How Do You Write During a Crisis?

April 8, 2020

Writing can be lonely work in the best of times.

As we’ve entered the national emergency collective state, the news about COVID-19 has become pretty much all anyone can think about. It certainly made concentrating on this blog, not to mention my fiction writing, hard to get started.

And then I realized that what I actually wanted to talk about hasn’t changed much at all.

Even though I’m no longer young, I’m very lucky and grateful to be healthy and able to work at home.

What this ordeal has made clear to me, though, is how deep my lack-based thinking goes. My house is paid for. The pantry and freezer are full. My spectacular bride and one of my sons are with me. How I can look at my fully-stocked pantry and fixate on the fact I didn’t buy an extra bag of rice?

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? This is a moment when we are all forced into stillness with everything, including our fears. But it can also be an excellent opportunity to learn how to take better care of ourselves and each other.

And those are lessons that extend to our creative process.

If you find yourself at home now with hours of time that could be spent writing, but you can’t seem to get started…it’s all right. You don’t have to.

I’m going to say that again, you do not have to write. If you want to, great. If it makes you feel good, by all means, do it.

But if you’re too scattered, distracted or unfocused, as I sometimes am, give yourself a pass. After all, our very foundations are being stress-tested right now. At this moment, we are certainly not in a position to force ourselves into productive shapes.

Consider Not What You Want, But What You Need
We do not have to create. We can find space for more. We can re-read a book we love. Watch a movie. Binge watch Netflix.

More than that, we can check on elderly neighbors or bake a pie (well, my wife would probably chase me out of the kitchen for that one). We can donate to our community food bank or watch a whole season of reality television in an afternoon, because it makes us laugh and keeps us sane.

Several of my friends, including one who now lives in Florida, sit in our respective houses and text each other every weeknight during the televised game show Jeopardy, answering the questions as if we were still going to the local pub for trivia. It’s not the same, of course, but we all enjoy it, and it’s the fastest half hour of the week.

We can use these moments, if we are healthy, safe, secure and lucky enough to have our friends and all of those other things, to get clear on what really feeds us. And then to give it to ourselves with no strings attached.

Then later, whenever we’re ready and that beam of sunlight finally breaks through, we can write.

Stay safe.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

When Things are Dramatically Complete

March 20, 2020

Photo: Kromlau Bridge (also known as Devil’s Bridge) in Gablenz, Germany

I don’t think anyone would argue writing fiction, whether it’s a novel or a short-story, is a craft. One that requires an adept handling of many elements. But what does adept handling mean?

Every author is different, of course.

Lately, like a lot of folks during this coronavirus scare, I’m stuck in the house…and I’m writing. I think it’s worth mentioning again that I don’t write to an outline. In other words, I don’t plan ahead before drafting my stories.

The reason?

It’s simple. I don’t want to know beforehand what’s going to happen. If I know the direction it’s going to take, it probably won’t be a good book, because I write to find out what the characters have to tell me.

If I already know, it will bore me…and I’ll likely bore the reader, too.

I shoot for an organic development that leads the characters, and the reader, to a place where each character, for better or worse, is somewhere new. Sometimes, like in the picture above, that might seem like it’s right back at the beginning.

But, if I’ve done it right, they are there in such a way they have grown measurably, and perhaps actually know that place for the first time. Dramatically, they are complete.

It’s Never One Size Fits All
But keep in mind that in fiction, just like in life, one size never fits all. Even the blank spaces, the things that are left unsaid, should be unspoken for a reason.

I’ve been writing for years, but I’m still amazed how stories evolve as you work on them. For instance, some of my writing comes out in long bursts of prose, while some seems to go on the page at a plodding pace. It can be frustrating.

However, regardless of the pace, I always consider two key questions: What is absolutely necessary to telling the story and, perhaps more important, how can the author know this?

A good story is an emotional labyrinth, after all, a maze you find your way through as the characters tell you about it. Well-done stories can transport readers and ignite imaginations…but crafting them is easier said than done.

The imagined world you create in your writing can be liberating. It can also be a daunting challenge. After all, if you plan to welcome readers into that world of your creation, it has to be somewhere they, as an audience, will want to live…at least for a short time.

Focus on the Details
World-building does not mean you have to throw everything about day-to-day reality out the window. Always remember…no matter where they are, people are people.

Build your stories around a core of realistic characters and relatable behavior, and it will make your imagined world that much more captivating. The more you can strategically and artistically throw in such content, the more engrossing your world will feel to readers.

Few things turn a reader off faster than a world that doesn’t make sense or, worse, refuses to play by its own rules. After all, readers give an author the benefit of the doubt when they suspend disbelief and allow themselves to live in your world.

Making the imagined worlds internally consistent is the responsibility authors owe them in return. As the writer, give yourself space to explore and discover your new world in the same way your readers will when it’s their turn to experience it.

Believe me, it will be an immense benefit to your efforts.

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The book-signing scheduled at the Leon & Lulu Books and Authors Event in Clawson on March 22, 2020 has been postponed. Please check their website for updates.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Things That Shouldn’t Surprise You Much About Self-Publishing

March 3, 2020


Starting off in self-publishing can seem like a perilous journey. I know it did for me.

Getting into a new venture is always both exciting and scary, at the same time. Exciting to be doing something new, but scary because you don’t necessarily know what to do first…or even how to sound like you know what you’re doing.

Sometimes it’s good to just kick back, push off any deadlines (real or imagined), turn off the phone, and daydream a little.

After all, if you’re self-employed author, doesn’t that mean you get to goof off once in a while? That you’re the boss, not that pesky little nagging voice in your head?

Like I said…scary. But you pick it up soon enough.

As you move forward you have to keep your bearings. That means you remember what your destination was when you set out from shore, and you keep aiming for that destination until you get there.

Self-Publishing is Not a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme
Believe me, I know. I’ve had several Readers’ Favorite medal winners, so I think I’ve been doing reasonably well. But I’m sure you’ve heard me say I only make enough to take my beautiful bride out to dinner once in a while. I keep writing because I feel I have things to say.

So, it’s a good thing I retired from a good nine-to-five that put bread on the table.

Yet, new self-publishers have that gleam in the eye. They’ve read the success stories. It obviously happened to others. Why not them?

But I’m willing to bet you didn’t start writing to make a killing on the internet. You had something else in mind. Maybe just to have a memento to share, or a family keepsake. Perhaps it was as simple as my plan. Something to do.

Remembering that, it has actually guided me well.

I’ve always been impressed by the collegiality of publishing. Maybe it’s because few books compete directly with each other, but people in publishing…particularly authors in indie publishing…are extraordinarily helpful to newcomers. And a bonus: they’re pretty literate, too!

I mean, just wander around Amazon for a while and take in the richness of interests displayed there. Whatever you’re interested in writing, there are undoubtedly people interested in reading it. You just have to find them.

That’s where things like this blog, a Twitter presence, a Book of Face page, or other social media sites are so important. You will discover the need for a platform. Fortunately, one of the great things about social media is that it’s so social.

The single most important thing is to “Be the Market”

Take the time for book-signings, and promote them yourself, if no one else will. If you are part of the market that’s interested in the subject you’ve written about, particularly in fiction, you’re at an advantage. You know what those people like. The fact you’ve surmounted that reader hurdle, and are able to talk about it or, better yet, write about it, all adds up to a book with value.

None of these things may surprise you, but they bear repeating, and remembering, too. The availability and diversity of self-publishing makes it one of the greatest opportunities of the new media age.

Well, there you have it. Now get busy and write.

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The reading and book-signing scheduled for 7:00pm on March 16, at the Detroit Working Writers Springing to Mind Fantasy Event at the Royal Oak Library has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

The book-signing from 11:00am-5:00pm at the Leon & Lulu Books and Authors Event in Clawson on March 22, 2020 is still up in the air, for the same reason. Please check their website for updates.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


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