First Rule of Writing

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There are almost as many writing guides as there are writers. Writing classes, blogs, and books, all telling you how to write that novel, short story, or email.

They natter on about characters, plot, setting. Discuss style, voice, and point of view. Tell you more than you ever wanted to know about grammar, but…

They don’t tell you how to get it done. How to drag the words out of your brain and pop them onto your screen.

They don’t mention the first rule of writing—

Stock Up On Chocolate.

Anyone who’s stared at a blank screen, deleted pages while weeping onto their keyboards, or tapped out two miserably, mediocre sentences in two hours knows that chocolate is essential.

Or coffee.

Preferably, a combination of the two.

New York Post

To paraphrase Kevin Costner in A Field of Dreams…Stock up on chocolate, and the words will come.

Aimer at Amazon

To Write, Or Not To Write…

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I thought it was just me, but no, most writers procrastinate.

It’s not only common, it’s expected.

Professional authors, as opposed to amateurs with access to a laptop—uh, that would be me—have coping mechanisms. Things likes deadlines, agents, and editors who aren’t their relatives. People who smack them upside the head and say, “Get to work.”

My coping mechanisms are Netflix, computer games, and online shopping. Oh, and reading. Reading other people’s books, people who write better than I ever will.

Ah, you noticed that, did you? Fine, I don’t have coping mechanisms. I have a carefully curated selection of aiding and abetting mechanisms.

Full disclosure? Procrastination and I have always been embarrassingly intimate. Avoidance is pretty much part of my DNA, and definitely part of my writing style. Sometimes though, the why and when of it surprise me.

Olympic marathons of procrastination before I type the first word of a new book, mini-sprints at the start of each new chapter, these I understand. Comes with the territory when you don’t draft outlines. When you have no map to follow, and each chapter is a leap into the unknown.

Yesterday however, I hit a new level of avoidance. Two paragraphs into a new chapter, the trail emerged, breadcrumbs spreading out before me, and knew where I wanted to go—and I hit save. Walked away from my desk.

What? Why?

Procrastinating because an empty white page is daunting, that I understand. But procrastinating when the way forward lights up in front of you?

That’s a new low, even for me.

Aimer at Amazon

Taxes and Other Truths

It’s that time of year again. When KDP sends me an email asking if I want to view my tax forms.

I don’t actually.

I don’t want to know that a book it took me two years to write, edit, and publish is languishing unseen, unsold, and unread. I especially don’t want to know that the three books I’ve written have met the same fate.

Truths I avoid like Covid the rest of the year are ready and waiting for me now. Nice and neat, gift wrapped for me by the Internal Revenue Service.

I don’t have to look. Except, of course, I do. How can I not?

Hope springs eternal for the deluded, a.k.a self-published authors. If it didn’t there wouldn’t be so many of us out there.

The question is how much power do I allow these 1042-S forms to wield? Do I let my lacklustre sales determine whether I finish the book I’m working on now? Do I say, “Hey, I’m no J.K. Rowling. Let’s pack this dream up and call it a day?”

I could.

And I would, except for the fact that I’m stubborn or, as I prefer to think of it, determined—to finish this last book. And maybe, just maybe…

There I go with that annoying hope again.

Aimer at Amazon

Write What You Know

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After months of using Covid-19 as an excuse to procrastinate, I finally forced myself to sit down and start working on the last book in my Blood Bond Trilogy. Thanks to the previous books, I already have an MC. I know what he looks like, how he dresses, where he works, what he drinks, and who his love interest will be, but…how to start?

Write what you know, right?

I trolled through my memories, more years of memories than I’d like to admit, and came up with a scene, something that happened eons ago. A tourist on my first trip to Ireland, I was checking out a small display case in some church basement and I heard a man talking behind me. His voice, his accent, truly charming. Naturally, I turned around, and the real world being what it is, the man was nowhere near as attractive as his voice.

Perfect. There’s my attention-grabbing first paragraph. Enticing accent, alluring voice—hail the love interest.

But…

I haven’t been to Ireland in decades. I can barely remember the accent now and I have no idea what expressions or slang they’re using in Dublin these days.

Write what you know?

I don’t know how this character speaks. There’s no way I can write dialogue for him, not without spending weeks researching speech patterns in Irish novels.

I’m in awe of authors who can create dialogue for characters of a differing ethnicity, nationality, or time line than their own. I have no idea how they do it. How exactly does a blacksmith in the eighteenth century speak, or an alien in the twenty-fourth?

Back to the drawing board. Ditch the accent and rewrite the first page, so far, the only page.

Write what you know?

What I know is, I never should have started writing this trilogy 🙂

Aimer at Amazon

Grammarly and Me

I used to be friends with Word’s Editor, but lately I’ve been visiting with Grammarly. She’s intelligent and polite, but a bit of dictator.

While I appreciate her gentle reminders on spelling and punctuation, I can’t help wondering if she’s trying to change me. She doesn’t seem to approve of my style.

Don’t say anything, but Grammarly can be opinionated. At first, I let her browbeat me into changing things around, but as we got to know each other better, I started to wonder…

Grammarly’s suggestions, although made with the best of intentions, are, dare I say it?

Boring.

Bland.

She’s not a party girl, if you know what I mean? No sparkle, no shine. It’s not that she’s wrong, but sometimes, she’s wrong for me.

Oh, we’re still friends. We’ve just agreed to disagree, and just between us… Sometimes, I ignore her.

Aimer at Amazon

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I thought writing was easy, until I tried to do it. From that first kernel of an idea to the last page of proofreading, it’s a struggle.

If you want anyone to read what you’ve written, there are yet more hurdles to jump. Whether you go the self-publishing route or the traditional one, people have to find your book before they can read it.

Let’s say you’ve written an amazing book, you’ve got it on Amazon. Home free, right? You can sit back, watch the money roll into your bank account, ink a movie deal?

Okay, maybe Netflix won’t be calling you, but you can quit your day job, right?

Not so fast.

  • 50% of all authors are poor, earning less than the poverty level.
  • 80% of all authors earn less than what most people would consider a living wage.
  • Self-published authors earn 80% less than traditional published authors.
  • 2018 saw the release of 1.68 million self-published titles.
  • Statistics taken from an Authors Guild report based on American data.

In the entire history of the written word, it has never been easier to write and publish a book, or harder to make a living at it.

If I was twenty-one, just out of university, these statistics might make me rethink a writing career, but I’m not. Rather than depress the hell out of me, these numbers make me feel better about my not-so-stellar career as a self-publishing author.

1.68 million titles in 2018? The fact that I sold any books at all is a freaking miracle!

Aimer at Amazon

Second Time Around

I self-published my first book in 2014. I thought it was good. I was wrong.

I didn’t know it then, but I’d broken just about every writing rule there is.

To anyone who purchased Fireworks, my apologies. And thank you. Thank you for taking a chance on a newbie author and for giving me hope that maybe, just maybe, I could do this.

Five years on, and I’ve learned a bit. Not everything, not by a long shot, but enough to take a stab at fixing the mistakes I made the first time around.

So, here it is, the new and improved—I hope—version of that first attempt: Daniel Mine.

Aimer at Amazon

Caveat Emptor

Buyer Beware

Is it just me, or does there seem to be more to be wary of these days?

Scams and schemes abound, from the automated phone calls that threaten you with Revenue Canada if you don’t contact them to the truly horrific bogus kidnapping messages that claim they have your children.

And then there’s the people promising to change your life if you only hand over your wallet.

Case in point, recently I’ve been approached by companies offering to promote one of my books. Sounds good, right?

“You’re book has been recommended to us by …”
“We will flog your book on social media daily …”

I don’t know how much money these companies want because I hang up on them before they get to that point. Am I skeptical?

Hmmm… Am I breathing?

The first solicitor didn’t even know the title of my book. The second one sent me an email that could have used a grammar check.

Hmmm…

One caller said his company was based out of Las Vegas. Really?

So many books out there, so many that never get seen let alone read. Every indie author knows this — so do the companies offering to help you.

Caveat Emptor

Aimer at Amazon