Steven LeRoy Nelson’s Memorial will be on Saturday, June 2nd, at 11:00 a.m., at the All Souls Unitarian Church. All Souls is located at the corner of Tejon and Dale, close to Colorado College. We will be celebrating his life and his passions: writing, family, and serving others.
Please bring your favorite finger food, casserole, etc., OR beverage. Wine/beer/spirits are welcome.
Your role during this memorial is to honor the passing of a good man, and to celebrate not only his life, but YOUR life, and the gifts you’ve given and received through your connections with others.
I look forward to sharing this celebration of my husband’s life with you, and I am grateful for the love and compassion I’ve received from so many of you. Thank you.
Pikes Peak Writers is known for our annual conference, but we also do tons of programming throughout the year, much of it free!
One of our free monthly events is Writer’s Night, where writers of all genres gather together to discuss writerly topics over food and drinks. Anyone is welcome to attend, whether they have a question to ask or they just want to hang back and listen.
Why Go to Writers Night?
At the last meeting, I asked the attendees for their top reasons to attend Writer’s Night, and here they are:
Hearing from other writers inspires you to keep writing.
It’s nice to be around like-minded people.
Sense of community. Writing is such an isolated experience–sometimes you need to escape it.
Helps fight impostor syndrome.
Exposes you to diverse perspectives.
Casual education. Learn from others while just hanging out!
Bragging rights. Each session, we go around the room and allow people the chance to tell us about their accomplishments.
Gets you out of the house.
You don’t have to make dinner.
We’ve got exciting news to share, too! Writer’s Night is getting a face-lift. It’s moving to Navajo Hogan in August. Plus, we’ve got a new host! Mytchel Chandler has taken over as Writer’s Night host, bringing a fresh perspective to the group.
Mytchel Chandler, Secretary of PPW, has taken over Writer’s Night! Mytchel has written a time travel comic titled Chronic, and is finishing up his debut novel, a YA fantasy titled The Dark and Dangerous Days of Sin Shadow. In his spare time, Mytchel is an avid movie goer, comic collector, and cosplayer. Be sure to follow him @authormytchelchandler on Facebook and Instagram, and at www.mytchelchandler.com.
Did you happen
to attend a writer’s conference recently where you heard every author must have
a blog? Or maybe you heard an agent won’t pick you up if you don’t have a blog.
Or maybe you’d just like to join the community because believe it or not, blogging
isn’t dead. New blogs still pop up all the time and become successful.
So, do you need
you want to sell more books, no.
you want to drive traffic to your website, not necessarily but it helps.
you want to establish a daily or weekly writing habit that will also drive
traffic, then yes.
But if you
plan to start a blog, I want you to think about a few things.
is a fantastic way to start and maintain a writing habit
is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website
is time-consuming and requires some creative brainstorming for topics after a
are 31.7 million bloggers in the U.S. by 2020
Yes, there are
a lot of blogs out there. That doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you.
Your fiction content is unique and more than likely, there won’t be too many
other fiction writers out there clamoring away to write about your content. So
that opens up a lot of post possibilities.
The best way to
keep track of what you’re writing is to create a content calendar. It’s a
device to help you plan out your blog strategy, which posts to write and when
to post them. You’ll never be lost on what to blog again. Here’s mine, feel free to steal it.
To get you
started, here is a list of topics you can blog about:
Behind-the-scenes. Talk about how you get your ideas
(because you know you’ll be asked), where you write, where you do your research
of your work. Do you
have a really favorite scene? Share it.
Interviews. These are
always fun and can help you flesh out a character as well.
chronicle. Journal your
book. How you create your characters; how they respond to you on a given day;
where you’re having writers block and why; how you resolved the issue
covers. Talk about why
you like one over the other.
trips. Write about what
you ate, where you stayed, what you discovered, where you discovered it.
Scout. Write about your
setting and its history
life. How you became a
writer, stay motivated and started your career
Supporters. Interviews with people who’ve helped
you on your journey: librarians, researchers, biggest supporter, funny little
guy you met on the train who was super excited to find out you’re a writer!
Reviews. Connect something in your work to
popular culture and become an expert on it. For example, Young Adult novelists
could review episodes of Riverdale or Stranger Things. Mystery writers could
review CSI or NCIS.
As you start
blogging or want to punch up the blog you have, here are some best practices to
250 words. Not anymore. 1000 words. Why? Because Google likes search words and
the more words you have, the more likely you’ll pop in a Google search. This
maxes out between 1500-2000 words though.
readers take the time to read all that? Yes. Statistics show people are reading
just as much as ever, even with short attention spans, they are reading. They’re
just doing it on their phones. (Source)
know I just said readers will read up to 1500 words, but really that’s only
true if you break up the text with these elements. It makes it an easier read
for users who have the attention span of a gnat.
span has been reported at 8 seconds in the online word. But more than 30% of
blog readers admit to liking lists and headers, and more than 40% admit to
skimming. Breaking up the text will help your reader stay involved with the
is still king.
what does that have to do with blogging? One of the best ways to up your search
engine optimization is to create a quick 1-3 minute video that basically just
tells the reader what’s in your blog. Pop that on the end of your blog and you
should start to see an increase in traffic.
addition, 80% of blog readers report they remember more of what they read if it’s
accompanied by a video. Win win! (Source)
or blogs with images receive 94% more views. Even if you just use one, put it
toward the top so you pull readers in right in the beginning.
photos on Flickr, Google Images, Shutterstock and Pixabay. Most of these sites
will have free or inexpensive photos you can use copyright-free. (Source)
content is how Google finds you, it’s better to have at least 20 posts before
you officially launch your blog.
about that … 20000 words. That will certainly help your search engine
one has been preached forever. Right now the going rate is at least every other
week, but weekly is best.
go for once a month. It simply isn’t enough content to drive traffic. (Source)
If you’re read
to start, you’ll need a platform like Wix, Weebly, or Blogger – all of which
have a pretty easy learning curve and free templates. I use WordPress because it has better integration with
the Google search engine and an amazing SEO tool in the Yoast plugin which
makes SEO super easy. You’ll also want to own your own domain (URL), so head
over to GoDaddy, SquareSpace or HostGator and purchase the URL.
more information, check out this link.
Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett
Recently the issue of backstory came up again with a client who is writing a YA in the aftermath of a pandemic. The horror is over and the story is about how they will live from here forward. About the society they will create and how they might do it differently this time. The writer, working on her first draft, was feeling the pressure of writing backstory and wanted to talk about whether it had a place in the novel or not.
As I’ve said here before, there are writers who insist no backstory is the right amount. But I disagree. I think it depends upon the story, of course. But there’s more to that feeling of needing backstory that deserves to be looked at as part of the writing process.
Thinking about my client’s story I wonder how backstory can not play a role in the front story. What happened during the pandemic to each of her characters is relevant to how they respond to the changed world. The complete loss of any kind of control in the face of a global disease, an invisible foe, has to change the people that lived it and the society they will create the next time. It will also reverberate for generations to come.
For example, I think about whether or not my mom living through the depression had an effect on me. Here’s a story that illustrates exactly what I’m talking about. During the depression, my mom was poor. She lived with her immigrant grandparents because her mother died at twenty-four and in those days men didn’t raise children, especially widowers who didn’t marry someone else right away. So my mother and my aunt moved in with their grandparents.
My great-grandfather was injured at work in 1930. In those days, sans any kind of compensation, he was simply out of work. My great-grandmother cleaned the house of the factory owner and they had to accept subsistence from the government. They lost their house. The girls wore heavy, black, government shoes that were delivered by a big truck that stopped in front of their house to bring food and supplies. When the truck came my mother and her sister would hide. To be supported that way was shameful.
Certainly in any story I would tell about my mother, that time in her life would reverberate, always. The backstory would have an effect on the front story. Formative experiences always do.
But I have wondered what strings from my mother’s experience of living poor are threaded through my life and into my daughter’s. During my conversations with my writer-friend I thought about what my mom’s life event meant to the current story.
One conclusion I came to was that both me and my daughter learned my mother’s extraordinary ability to “make do” which I believe is a direct result of the depression years she lived through. The women in our family make do to a fault. And I’m not just talking about groceries. It’s been more along the lines of accepting and getting along without, rather than fighting to get what we deserve. Does that make sense?
And that bleeds over into other areas besides money or jobs. It’s an attitude I’ve been fighting since I realized how unhealthy that is and exactly what it says to the universe about getting my needs met. It’s sort of like neglect on a spiritual level. I believe I can trace it back to my mom’s experience with poverty and I can see it in my daughter, too.
So how much of that backstory would make it into a novel about my story or my daughter’s story? Perhaps none. But isn’t the writer better informed if they’ve taken the time to explore those issues in their character’s lives and to write about how the backstory still reverberates?
Perhaps the definitive answer for my friend’s novel is to write the backstory in the first draft exploration. Spend time wallowing in the Why of it all so she knows what influences her characters and their story. Perhaps she should look for the threads that still live in all of their lives, how the backstory changed the front story and what it says about the future stories. The individual reactions to that pandemic will reflect in each person differently, in each family differently and it will have a societal ‘flavor’ as well. Perhaps even different in different parts of the country.
Here’s an illustration. One day during a dinner when both my mother and my mother-in-law were present, the subject of the depression came up. My mother-in-law, raised in Cape Cod in a wealthy family (think coming out balls and Sarah Lawrence college), lamented over the loss of their summer home on the beach during the depression. My mother’s lips pressed to white and she said nothing about the government shoes. Still steeped in shame.
So thematically, I think all stories deserve a time playing with backstory. Then even if you don’t use the actual scenes you write in backstory, or use only some of it, you understand your characters and their world better and you might find themes that will serve as the bones that holds your story together.
Deb McLeod is an author and creative writing coach. She has been coaching writers for over ten years, and worked with fiction, memoir and creative nonfiction writers. She has also worked with poets and screen writers.
You’ve envisioned a world where some large-scale event has wiped out hordes of humanity. Your characters are alive in your head, probably struggling to survive. You can see the blighted landscape all around you. What do you need to do now?
There are a few things that must be part of your post-apocalyptic story, or you have no story.
~An apocalyptic event.
That’s right, you can’t have a post-apocalyptic world without something that got them there. What will yours be? Viral, bacterial, natural, man-made, space-related or nuclear? These are all options, and there are probably plenty more. Did the swine flu get out of hand? Was it helped by humanity or just one of those things that happens in nature? Did the Earth tilt too far off its axis? Did nuclear Hell flame rain down upon the continents? There must be a reason the people in your story are stuck in this particular landscape.
~A time frame.
Are they living through the event or has it already happened? Is it fresh or decades down the line? You have to know when it happened and what stage humanity is in to really tell your story. If it happened decades ago, the landscape is going to be significantly different than if it just happened yesterday. Quality of life will also probably be very different. If they’ve been coping for decades, they probably aren’t struggling to find food or water sources as much as if it just happened and everything is tainted or burning. If it’s a new problem, there will be mostly individuals and small groups, whereas a length of time may mean there are established towns/cities.
~A fully realized landscape.
World building is important in any story, but you need to build this post-apocalyptic world so that people see your vision of what it looks like. They must know what your characters’ reality looks like. Are there fires raging? Or is everything underwater? Are there bodies everywhere? Or has nature reclaimed what once was solely hers? Let us know what it is your characters are looking at. Make sure it makes sense for passage of time and the particular event that occurred.
We need to believe that these people can make it (or not, as the case may be). It must be a real struggle. We have to care whether they can survive, one way or another. Maybe we hate this guy so much that we question why he survived, when better people died. Maybe we love this character and desperately want to see her rebuild her life. Whichever characters you have, we must believe in them, and they must have a mission, of sorts. Does Evil Guy want to take over what remains of the world? Find natural resources to survive? Or just be left alone? Does Lovely Heroine have a child to fend for? Is she just trying to find a home she can call her own? What drives them? What are they trying to accomplish? This is important in every single kind of story you may write, but don’t get so intent on your world building that you forget your characters.
All right, we get it. The world has ended. The apocalypse has found us. Whoopty-doo. What is so important about this world that you just have to tell the story? What are we going to take away from this? I’m not talking about a moral (necessarily), but just a life story that means something to us when we read it. A violent post-apocalyptic world, where survivors are constantly under siege, does us no good if we don’t come out of the story feeling something. Perhaps you want us to know that humanity will always find a way to thrive. Or that love will always pull someone through. Whatever it is, make it part of your story.
There are many elements that are important in a story, but these are just a few of the top ones to keep in mind when writing a post-apocalyptic tale.
Looking for a few good reads?
Want to read a story that takes something familiar and turns it on its head, all the while showing us the strength of humanity and the power of good versus evil? Read Stephen King’s The Stand. Watch Book of Eli for another viewpoint. There’s also The Road, Mad Max, Water World (hey, I’m not saying these are all good), The Postman, Jericho and The Walking Dead for movies/television shows. For books, this link should take you to a comprehensive list of classic post-apocalyptic stories. Of course, The Hunger Games and Forest of Hands and Teeth should be on there. Also, I recently read Without Warning by John Birmingham, on a whim, and I enjoyed it. It was more a political/government/military-type book that took on what happened in those facets – so different than I’m used to for this genre, but also quite good.
I don’t know how The Marbury Lens and The Maze Runner are qualified, but I’d consider both to be sort of post-apocalyptic. We really aren’t sure with The Maze Runner, but we get a sense something big must have happened, and in The Marbury Lens, the alternative world he visits via the lens seems quite post-apocalyptic. Both are excellent books, though be aware that The Marbury Lens can be graphic or disturbing, despite being Young Adult.
The short of it is, fully realize your story so we can be drawn into it, feel for your characters, smell the fires, feel a sniffle coming on as everyone dies of the Hulk of flu bugs. Watch some of these movies or read some of the books (or both) and figure out what you like in them, so you can duplicate that, in a sense.
A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in anthologies and magazines, including Once Upon a Scream, Dark Moon Digest, and Space and Time Magazine. Her first solo collection of short stories, Blue Sludge Blues and Other Abominations, was released March 1, 2019. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.
No matter what genre you write in, the need for a crime scene of some sort may crop up somewhere in the course of writing your book. It is imperative for you to get your facts correct. You must respect the laws of how the human body reacts to violence, the mechanics of safe cracking, or the physics of an explosion.
In doing research for a new novel, not only was I treated to a tour of Colorado’s CBI Forensics lab, but I also attended a workshop presented by a forensics expert (thank you Sisters in Crime!).
Here are a few things I learned on the tour and at the workshop.
If an officer is hit in the protective vest
by a bullet, what does that really feel like? Like getting hit with a baseball
bat. The higher the caliber, the bigger the bat.
What can a pet’s nose print tell an
investigator? Nose prints from a dog or cat are unique in much the same way as
a human fingerprint. If you look closely at your pet’s nose you will see lines
and ridges that make their nose unique.
Does broken glass tell a tale? Broken
glass can tell you a few things, but the most basic is from which direction the
glass was hit. If it was hit from the outside inward, the glass lands inside.
Easy solution there. But what about multiple bullet holes in a windshield? Not
only can a forensics expert tell what order the holes were made in, but also
what direction they came from. [Side fact: a skull will shatter nearly the same
Diatoms? What the heck are diatoms? Algae.
It is found in fresh water, marine water, in soils, and decomposed bodies. But
they do not occur naturally in a living human body. If any diatoms are found
in, on, or around, a body, the investigator may be able to determine the
location of the crime. Diatoms vary by season and geographic location. They
even differ between those found along the shore vs the center of the same lake.
Today, aerial photography is done with
drones. It is the best way to get the layout of a crime scene and the area
around it. Rest assured CBI does not do surveillance with drones. That’s not
saying no one surveilles with drones. [Queue dramatic music.]
How long does it take to process DNA? Because
of a huge backlog at CBI, it takes 4-8 months to process. If there is a
priority on a case it can be faster. The process itself only takes 24-72 hours.
What do writers get
Miranda Rights are not read at the time of
an arrest. They are written out and the criminal must read and sign them when
they are processed into the system.
Cordite was used during the 1890’s in
elephant guns and has not been manufactured since 1945. It would not be smelled
at a crime scene. Put it in a revolver and it would explode.
At a homicide, evidence is not collected
in plastic bags. Especially not anything that may have biomaterial. Dump the
plastic and use paper. There are instances where a plastic bag is preferred for
evidence so do your research for the preferred method.
DNA information collected by the CBI, or
by companies like Ancestry.com, is never shared between agencies. If you send your
DNA sample to find a long lost relative, that information cannot, and is not,
used by law enforcement agencies. It is inadmissible to use it for a case
because there is no paper trail as to where that particular sample came from.
To further your research,
here are a few online resources:
Parker Police Ride-Along Program – This link is for information with the Parker, Colorado police department. Check with your local station to see if they have a program in your area.
Sisters in Crime – SinC has a plethora of resources and information regarding most aspects of crime. Whether you’re a fan of crime fiction, or a writer, you will have a vast resource at your fingertips.
Mythbusters – I loved this show, especially when they blew stuff up. Many of their shows were based on the what-ifs that found their way into TV and novels. MacGyver was one of their favorite shows to bust, but if you are looking for a twist in your story, this list will give you some explosive ideas.
If you should have a fight scene, murder, assault, robbery, or other type of criminal activity in your story DO YOUR RESEARCH. The entire scene, or even the entire novel, could be ruined by lazy research. Talk to police officers, detectives, or forensics experts before you publish. Take a tour or attend a workshop led by experts in the field. They will open your mind, and your writing, to the realities of true crime.
Managing Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym. You can catch up to her on her website or blog.
Congratulations to PPW’s Sweet Success Coordinator, Darby Karchut, who has a Sweet Success of her own!
Darby Karchut’s middle grade Western/fantasy mashup, DEL TORO MOON (2018 from Owl Hollow Press), recently won
the 2019 Colorado Book Award.
The book was also a 2018 Reading
the West Longlist Pick and 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Medalist. THE
RED CASKET, Book Two in the Del Toro Tales series, releases late fall 2019.
DEL TORO MOON
old Matt Del Toro is the greenest greenhorn in his family’s centuries-old
business: riding down and destroying wolf-like monsters, known as skinners.
Now, with those creatures multiplying, both in number and ferocity, Matt must
saddle up and match his father’s skills at monster whacking.
Matt has twelve hundred pounds of backup in his best friend—El Cid, an
Andalusian war stallion with the ability of human speech, more fighting savvy
than a medieval knight, and a heart as big and steadfast as the Rocky
horse power. Those skinners don’t stand a chance.
DEL TORO MOON (Book One in the Del Toro Tales series)
Darby Karchut is an author, dreamer, and
compulsive dawn greeter. A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills
of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in
blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When
not dodging death by Colorado,
Darby is busy wrangling words. Her
award-winning books include DEL TORO MOON and FINN FINNEGAN. Coolest thing
ever: her YA debut novel, GRIFFIN
RISING, has been optioned for film. Visit her at www.darbykarchut.com
As an author, you will almost always have doubts at one time or another about your writing. Is it good enough? Am I good enough? How does an author feel validated? You may have a case of Imposter Syndrome.
What exactly is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which
an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized
fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. You may feel inadequate or incompetent as a
writer despite evidence to the contrary.
What Equates Success?
My problem with Imposter Syndrome is that I sometimes
don’t feel validated as an author because I’m not “successful” in my eyes. But
what equates to success? Having a certain number of books out? If that means
success, then yes, I’m a successful author, having five books published and
three more coming out this year (well, that’s my goal, anyway). I’m not
prolific, but I’m trying to keep a steady pace of publishing books, with a goal
of one a year now. I know authors who do more, but in many cases, writing IS
their job. I work outside the home, so I have to plan my writing time around my
work days as well as watching my grandson on some days and evenings.
Does successful mean having lots of sales? In that
case, no, I’m not successful. I know of some indie authors who have weekly book
sales, and they are bummed when they don’t sell a book in one particular week.
I’d LOVE to have a book sold each week. My marketing skills suck, but I’m
trying to learn more about marketing through reading books, like Craig Martelle’s Become A Successful Indie Author, Unmarketing by Scott Stratten, and Online Marketing for Busy Authors by
Fauzia Burke. But I digress.
How about reviews on Goodreads and Amazon? I have a
few of those, and they make me feel good about being an author (the good ones,
anyway. The so-so ones leave me feeling like a fraud again). I’d love for a
random reader to say they just found my book on Amazon and read it and loved
it. I do have a couple of reviews from random readers, and they make me think,
well, maybe I do have a handle on
this writing thing.
How to Get Past it
How does one get over this sense of feeling like a
fraud? Well, writing can be an isolating career, so talk with other writers.
I’m sure they’ve felt the same way at some point in their career. Also, remind
yourself of how hard you’ve worked to get where you’re at now. How many hours
have you spent writing and editing? Those add up to being successful.
Reflect on positive feedback. I know authors aren’t
supposed to read their book reviews, but that may help you to realize you are
not a fraud. If you don’t have a book published yet, what positive feedback
have you received from critique groups and beta readers? Focus on that.
A lot of people know that I’m an author and when they mention
me and how many books I’ve published, I feel kind of embarrassed, because I
don’t feel successful in my eyes. I don’t claim to know everything about
writing and that’s why I go to writer’s conferences and workshops as often as I
can to keep learning about the craft, and like I said above, I read a lot. I
enjoy learning because it helps me to become a better author and maybe with
that and the steps above I will overcome Imposter Syndrome and I’ll finally
feel validated as a writer.
Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: email@example.com.
As Evalycer gets more
involved with a group wanting to change a corrupt government, she struggles
between wanting change and doing the right thing. Part of The Elixir Series but
can be read as a stand alone book.
Margena has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, space opera, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Visit her website.
EVALYCER’S WAR: Novella in The Elixir Series. E-book; Science Fiction; novella; 118 pages Purchase at Amazon.com
Today I offer a peek behind the curtain to the struggles and triumphs of writing. Here is my advice to aspiring authors, while readers may find it interesting to learn what goes into the creation of their favorite fiction.
Pantser or Plotter?
Writers will ask whether you are a pantser or plotter. A pantser writes by the seat of his or her pants. Page one, blank screen – GO! A plotter creates an outline of the story before beginning. Many writers fall somewhere in between, doing some outlining, but not hesitating to depart from the outline if the story veers in a new direction. Which are you? It may take years of writing to decide. You may also discover that being a pantser works better for one story, while careful plotting is required for another. Experiment.
There may be anecdotes about people writing a best seller or classic in a weekend, or a matter of mere weeks. Good luck with that. My best work has taken time. Due to deadlines, that time is often compressed, but the work will not be cheated of the hours.
On that same note, don’t rush to get your work before agents, or push it prematurely into self-publication. After you have written “the end,” set your story aside. Days, a week or two, even a month will allow you a fresh perspective.
Don’t Quit the Day Job
When I first became published, I joked that I’d be able to earn my living from writing on the day I retired. Sadly, this is probably going to be the truth. The economic reality of writing is harsh. Short story author R. T. Lawton has quite a bit to say on this topic in his article, While We’re At It.
I’m not saying it can’t be done, but the majority of folks I know who are writing full time are retired, or are supported by a spouse. Be cautious before you leave that paying gig. A steady paycheck, health insurance, pension, and paid vacation are non-existent for the self-employed writer.
Learn the Business
As budding authors, we crave learning the art and craft of writing, but the business end? Not so much. How can you learn, besides reading books or blogs? Join a writing group attended by successful authors. By joining the Mystery Writers of America, I was fortunate to meet published authors who freely shared their experiences at local chapter meetings. Libraries may offer writing workshops, or can direct you to local writers’ groups. If you attend a conference, include sessions on the business aspects of writing.
I’m not talking strictly about the financial side of business, although learning the best method to track your income and expenses is important at tax time. You will need to know how to write a synopsis. (Hint – you can’t do much better than Pam McCutcheon’s how-to book, Writing the Fiction Synopsis.) Where to find agents representing your style of fiction? What is the proper etiquette when pitching to an editor at a conference? If you want a career writing, treat it like any other business, and educate yourself.
Renew the Joy
Writers can burn out, just as in any profession. I have heard complaints from the entire spectrum of writers, whether unpublished or multi-published. At some point, it becomes a job. Maybe even drudgery. You begin to hate your story, dread sitting in front of the computer, and doubt your sanity for thinking you had the talent to write fiction. Before you throw in the towel, ask yourself some questions.
Who is stopping you? A negative person in your life? Someone who needs your attention, whether a child, a boss, or an elderly parent? Yourself? Can you turn the negativity into motivation? “I’ll show them – I am a writer!” Find a way to balance the needs of people in your life with your own goals. If you’re not happy and healthy, how can you be a good parent, spouse, employee, caretaker?
Why did you begin writing in the first place? A book inspired you? Did you escape pain through reading, and want to give someone else that gift? Do you have fond memories of being read to, or reading in a favorite comfy place? Revisit your earliest motivation to be a writer.
What did you have to say that was so important, you were willing to sacrifice other aspects of your life in order to hammer out words for hours on end? Is that message still valid? Your message, or theme, doesn’t have to be lofty. Distracting readers from their worries and problems with an entertaining story can be more valuable than any deep literary tome.
That moment will return when suddenly the words flow. The scenes click together. The characters jump off the page. You become lost in your own story. You remember the joy of writing, and why you started on this crazy journey.
You Can Do This
Even if you have to write in snatches of stolen time. Even if you have to battle doubts, whether from people around you, or yourself. A good deal of success in writing is mere persistence. That is a trait we can all nurture.
Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock
Shop Mystery series, while her short stories appear regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She takes a turn in the multi-author cozy mystery
series Secrets of the Castleton
Manor Library. Working in the world of hazardous substances regulation,
Catherine’s stories often have environmental or factory-based themes. Others
reflect her love of the Colorado mountains. The
two worlds collide in her murder mystery Survive
Or Die, where Deliverance meets
The Office. You can learn more about Catherine’s fiction at http://www.catherinedilts.com/ Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Mizushima is thrilled to announce that BURNING RIDGE, fourth in her
Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries (2018 from Crooked
Lane Books), has earned the following: listed in Best Books of 2018, Kings
River Life; Winner, Colorado Authors League Award for Ebook Fiction; Silver
Award, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards for mystery; Winner, Next Generation
Indies for Action-Adventure; Bronze Award, Foreword Indie Book of the Year
Awards for mystery; and Finalist, Colorado Book Awards for mystery. Margaret’s
fifth book, TRACKING GAME, will release November 12, 2019, and she is busy writing a
sixth episode in the series to be released fall of 2020.
When a charred body is
found on beautiful Redstone Ridge near Timber Creek, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her
dog Robo are called to investigate. But Mattie discovers a close personal
connection with the victim and soon finds herself the target of a killer.
BURNING RIDGE: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
978-1-68331-778-4; Mystery; Hardcover; 281 pages
Purchase: Online booksellers and bookstores near you.
Margaret Mizushima is the award-winning author of the
internationally published and critically acclaimed Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries,
including Burning Ridge, named a Best Book of 2018 by Kings River
Life. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves on the board
for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of
America and was nominated for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the
Year award. She lives in Colorado
on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters
and a multitude of animals. Visit her at www.margaretmizushima.com.
Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut. If you have a success story to share please got to the Sweet Success form.
Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and
compulsive dawn greeter. A native of New
Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in
lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy wrangling words. Her
thirteenth book, DEL TORO MOON, a middle grade western/fantasy mashup (Owl
Hollow Press) is the 2019 Colorado Book Award Winner-Juvenile Literature
Visit the author at her website: www.darbykarchut.com.