A slight delay while I’m crowdfunding…

This is embarrassing.

It seems my work with crowdfunding has caused me to fall behind with my pre-scheduled writing exercise posts.

The exercises will return shortly!

In the meantime, help me get the pre-order numbers up for Far Flung. Your help will help me create the best sci-fi experience I can!

pre-order far flung

An #IWSG post for my Birthday – Crowdfunding for a Novel

It’s still June 7 for a big portion of this blog’s audience, my 41st birthday.

When your kids choose your birthday cake.

It’s been very encouraging to see my Facebook feed go crazy, and my family treated me to a cake and some other yummy goodness. A pretty good birthday all around!

This post will talk a little about fundraising for books

Some friends even pre-ordered my book from my campaign – a great birthday present!

For IWSG folks visiting today, I’ll put in a little advice about crowdfunding so that this isn’t a total hijack of the hashtag and group just to promote my campaign.

So I’ve been crowdfunding for a book…

I jumped into crowdfunding for Far Flung because of a contest at Inkshares (a crowdfunding site specifically for books). I wouldn’t have started otherwise – the book is in its third draft, and could really use beta readers and other revisions for the best shot. However, this contest will award a publishing deal for the top 3 books in terms of pre-orders. Normally, a book would need 250 preorders to get a basic publishing deal on Inkshares, and 750 preorders to get a fully, professionally edited and promoted book deal. This looked like a chance to get my foot in the door with a lower number of pre-orders.

What to expect if you crowdfund

Unless there’s a contest like this one, you’ll have to get a whole lot of pre-orders for your book if you decide to do it this way. Whether you use Inkshares, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or whatever, it takes a lot of funds and a lot of promotion. Tell everybody you know, everybody you’ve ever contacted about the campaign and why you are doing it. Tell people you don’t know too – use Twitter, Facebook, your blog (Hello!) and whatever else you can think of. Lose the shame.

At first you might feel like you lose self-respect – but actually, as you work to craft your pitch and look at ways you can engage your contacts personally, you gain self-respect. You realize you are just working on a big project and need help – that’s it. You’re not begging, your genuinely asking after your contacts and their projects, and then explaining how you can finish yours. No shame in that.

Don’t take it personally

If friends and family don’t seem supportive, one thing I’ve figured out already – don’t take it personally. It doesn’t necessarily mean your project is bad or your campaign was a bad idea or poorly timed. It more likely means that your friends already have their attentions divided among work, personal life, and helping other people who are fundraising, volunteering, or whatever.  Ask politely, and make it clear that no is a perfectly acceptable answer.


And now the plug – Far Flung, an epic journey for sci-fi fans

I don’t need that many pre-orders to win this. At this time, 30 pre-orders would put Far Flung in the top 3 of the current contest. If I’m in the top 3 on June 25, Far Flung gets a full publishing contract. Hardcover, paperback, e-books, signings, the whole deal. Maybe you can see why I’m shameless about this!

Have a look at the details of Far Flung, and read some sample chapters. I think it’ll be a real treat for fans of episodic sci-fi who like some danger and character arcs, along with discovery and exploration of the unknown. Your support means this book gets done a lot faster!

Building a Short Story, Part 1

You can see other writing exercises here.

Putting it all together.

This week, we’ll start putting together a short story. I will go over an example story of mine as we go – you can check mine to see how well I follow my own advice! As with anything I share, I love feedback and will keep working to make it better.

We’re going back to the first month of exercises.

I’ll draw on some exercises from this blog back in March. We need:

  • A one-sentence description of a character (March 9)
  • One or two very important desires your character has (March 16)
  • Conflicts that stand in the way of those goals (March 23)
  • A main problem in the story that makes things worse (March 30)

I’m going to work with one of my old stories here and try to improve it. The story is called “Memory Exchange” and it was in an early self-published book. Here are the details I get when I put the story through the March exercises:

Two word & single-sentence description:

Ambitious magician: Robert is an ambitious stage magician who learns a real magic spell, along with the terrible cost of using it.

Character desires:

Robert wants to be a rich and famous magician. He is also passionately in love with Carla, the seasoned performer who taught him real magic.

Story Conflicts:

Robert’s mom is alone for Thanksgiving, but his next show is right after – he needs to be with her.

Carla wants him to use his new magic to get to his mom and get back quickly, but Robert realizes he will have to sacrifice a special memory to power the teleportation spell.

Carla convinces Robert that he can control which memory he loses and he can give up an unpleasant memory. He doesn’t realize that she is conning him and has other plans.

Now I want you to try.

Tell me about your main character, his or her desires, and some potential conflicts for your story idea. I’ll share the beginning of my work on Thursday, and we’ll see how well it sets up the story. See you then!

Support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!



Just 30 Pre-orders could make Far Flung happen.


Hey folks, I’m bringing up this contest again. The above link goes to the leaderboard of the publishing contest I am in. The top 3 on this board on June 25 will get full publishing contracts.

As it stands now 30 pre-orders for Far Flung will put it in the top 3.

Yes, I know! Just 30! You’ll be charged when you pre-order, but you will get a full refund if I don’t win. Your support could help me get this book into full production paperback, hardcover, ebooks, signings, and all!


Pre-order now, and when you use this referral link, you get credit that you can use on Inkshares to buy other books!


The Final Round of Writing Exercises Begins Next Tuesday

There are four weeks left in my currently-running series of writing exercises.

I’ve been talking about the components of short fiction writing as an aid to beginners, and these exercises will form the basis of a new book!

The Write, Or Else! book will start out as a textbook for my university ESL writing class.

I will take the blog posts from the writing exercise series and revise them slightly so I can use them in class. After that field test, I should have a decent book I can release to the public! A beginner’s guide to short fiction writing – but maybe I’ll give it a snappier name.

For the final 4 weeks, I’ll talk about putting the setting, characters, and plot challenges together into a working story.

It all starts on Tuesday, June 6. See you then!

Support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!


Final Thoughts on Second-Person POV

You can see other writing exercises here.

On Tuesday I wrote about the Late Student prompt in the 2nd-Person. It was a rather awkward exercise!

For your own example, you want to check the character’s actions and feelings for consistency. You are projecting these aspects onto the reader, and asking the reader to play a role. That means the reader has to understand the role and the character motivations very well. In a successful 2nd-person story, the reader would have to understand all of the choices made by the focus character. The reader should think That’s what I’d do in that situation.

Maybe now it’s really clear why 2nd-person is used for role-playing and books with multiple endings – those offer the reader (or player) choices as if they were really experiencing the events. A book written in 2nd-person with no branching choices would likely be a frustrating read:

In the story: “You run across the street despite the heavy traffic.”

Reader: “No, I freaking don’t, come on!”

An Upcoming Second-Person Novel – Mutants: Uprising

Anyway, for the conclusion of this month centered on POV, I’ll point you to another entry in the same Nerdist contest that my story is currently in. It’s called Mutants: Uprising by Jane-Holly Meissner, and the whole thing is written in the 2nd-person. See the sample here and judge for yourself how well it works!


Please support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!


POV Exercise – The Late Student, Part 3

You can see other writing exercises here.

The Late Student, Part 3 – All about you

Welcome back! We’re trying out different takes on one scene to get practice writing in different points of view.

This prompt is getting old, huh? That’s the thing about serious writing, though – you can expect to do multiple takes on the same prompt. If you ever get into ghostwriting, you’ll have to work with prompts and needed plot details you might not like – but you’ll have to give it your best. Ideally, an author should be able to generate a story from any prompt!

A student walks into the classroom late. The student walks down the aisle and sits in an empty seat. The professor stops the lecture for a moment to watch the student. The professor tries to continue the lecture, but he forgets what he was talking about and looks a bit frustrated and annoyed.


For our final take, let’s do 2nd-person!

Choose a character in the scenario and turn him or her into the reader.  You’re going to be telling the reader what he or she is doing. (Maybe it’s not hard to see why 2nd-person POV is rarely used outside role-playing and Choose Your Own Adventure books.)

This is my first attempt at 2nd-person ever. This is just for fun – it’s very difficult to sell anything written in the 2nd-person, and professional authors usually avoid it.

I will put the reader in the role of the professor:

You turn your eyes to the door as Daniel walks into the classroom. You quickly turn back to your lecture notes. Now is not the time; let him think you didn’t notice. You scan the notes – there it is, the bit about Constantine’s rise to power. You narrate, building the story of Roman history to a crescendo, and lowering your voice again as the paragraphs reach a natural break.

Erika, the one with the atrocious dye job, passes notes to Daniel, and you see your opportunity. You pounce. “So nice of you to join us, Daniel.”

The dejection on his face almost brings a smile to yours. If you cannot have the satisfaction of a student excelling with the material, schadenfreude will have to do.

I really want to see what you can do with 2nd-person POV

So few people write in it, it would be awesome to see more takes. I will return to this exercise on Thursday and in the future to revise and improve the examples – this could be a really fun and weird writing exercise for my students.

See you on Thursday!


Please support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!