May updates for #IWSG and the #amwriting community.

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Hello visitors from #IWSG! Happy Star Wars day! I have some updates here that might be of interest to the neurotic writing community.

First up, I’ve got my ongoing series of writing exercises.

Every week for the past few months I’ve put up posts on Tuesday and Thursday featuring a writing exercise and my own sample take on the exercise. I’ll be compiling these exercises into a book later on, as I really need a new textbook for teaching fiction writing to ESL students. While I won’t claim to be a writing genius, I think the exercises will work well with writers at all levels of ability. I hope they will inspire you as well.

This month’s exercises focuses on using different points of view in writing. I hope you’ll check them out.


Other happenings:

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I have a story called Far Flung in a contest on Inkshares.

This contest is held by Launch Pad and Inkshares, and requires that you submit the first 50 pages of a novel you are working on. Your 50 pages will be read by successful authors and publishers, and you will have a chance to win a publishing contract or one of several other prizes. Might be worth checking out!

If you’ve never heard of Inkshares, it’s a crowd-funding program for indie authors. They’re a really good bunch of people, and I encourage you to check out the website.


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I’ve been hanging out in writing subforums on Reddit, especially /r/writingprompts

There are some very good prompts, and anyone is allowed to add their own. One prompt was so appealing, it got me to break my long Reddit silence and write a weird little fantasy piece.

Anyway, I suppose my message to IWSG this month is that I #amwriting, and finding excuses to write rather than excuses not to. Maybe that’ll help you find your own excuse!

#IWSG April 2017 – Anxiety

I’m an anxious person. I get stress about getting stressed. 

Anxiety can hold you back from submitting your writing to magazines for fear of rejection. It can lead you to frustration at a lack of output, drive you to release self-published work without the proper feedback needed – because you know you need to get something out there.

I am trying to own my anxiety and make it work for me. I’ve tried medication for anxiety, and it works to some extent, but let me tell you – without some legwork, no amount of Zoloft is going to help that much.

Literal legwork, as in exercise – if you’re an Insecure Writer, chances are, writing keeps you busy. Maybe you wonder how you can have time for it. Well, the only answer is to make time. 

Do you have 7 minutes in the morning? A lunch break long enough to step outside? Stairs you can take instead of an elevator? I find that even a bit of exercise does wonders for anxiety.

And keep a darned diary already. I’m guilty of not keeping one regularly – I have to force myself. I have to accept that I am never going to want to keep a diary. But I wil keep one anyway – it’s essential.

The point of this rambling? Good habits have to be forced sometimes. You may need medicine for your anxiety, there’s no shame in that, but there are also habits you absolutely DO need. Anxiety and insecurity do not give you excuses – find helpful habits and stick to them. The anxiety won’t go away, but it will be a lot more manageable.

One question remains: did I write today’s post for my readers or for myself? The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.

Write What You Know? – #IWSG Post Prompt

This is my January post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Late by my clock, but hey, it’s still Wednesday is some parts of the world!

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The prompt for this month is What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Write what you know.

Oh yeah, I’m gunning for the big one – which is odd, because I teach this rule in my writing classes for ESL students.

It is a deceptive rule, because it makes you think you should write only from personal experience. Now, do you suppose J.K. Rowling ever actually went to a wizarding school? Did P.L. Travers really have a magical nanny? You think George R.R. Martin ever found himself at a wedding that went horribly, violently wrong?

Probably not. But those writers knew people and knew history. They filled in gaps in their knowledge by researching and talking to people. They blended in their own experiences along with facts and experiences learned from others.

If writers only wrote what they knew, every book would be about a struggling writer, trying to make words flow across the page while wondering how the heck they’ll pay for their next meal. Every character would be just like the author (only far more handsome or beautiful, of course). Conflicts would involve overcoming writer’s block, the quest to find an outlet for an outdated laptop, or the constant paradox of needing to talk to people but being hopelessly introverted. (I love stereotypes, don’t you?)

I humbly propose a revision to the old rule:

Start with what you know.

This is the way I wish it had been taught to me. It’s a far more accurate for the stories I think are my best – I started with an event or situation I knew and worked from there. Characters were based on people I met, though I’ll admit that my main protagonist is often very close to being me. But I never stumbled across a family secret so horrible as that in Painted Blue Eyes, nor did I ever experience a car wreck so bad as the one that kicks off The Door I Chose. I had similar experiences, and I talked to family members and friends who had such experiences. And I picked up from books, TV shows, movies, plays, musicals, and so many other sources. I imagine that successful, best-selling authors will tell you the same thing – they experienced events somewhat similar, or learned of events that they fictionalized. They met people very similar to the ones in their books, or borrowed traits from characters in other media.

Can we all start teaching the rule this way instead?


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Read ‘Empty Coffee Cup’ over at OMNI Media – #amwriting

OMNI just started a new online publishing venue, and I’m in it!

They are accepting non-fiction, fiction, and blog-style posts, and it was easy for me to submit. It looks like there’s a system to earn money from posts, based on how many views or how much interest they generate.

I submitted and odd piece I wrote – a one-act play called Empty Coffee CupThis work also appears as part of the Daejeon Writer’s Group book called Fleeting, published at the end of last year.

It features a conversation between an artist and his future self regarding the girl he hasn’t yet met. Fellow writers who’ve read through my edits and rewrites have given me very positive feedback – I hope you enjoy it too!

Read Empty Coffee Cup on OMNI Media now!

Why I had to stop my serial and write a novel instead.

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I went about writing a serial almost exactly the wrong way.

I started writing the serial for Far Flung over a year ago. I remember well why I started – I really, really needed to write and publish, and I was sick of passing my work by an unknown gatekeeper. Oh, I wasn’t afraid of rejection (okay, maybe just a little) , but I hated the whole routine of write something, submit it with fingers crossed, hear nothing for 3-4 weeks, and then get a ‘yes’ or more likely a ‘no’ with no feedback whatsoever.

I had read some great serial fiction, and decided to try it myself. I had an idea planned out, and a few chapters that I had run through my writing group. I went ahead and started with JukePop as my first main outlet, and later on made my own website dedicated to releases of my fiction.

I lost my ‘lead’ quickly.

I had 3 chapters ready before I posted my first chapter of Far Flung. I thought, somehow, that having the motivation to post regularly would get me writing new chapters quickly. I thought posting a chapter twice a month was enough. Obviously, both ideas were proven wrong.

First, simply having a serial in production can motivate, but it doesn’t change your writing speed. It definitely doesn’t help your overall quality. What I didn’t fully realize was the need to PRE-SCHEDULE. If you want to do a serial, you must must must must pre-schedule posts. From my experience, I’d say having a month or even two month’s worth of posts ready before you post the first part is ideal. The most successful serials post 2 or 3 times A WEEK, not per month. So if you are a slow writer, plan accordingly by giving yourself a HUGE leeway.

I didn’t have enough traffic to support it.

I started with JukePop because they (are supposed to) have a system for paying authors. I still can’t figure out how – I think you have to be an American in the USA. I tried running ads and placing Amazon referral links on my other website, but I just didn’t have the traffic. Even using Web Fiction Guide to promote my story and review other stories, I couldn’t bring in enough hits. Why not?

I was rushing out my writing to keep up regular posts. I was finalizing each chapter on the day I wanted to post it. Neither quantity nor quality were up to excellent standards.

So what am I going to do about it?

I’m novelizing it. I’m taking the chapters I did get out and constructing a better narrative to tie them together and bring Far Flung to life. I’m leaving what’s already out mainly so that I can show my improvement later on. I will share edited versions of the current Far Flung serial based on the improvements made for the upcoming novel. The edited serial will tie-in with the novel and hopefully help me promote and sell it.

I will do another serialized work in the future, but I will approach it more like a novella. I’ll write about 20,000 – 40,000 words before the first post even goes up, and have that much read and critiqued first. I’ll make sure that first post gets noticed on Web Fiction Guide and other sites – and I’ll have a link to buy my book at the end of each post.  Having a book ‘legitimizes’ me – I need to have a full novel out to improve my own confidence and my credibility.

It’s too bad I don’t have another chapter for the serial right now, but what’s coming will be worth the wait, I promise.


 

From Apathy to Determination

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From Apathy to Determination

I wrote about apathy earlier this year because I couldn’t bring myself to write at all. I was just fed up with everything – a crappy family situation and other things not going well. I rested, I reevaluated, and I nearly lost my full-time job because of burnout. The family situation hasn’t improved, but my writing determination has. I went back to Far Flung – my work that was an online serial, but which I haven’t updated in quite a while now.

I looked carefully at it, and I took in some new inspiration. I played a bit of No Man’s Sky (I’m one of those chumps who preordered, sigh), I read the Legacy Fleet series by Nick Webb, and I started reading The Expanse by James S.A. Corey. Suddenly, Far Flung took over my consciousness again, but I found I din’t want to continue the serial without some better incentive. I simply don’t blog enough to get many readers – I find it too difficult to make good blog entries often, and I type too darn slowly. But if I had something real to show for my work – say a book on Amazon – that might be just the kick I need to revive both Write, or Else! and TCC Edwards dot com.

Just like that, I started writing. I took on Far Flung, going back to the beginning and editing the story. I’m now expanding what I already have, with the goal of producing a book between 300-400 words. I’ve set a goal to finish this draft by the end of November, with editing to follow after that. I’m considering the Inkshares program to get it edited and published.

Just as suddenly, other projects showed up on my radar.

IWSG, a group I love being part of, has a new anthology in the works. My writing group is starting another book. Writers in Daejeon, a city not too far from mine, want me to join their book. And I still have to get something on my blogs, darn it!

I have my fingers in all of these. I have a draft for IWSG in the works, but it’s a trainwreck right now. Editing it into something I’d actually want to submit could take too much of my attention away from other jobs.

I wish I could work faster!

Unfortunately, it’s looking more like I’ll scrap the IWSG project in order to keep the most important things going.

Funny, huh? I went from writing nothing to taking on more than I could handle. It’s a shame – I really did want to be in the anthology with the other IWSG folks, but I have to do a bit of project triage here. The last thing I want – the very worst thing that could happen – is to get too frustrated and find myself unable to finish the book. I need a book out there – a real novel, with my name on it, properly edited, produced, and published. I need it as soon as reasonably possible.

So that’s where I’m at! Working away on this novel and trying to keep my social presence both online and with my writing group. Having to choose carefully what I take on and in what capacity. Deciding what to do with these blogs I pay for.

Honestly, writing itself is the easy part. It’s all this decision-making and figuring out that some things just aren’t going to work that gets difficult!

Online Book Club – Write Reviews for Free Books and Get Paid #amreading #amwriting

Free Books for Reviews – The Online Book Club Review Program

Forums for Book and eBook Lovers

I’ve been a member of the Online Book Club forums, forums.onlinebookclub.org, for several months now, and it’s been a great way to see books I might never otherwise hear about. People in the forums talk about books of all types, but the main focus is on ebooks, especially those released through programs like Kindle Direct Publishing. Online Book Club has a mailing list which features new releases from authors in the forums. Many of these books are offered absolutely free, while others can be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. All books have been vetted and reviewed by a team of reviewers – and you can join the team!

Reviewers Get Paid, but it’s no day job…

As they say, the main draw for reviewers has always been the exchange of books for reviews. No one goes into this expecting to get rich or anything! As a serious writer, however, I need to read, so this program appeals to me as a way to get some pocket change while I keep up with what independent authors like me are writing. If you are a writer yourself, or you just like to read a lot, this is a chance for you to get a bit of money for something you already do. So if you don’t read very much already – you won’t get much out of this.

As a new reviewer, you can probably expect not to get paid at first. You still get free books, and your review will be featured to members of the forums. By participating in the forums and reviewing as often as you can, you can expect to get better opportunities for reviews as you go. Once you do get paid, you can expect between $5 – $60 per review.

Myself, I only read through 1 or 2 books every month. I listen to many more on audio – I have an hour long drive to work, and I like to use that time, darn it! However, I am reading, and I will use this review program not so much for the money, but for a chance to keep up with current writing trends and to network with other authors.

This program seems worthwhile if you also need motivation to keep reading, or if you already read a lot.