Sir Terry Pratchett Dead at 66

Four years ago I had never heard of a Nac Mac Feegle, the Wintersmith, or Tiffany Aching. My friend Josh told me about the Feegles and Tiffany’s three books in the Discworld cannon created by Sir Terry Pratchett and for some reason, unlike most other things, it stuck there.

A year or so later I was looking for an audio book at the local library and noticed a picture of a funny little man on the front of one of them. It was a Nac Mac Feegle of course, and I soon remembered Josh’s recommendation.

The book is so deliciously good that I make it a priority to listen/read it every year. The Wee Free Men is the first book in the three Wintersmithpart series, but this is my favorite.

When I heard about the death of Sir Pratchett, I was sad of course, but not just because he was gone. I was sad because Tiffany will have no more stories. He may never have planned to write any but I pictured Tiffany Aching getting older and wilder and ending up like Granny Aching, living among the green hills in the Chalk, tending sheep and any livestock brought to her, all the while trying to keep the Nac Mac Feegles from running off and roasting one of them.

In my challenge for reading this month I said read something out of the ordinary. If you are still looking, Sir Pratchett’s books are certainly that. They are full of adventure, warmth, and the wit and humor only Sir Terry Pratchett could bring.

Cheers,

Bob

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For Lent I’m Giving Up Lazy

The other day my writer friend Josh Mosey sent me an email asking how I was doing. He was concerned and a said I was not acting like my usual self when he saw me last.

He was right.

I was not writing and I knew it and was unhappy about it. Where I saw Josh was significant. I saw him at a book signing/release party for a world renown theologian from Austraila. I sent an email back asking for accountability with my writing. I was fed up with my laissez-faire attitude toward the craft.

He responded with the worst possible answer for my lazy self.Ash Wednesday

“Okay. But what is your plan? And how can I keep you accountable to it?”

I started began to reply with – jerk – but then relented and instead decided to lay out a concrete plan about what I wanted to accomplish.

If I am honest, I was just complaining. I did not expect such a brilliant response or that this would spawn something good. But it did and I am grateful for the question.

If am to give up lazy for Lent, it means I must reorganize my priorities. I love hockey but I won’t watch as much now. I need sleep, but this means sleeping less.

So thank you Josh and watch out faith, writing career, and chores.

I’m coming for you this Lenten season.

Cheers,

Bob

On Hustling With Afterburners

I have thousands of hopes for my writing. I would love publish a full length novel, become somewhat of a professional blogger, and even launch several websites to share some of my passions.

The problem with this is the silly old thing we call time. Or is it?

There are many nights I stay up late reading, or sometimes (like tonight), writing. Like many writers I cringe when people refer to my work as a hobby but if I am honest with myself, I treat it that way from time to time. I casually poke at a book or think of ideas for websites but never dive in. I try a consistent, dull trudge of activity but there are times when I feel a project requires more than a steady plod to get it off the ground and get some momentum.

Enter Jon Acuff and the term “hustle.” What does that mean exactly?

It means afterburners.Blastoff!

It means focusing less on sleeping and more on getting that website off the ground. There are times for a simple plod, yes. But there are also times to give a magnanimous shove, burning everything you have, in order to take whatever that thing is you have always wanted to do to the next level.

What is it that thing you’ve been wanting to do but have not dedicated yourself to it? Not just making it a discipline and a habit, but making it a passion and giving it all you have to get it going?

I’ll share more about my latest project later this week, but until then – exhaust yourself.

Cheers,

Bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jot Presenter Interview – What Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters

Get ready West Michigan. Jot 3 the GR mini writers conference is next week March 14th!

We have reached out to each presenter for an interview to help the audience get to know them better before the conference. Even if you are not in West Michigan, or on this side of the world, I wanted to include the information here on my blog.

For the ful list of presenters, please go here.jot

The link to Indie author Thomas McClurg’s interview on What Novelists Can Learn from Screenwriters is here.

We hope to see you at the conference!

Cheers,

Bob

The Entrepreneurial Writer – Books are Business

I’ve read it everywhere. Being an author is different now than it was ten to twenty years ago. I don’t mean that there are technological advancements like the smart phone and that interweb thingy. What I mean is, you don’t write a novel, send it in, and then wait for the royalties. Writing is a job, a venture for the serious, hard worker. If you are immersed in the writing world, you already know this. But, if you are trying to grow from a budding pre-published author to a hardened professional, how do you get there?

Business
Would you let me do an author talk at your store? Please?

I work in the world of business. Some might think it greasy, but there are things I really enjoy about it. The company I work for is an ESOP company, an employee owned company. We are also in the industry of wage reporting which is changing from paper to electronic reporting and remaining relevant is of vital importance if we all want to keep our jobs and retirement accounts. What is nice about this sort of business environment is that there is a lot of input and exploring of methods and trends coupled with a yearning to always be advancing forward. Each employee depends on the other to pull their weight, because the money earned each day does not go into an owners’ coffer but an employees’. There is a spirit of entrepreneurship, which transcends all we do.

As an author, I think it is wise if we maintain the same spirit. We must understand how people are purchasing books.

  • What are the emerging writing markets/publishers/genres right now?
  • Is self-publishing a wise decision at this time or is the traditional route a better fit?
  • If we are to self-published we must certainly investing in professional editing and cover layout, but where do you go to get that information?
  • And how much should we spend on it?
  • How about hybrid publishing, doing a small press print contract and then taking on some self publishing gigs?
  • How do readers hear about new books in your genre, is it goodreads? Promotional Tweeting companies? 

These are all valid questions that we should be seeking answers to. They might seem more relevant to a self-pubishing writer, after all the publishing house will take care of all of these things right? Wrong. You need to market your book just as much as they are. What if you reach out to the wrong publishing house or miss a cultural shift in the general public’s reading taste buds, will you ever sell the book you are writing?

There are a lot of mistakes to be made and a lot of avenues to consider when you want to make writing a career. Social media is certainly a huge part of it, but also keeping up with these trends as well. It would be awful to discover the content of your novel was popular a decade ago or that a lot of new books are discovered on a social media platform other than the one you are using.

I do my best to dig into these things myself. I want to be an educated writer so when the time comes I can make the best decision for my work. You are writing a book, but you are also launching a small business.

How about you? Have you discovered great websites or magazines or classes to help you in your writing? Let the readers know in the comments below.

Cheers,

Bob

Small Victories

Magnofying glassLess than two weeks ago I read a blogpost that mentioned a small press was doing a free critique weekend. I even posted it on my own blog here. A big thank you to Jennifer M Eaton for mentioning it. They would take the first five pages of your work and give you honest feedback, no strings attached. This is not a submission but part of their free critique weekend. I figured I am on a high of finishing my draft and as it is submitted, I could do with a good beating. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Thank you for taking part in our Tender Love Critique Weekend!

Your story starts off with a bang and I must say that I was immediately sucked in, even from just the first five pages! After reading your short sample, I’m curious about the world you have built and eager to learn more about it.

Please find attached your submission, which I have made notes on — one of which is that I caution you to be aware of overused words. You’ll see that I have highlighted frequently used words, which can potentially pull readers out of the story. 

I hope you find my critiques helpful and that when you have finished your novel you consider Lycaon Press/Breathless Press as a potential publisher, as it is our hope to encourage writers everywhere in their pursuit of writing.

Writing is a lonely pursuit at times. It was encouraging to have someone who is not my friend or family member validate my hard work. It was a small victory and sometimes that is all we need to keep going to the next page, to the next word.

Keep writing today friends. That is the only tried and true method of success.

Cheers,

Bob

This Week Is Banned Books Week

If you missed it, this week was Banned Books Week. Yes, I am aware it is Friday so there is still a chance you could read one of these books. However, most are too long to finish in a few days unless you have cleared your schedule ahead of time and if that is the case you should probably supply me with the winning lottery numbers too. Seriously though, great job on that x-men like foresight ability.

There are a myriad of reasons a book might be considered banned: misrepresentation of a government, a religion, a socioeconomic class, overt use of sexuality, etcetera. Some are classics that shaped our required reading in high school or college. Others have fallen out of favor because of a shift in thought or advancement of culture. Nevertheless, these books have a place on this list because they pushed boundaries for good or ill.

Below are a few links to reference various sites that list these so call banned books. If you already have this list via your ability to read the future, well done once again. And send me those numbers when you can.

BannedBooksWeek.org

Five banned books that you should read (that you probably haven’t) via Forbes list.

100 Most Challenged Books – American Library Association

Keep writing.

Cheers,

Bob

Relive the Jot Writers Conference

Jot was great. It could not have been so without the attendees, excellent questions, conversations, and overall excitement about the craft of writing in whatever sense of the word that meant to those present.

Serious it was a madhouse. If you look closely you can see the Weaklings.
Seriously it was a madhouse. If you look closely you can see the Weaklings.

Though it has been a little over a week — thank you for coming. Sincerely, thank you on behalf of all of the members of the Weaklings.

If you missed Jot II or are wondering what Jot is and who the Weaklings are, you might want to follow the hyperlinks provided. The video stream starts about 30 minutes in. You do have to sign in using your Facebook account or create a free log-in.

This is a short post but I would just like to say: keep writing and keep dreaming. Keep doing what you do every day to move in the direction of these dreams amidst the very busy life you have.

Make a plan.

Find some semblance of a groove and don’t give up. You might be an inch away from that breakthrough or possibly, that contract.

Cheers,

Bob

Get Published In A Flash

If you are like me time is limited. Okay, we all have 24 hours in a day but I am specifically speaking to those with the magic formula for chaos – children, a full time job, and the dream of publishing a novel. So how does one do it all? How does a writer hone their craft and balance all the joys and thrills of a busy life?

This is where I introduce you to my friend and fellow writer Josh Mosey and his diabolical schemes er, flash fiction.

Josh introduced me to flash fiction about a year ago. When I heard about it I nearly laughed. Short stories in six words? Hilarious. However, he introduced me to a six word story that has been attributed to Hemingway –

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

Think about that. A very powerful six words.

Flash fiction ranges from 6-1000 words (about two pages). From our friends at Wikipedia it is defined as:

A style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity.[1] There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.

 So why spend time on condensed stories if you are an aspiring novelist? Glad you asked.

In honor of flash fiction I provide two short answers:

  1. You will learn to choose words wisely.
  2. You can make money at it. (view this link to websites actively looking for flash fiction)

If you’d like to hear more about this from the expert, see Josh’s video below from our writers conference a few months ago:

 http://youtu.be/X08HicQmPtw

In the meantime, work hard on your novel and as it gets dull or you get stuck, maybe take a day and try some flash fiction and submit it to one of the websites in the link above.

Cheers,

Bob

Holiday Reads

Christmas TreeAs we approach the holiday season I start to think of books. Books that I would like to read which remind me of this time of year.

My ideal time for reading would be late at night, snow is on the ground, all is quiet in the house and the room is solely illuminated by the lights of the Christmas tree. I remember doing this while I was young and still enjoy it now, only I drink coffee.

While I peruse my bookshelves I am reminded of several books that I would consider “Christmas reads”. Either because they are popular this time of year or because reading them gives me a sense of the season. My scant list is below. Please feel free to add your own favorite holiday reads in the comment section below.

  1. A Christmas Carol – The season just does not seem complete without Marley’s ghost, Ebenezer Scrooge and the lot. I try to read this every year. It’s only a hundred pages or so.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia (NOT the films) – Winter is a constant in Narnia when Peter, Edmond, Susan, and Lucy step through the wardrobe. The world is
    Marley's Ghost
    Marley was dead to begin with…

    never the same. I am starting with book one of the seven book children series in hopes of finishing by the New Year. Short and entertaining, a classic already.

  3. Luke chapter 2 – from the Bible. I remember my grandmother would recite this from memory just before we opened presents to remember why we celebrate this day and why it is important. I plan to do the same for my children keeping her tradition alive.
  4. Frankenstein – I know this looks like a typo. This is a Christmas list right? The myth is that Mary Shelley wrote this while cooped up as a vicious storm blew outside. Also, the book starts in the far north, during winter on a sailing vessel.  For some strange reason I am reminded of Christmas.
  5. Anything Dickens really – this is broad but my favorites this time of year are, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield.

My list is short, but this time of the year tends to be busy and I have to sneak in what I can. How about you? What do you like to read this time of year?

Cheers,

Bob