Tag Archives: Authors

The Things That #NonWritersSay

So tonight on Twitter, I started the #NonWritersSay hashtag because I was talking to some of my writer friends about that common experience we all share: being misunderstood by non-writers.

It’s something I see every day, especially in my tutoring job at Rowan University. I constantly hear students complain that they “hate writing” and how they never think they’ll be good writers. Then they trudge through the effort of writing a 3-4 page essay. When I tell them I wrote a novel and it’s 100,000 words long, they inevitably say things like, “How can you write so much?” or “Was it hard to write?” or “Is it any good?”

I hear the same things from other sources as well. Friends will ask me “Do you sell a lot of copies?” or “How much money does it make?” without realizing those questions are kind of awkward and they make me uncomfortable.

Or non-writers who don’t understand the process of writing and revision will ask me things like “Why does it take you so long?” or “Why do you need to revise so many times?” These are questions that pretty much every writer has to deal with, and sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to answer. You want to shake the person and say, “Because writing is HARD!” Writing is a lot of work. It’s a full time job. And for most of us, it’s a full time job that you have to do while working another full time job to pay the bills. But you keep on doing it, because you have goals.

Most non-writers I know don’t understand the time and effort it takes to plot out a novel, go through several drafts, get it critiqued, get it edited, and get it out there into the world. I know people who write on roleplaying sites as a hobby, churning out a couple of pages a week and never revising them. They casually mention how maybe they’d like to turn their roleplaying characters into a book someday. That’s not to say you can’t do that; my novel, Manifestation, stemmed from characters that started off as part of one of those roleplaying games. But turning them into a book takes a lot of dedication, hard work, sleepless nights, and stress.

Sometimes I feel like people who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, bankers… anything that isn’t an “art” field, don’t really understand. Art is hard, and it leaves you poor. I imagine painters, musicians, and sculptors often feel the same way we writers do. As if they have to pour everything they have into something they’re passionate about, only to accept that it might turn out to be a failure. So many books get written, only to be rejected by publishers. Or they get published (whether traditional or indie) and never become bestsellers. And that’s hard to deal with when you put years of your life into a project.

Which is why I’m glad I know so many other writers on Twitter. I love being able to talk to them about my writing, to share my experiences with them, and to know they go through the same thing. It’s therapeutic. It makes me feel like I’m not alone.

Though of course, there is one very important thing that #WritersShouldSay: “You should be writing!”

So I’m going to try to get off Twitter for a little while and get some work done. These novels aren’t going to write themselves.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

You’re the First I’ve Ever Met

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker today.

I was at the Writing Center at Rowan University, where I tutor students and help them to (hopefully) become better writers. It’s an interesting job with some interesting people. As often happens at Rowan, the subject made its way around to the most common question you’ll ever hear as a college student: “What are you going to do when you graduate?”

I don’t have a good answer to that question. I don’t know what kind of day job I’m going to be getting. Though the real answer–the most honest one–is that I want to focus on being a professional writer.

Naturally, she asked, “So you want to publish books?”

And of course, I answered, “I’ve already published one.”

I’m a bit of a shy person, so I don’t go around shouting about my book to everyone I meet. So even though we’d worked together for some time, this was the first she’d heard about it. We had a short conversation about what the book is about (a girl with superpowers trying to survive in a world where magic is returning and going crazy), how long it took me to write (two years), and how the sales are going (an awkward question I avoid as much as I avoid telling people how much my day job pays). Once I got going, I got over my shyness and talked a bit about my book. Then my coworker said something that left me a bit speechless:

“You’re the first person I’ve ever known who published a book.”

I wasn’t sure how to react to that. I think I kind of blushed and stammered a bit. And I tried to think about who I knew that had written books.

The first that came to mind were my Rowan professors. Just listing the ones whose books I’ve actually read, there’s:

Red Dirt by Joe Samuel Starnes
Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough
Mimi Malloy, At Last! by Julia MacDonnell Chang
In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall by Sanford Tweedie

Then there’s a book written by one of my Rowan classmates, New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, edited by Joseph Berenato.

And that’s not counting people I know online, whether self- or traditionally-published.

It kind of makes me feel like I’ve joined some kind of elite club. Like a country club membership, only with less golf and rich old white men, and more awesome books for me to read. Which sounds like a really good deal to me.

And it’s not one of those “you can’t golf here if you’re not a member” clubs. Because people who read are totally a part of the club, or else there wouldn’t BE a club, right? So the only people who aren’t allowed in the club are people who don’t like books.

And they can join the club if they find a book they DO like, and they read it.

So that’s what you should do today. Read a book. Maybe one of the ones I just mentioned above. Or mine. Either way, you’ll be having more fun than playing country club golf.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Author Fragile Ego Syndrome

EMSStar-redwhitecopyMEDICAL ALERT

An epidemic has been spreading among a certain group of individuals. You may be at High Risk for AFES if you are in any of the following high-risk categories:

  • You stay up late at night, drinking coffee and mumbling about the inconvenient timing of your Muse
  • You speak in strange tongues and use words and phrases like MS, WIP, “Show, Don’t Tell,” character motivation, climax, turning point, YA, NA, and Query
  • You obsess over word counts and go on long rants about how a hyphenated word should count as two words, damn it, and you don’t care what the word processor says
  • You’re constantly looking for excuses to explain why you’ve neglected your fictional characters for so long
  • You cry when a loved one dies, then cry more when people tell you “It was just a fictional character!” (They’re real, damn it!)
  • You’ve been nodding along while reading this list
  • You simply hate when people ask you how your writing/revisions/sales are going (there’s no right answer)

If you show any of these warning signs, you might be an Author.

Authors should seek medical attention immediately if they show any symptoms of AFES, including but not limited to:

  • Nervous jitters when you send your WIP to be read by a CP, Beta, Agent, or Editor
  • The idea of friends/relatives reading your book makes you nauseous or lightheaded
  • You sit and stare at the monitor repeating, “I suck I suck I suck I suck…”
  • You ever made the mistake of reading the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads
  • You experience erections writing sprints lasting longer than four hours
  • You ever want to make a fort out of copies of your book so you can hide inside it forever

There is currently no known cure for AFES, but you can experience temporary symptom relief by writing a blog post about it.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Book Addictions

Hello. My name is Jason. And I’m addicted to books.

Yes, I bought all of those. Yes, I also bought several others that I found after I took the picture.
Yes, I bought all of those. Yes, I also bought several others that I found after I took the picture.

Today I went to Barnes & Noble for the first time in a long time. I do most of my book buying online these days, both for the convenience and for the ability to find used and/or out of print books that won’t be found on the bookshelves. Sometimes I search Amazon and find used books for a penny plus shipping, which basically means I pay $4.00 for a $10.00 book. Other times I use it to search inventories from around the country to find books I can’t find locally, such as when I ordered the first 28 or so books in Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, since my local bookstores usually only have a random selection of 5 or 6 of them. But the thing about shopping online is that it doesn’t have quite the same experience as wandering the bookshelves and searching for something that will just jump out at you.

Sometimes, you spot a new book in a long-running series, like Kristen Britain’s Mirror Sight that I didn’t even know was out until I walked past it. Sometimes it’s a classic like Beowulf or Gilgamesh that I had to wonder how I’d gone my whole life without reading yet. Or sometimes I just spot a cover and title so fascinating I can’t help but buy it:

There was no way to resist this.
There was no way to resist this.

Though living in the digital age makes the book buying experience a very different one than it was ten years ago. Such as when I tweeted the picture above, and then next thing I knew the author himself was tweeting me with a promise that I’ll like the book. It goes to show the inter-connectivity we’re experiencing with social media. I can only imagine how excited I’d be in the author’s shoes when I find someone tweeting about my book. I look forward to the day I come across a total stranger talking about my book and we can make a connection like that.

So maybe being a book addict isn’t such a bad thing. You meet interesting people, discover new stories you’d never thought you’d find, and you get to write blog posts about being an addict.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of reading to do before I get buried under a huge stack of hardbacks.

The Midnight Disease

I’m currently reading Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, a (so far) excellent book that was the basis for a movie starring Spiderman, Iron Man, and The American President. As a writer, I find the book rather interesting, since it’s all about writers and our various intricacies, phobias, and struggles. The narrator, for example, has been struggling with a manuscript for years and is lost in a meandering plot that he doesn’t know what to do with, while one of his students meanwhile struggles with depression and feelings of inadequacy in his own writing. Also, Robert Downey Jr. dates a transvestite.

Of particular interest in the novel is what the narrator calls “The Midnight Disease”:

“The midnight disease is a kind of emotional insomnia; at ever conscious moment its victim—even if he or she writes at dawn, or in the middle of the afternoon—feels like a person lying in a sweltering bedroom, with the window thrown open, looking up at a sky filled with stars and airplanes, listening to the narrative of a rattling blind, an ambulance, a fly trapped in a Coke bottle, while all around him the neighbours soundly sleep.”

― Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

It was interesting to read about this “disease” (which the writer mentions multiple times throughout the book when he notices the symptoms in others) considering my own current issues. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m afflicted with this disease, but I do show signs of some similar issues. Yesterday, for example, I spent a good part of the day in a bit of a daze (a symptom of my diagnosed episodic depression), struggling with feelings of inadequacy and the desire to write. I went to bed sometime around 3:00 in the morning, only to be forced back out of bed by a scene in my mind that wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down. I ended up being up another hour and a half after that, just trying to get the images out of my mind.

There’s this strange focus, or perhaps lack of focus that comes with being obsessed with a piece of writing. It’s hard to get it out of your mind, and you become so focused on it that you can’t concentrate on anything else. Sometimes it makes it hard to get other work done, or to find time to socialize or take care of your errands or other “important” things in your life. You look everywhere and see a possible scene to be described. You listen to the rain, thinking about what words you would use to describe the particular pattern of drizzle and downpour it shifts between every few minutes. You feel an ache in your back and you search for the descriptive prose to describe that certain spot over your right shoulder blade that tightens as if being pierced by an iron spike. Everything becomes a potential thing to be described, absorbed, and written about.

And then once it’s all written, you sit there and wonder, will they really see it the way I want them to?

I’m looking forward to finishing this WIP in the next few weeks. After it’s done, I’ll either start being able to sleep again, or else I’ll dive into the next book. I think we both know which of those it’ll be.

Meet Author Megan Joel Peterson

Hello all!

Today I’m proud to share with you the work of Megan Joel Peterson, an author friend of mine with two novels you should check out. Here’s some info about her books:

The Children and The Blood

Children and the Blood Cover

Book One of the Children and the Blood
By Megan Joel Peterson

Blurb

A forgotten life.

A secret war.

Eight years ago, an exploding gas main killed Ashley’s family and left her with a childhood she can’t remember. Eight years later, the forgotten past is behind her and life on her isolated farm is all she knows.

Until that past comes looking for her.

Until men with superhuman powers hunt her down in the night, determined to take everything she loves away from her again.

If you’re interested in checking out this book, you can find it in any of these places:

Amazon: Ebook and Paperback
Amazon UK: Ebook and Paperback
Barnes and Noble: Ebook and Paperback
iTunes
Kobo
Smashwords

Megan also has a sequel out:

Taliesin Ascendant

Taliesin Ascendant Cover

Book Two of the Children and the Blood
By Megan Joel Peterson

Blurb

The war isn’t over.

And new enemies await.

Life on the run hasn’t been easy, but so far, Ashe has survived. But now Carter has ordered her away from the Hunters to find her family’s people – an order she can’t refuse, no matter how much she wants to stay.

Following his command will bring her into an unknown world, however – a world filled with new enemies and old prejudices that will demand more of her than she can imagine, at a cost higher than she’ll ever be willing to pay.

You can find Megan’s second book in any of these places:

Amazon: Ebook and Paperback
Amazon UK: Ebook and Paperback
Barnes and Noble: Ebook and Paperback
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

Author Biography

Megan Joel Peterson-Summer 2013

Megan Joel Peterson lives somewhere between the cornfields of Illinois and fantasy worlds filled with magic. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Illinois, and has worked a little bit of everywhere over the years. Now she spends her days and nights creating new stories, and thinks writing is the best job she ever could have asked for.

Website: www.meganjoelpeterson.com
Blog: www.opalescentokapi.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/meganjoelpeterson
Twitter: www.twitter.com/meganjopeterson
Facebook: www.facebook.com/meganjoelpeterson
Google Plus: gplus.to/meganjoelpeterson
Tumblr: meganjoelpeterson.tumblr.com
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/meganjopeterson

* * *

I certainly hope you find Megan’s books intriguing and decide to go take a look. I also recommend you follow her on Twitter; she’s a very sweet and supportive person.

And if anyone else is interested in sharing information about their book and doing some cross-blog networking, email me at cantrellwriter@gmail.com.

Blog Hop

Okay, so two lovely ladies, Trisha “Red” Schmidt and Carey “Carey Bear” Torgeson, have both tagged me in this Blog Hop thing.

(Side note: both of their blogs are way prettier than mine. I need to fix this place up a bit.)

So, even though I think I was maybe supposed to wait until later in the week to do this, I’m certain to forget if I don’t do it now.  I’m supposed to answer the following questions, so here we go:

What is the working title of your book?

“Manifestation”

 Where did the idea come from for the book?

Over the past few years, I’ve written on several online collaborative writing and roleplaying sites. On those, I developed numerous characters, but two in particular always stood out to me as having potential to do a lot more. I decided to take those two characters and create my own story. It shares thematic elements with the plots of some of the collaborative sites I’d been in, but I took my own unique spin on it and developed it into a far-reaching plot.

What genre does your book fall under?

I could probably call it pre-apocalyptic modern fantasy sci fi romance with a touch of poetry. I think “Multigenre” is a cleaner way to say it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Gabriella Palladino was originally designed based on Anna Popplewell:

Anna Popplewell as Gabriella Palladino
Anna Popplewell as Gabriella Palladino

The fact that she has a bow is NOT a coincidence (hint hint Book Two hint).

Minerva “Tock” Zipporah is based on Alison Scagliotti:

Alison Scagliotti as Minerva Zipporah
Alison Scagliotti as Minerva Zipporah

Red hair, leather vest, awesome steampunk-style goggles.  Just give her a big tool belt and BAM, Tock.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The return of magic to a world that has dismissed it as myth and legend, with disastrous results as the ones who manifest these powers struggle to understand and control them.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Undecided as of yet. My main struggle with this question is the balance between a) the better chance of success/better marketing/more money that would come from traditional publication vs. b) the freedom to do as I wish that would come with independent publication.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started it in September 2012, and finished it in December. I’m working on Draft Three right now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm. Considering I can’t exactly fit it into the same genre as most books I’ve read, that’s a bit tough to answer. Most “Modern Fantasy” books and movies seem to accept that magic has existed for some time, and just been kept hidden from the public. There are elements of the story that are similar to the TV show “Heroes,” following the idea of people learning about their powers while living in a modern world. But my story is designed to follow more of a “magic and wizards” angle rather than “superheroes.” Plus many of the important elements of the long-term plot won’t appear until Book Two, where some steampunk/science fiction elements start to play a big role.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Some of the original ideas came from the old collaborative writing, which gave me the ideas for where the characters would develop, what would happen in their lives, and how they would react to the changes. The main plot itself then evolved from taking these characters, removing them from the old “world” I first wrote them in, and creating a new world designed around their developmental paths.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the things many people seem to find most interesting is the in-character diary and poetry that Gabby writes throughout the story. This gives the reader a close-in glimpse of her thoughts and feelings as she reacts to the chaos and changes that are taking place in her life. The poems especially are a indication of the emotional development she goes through during the course of the story.

On a related note, yet another lovely lady, Mari “Doesn’t Have A Nickname Yet” Wells, nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog Award.”  Being the slacker that I am (Read: too busy revising my novel to work on the blog), I kept putting it off.  So I’m gonna kill two blog posts with one stone and post the award-related stuff here as well.

Here is the “One Lovely Blog Award”:

one-lovely-blog-award

And there are rules, which I shall re-post here to pass them along:

The Rules
These are the rules, should you choose to accept them:

Thank the person who nominated you (manners, people! manners!)
Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post.
Share 7 things about you.
Pass the award on to seven nominees
Include this set of rules (important, otherwise confusion and mass hysteria ensues
Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

7 Things About Me:

  1. I am a student at Rowan University with a major in Writing Arts and a minor in Communication Studies.
  2. I was originally a Computer Science major, but switched when I was bored with computers and instead spent my time writing stories in my notebooks.
  3. I also wrote another unpublished novel draft, “Rogue Traveler,” which is about time travel.
  4. I was engaged two years ago, until my cheating whore of an Ex cheated on me.  Good riddance.
  5. I’ve been writing since I was 11 years old, and still have the first story I ever wrote (a Halloween horror story).
  6. I like to play video games, especially Final Fantasy
  7. I have a recent obsession with Steampunk.

And now, the “Blog Hop” tells me I’m supposed to nominate 5 new people for it. And the “One Lovely Blog Award” tells me I’m supposed to nominate 7 new people for it.  So since I’m a no-good cheater, I’m gonna merge those lists into one (If someone listed has already received ONE of these awards, just do the other one instead!):

  1. Kai Kiriyama
  2. Mari Wells
  3. Carey Torgeson
  4. Trisha Schmidt
  5. Cylithria Dubois
  6. Casey Roach
  7. Leanne Creamer

So, all of you people, you’re nominated for BOTH!  For the Blog Hop, post the answers to the following questions on your blog:

What is the working title of your book?
 
Where did the idea come from for the book?
 
What genre does your book fall under?
 
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
 
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
 
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
 
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Then pass it along to 5 more people.

For the “One Lovely Blog Award,” follow the rules listed here:

Thank the person who nominated you (manners, people! manners!)
Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post.
Share 7 things about you.
Pass the award on to seven nominees
Include this set of rules (important, otherwise confusion and mass hysteria ensues
Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

And that, as they say, is that!