#IWSG November 2017 – Rethinking my blog and writing

A short post for the Insecure Writers Support Group this month, all about my current state of affairs and things I think will be interesting to the neurotic writers who pass by blogs like this every month.

First, if you haven’t seen my guest post on world-building on John Robin’s blog, be sure to check that out – it was fun to write, and I really have to do that more often,

I’m looking at new ways to use this blog

So one big change I’m making now (and a reason for the lack of updates) is deciding what I want to use this blog for. Some of my writing tips have gone over well, and I might go back to doing that weekly. I like the idea of previewing others’ writing like I did for the Launch Pad contest – I could see myself doing little previews of upcoming and released indie works.

One thing’s for sure – I can’t do long updates or too frequent ones. Regular updates, yes, but probably not more than once, maybe twice a week. I need to do more actual writing!

NaNoWriMo

No. Not really, anyway. I need to finish the book I’m working on, not start a new one now. I’d rather devote a set amount of time to working on my current book than set a specific word count. I’ll start with 1 hour per day, and see if I can boost that up a bit.

Anxiety

I’m doing some online counseling (best option I have at the moment) and it will spill over onto this blog in some form. I think my writing and my anxiety interact in many ways, and that some tips to deal with one will also help with the other. I’m on the lookout for other blogs that talk about anxiety and writing – there should be some good links with IWSG I would think!

Anyway, that’s my rambling IWSG post for November. If you have some ideas for content for my blog, feel free to leave comments. I’ll be looking around some of your blogs too!

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#IWSG for September – Surprising

 

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A short post and a late one for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

if you’ve never heard of them, the IWSG is a huge group of bloggers who talk about the neurotic dangers of writing. Be sure to look around the huge list of blogs – there are always insightful and useful posts and helpful people.

I surprised myself with my writing for the Busan Writing Group, my local writing club. I was always certain before I fond them that sci-fi and fantasy would be my writing mainstays. When we got an anthology together for the first time, however, my story had no fantasy at all. It was a touching tribute to the loneliness of an expat’s first time in Korea, and an odd, sad love story. Shortly after, I had my first story published outside the BWG, and it had no fantasy or sci-fi at all either – just a confrontation between nephew and aunt over a dark secret.

In following anthologies, deep personal themes made up the basis, with fantasy in small doses. I’ve had a taste of a style I didn’t even realize was in me – a more literary, realistic scenario with the fantasy working its way in gradually. I still write full sci-fi and fantasy (as a glance around this blog will confirm), but for short stories, I think I’ll further explore this ‘realistic’ style and see how the weirder ideas play into it.

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Help me kickstart my writing career and get a great sci-fi novel!

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Far Flung, my sci-fi epic that’s in the Top 50 of the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, is in funding now.

Be sure to read the preview chapters & tell me what you think! Consider supporting the campaign – your support will help me put this in the hands of readers everywhere!

*Both* of my entries in the Launch Pad Competition made the Top 75

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Well. This is certainly unexpected!

I got an email today from Launch Pad, a project run by The Tracking Board. I was very excited to see it, as the title suggested that one of the two submissions I put in made it to the next round.

I was wrong.

Both submissions made it to the Top 75

Deep breath. Exhale. Oh boy.

Both the sci-fi work Far Flung and the epic fantasy Bound in Shadows rated well enough with judges to progress into the Top 75.

 

Wow, I am excited! I don’t know how many entries there were overall, but the 2016 contest had over 1000 entries – I’m assuming this year’s had even more.

Now comes the really interesting part – one of my stories might make it further up in the ranks and get into the top 25, or even the top 10. The higher one of my stories gets, the more rewards I get – with a possibility of a full signing or publishing deal.

There’s also the Inkshares part of the contest – the top 3 stories submitted to both Inkshares and Launch Pad will get full publishing deals through Inkshares. But one of my stories can only win this if I start campaigning for crowdfunding AND my campaign reaches the top 3 on Inkshares.

Two entries in the Top 75!

This is great – it means that experts in the publishing industry are reading the preview manuscripts I submitted and eyeing them for their potential as books or even TV or movie projects. I’ll have to see which perks and extras from the contest I will win – it depends on how much further the stories go.

In a contest that must have had many, many entries, two written by me got enough regard to place in the top 75. I can brag about this. (Authors have to brag; it’s how we survive.) I feel great – my writing has potential and I can indeed get a novel published, one way or another.

 

#IWSG for August – Dark Times

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Getting back into writing seems a lot harder for me now.

Last time I was putting up one of these IWSG posts, I had a crowdfunding effort relating to my writing. I ended that campaign and contest with all of 16 backers total. I simply didn’t have enough of the right kind of contacts and friends to see it through, or the knowhow to reach out to people who might have helped. I couldn’t go on with the promotion – it was taking away all my time to write.

I am thankful for those 16, and the many more who read the work I was displaying for the contest. I wish I could have done better for them. If I ever decide to crowdfund for writing again, it will be an even harder uphill battle, since everyone I know saw me fall flat on my face. But I will get the story done, along with the others I am working on.

Home life is not going well, and I don’t have a way out other than to keep working my main job I have to make a living. My wife and I are making progress on our debt, but at the cost of making any progress on our stalled relationship.

Yet here I am, still at the writing game. I’m still teaching a writing course in September – a course for ESL learners that I have adapted from my own influences and writing guidebooks. I must still have a set of materials to teach from, and that is exactly what I was preparing with my series of blog posts on writing short fiction.  I will return to the series of posts next Tuesday.

I must keep writing, even with feelings of darkness.

I don’t know how I will spread the word and get the support of friends, family, and more when I have a major project ready. All I know for now is that I must have a very good project well and truly ready. I must work out some way to get to my writing group regularly despite the hard work I must do with my family. While online critique groups are great, in-person meetings have by and far the strongest motivational power for me.

For other members of the Insecure Writers Support Group – what gets you writing through feelings of being overwhelmed, through feelings that even your best writing will not be enough?

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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!

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.