Tag Archives: new writers

#MondayBlogs: My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined

9 Nov

Intro:

While many claim there is one publishing formula, there are hundreds, and the more writers you meet, the more variations of publishing journeys you hear. I find them fascinating, and I’m always eager to hear another’s story. Today’s writer is sharing his. Welcome author Shane Joseph.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph

Our times are generating many more writers than demand can bear. This is due to better education, improved health, technology, inflated egos in an age of “me first,” and due to our eternal quest for immortality. The ambition to be a writer usually begins in our formative years and is inspired by our favourite writers. As a teenager, I was greatly influenced by Greene, Steinbeck and Hemingway; I dreamt of sending manuscripts out into the world where they would become best-sellers and make me a reclusive millionaire. I would hide out in some remote island and submit more manuscripts and continue to dazzle the world with my brilliance until I was invited to a cold capital in Europe to accept the Nobel Prize. And I would refuse that honour, making me an enigmatic figure like Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak or J.D. Salinger. It was nice to dream!

The reality, even back then, was different. I had chosen to gloss over the private demons my literary heroes had to overcome in order to achieve their fame: dual lives, alcoholism, drug addiction, persecution, shell-shock (called PTSD today), hypertension, depression, divorce, estrangement, chronic pain, and suicide staring out of the barrel of a gun. Not forgetting the early struggles with rejection and penury that they each triumphed over. These trials gave impetus to their work and are mentioned only in discreet biographies, not on the glossy covers of their books.

My writer’s story turned out differently to my idealized dream. For instance, I didn’t imagine that after hacking away at this craft in my early twenties in a developing country where English was a second language, and after having a handful of stories published, I would pack up my authorly tools and try something easier to earn a living – Greene, Steinbeck et al, be damned! I never realized that the “other living,” at a corporate job, would come so easily, and earn such a handsome income, that I wouldn’t bother with the writing game again for another twenty years. I didn’t realize that it would be the curse of “guilt” that would bring me back to reopen the dusty toolbox and start to catch up to where the literary world had evolved in the intervening years.

Once “Take Two” started however, the stories and novels came easily, and are likely to continue into the future, health permitting. It was like a dam had burst and all that had been stored for years came gushing out. But the publishing landscape had changed, drastically. Prizes sold books now. And the prize money was cornered among the “1% of the 1%” in the literary hierarchy. There was no middle class in publishing anymore – there was a huge gulf between the self-published and the best-seller, and the only way to bridge the two was with a stroke of luck.

But with every closing door there were others opening. There were now many ways in which to be published, I discovered, thanks to evolving technology that had finally demolished the dominant publishing model of eons, which was: publish a large quantity of paper books on ancient printing presses until unit costs become affordable, ship them across the land in trucks into stores that couldn’t keep track of them, receive most of them back after awhile to be shredded, then start the cycle again, and hope like hell that governments or private donors supported this inefficiency in the interest of promoting the arts. That was the model in which my heroes had thrived, and now it was dying, supplanted by DIY publishing, POD, electronic media, subscriptions services, free story sites, social media, and blogs like the one you are reading. And my heroes were dead too.

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

I enthusiastically tried all the models available, traditional and new, and discovered that they all had their pros and cons, but as their readerships’ were distinct, this lack of homogeneity helped plaster me all over the map, assuaging my guilt for having neglected “the gift.” There was also no way I could hide out in a remote island, I realized; I had to be front and centre in the global public domain (a.k.a. the Internet, which also never existed during the time of my literary heroes) selling my wares like a shoe salesman. I even started a publishing house, using the new technology, and have helped bring other writers into print, ones who may have been sitting for years in the slush piles of the Big Five (or is it Four, now – hard to keep track!). The joy of bringing others’ work into the world, to watch them stand on the podium reading from their debut novel at their book’s launch gives me immense satisfaction. I was doing my bit to restore the middle class in publishing. And I finally faced the darker side: the rejection, the shrunken revenue streams, the even further shrunken attention spans, and the need for that other source of income to fuel this one. None of this had been part of my teenage dream.

And so I have accepted that my writer’s story is different from the one I had visualized in my youth. Creative visualizers, take note: it doesn’t always turn out the way you paint it in your mind. But it can be a damned sight more interesting and surprising. Why go on a trip where every stopover is carefully laid out, predictable and boring? Where would the thrill of the unexpected lie? Isn’t that what we try to create in our work – the unexpected?

So Dear Reader, what was your writer’s dream, and how did it pan out?

Bio:

(Shane Joseph is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories, and was the winner of the best fantasy novel award at the Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. His latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador, will be released in November 2015. For details visit www.shanejoseph.com

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW: When Editing Isn’t Necessary

4 Mar

#WW: When Editing Isn’t Necessary

The title is – obviously – a little misleading. Editing is always necessary. As a full-time writer and an editor, I can promise this from both ends, but – as the title also promises – there is a specific time period during the writing process where I don’t suggest editing. If I had to be more accurate, I suggest not worrying about editing.

This time period generally covers the very first draft, especially if this is the first novel a writer is attempting. Why do I suggest avoiding editing at this stage? There are a number of reasons I tell writers to calm down and just write, but it mainly consists of the fact that editing can become extremely overwhelming. It demands a lot of focus and time – and it’s normally a whole lot less fun for a writer than writing – so I always suggest getting that first draft down before worrying about pesky commas and subject-verb agreement. For now, concentrate on world building, symbolism, and overall character development. Get some eyes on your work. Try to connect with a couple beta readers. Join a writer’s group, and listen to suggestions. If you get stuck, ask for more help, but getting that first draft down is all that matters in the beginning. Once that is down, edit for yourself, but always – always – hire an outside editor (preferably – and by “preferably” I generally mean “always” – an editor who is not related to you). I would even go so far as to suggest hiring an editor that is not in your writer’s group, not one of your beta readers, and not associated with your first draft. Why? Because I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I’ve had so-and-so and this-many-people-read-it. They didn’t see any mistakes, so I think it’s fine.” But when I open the file, it’s easy to see how much help they truly need.

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I want to take this heartfelt moment to clarify how I went through this myself. As a novelist, I made all the mistakes any writer could make. In fact, if you read my recent post, The Reader’s Reaction, then you probably guessed the editing in the original November Snow was quite disastrous…and it was. Granted, the Indie market was much different back in 2007, and I was a child, but I will never forget that lesson. There are no excuses for disastrous editing. So, I am no exception to any of these mistakes. I had friends read it and tell me it was fine. I even had adults read it and tell me it was fine. It wasn’t fine. They were sparing my feelings, but in the end, the disaster had to happen, and it happened very publically because people wanted to protect my feelings, and honestly, someone else protecting your feelings is the easy part to overcome. The harder part is overcoming ourselves.

As writers, we have to stop protecting our own feelings. We have to be able to step back from our work, constantly and openly. We have to be okay when we work with an editor and see red marks all over the Review format in Word. We have to be able to breathe when we receive a bad review or even a review that is factually incorrect. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves when we even know we made a mistake, our editor made a mistake, and now, it’s out there. Mistakes will always slip through, and we have to find a way to accept our human self as the same self that wrote a novel. The author self is not separate, and our emotions won’t be either, but knowing when to worry, when to laugh, when to celebrate, when to write, and when to edit is unique for every author, and it is also important for every author to know about themselves.

Everyone will write differently. Everyone will edit differently. My advice isn’t set in stone or carved into a cave or propped up anywhere aside from on this little computer screen. It’s just my advice. It works for me, it worked for me, and it continues to work for me, but it took me years to figure out what “writer me” needed and wanted to move forward in the most productive way possible, and I still learn every day. I only think sharing what we learn with others is what can help us all in the end.

Who knows? Maybe what I do will work for you or maybe something you do will work for me. It never hurts to try something new, and I’m always open to suggestions. That’s the writer and the editor in me. I listen. I learn. I continue moving forward, and I share my lessons along the way.

~SAT

I also want to give a HUGE shoutout to Jonas Lee, author of A Time to Reap, for writing this wonderful review of my Services: “I had been following Shannon since I started blogging/looking into Indie publishing. When I saw she offered services, I jumped on the chance to work with her expertise and connections to pump up some reviews for my first book. Shannon was professional, communicated quickly and was so great to work with. The reviews keep rolling in and my fan base is slowly growing once again. I was looking forward to an easy, effective experience and Shannon exceeded my own goals. What I didn’t expect to find was a fantastic colleague and a new friend. Even though the last part was free, it was the most rewarding.”

I am very grateful for the authors and writers I work with every day. Their work is both inspiring and exciting, and I, too, feel like I am gaining more friends to laugh, write, and speak with.

Most recent books I've worked with.

Most recent books I’ve worked with.

Getting Unstuck as an Author

21 May

Shannon, here, for one announcement: I’ve joined Pinterest as well. You can join me by clicking here. I have boards for The Timely Death Trilogy, November Snow, and Take Me Tomorrow – as well as boards for cats, coffee, and my crazy imagination. There might be some spoilers, but I try to keep it to a minimum. Think of it as “behind the scenes.” I hope you like them.

Now – for today’s guest blogger: Hanne Arts!

Sometimes when I’m writing, I get stuck on a sentence or an idea, or I simply give up altogether and procrastinate instead. Everything seems better than to fight through the obstacle at that time.
 It is, however, necessary to fight through that brief “down.”

Every writer has them, and every writer deals with them differently, yet here are a couple of tips that I personally find very helpful. It might help you along the way as well!

1) Write (about) something different.

I often find myself staring at my computer screen or getting frustrated over not finding the perfect words. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to acknowledge that fighting with the same strategies will not always work. If you apply the same principles, the same problems will pop up again! If you try something entirely new, whether this means throwing the old manuscript out the window, giving it a twist, or momentarily focusing your attention on a new (practice) story, certainly try it out! A new approach will bring freshness to the story. Furthermore, “writing something different” does not even have to be content-related. Maybe you just need to write in a different style, genre, or with a different voice. The more you try, the more smoothly the words will come to you later.

2) Change your environment or approach.

Changing your setting or writing area can entirely change your writing and consequently spice things up. Moreover, it might get you unstuck. If, for example, you usually write in a quiet room, try going out to a café and writing there. You might get entirely different ideas and inspirations, and, on top of this, it will enable you to observe the people around you. I sometimes also choose to write by hand rather than my usual typing, and this sometimes helps me produce ideas and keep going.

3) Write in a different order.

Usually I start my story with either an ending or beginning in mind. I then fill in the pieces in between. This, however, is simply one way of doing things. You could just as well know the plot and then create a start and end, or you could start with a mere scene in mind. If there is a scene that is currently vivid in your head, write it first before the idea gets lost by the time you get to it!

4) Read your favorite book(s).

Read books you like that inspire you because, quite simply… they inspire you. Ask yourself why you like the book(s) and apply it to your own work. Wouldn’t you want to have the same effect on other that that author has on you?

5) Relax.

If you currently have no inspiration, no sweat. Focus on other things and experience life. Later come back to your writing and view it with new ideas. You’ll have new ideas and new motivation. Nobody feels inspired all the time (for me it is often not there at all, but when it is, I cannot stop writing for days and days on end). If you don’t feel like you can take a break from your writing or you have a deadline to make, then simply put yourself to writing something each night (or morning – whenever you usually write). This will put you in the right mindset and make you more fluent and time-efficient in the future. (You could even try timed exercises to further train and challenge your brain.)

– Hanne Arts

Hanne Arts can be found here, but here are more of her blog posts:

30 Writing Prompts

The Seven Best Tips to Fight Writer’s Block and Writer’s Jam

9 Common Writing Problems…and Their Solutions

6 Basic Guidelines to Make Your Book Work

5 Mistakes that Authors Make that Lose Their Readers

 

 

Through Jessica’s Eyes

10 Oct

On October 8, you might have seen my first reblog (I’ve always been confused on how to do that and how it’d affect emails, but I’m excited Ky Grabowski’s blog was the first one I got to try it on. I’ll definitely be reblogging more in the future.)

Beyond it being my first reblog, it was my first guest blog post where I actually blogged about something. I was really nervous to be honest. I was worried about what to talk about, because I want my guest blog post to fit the blog I’m guest blogging for, so I had to ask Ky what to do. She, because she’s a genius, immediately suggested I write about what scene in Minutes Before Sunset was the most important to me, and I did just that.  I was truly honored when Ky asked me to be a part of her blog, Welcome to the Inner Workings of My Mind, and here’s the post, if you missed it.

To be honest, Ky Grabowski really inspired me to keep thinking about my favorite scenes in my written novels, which is why I want to share something with everyone:

I have to express how thankful and excited I am as I move into releasing Seconds Before Sunrise, Book 2 of a Timely Death trilogy. The cover, designed by Viola Estrella, is amazing, and I can’t wait to share it. But, for now, I wanted to share this photo:

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Now, I suppose, I have to explain:

This photo was taken while I was writing Seconds Before Sunrise. At the time, one of my biggest hobbies was photography, and I love winter, which is one of the main reasons archetypes always rubbed me the wrong way. I find untouched snow to be one of the most beautiful occurrences in weather. This is why I use it in Seconds Before Sunrise. This photo is very symbolic to Seconds Before Sunrise, because I took this in my front yard. If you’ve read my previous posts, you might remember Jessica’s house is literally based off of my house at the time, so, in a way, you are seeing exactly what Jessica would see in her front yard when snow falls, and you will see this in book 2. But that’s all I can say about this specific scene. You’ll have to check in as I release more information on this novel’s release!

In other news:

Joe H. won the 9,000 likes giveaway! So congrats to him, and I hope he has a great time reading all those wonderful novels he’s receiving as we speak (or write and read. Haha.)

I also have a special offer going on my Facebook Author Page, so you should check it out (especially if you’re interested in contemporary fantasy.)

Minutes Before Sunset was featured on Paranormal Palooza, which was really neat! And it officially hit 50 ratings on Goodreads with a 4.56 star rating 😀

Here’s to the future of every writer as we continue venturing forward, pens in hand, words in our hearts.

~SAT 

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