New tab for book reviewers

Just added a new contact form for book reviews who want to review my books. You can either click the “For book reviewers” tag above or simply click this link and you will be taken to a contact form, which you can use to contact me for a free copy (electronic or paper) of any of my currently available books for reviewing purposes.

Why do you blog?

Bloggers blog for different reasons.

Some blog because they genuinely enjoy it. They like sharing their thoughts on various subjects online and love interacting with their readers in the comments section of their blog. They are the kind of people who would blog even if they had no readers or were making no income from it whatsoever. These people generally blog every day or at least very frequently.

Others blog as a means to an end. These people write blogs in order to achieve certain goals, such as selling books or spreading awareness of certain political/religious/social issues or supporting a cause or some other goal. These people may like to write, but they may not be particularly fond of blogging in itself and blog only when they need to.

I’m in the second category of people. I started this blog as a way to build my author platform. I hope that the readers of this blog will eventually translate into readers of my fiction (once I publish them, of course). To be sure, I like my blog, but it can be hard for me to come up with ideas for posts, which is one reason I don’t blog every day.

I see myself as a fiction writer first and foremost. It’s what I spend most of my writing time doing. I like to write nonfiction, too, but fiction is my real strength and what I like best and it is ultimately what will be making me money. Blogging will help, which is why I am doing it, but if I had to choose between giving up my blog or giving up my books, I’d choose my blog every time.

I have nothing against people who blog for its own sake, though. It’s just something I don’t understand. To me, blogging is a means to an end. I don’t understand how you can be excited about blogging every day. Honestly, I don’t. As cool as it is to get comments and likes and subscribers, I’m interested in that stuff only insofar as it helps build my author platform, not for its own sake.

I guess it just comes down to preferences, like with any form of art. I prefer fiction writing while blogging on the side, while I am sure there are some bloggers who write fiction on the side. Neither preference is inherently superior to the other. Just comes down to what you like doing best.

-Tim

Changes to the Blog

As of this morning, I made a few minor changes to this blog.

Firstly, I updated my Works page to include links to the Fantastic Depths anthology and a link to the short story I posted on this blog last month, The Most Beautiful Island in the World.

Secondly, I added a new Contact page, complete with a contact form, for anyone who wants to send me a message privately. Been meaning to add one for a while and I finally got around to it earlier this morning.

That’s about all for now, so see ya,

-Tim

Blogging less and Writing more

Hi, guys.

You may have noticed that I have been blogging far less often than usual recently. Days can go between blog posts and I don’t always write substantive articles, either.

That’s because I’ve recently started to teach myself ebook formatting, as well as cover design. Not only that, but I’ve increased my writing time from two hours a day to four in order to produce more work and finish my novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock, quicker.

All of this takes up a lot of my time, rarely leaving me enough time to blog. Because I want to be a career writer, I figure it would do more for my career if I spent less time on this blog and more time writing (or formatting or doing cover design, etc.). Doesn’t mean I have abandoned this blog. It just means I am putting my priorities in order and I realized that blogging was less important and less helpful for me as a writer than, say, writing my novel or making covers for my books, for example.

I’ll still try to update this blog a couple of times a week, but probably no more than that, I’m afraid. Just thought I’d let y’all know.

-Tim

To Rewrite or Not to Rewrite

Recently I’ve been reading the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing blog series by author Dean Wesley Smith. Like his wife’s articles on the business of writing, there is a lot of good information, both on the business and art of writing, and I highly recommend them to anyone who is serious about starting a long-term writing career.

In particular, Smith’s post on rewriting (which you should read, by the way, because it’s quite excellent) got me thinking about how I usually approach writing. Normally, I do what is apparently called “redrafting”; that is, I write three different drafts of the same story (at least for novels, anyway). After that, I’ll go through and edit the last draft three times before I decide to show the story to anyone else.

This method usually works for me and I generally enjoy it, but reading Smith’s article on rewriting, I wonder if I should try being a “three draft” writer sometimes. His process is as follows:

First draft I do as quickly as I can, staying solidly as much as possible in my creative side, adding in things I think about as I go along, until I get to the end of the draft. Again, I try to write as fast as the project will allow since I have discovered a long time ago that if I just keep typing, the less chance I have to get in my own way and screw things up.

Second draft I spellcheck and then give to my trusted first reader.

Third draft I touch up all the things my first reader has found and then I mail the novel or story.

If my first reader hates the story, I toss the draft away and redraft completely.

It sounds like a recipe for mediocre work, don’t it? But apparently it works for him quite well (he’s traditionally published over 100 novels and hundreds and hundreds of short stories). And not just him, either, but he says that other professional writers use a similar approach and have similar success in publishing and making money off their work.

Of course, I’m not Dean Wesley Smith. As he says, every writer does it differently, so what works for him may not work for me and vice versa.

Still, I would like to try this method out sometime, just to see if it will work for me. It sounds like a lot of fun, if a bit scary. Maybe I’ll use it for my next novel, just to see see how it works for me. I might be pleasantly surprised.

What are your thoughts on rewriting? Share your thoughts in the comments!

-Tim

Two Interesting Websites

In recent days, I’ve discovered a couple of interesting websites that I’ve added to my “Interesting and Useful Links” page.

The first is the website and blog of author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours reading the Business Rusch Publishing Articles which are an absolute goldmine for any writer looking to become a full-time career writer (it’s also the page I link to on my links page). In particular, I’ve found her articles on writing a will and planning an estate to be highly informative on a subject you don’t hear much about in books or websites on writing (although I haven’t read all of them yet).

The second is a web tool called Readability-Score.com. Simply put, you copy and paste text into the website and it will tell you (using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score) how readable your writing is, among other things. I scored between 76 and 84 with my short stories from the upcoming Ambage anthology, which I guess is pretty good. If you want to know how easy your writing is to read (though not, of course, how good it actually is), then this website is for you.

-Tim

How to be a Good Periphery Fan

According to TV Tropes, a periphery demographic is:

a notable bunch of audience members outside of the intended (i.e., marketed) demographic.

An excellent example of a periphery demographic are the bronies of My Little Pony fame*, nearly all of whom are adult men, which is pretty much the exact opposite of MLP’s intended audience (young girls under the age of 12).

There’s nothing wrong with liking something that isn’t marketed toward you. I myself am a fan of several things not targeted at my age group, like the Pokémon video game franchise, for example. It’s nothing to be ashamed of as long as you remember that there is a good way and bad way of being a periphery fan (as I like to call them):

Good: Enjoying the franchise for what it is, not taking yourself or the franchise/product so seriously, and acknowledging that the franchise will and probably should always remain targeted toward its intended audience (even if the periphery fans get little nods every now and then)

Bad: Taking the franchise too seriously, snubbing the fans who are members of the intended audience for not enjoying it in the same way as you, and hating on the company/people who put it out whenever they dare to market it in a way that appeals to its intended demographic.

In my experience, the number one problem periphery fans have is that they often take themselves too seriously. They forget that the franchise they are so interested was not aimed toward them, that their interest in it was (usually) unintended, and that the company or people putting it out are in no way obligated to please you, even if you have invested more time and money into the franchise than most of its target audience.

This often leads to very respectable, very mature, fully-grown adults throwing huge temper tantrums on Internet forums when the company makes a decision they don’t like. While periphery fans do not need to like everything about their favorite franchise or the company or people who put it out, they need to keep things in perspective. Often what they’re angry about is rather trivial and usually quite silly from an outsider’s perspective (or even from a fan’s perspective). They just end up making themselves — and their fellow periphery fans — look like idiots, which is generally not a good thing to look like.

As long as you have a good sense of humor and remain mature and humble, you should be able to avoid the fan dumb that is often a sign of being a bad periphery fan.

What do you think about periphery demographics? Are you a member of a periphery demographic? Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

*Although it may not actually be the best example. If TV Tropes’s Periphery Demographic page is to be believed, then bronies actually outnumber the intended audience of the franchise immensely. I am unable to confirm that; but even if it’s true, that doesn’t change the fact that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is still a girl’s show, which still puts bronies on the periphery (unless Hasbro starts to market it primarily toward bronies, although that’s unlikely to happen, in my opinion).

-Tim

A new approach

My dream is to become a professional, full-time writer who makes a living off his work. That dream is not yet a reality for me and may not be for a while; nonetheless, it is a realistic dream, one that, with a lot of hard work, patience, and maybe a little bit of luck, I will be able to achieve.

In order to achieve this dream, I realize I need to expand my scope beyond this blog and my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’ll still use this blog, to be sure, but I understand better now that this blog should not be my main platform. If I want to sell books someday and make some actual money, I will need to build an audience using more than just my blog.

I say all of this to announce, in a somewhat meandering manner, that I am going to be blogging a little less often from now on. I am currently researching different ways of building a platform, which means I am devoting less time to blogging. I’ll still be blogging here, don’t worry, but don’t expect as much new content. I’ll probably blog a few times a week from now on, instead of aiming for every day as I have been trying (and failing) to do for a while now.

-Tim

The most important piece of writing advice that I know

There are thousands of books on writing out there, perhaps millions of articles and blog posts, and countless forums and writing groups where you can discuss the art and craft of writing with your fellow writers. There are workshops and conferences, apprenticeships and mentorships for writers who want to improve or those who want to help others improve, and creative writing classes in schools all over the world.

Sometimes, it’s all too much. It seems like every writer has a completely different approach to writing from the next. “Outline.” “Don’t outline.” “Follow your characters.” “Make them do what is necessary to advance the plot.” “Do a ton of research, even if you don’t use half of it.” “Do only the bare minimum of research necessary to make your story believable.” “Anyone who writes quickly is a hack.” “Anyone who takes their time never gets anything done.” “Share you book with 50 other people before you send it to the editor.” “Share it with maybe one other person and then send it to your editor.”

How is a writer — especially a new writer who doesn’t know much about the craft or business of writing — supposed to know what works and what doesn’t? Every writer who has ever felt the need to grace the unwashed masses with their opinions (like me, for example) sounds so certain that it can be hard to disagree, especially when they demonize or vilify anyone who disagrees.

In my experience, I’ve found that the most important piece of writing advice I have ever come across is this: “Do whatever works for you.”

Each writer is different. What works for me might not work for you, and vica versa. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no such thing as good or bad writing. It just means you need to realize that the path to writing something good is different for every writer. Certain paths are more widely traveled and perhaps more reliable than others, but ultimately there is no such thing as the definitive path that every writer MUST follow if they want to write anything worth reading.

Does outlining work for you?

Then do it.

Does organic writing work for you?

Then do that.

Does some sort of combination of outlining and organic writing work for you?

Then do it, even if no one else is doing it.

All writing advice you receive — whether it comes from a friend, a book, a member of your writing group, a magazine article or blog post, or from something else — must be judged by that criteria. If it does not work for you — even if it works for everyone else you know — then you don’t need to do it, no matter what anyone else says.

What is the most important piece of writing advice that you know?

-Tim