The business of writing books is different than other types of business. I have found that the majority of writers want to help each other out. Writing groups are formed and there's somewhere in the gazillion range of books written about how to be successful as a writer. It's not hard to see why. Both you and I can write a book and the same customer, in fact multiple same customers, can end up purchasing both of them. Competition is much different in this field. I read multiple books not only by the same author but eat up books in the same genre. When I was writing Welcome to Utopia I continued my quest of reading science fiction books with a similar angle. When I first starting writing the book I read titles from the past like 1984, Animal Farm (for the umpteenth time), Atlas Shrugged ( this is my favorite book, Rand is just a great fiction writer, wish she would have written more fiction), Anthem, The Fountainhead, A Handmaids Tale, The Third Revolution, The Hunger Games trilogy, The Founding Five, Black No More (this is one of my favorites), and many more. Each one of these taught me something about the genre I was choosing to write in and what works and what doesn't work in my humble opinion. Each of these titles are worth reading if you like the political/science fiction. I loved some, liked others, and didn't care for some of them. But each one is well written and goes along with that end of the world things have radically changed type story I love. I will let you draw your own conclusions. I have noticed that writers that consider themselves to the left politically usually have a depressing ending (read 1984 for the best example), and politically right leaning writers usually have a happy ending (read Atlas Shrugged or Black No More for examples). Each one of them had a fantastic way of pulling me in to the story and making me want to read more. I hope my novel does that to readers; I certainly have worked hard for that kind of reaction. What I do know is it really doesn't matter about the political influences of the author when they write a good story. Plus, each author has some bias that shine through. Cold Mountain, a love story right? Well, there certainly was some commentary within about slavery and equality of both blacks and women. Can't get away from it, I tried in other writings, comes out bland (BTW - I love Cold Mountain, both book and movie).
My point is for those of you who want to be writers it is important to read books in your genre. For the rest of you here is a list of books to read.
I have just finished my first book on marketing in the ebook world. I plan on adding a few titles before I review what I've learned and what has been helpful so far. It's exciting to read different techniques and ideas on how to better sell your book. Remember to get your kindle since that will be the first published version of my novel. Of course, you can read a kindle book on any device by downloading their app to your computer, phone, Ipad, whatever. Click here to get the app now so you can buy my book (unlike some authors I have no problem with the marketing of my work).
Two titles I read during this summer that I really enjoyed, Flashback, by Dan Simmons (thank you Marty for the suggestion) and The Last Centurion by John Ringo. Both of these authors used a lot of foul language just to warn those who may be offended. I am shamelessly plugging these two guys because I plan on asking them to write a blurb for my book. I read an article about getting authors in your genre to write up a review. I will update more on the process once I do it.
I have failed miserably on writing everyday since I went back to work. I'm giving myself a break since I've been busier that a one legged man in an - well - you get the idea. Since writing my plan here usually motivates me because I report to you on a weekly basis I have decided to commit to free writing 10 minutes a day. That should be doable.
One final story. Malia (my daughter) came home the other day with questions her new teacher wants to know about her. We sat down as a family and went over the questions. When it came to her interests I asked her about writing since she has expressed some interest in writing songs. Her comment, "I don't want to go through what he (she pointed at me) went through this summer!" Writing is hard. Even a nine year old can see that.
It's hard to be a writer. Sometimes you have to contend with people who don't take you seriously or think of it as 'just a hobby.' There are some out there that get that from their own family or at work or from friends. I have been blessed with a great supporting cast around me. Even my boss is excited about what I'm doing! And still, the idea 'I'm not good enough,' or 'this is too damn hard,' or 'who do you think you are?' or 'I'll just take today off,' or, you get the idea swirls around in my head.
Plus I'm back to work. The creativity that goes into starting a new school year and taking last years ideas and either tweaking them or trashing them or shortening them or expanding them is, at least for me, fun and exciting. And then there's the meetings where we dissect data and discuss where we're headed and of course the usual 'let's have another great year!' speeches designed to get us mentally prepared for the students. As with any job some of it is great, some of it is okay, and some of it makes you literally want to pull your hair out! The problem lies in the fact that after spending the day doing that followed by needing to get ready my own classroom quite frankly, I'm tired.
You have to write through all that. You still need to set aside time to continue to do the 'so-called hobby.' Unless of course I'm going to take a huge leap of faith and quit my job to become a full time writer. Not an option. I love my job and want to be BOTH a writer and a teacher. Plus I'd miss out on a great source of material.
And so I have finally finished the rewrites and editing and will be sending my manuscript on to the editor. Another step closer to the goal.
Since school begins tomorrow I have given myself a much smaller project to work on to keep my writing going. There is a writing contest at Writers Digest for short fiction that I plan to enter. The deadline is November. I am taking the advice of one or some or maybe many of the books I've read on writing and plan on putting aside the novel while it is in the hands of the editor. I don't even plan to read it until just before I get it back from them.
But I do plan on continuing to write...
And I will be 'writing' here as well. I will concentrate not only on how well (or not well) I'm doing on my writing but also the research I begin to do investigating the world of self-publishing.
I hope to be of assistance to those aspiring writers (like me) and entertain the rest of you!
This morning I finished going through my book. I've been working on it everyday since Sunday. I have to admit going through to edit and revise is not nearly as much fun as writing. But, it must be done. One of the biggest mistakes (according to Writers Digest) that self publishers make is either sloppy editing or no editing at all. I've even noticed more mistakes in e-books I've been reading lately. And those are published authors. I've done enough reading to have found a mistake here and there in a book but have noticed that rate seems to be much higher in the downloadable era.
I will spend the rest of the day fixing and rewriting. I plan to have this sent off to the professional editor (Written Dreams) by the end of next week. I can only go so far as the editor of my own writing. I told the story I wanted to tell and amazingly didn't have a whole bunch of rewrites. It seemed to come in sprits. It seemed that days I was 'on' in my writing had less sections to change and the days that I had to 'push' myself to advance the story are filled with red and notes and other highlighting colors.
I'm moving forward but after this weekend the process will go slower due to the start of the school year. It all starts for me on Wednesday. I can't wait to see the kids again.
The final Major in golf is on this weekend and the only thing missing is the brother-in-law. That's probably a good thing since I need to be working on the book rather than playing video games. On the subject of sports I have to comment on Alex Rodriguez. He was just suspended for 211 games in baseball for using PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs). I watched a very uncomfortable interview with him where he has decided to appeal the decision. Twelve other players looked at the evidence and decided to accept their penalty. I would love to see someone take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences. In the interview he made it sound like there was some sort of witch hunt going on. He asked the fans in 2009 to judge him from that moment on after admitting to using drugs (well, in reality he was 'caught'). If he really loves the game like he claims to he would stop the appeal and do what would be best for baseball.
I was always conflicted on the subject of PEDs in sports (yes, it is in all of them, just ask Lance Armstrong). I use to wonder what the big deal was. Cheating has always been a part of sports. But it was the kind of cheating like stealing signs from the other team or reading lips or watching the telecast. We have enough problems without sports condoning the use of drugs. I'm glad baseball is taking the lead on eliminating PEDs. Hopefully other sports will follow. I want to get back to talking about the great races for the playoffs rather than the 100 million Rodriguez stands to lose for, well, breaking the rules of his profession.
I love baseball. My next story I've been working on is about the sport (and other themes). I hope it will be a magical story along the lines of Field of Dreams. I haven't completely figured it out yet but look forward to digging deeper once I finish Welcome to Utopia.
Until next week... God Bless!
My Workstation moments after finishing the first draft!
First draft is in the books. Yesterday just after 12pm I finished. Eighty three thousand two hundred and forty nine words. Just the right length for a first time novelist. The moment was quite... interesting. I really didn't know how to feel. I just sat at my station staring at the last line wondering if that was the last line. I smiled (I'm practicing showing not telling but that means it was the last line. Darn, I just told!).
Now comes the editing and revising. I will read through the story with different color highlights each one representing something I need 'to do' to certain parts. In fact, I just realized after spelling 'staring' above that throughout the story I spelled that 'starring.' Much different meaning but both are words. That is a warning to all you kids out there that spell check is NOT the answer to all your problems. The editing part will be much easier for me than the revision part. I've either fallen in love with something that isn't necessary OR I become overly critical and want to throw the entire manuscript away. Stephen King did that to Carrie. He threw the first draft away and his wife retrieved it out of the trash, read it, and told him he needed to finish the story. He did, was paid over $400,000 when it was printed for paperback, and has written a story or two since. He didn't feel capable to write from a woman's POV. Imagine being robbed of Annie Wilkes from Misery, or Winifred Torrance from The Shinning (book version), or Mother Abigail from The Stand (his best work, in my humble opinion). There are plenty more that star a woman like Delores Claiborne (for the non-horror fan and those who just love great character stories) or a little girl named Charlie in Firestarter (really one of his finer moments as a writer).
I throw all this out there because my main character is a 50 year old black man and the second main character is a woman just over 50 (I hope she doesn't mind me telling you her age) who was raised by a single father (mother was killed in the attacks of 9/11, I know, how cliché). None of the above are me. It has been mentioned to me that I have no idea what it is like to be black, or a woman (of course, this person hasn't read the story only felt it necessary to comment), and they're right. But it is my job as a writer to get into the heads of people that are not me. In one of the zillion books on writing I've read (and it might be King's book, On Writing) it states that the writer's job is to bring to life characters and make them seem... real. I hope I've done that. I'll let the reader judge for themselves. I know one thing, I have become much more aware of people and their actions and their words and their mannerisms since I really got serious about my writing this summer. I have a recorder I carry around with me to add in quotes or observations or descriptions of what I see. I've become a bit more observant... for a guy.
In the weeks to come I will be carrying you through the adventures of editing and rewriting and finally sending it off to the editor (I will make it much more entertaining than the ACTUAL editing and revising will be). My ultimate goal is to self-publish (you saw the cover last week, if not, pan down) and begin selling my book as an e-book first - in hope that I can either earn enough to publish a hard copy or get some agent or publisher to pick it up. I hope to let you know what I learn (both good and bad) and to help those who have always wanted to write a book. For the rest of you, I really just want to entertain you. I know, sounds pretty childish, but, hey, if the shoe fits...
I hope to have the book out by Christmas at the latest. That gives those of you that don't have a kindle the opportunity to get one. They come in all shapes and sizes.
Anthony D. Flores loves to spend his summers writing fiction. His strong Christian faith and love for this great country find its way into his fiction. His work is also available on Amazon by Clicking Here.