsibility for the roles once played by publishers, authors are earning up to 70% of the list price as their e-book royalty versus the 17.5% paid by traditional publishers.

The future of books seems bright to me.

Deal with the Cabin

I saw The Cabin in the Woods, and as promised, I’m back here to write a little bit about it. If you haven’t seen it and you are a horror writer, go out and see it now.

Spoiler Warning for The Cabin in the Woods!

Now, many will be analyzing this film and looking at how it highlights many of the sins horror movies have committed over the years, so I’m just going to look at how The Cabin in the Woods relates to my own horror novel, The Forgiving.

First off, they have huge similarities. Both are about people being brought to a classic horror house. Mine is a haunted house and Cabin’s is the classic cabin in the woods. Both stories subvert expectations, and end up focusing on a sacrifice to a deity. Add in a few snakes, and the beginning credit sequence could have been to the movie version of my novel.

Most of the similarities end there. The Cabin in the Woods has a very Meta tone that directly criticizes horror movies (and thus horror fiction inspired by those movies). I try not to do the things that Cabin criticizes (such as disposable archetypal characters, punishing youth for sex and hedonism, manipulating the characters in unrealistic ways), but it’s not the focus of the novel. When I’m finished, I would like to think of my novel as a post Cabin novel. The old slasher tropes need to be buried. The Cabin in the Woods shows you why.

The weakness and strength of The Cabin in the Woods is that it is less focused on being scary and more focused on satire and fun. It seems to be saying, if you want straight up horror, you need to deal with the Cabin first. I’m dealing with the Cabin, if you write horror, so should you.

The Cabin in the Woods

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As you may have noticed if you follow my twitter feed, I’m looking forward to The Cabin in the Woods, a subversive horror movie coming out this weekend.

Few things are better than a good horror movie, and I love Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible) and his co-writer for the movie, Drew Goddard (Coverfield), so I will be seeing The Cabin in the Woods as soon as possible.

While presently I’m working on two novels, I’ve also written a few screenplays over the past few years. I’ve placed in some screenwriting contests, which is heartening, yet I still don’t feel skilled enough to break into Hollywood. I haven’t given up on screenwriting, but I am taking a break. Maybe selling some books will open some doors, and if not, it will still help me perfect my craft. Either way: win-win. I know writing screenplays has made me a better novelist, so back and forth I go.

I’m sure you have your own writing goals and your own heroes that drive you forward and inspire you. Joss Whedon inspires me to become a better storyteller. He is my competition. Someday he will be inspired by something I create.

I can dream, right?

See The Cabin in the Woods this weekend. And then come back here to talk about it. Hate it or love it, my guess: it will make you look at horror in a new way. Horror has had its issues, and The Cabin in the Woods just might work some of those issues out. I hope it makes me look at my own horror novel with new eyes, or at the very least gives me a fun night out at the movies.

The Forgiving

While building a social media platform is crucial, being a writer is often about actually writing, and I have two novels to finish and perfect.

This week I’ll be focused on my horror/suspense novel, The Forgiving. The Forgiving is a novelization of a screenplay I wrote a few years ago about three lovers who, as a way to save cash, seek out a real estate agency that specializes in poltergeist activity. It’s a fun story with a lot of twists.

Converting the screenplay is a challenge, but I’m finding that the story actually works better as a novel. The relationship between the lovers is much easier to establish in prose than in a low budget film, and with the plot already worked out, the writing is going quickly. I just have to write a lot of creepy description and the characters’ mounting paranoia. Another month or so and I should have a strong first draft for my beta readers.

If you want to be a beta reader, just post in the comments and we’ll figure something out. Happy writing everyone.

Indie Publishing

Self-publishing can also be called indie publishing. It sounds more punk rock. It has a little less of the shame “self-publishing” drags around. Feel the pride rising.

What is it, 400,000 indie books are published every month? I heard that somewhere. That’s a lot of books! I guess each book released is sold an average of four times per month. Factor in the best sellers and that means many aren’t sold at all.

Even if these numbers are off, the point that indie publishing is a lot like normal publishing still stands: the readers are out there, but they need to choose your book out of the millions released this year and the countless millions released in the years prior.

That is very intimidating, to compete with every book available. I have a Kindle full of books I want to read and none of them came out last month and very few came out last year. In the coming year, I’m going to figure out how to compete.

The first thing I’ve learned, lesson one, those other books aren’t bad guys. We aren’t enemies; we are comrades on the field of battle. Those other writers, those other books, they can help me reach readers, and I can return the favor.