Monday, July 27, 2015

Write Away the Writer's Block

Wait, What?

That's right, write away writer's block.  Allow me to back up a bit here...

Writing is my passion. I don't care if I am writing for my blog, working on my latest mystery, or polishing up a children's book, I enjoy the writing process. Which is odd because I didn't do so well in English class and I sure didn't enjoy writing the essay assignments I was given.

But, now, I love to write. And, like every writer out there, I too experience writer's block.  If James Patterson admits to hitting a wall from time to time, I think it is okay to admit it as well.

It's not easy to get into a groove, but once I do, its great. Characters are working together, the scenes flow and the conflict is great and the resolutions are hard to see, which is preferable. I don't want an easy-way-out solution, I like solutions that are not all that obvious and have a twist to them. The solution is "XXX"  but it reveals something else, something new, something unexpected.

It's nice when the grove is there. but when the groove falls flat, like now; I am working on this article because my story has gone flat. My hero is interrogating someone and I cant find a viable path. I have several ways to go, but nothing is jumping out at me. So I have what some may call writer's block. It's sometimes harder to get back into the groove once you get kicked out.

I don't like to call it writer's "BLOCK" because I am not really blocked, I just hit some dead air, a lull in the story-line, an air pocket, if you will. The writing just went flat for this specific scene. I can still write, just not on this specific scene. I have my own method to get over the block, or to get back on track and into the groove, but I was curious what others do, so, off to Google I went. I found some things that other writers do to get out of the lull, the rut, get around the obstacle.

Some writers:
Get physical: ride a bike, take a walk, do something physical –exorcise, hunt down the pesky squirrel in the back yard, build a barge and launch it in the nearest lake.

Change of Scenery: Taking a walk as mentioned above will give you a change of scenery. Like me, for instance—I work from home so the four walls in my basement tend to close in on me so every other morning or so I head to the nearest Mickey D's  for some Vitamin C (“C” is for coffee). The drive is only about ten minutes, so this is a quick escape.

Put it away till the next day and start over: I have done this before but it is not my favorite way to get past the blocked words. If I am not careful, I put it away and get distracted by some other project and before you know it, six months have flown by.

Some even take a nap: I cant even take a nap on Sunday afternoon after church. There is too much to do and –I don’t k now about you… but I only get 24 hours in a day.

Me, I write.
Since I write on my laptop, and everything is electronic these days, I simply open a Notepad file and start typing.

I may start a 435 word sentence that makes no sense grammatically and has run-on sentences all over the place and just goes and goes until I hit the key point that the guy I killed was part of the inner-circle of some secret society like… theMob.... naaaa....the opera.... nope....the Government....or… um….ILLUMINATI…. or a 33 degree free-mason ….. yeah that’s it. And he tried to get out which is what got him killed. And BAM! Just like that I am back on track with my plot. Now the proverbial juices are flowing once again.

Writing, no matter how plain, dull, bland, senseless it is, gets me going again. For me, when I am writing about everything or nothing in general is like priming the water pump to get the water flowing again. For me, writing gets me writing again.

Now, this might not work for you when you hit your road block and develop Writer’s Block, and you may have something else that works for you.

Take a ride on your bicycle, a walk, a drive, work out, read a book, start over in the morning, call a fried, take a break and watch the three stooges marathon, watch another episode of Castle.

Whatever works for you do it so you can keep writing. For me, if I don’t write during a day, I feel like I have failed. I must write every day. It’s –for me at least- like working out. When I am in my groove and I skip a day, I feel lousy. Writing is the same thing. I gotta’ write to feel like I accomplished something that day.

I hope this works or helps you out.
What do you do to overcome Writer’s Block? Leave me a quick note or on twitter and lend your method of getting over writer's block. It may help other authors.

--Steve                                           .

Sunday, June 7, 2015

If You Write It, They Will Come

Before I self-published my first book, I researched how to find an agent, editor, or a publisher. I sent manuscripts to agents and editors which, incidentally, jump-started my rejection collection.

While searching, I found a ton of advice that seemed worthy:

How-to-craft-your-query-letter advice.
Lists of new agents looking for new authors, fiction and non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry... You name it.

I downloaded and read many e-books on how to get the attention of, or get in front of, agents and publishers.

I  refined my Google search parameters to get a new group of search results of possible advice to get my prose in front of an agent -or at least a little bit closer to publication.

One thing I found constant in every google search group, the piece of advice that remained constant in the realm of publication, regardless of how I tweaked my Google search, one piece of advice kept showing up was so simple, it seemed like a bogus answer. 

That advice was this: Self-publish your book. If your work is good enough, editors and agents will find it and reach out to you.

Write the best manuscript you can write. Edit it yourself, or hire a pro to edit your work. But put together your best work. Period.

There may be more, but I found two resources where one can publish their work: and

I have used both. Createspace walks you through everything and when you click a button, at the end of the process, your book will be on Amazon in E-Book format as well as paperback. Cool Huh?

For smashwords, they also hold your hand throughout the process and at the end publish your book on many formats and locations. The I-Store, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo and several others. All you have to do is add a little comment at the beginning saying it is published at Smashwords or something along those lines. Here is their example from their site:

Book Title
FirstName LastName
Copyright 2010 by FirstName LastName
Smashwords Edition

The cover is very important. Even though the saying is, "Don't judge a book by its cover", we all do it, right. So, keep that in mind when you are working on the cover for your book. The cover is MEGA important. You might want to hire a pro for the cover.

This advice that I saw, do it your self and the agents will come to you, sounded like a pipe dream, a scam, a false hope, but let me say this... IT IS TRUE. THIS CAN HAPPEN. I am living proof of that.

This is just what happened to me. I write this blog post today not to brag on or even promote my books, I won't even post the titles of my books. I post this not to lay claim to being as good a writer as King, Koontz, or Cannell. I post this to let you know that it is possible to get noticed by those in the world of traditional publishing.

I was at home one evening going through my e-mail and saw an e-mail that stated my book title in the subject so I clicked on it. It was from a person claiming to be an editor with Skyhorse Publishing in New York wanting to work on a project with me.

A big red flag went up. My self-published book had been out less than a year. I didn't think this person was legit. I played along though, waiting to see how long it would take before they ask me for money. all the while looking into Skyhorse Publishing. 

WORD OF WARNING!          If a "publisher" asks for YOUR money, to publish YOUR book, It is more than likely a scam. Maybe not, but more than likely. Just be careful.

Back to my story... "I replied with yes, I would love to work with you..." The whole time keeping my shields up and waiting for the shoe to drop. (spoiler alert -- Skyhorse is legit, and we are working well together.)

We agreed on a title, cover design, I sent in pictures, sent the book in the format she requested, and before I knew it I got a check in the mail for the first half of my advance. One half now and the other half after the book is released. This is standard.

My self-published book caught the eye of an editor, of a publishing company, and they contacted me. It was just like I read about in my search for an editor. If you write a book, and that book is good enough, agents, editors and the like will contact you. WOW, this really does happen. Cool.

I gotta say, it was a great feeling. Luckily I was already working on another book when she reached out to me and she agreed to publish it. Which hit the shelves in May of 2015.

So, if you are trying to hook in a publisher, editor, or an agent, you may want to direct all that energy from researching agents, and trying to craft the perfect query letter, into writing. You are, after all, a writer, right? Well, Write, don't look for an editor, Write for crying out loud. just write. And maybe they will come looking for you.

If you do get a letter from someone at Skyhorse Publishing in New York, I would go for it. I had a very good experience with them. and working on other projects as well. They are a great group of folks.

But for now...Write, you writer, write.

See you on the shelf one day.